A day after ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit used Virginia Tech’s No. 4 ranking in the coaches’ poll to criticize voters for not watching games and simply moving teams up without any regard for strength of schedule, Coach Frank Beamer didn’t surprise anyone by taking a different stance now that his team is No. 5 in the BCS standings, with an outside shot at making the BCS championship game.
“What I would say is that I think we’re a football team that has improved. We’ve proven where we are and I’m proud of where this football team is,” said Beamer, who votes in this year’s coaches’ poll but is not obligated to reveal his ballot until the end of the season. “I do think fourth is respect for our program and how we do things and how we have consistently been able to win here at Virginia Tech. I think that’s a reflection on that.”
Beamer’s focus this week is squarely on Saturday’s huge matchup at No. 24 Virginia. The winner will clinch the ACC’s Coastal Division and get to face Clemson in the league’s championship game on Dec. 4. But Beamer admitted Monday during his weekly teleconference with reporters that he has been surprised by the Cavaliers’ late-season surge this season.
Beamer talked about Virginia’s strength in the trenches on both sides of the ball, and how quarterback Michael Rocco’s decision-making and running back Perry Jones’s versatility have helped the Cavaliers improve after finishing 4-8 a year ago. Virginia’s four-game winning streak has coincided with Coach Mike London’s decision not to use freshman quarterback David Watford as much, and Jones has 870 rushing yards and 41 catches for 416 yards.
“I think what you got is a Virginia team that’s playing with a lot of confidence and they should,” Beamer said. “They’ve had a great month.”
The coach watched Virginia’s 14-13 win over Florida State on Saturday, but Beamer played down the impact the Cavaliers’ success could have on recruiting, even after London grabbed an impressive recruiting haul during his first year on the job. He says having both programs playing well isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the Hokies.
“I think it’s good for the state of Virginia, for both football programs in the state to be doing well,” Beamer said. “We’ll continue to do the things we do. We’ve been doing them for a long time and been able to recruit well for a long time. We’re gonna continue to do the things that we’ve done for a lot of years.” . . .
On the injury front, Beamer had no update on whether center Andrew Miller or linebacker Alonzo Tweedy would be available this weekend. Miller suffered an ankle injury during the first half of Thursday’s win over North Carolina and was replaced by redshirt junior Michael Via. Offensive line coach Curt Newsome told Beamer’s official Web site that Miller already had a hip injury that he was playing through.
Tweedy hasn’t played since suffering a high-ankle sprain during Virginia Tech’s win over Boston College last month. In his place against the Tar Heels, redshirt freshman cornerback Detrick Bonner played whip linebacker for the first time and had mixed results.
“Sometimes he played like a new guy playing a new position,” Beamer said. Cornerback Kyle Fuller played whip linebacker during the Georgia Tech win, and shifted over there at times during the second half against the Tar Heels.. . .
In other news, right tackle Blake DeChristopher was named the ACC’s offensive lineman of the week for his performance facing North Carolina. The redshirt senior graded out at 86 percent and had seven knockdowns after the coaches’ film review. His biggest play came when he pushed quarterback Logan Thomas forward on a fourth-and-one conversion during Virginia Tech’s 18-play, 95-yard touchdown drive in the first half.
For the season, DeChristopher has graded out at 91 percent with 100 knockdowns and has been the Hokies’ best offensive lineman.