BLACKSBURG, VA., AUG. 25 -- There were just over two minutes to go in the first half of the 1986 Peach Bowl, when Virginia Tech quarterback Erik Chapman decided he didn't like what his coaches were planning.

The Hokies had fourth and four from the North Carolina State 25-yard line, and Coach Bill Dooley was sending the kicking team out on the field. That is, until Chapman, the quarterback from DeMatha High School, came yelling.

"Coach, it's only a bowl game," said Chapman, according to assistant coach Billy Hite. "Let's go for it."

As Hite tells it, Chapman had studied North Carolina State films and was certain he knew what was coming: The Wolfpack would be in man coverage, and they would blitz.

Dooley finally gave in to his persistent quarterback. Sure enough, there was the man coverage, and sure enough, there was the blitz. So Chapman geared up to throw a short pass.

Trouble was, nobody blocked the blitzing safety. Chapman was sacked.

The story doesn't end the way Chapman and the Hokies would have liked, although Tech eventually won the game, 25-24. But Hite, the only coaching holdover from Dooley's tenure, says it shows the kind of confidence coaches have in Chapman. With a revamped staff under Coach Frank Beamer and a more passing-oriented offense this season, that is one thing that hasn't changed.

Rickey Bustle, Tech's new quarterback and receivers coach, said Chapman is "like having another coach out there."

Split end Myron Richardson said of Chapman, "He understands the concept the first time a coach tells him about it. He knows what to do."

After completing 113 of 222 passes last year as a junior for 1,627 yards in his first full season as a starter, Chapman knows players are looking up to him. "It tends to come with the territory," he said. "{But} it's not really on my back."

Hite, also a DeMatha graduate, said Chapman's high school experience contributed to his confidence. "You play in so many big ball games there," Hite said. "A lot of these kids come from small towns and the biggest crowds they've ever played in front of are about 200."

The 6-foot, 192-pound Chapman received Catholic all-America honors when he completed 136 of 199 passes for 1,800 yards as a senior and also was a point guard on DeMatha's basketball team.

He is just one in a line of DeMatha players at Tech. Derek Carter started four years in the Hokies' defensive backfield, and fullback Tony Paige (released today after three years with the New York Jets) and linebacker Mike Johnson (Cleveland Browns) played in the NFL last season. Even Chapman's backup, redshirt freshman Chris Baucia, is from DeMatha.

Chapman said he would like a crack at the pros, too -- "I would love to have a shot; not just to make it, but just to say I gave it a shot," he says -- but for now he appears satisfied that his college career finally got moving.

After being redshirted in 1983 and playing junior varsity in 1984, he was challenging to start in 1985. But in spring practice he broke a bone at the base of his thumb. That healed by fall practice. Then, he separated his shoulder. So much for 1985.

"The big thing with Erik is we never knew how good he was," Hite said. "When he was younger, he had all those injuries, and then all of a sudden, he turned out to be an excellent quarterback."

Chapman says the turnaround came in the second game last season, when he completed 13 of 23 passes for 242 yards and a touchdown as Tech upset Clemson, 20-14. "I think that was when guys started looking at me as a leader," he said.

Chapman began to audible more calls last season, and said this year Beamer has given him even more freedom. "He doesn't have a great, strong arm," Bustle said. "His great asset is his knowledge of the game."

Said Chapman, "We don't want to be just a passing or a running team. I understand my role. Last year, my responsibility was basically to complement the running attack {led by standout tailbacks Maurice Williams and Eddie Hunter, who were both seniors last season}. This year, my responsibility is to throw more.

"That's every quarterback's dream -- to put the ball in the air."