-- As a review of the game tapes verified, the blame for North Carolina State's 10 sacks of Virginia Tech quarterback Bryan Randall should be extended well beyond the offensive line.

Three of the sacks were the results of backs failing to pick up blitzers; another was caused by the tight end; yet another resulted from a receiver running a bad route. And Randall, according to offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring, "was responsible for four or five himself."

Randall agreed, saying: "A couple of times . . . I held the ball too long. Two times, I missed protection calls. But I know what I'm doing."

The 17-16 loss to N.C. State was that rare game that gave coaches fits but also allowed them to hope that necessary corrections can be made for Saturday's home game against sixth-ranked West Virginia, against whom the Hokies surprisingly are slight favorites.

Stinespring recalled much of the frustration: "17 first-down opportunities and 11 end up in second and 10 or longer. [Two drives inside the N.C. State 10-yard line] that give us a chance for 14 points and we only get three. . . . [Some players] may have pressed a little bit. . . . I thought the preparation was outstanding, the [final serious practice Thursday] was crisp and sharp. But it didn't carry over."

There won't be any lineup changes on the offensive line, in part because that unit is among the least experienced on the entire team. And center Will Montgomery (Centreville High), who makes all the line calls, was the starting left guard last season and arrived at Virginia Tech as a highly regarded defensive lineman.

"But we did a heck of a job rallying in the fourth quarter," said Coach Frank Beamer, referring to the offense gaining 157 of its 192 yards in the final period, mustering two field goals and moving into position for a would-be winner from 43 yards that Brandon Pace missed on the game's final play. "That makes a great statement about our offense, that we can get things corrected."

Fan Safety

Virginia Tech and West Virginia have played each other every year since 1973, but neither seems compelled to continue the series after next season's game in Morgantown. Mountaineers Coach Rich Rodriguez indicated as much during a Big East Conference call this week. Beamer and Virginia Tech Athletic Director Jim Weaver emphasized fan safety.

"I think fans need to be safe, wherever you play, whether it's here, FedEx or Morgantown," Beamer said. "There needs to be respect both ways -- I'm not saying them or us -- just that there needs to be respect for the fans. . . . There has never been a problem with the football teams. I have never had a problem with Coach Rodriguez."

A Matter of Time

The Hokies' Oct. 9 game at Wake Forest will start at noon and their Oct. 16 home game against Florida A&M will start at 1. . . .

Redshirt linebacker Xavier Adibi's rehabilitation of the torn biceps tendon he suffered in the season-opening loss to Southern Cal includes hitting the tackling dummies this week and beginning limited contact next week. . . .

Freshman Eddie Royal (Westfield) is second in the ACC in punt returns with a 14.2-yard average.