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Tech’s confidence up after win at Nebraska

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Virginia Tech climbed back into the top 25 after a big win at Nebraska and the Hokies hope to keep making gains on both sides of the ball when they take on Western Kentucky this week in their final nonconference game.
The No. 20 Hokies (4-1) are known for winning with strong defense and dynamic special teams, but they had their best offensive performance of the season last Saturday — 377 yards — as they stunned the Cornhuskers before 85,000 fans, 35-30.
A lot of the improvement is because of sophomore quarterback Tyrod Taylor, tailback Kenny Lewis Jr. said Tuesday.
‘‘He’s taking initiative. he’s taking control of that huddle,’’ Lewis said. ‘‘That’s what we need because it starts with him.’’
Taylor wasn’t supposed to be the quarterback this year, but coach Frank Beamer ditched plans to redshirt him after the Hokies lost their opener against East Carolina. Beamer said the Hokies needed mobility behind center to mask weaknesses on its offensive line and in its receiving corps, which was working in new players after four seniors were lost to graduation.
But the Hokies had 171 yards in the air at Nebraska, and Lewis said the fact that the team has young players competing for time at the offensive skill spots has sparked improvement.
‘‘That competition we have at backfield, it makes us elevate our game each and every week,’’ Lewis said. ‘‘If you’re not producing, somebody else is going to take your spot.’’
Improvements on the line have been a big factor, Beamer said, including the return of guard Blake DeChristopher, who missed two games and most of a third with injuries.
‘‘I think the better our blocking is up front, the better our running is, the better our passing game will be,’’ Beamer said.
Guard Nick Marshman said the line still has work to do, but is ‘‘going in the right direction.’’ He, too, said players’ confidence was a big factor.
‘‘If you’re struggling, you’re always going to have that in the back of your mind,’’ said Marshman, a senior. ‘‘We need to have that confidence so we can run the ball. I think the younger guys will feed off of that.’’
Confidence has also grown on the defense since the first game, end Orion Martin said, and that has been critical. After beating Furman at home, the Hokies edged Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division rivals Georgia Tech 20-17 in Blacksburg, and then won 20-17 at North Carolina.
‘‘We just got better in practice each week,’’ Martin said.
Beamer said he likes this year’s Hokies, who have less swagger than some star-studded teams in recent years. The coach said these Hokies are playing hard and smart.
‘‘You don’t see us getting a bunch of crazy penalties,’’ he said. ‘‘I really like our respect for the other team. There’s not a lot of crazy stuff going on out there.

‘‘I’m not sure we’ve got a great vocal guy, but I know we’ve got a lot of guys that play hard,’’ he said. ‘‘If your older guys are playing hard, I think the young guys will play hard.’’

AP-ES-09-30-08 1943EDT

Tech’s confidence up after win at Nebraska

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Virginia Tech climbed back into the top 25 after a big win at Nebraska and the Hokies hope to keep making gains on both sides of the ball when they take on Western Kentucky this week in their final nonconference game.
The No. 20 Hokies (4-1) are known for winning with strong defense and dynamic special teams, but they had their best offensive performance of the season last Saturday — 377 yards — as they stunned the Cornhuskers before 85,000 fans, 35-30.
A lot of the improvement is because of sophomore quarterback Tyrod Taylor, tailback Kenny Lewis Jr. said Tuesday.
‘‘He’s taking initiative. he’s taking control of that huddle,’’ Lewis said. ‘‘That’s what we need because it starts with him.’’
Taylor wasn’t supposed to be the quarterback this year, but coach Frank Beamer ditched plans to redshirt him after the Hokies lost their opener against East Carolina. Beamer said the Hokies needed mobility behind center to mask weaknesses on its offensive line and in its receiving corps, which was working in new players after four seniors were lost to graduation.
But the Hokies had 171 yards in the air at Nebraska, and Lewis said the fact that the team has young players competing for time at the offensive skill spots has sparked improvement.
‘‘That competition we have at backfield, it makes us elevate our game each and every week,’’ Lewis said. ‘‘If you’re not producing, somebody else is going to take your spot.’’
Improvements on the line have been a big factor, Beamer said, including the return of guard Blake DeChristopher, who missed two games and most of a third with injuries.
‘‘I think the better our blocking is up front, the better our running is, the better our passing game will be,’’ Beamer said.
Guard Nick Marshman said the line still has work to do, but is ‘‘going in the right direction.’’ He, too, said players’ confidence was a big factor.
‘‘If you’re struggling, you’re always going to have that in the back of your mind,’’ said Marshman, a senior. ‘‘We need to have that confidence so we can run the ball. I think the younger guys will feed off of that.’’
Confidence has also grown on the defense since the first game, end Orion Martin said, and that has been critical. After beating Furman at home, the Hokies edged Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division rivals Georgia Tech 20-17 in Blacksburg, and then won 20-17 at North Carolina.
‘‘We just got better in practice each week,’’ Martin said.
Beamer said he likes this year’s Hokies, who have less swagger than some star-studded teams in recent years. The coach said these Hokies are playing hard and smart.
‘‘You don’t see us getting a bunch of crazy penalties,’’ he said. ‘‘I really like our respect for the other team. There’s not a lot of crazy stuff going on out there.

‘‘I’m not sure we’ve got a great vocal guy, but I know we’ve got a lot of guys that play hard,’’ he said. ‘‘If your older guys are playing hard, I think the young guys will play hard.’’

AP-ES-09-30-08 1943EDT