Even grounded, Hokies can enjoy it

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Bryan Stinespring threw a headlock on his son. Then he cradled one daughter in his left arm and another in his right.

You could tell. He didn't want to let go.

Hard to blame him. After what must rank as the most trying week of his seven seasons as Virginia Tech's offensive coordinator, Stinespring wanted, needed even, to bask in Saturday's 20-17 victory over Georgia Tech with those he holds dearest.

"People don't know what we're going through," said quarterbacks coach Mike O'Cain, the Hokies' only assistant coach who spoke to reporters. "They think they know, but they don't know. They're not in meetings 80 hours a week. They're out there on the fringes."

Don't misunderstand. This is not to absolve head coach Frank Beamer and his staff of the curious decisions that marked the Hokies' staggering start.

Nor to suggest that glaring concerns — think anemic passing attack — do not remain.

But following a turbulent buildup that included Beamer's impassioned defenses of Stinespring, beating a quality opponent was sweet, indeed.

"A great, great team win," Beamer said, "and I love team wins."

Notice that Beamer didn't say "great performance."

Virginia Tech needed two 15-yard defensive penalties to fuel its drive toward Dustin Keys' winning field goal. Moreover, the Hokies passed for a meager 48 yards, their lowest production in five years.

Defensively, Virginia Tech yielded 278 yards rushing, 151 to quarterback Josh Nesbitt. The Hokies also allowed a 41-yard touchdown pass and darn near a repeat — Nesbitt overthrew a wide-open Roddy Jones on the same deep route with about 2:30 remaining.

How did Virginia Tech (2-1, 1-0 ACC) survive? The Hokies forced three turnovers and committed none. They committed three penalties for 15 yards, compared to the Yellow Jackets' eight for 61.

By such disparities are taut games decided.

But those are numbers. They are rooted in people.

Redshirt freshman tailback Darren Evans rumbled for 94 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. Henceforth, he ought to be Virginia Tech's featured back.

Despite missing several tackles early, fifth-year senior linebacker Purnell Sturdivant sacked Nesbitt on fourth-and-7 with less than 2:15 left. Vince Hall he's not, but give Sturdivant credit for persevering.

In his first start of 2008, sophomore quarterback Tyrod Taylor rushed for 74 yards, scored a touchdown and hurdled a Georgia Tech equipment trunk after being forced out-of-bounds. The offense generated only 273 yards, but his playmaking skills were essential and again showed the folly of Beamer's original intent to redshirt him.

Taylor's defining moment came as he went under center on third-and-goal from the 2 with 14 seconds remaining in the first half. Virginia Tech trailed 9-7 and was without a timeout.

The play called for Taylor to quickly scan the end zone for a receiver and, absent one, heave the ball out of bounds to set up a chip-shot field goal. Instead, Taylor dropped back, scrapped the plan and scooted into the end zone.

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