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#STINGDAILY: Quick Turn-Around, Big Game

Sept. 25, 2013

By Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

This might not be the best week for a Thursday night game, what with Georgia Tech having played just five days ago in a game so physical that head coach Paul Johnson has had to curtail even more of his usual practice routine than usual for sake of self preservation.

The Yellow Jackets, though, will be at home tonight where Virginia Tech will not.

Add the Hokies’ youth, and perhaps there is an evening out. Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer seems to feel that way, going out of his way to mention on the ACC teleconference this week that 32 of the 69 players traveling from Blacksburg, Va., are first- or second-year players.

Much like Johnson, who is loathe in the month of September to suggest that any game is of monumental importance, Beamer has not said tonight’s game on ESPN amounts to the end-all.

Then again, one of these two teams has represented the ACC’s Coastal division in the conference championship game every year since 2005, and in every season but last in that time, the winner of this matchup has gone on to earn the nod.

So, there’s that.

“Any time you play in the conference and play your team on your side of the conference, there is certainly a sense of urgency,” Beamer said. “But to say, ‘Hey, this game’s going to determine our season,’ I don’t think we can say that right now.”

He has a point. The Hokies’ 20-17 overtime win over the Jackets last season did not propel them to the ACC Championship Game.

Yet Virginia Tech (3-1, 0-0 ACC) would gain a big leg up with a win tonight, where Georgia Tech (3-0, 2-0) by virtue of being at home would hold serve with victory.

That has to be incentive enough against a team that has beaten the Jackets in five of the past six meetings.

Johnson wasn’t planning on giving any pep talks this week, that’s for sure.

“All I know is that they’ve won the last three. And if you’re a competitor, there’s an old saying that revenge is a great motivator for those that care,” he said. “So I hope our guys care. Plus, it’s a division game and a home game.

“If we’re going to win our division and compete, it’s going to be hard to do it if we lose home conference games . . . so you better get ready to match their intensity and effort because you saw Saturday, the other team wants to win, too. So we’ll get their best shot, I’m sure.”

The Jackets have had their share of issues in recent years with Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas, and though the Hokies have modified their offensive approach this season, he figures to be the point of focus for Georgia Tech yet again.

Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster has long been at his job. He has earned much respect. Watching him adjust on the fly while Johnson does the same on the other sideline will be one of the great joys of the evening.

It will be a far more joyous night should the Yellow Jackets win.

“Bottom line, clearly in my mind, they’ve been the team to beat in the Coastal Division since I’ve been here, and until somebody beats them that’s the way I’ll look at it,” Johnson said. “We’ve had some games in the past three or four years that have been really close, and we’ve got to find a way to get over the top of them.”

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