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Steve DeShazo on Virginia Tech-Clemson
By STEVE DeSHAZO
If Miami beats Georgia Tech tomorrow and the resurgent Hokies win next Saturday night in the Orange Bowl, all three teams (plus possibly left-for-dead Virginia) will have two ACC losses.
Is there a worthy representative among the group for the ACC title game?
If the Hokies play the rest of their games the way they did last night, they may have the best chance. In a make-or-break outing, they re-established themselves as legitimate contenders in a weak division.
If the Hokies had faltered last night and lost their third straight ACC game, their season could have come unraveled. Frank Beamer was this close to making a quarterback change, and the team's confidence might have plummeted.
Instead, aside from one dubious decision by quarterback Sean Glennon, Tech was solid, poised and opportunistic--everything it hadn't been in its previous two league games.
The Lane Stadium faithful have to hope that those were the real Hokies that showed up last night--not the undisciplined, inconsistent bunch that was manhandled by Georgia Tech and Boston College.
The most notable returnee was junior linebacker Xavier Adibi, who finally lived up to his press clippings. Like his defensive teammates, Adibi looks fierce in his uniform and represents well in the statistics; he ranks second in tackles for the nation's sixth-ranked defense.
In reality, before last night, Adibi hadn't made many of his trademark big plays this season. And the Hokies had allowed too many key gains and helped their opponents with untimely penalties.
Last night, in Tech's most important game of the season, Adibi seemed to be everywhere. His third-quarter interception of Will Proctor set up the first of Branden Ore's two touchdown runs, and he made several key tackles.
Proctor entered the game as the ACC's second-ranked quarterback and the engineer of the nation's top-ranked scoring offense. But Adibi, cornerback Brandon Flowers and the Hokies rattled him so badly that he was missing wide-open receivers by the fourth quarter.