College Football: UNC travels to Virginia Tech tonight
By Hank Kurz Jr.
BLACKSBURG, Va. ó Rested and refreshed after a bye week, North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner and the Tar Heels are determined to show that they are better than their 2-4 Atlantic Coast Conference record.
Renner figures Virginia Techís Lane Stadium on a tonight against 10th-ranked Hokies, one of the teams that has dominated midweek games, is a great place to show what his team can really do.
ěI think itís like Monday Night Football for college football,î Renner said this week. ěYouíre the only game on. Youíre the main event. Itís really awesome. You know the whole worldís going to be watching, and you get a chance to prove to everybody that youíre a good team.î
The bye week came at a great time for North Carolina (6-4 overall), especially for Renner. He sustained a concussion in the Tar Heelsí 13-0 loss to N.C. State in their last outing, but declared himself 100 percent ready to go this week. The rest of the benefited from rest, too, he said.
ěIt was a huge relief, I think for our whole team, to just take a break away from football and just take a rest,î the top-rated quarterback in the league said. ěWeíve been going since August, had a great training camp and then 10 weeks of the season. Itís tough on your body.î
The Hokies (9-1, 5-1) might also be touch on the Tar Heels because they have much to play for as well.
Virginia Tech has won five straight since losing at home to No. 7 Clemson and can possibly clinch its fourth trip to the league championship game in the past five years this week. That would require the Hokies to win and Virginia (7-3, 4-2) to lose at No. 23 Florida State on Saturday night, but senior wide receiver Danny Coale isnít worrying about possible scenarios.
ěWe definitely want to win every game. Weíre practicing hard and focused on this one,î he said Tuesday. ěIf we win, whatever happens, happens. The other side of itís out of our hands.î
Besides, he said, itís no secret how the Hokies feel about Virginia.
ěI plan on beating Virginia. Thatís my goal, regardless of what itís for,î he said.
Virginia Tech also would extend the nationís longest string of 10-win seasons with to eight, and avenge a stinging Thursday night home loss to UNC two years ago. The Tar Heels won that game on a 21-yard field goal as time expired, one of just five losses in 23 Thursday night games for Tech.
Hokies coach Frank Beamer said he remembers that disappointment well. The Tar Heels had blown a big lead against the Seminoles the previous week, and the Hokies had lost at Georgia Tech.
ěNorth Carolina came in here, they had a tough loss the week before, they came in and played great,î Beamer said. ěI think that they had a tough loss this time against N.C. State and we expect them to come in here and play great. I think thatís just the way it is.î
For Coale and the other seniors, it also will be their last home game at Lane Stadium. Coale said he expects he will take in the atmosphere more than normal, while Beamer hoped to get some of the emotion out of the way a few days in advance.
Rather than the traditional end-of-practice gathering on the field on Tuesday, the team and coaching staff convened inside and shared thoughts about the outgoing players.
ěIf anything, I think you emphasize it because itís not just another game,î Beamer said. ěItís going to be the last game at Lane Stadium for these guys.
ěI think all of us want to show our appreciation for them.î
The way the Hokies look at it, the best way to do that comes at game time.