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Virginia continues division title push against Georgia Tech

by Ace Damon
Virginia continues division title push against Georgia Tech

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia (AP) – Virginia are in a good position with three games remaining in the regular season to win the ACC Coastal Division.

The Cavaliers control their own destiny – at home.

Virginia (6-3, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) will play the last three home matches. If Cavaliers win all three, or at least both against the league opponents, coach Bronco Mendenhall's team will win their division for the first time.

The final push begins on Saturday against Georgia Tech (2-6, 1-4), which is the last in the division in its first year under coach Geoff Collins.

"Ending the coastal race is another challenge for this program," Mendenhall said this week.

Yellow Jackets' history may make the Cavaliers feel especially confident, but right-wing Chris Glaser has been around long enough to remember when overconfidence was a problem. He believes veterans will address this week "just remembering the story and how it felt especially," he said.

On the defensive junior and Mandy Alonso, another cautious reminder was the overconfidence: "They beat Miami in Miami, where we didn't," he said.

The Cavaliers will also be bolstered by last week's performance of quarterback Bryce Perkins, perhaps the best of the season. He played 378 yards and three touchdowns and ran 112 yards and two more scores in a 38-31 victory in North Carolina that put his fate in Virginia's hands.

"The quarterback (Bryce Perkins) is very, very special," Collins said this week. “They play at a high level. He obviously knows what he is doing with football and within the scheme. So it's a challenge on both sides. "

Georgia Tech is moving from a team with three options to a more conventional attack, especially with a list that former coach Paul Johnson recruited for his unique style before retiring after last season. They occupy last place in the conference, averaging 299.5 yards and 17.1 points.

Collins said when trying to revise the program that some things matter more than others.

"All we can do is worry about us and focus on us," he said. "And just every day I fight, scratch and grab to get better, to give us a chance to play really, really good, like a Georgia Tech football team going on the road."

Some other things to note when Georgia Tech visits Virginia:

BOWLING

A sign of progress for Virginia is that becoming eligible for the cup last week was no cause for celebration. This was not the case in Mendenhall's sophomore year, when the Cavaliers ended a long drought in the basin, or even in the third, when they finished 8-5 with a basin victory over South Carolina.

GOOD BRYCE

Virginia's QB entered last week's game with 14 touchdowns and 11 turnovers and came out with 19 (12 passes, 7 runs). It's hard to beat Virginia when it gets a dynamic Perkins game and solid defense performance, but the Yellow Jackets don't make it easy. They are the second in ACC in defense of passes, allowing only 187.9 yards per game.

Block this kick

Yellow Jackets have blocked three kicks (two kicks, one field goal) in the last three games. In games that seem imbalanced on paper, a big move on special teams can quickly change the narrative.

RED OR BLUE?

Mendenhall refers to what he most describes as the red zone (within his opponent's 20) as the blue zone. While Virginia seemed to solve its "blue zone" problems against the UNC, Georgia Tech leads ACC and ranks 10th in the red zone defense, allowing opponents to score just 70.3% of their trips.

In the last two games, the Yellow Jackets have scored points in just four of their opponents' nine red zone trips.

FAN CLUB

The crowds in Virginia have grown increasingly engaged and larger, and Mendenhall and his players have noticed. But home games usually start long after 12.30. kickoff for this game, so they hope the division title bet will bring students and fans early.

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More AP college football: http://apnews.com/tag/Collegefootball and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25

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Follow Hank on Twitter: www.twitter.com/hankkurzjr.

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