Even the Hokies' lapses turn golden

BLACKSBURG

Ryan Williams gathered the handoff and darted toward the assigned hole. There Virginia Tech's tailback prodigy encountered a 245-pound roadblock.

With Boston College linebacker Mike McLaughlin in his path, Williams reversed course, sprinted to the left sideline and cut upfield for a 29-yard gain.

Saturday was that kind of afternoon for the Hokies. Even their rare lapses, a missed block on this play, turned golden.

The final at Lane Stadium was 48-14, but no score or statistic conveys Tech's dominance.

This just doesn't happen to Boston College, you see. The Eagles aren't national contenders, but thanks to former coach Tom O'Brien, they are an admirably solid program, with 10 consecutive winning seasons and a reputation for forging quality interior lines.

But fifth-ranked Tech owned the point of attack on both sides of the ball and handed Boston College its most lopsided defeat since a 52-6 loss to Miami in 2000.

"We had some manners laid on us," said Frank Spaziani, the Eagles' rookie head coach. "That's a pretty good football team out there."

How good won't be determined for quite some time. But the Hokies (5-1, 3-0) are riding a five-game wave entering what figures to be the most challenging date left in their regular season: at Georgia Tech in six days.

Embodying Virginia Tech's progress since the opening loss to Alabama: Williams and cornerback Rashad Carmichael, both of whom have taken on unexpected burdens.

Williams, a redshirt freshman, projected as a backup to Darren Evans, Tech's go-to back in 2008. But Evans tore up his left knee during preseason drills, elevating Williams on the depth chart.

Running behind punishing blocks from the likes of Ed Wang, Sergio Render and Kenny Jefferson, Williams gained 159 yards on 18 carries Saturday, upping his ACC-best season aggregate to 734.

On his longest jaunt, a 31-yarder to open the second quarter, Williams made on-a-dime cuts that baffled Boston College defenders Donnie Fletcher and DeLeon Gause, and showcased the skills that could make him one of Tech's career icons. Oh, and Williams also circled out of the backfield for a 23-yard, first-quarter pass reception.

"Special," was the word Hokies coach Frank Beamer used to summarize Williams' potential.

"We just executed every play," Williams said, "from the offensive line to the skill players."

Carmichael, a junior, entered the season as the starter at "field" cornerback, meaning he played the wide side of the field, often in zone coverage. The "boundary" corner spot, where the Hokies' premier defensive back aligns, usually in man-to-man, belonged to Stephan Virgil.

But Virgil bruised his left knee against Alabama and missed two games, moving Carmichael to the boundary. Carmichael adjusted so well that coaches moved Virgil to field corner upon his return and kept Carmichael on the boundary.

Saturday Carmichael intercepted his third pass this season, returning it 22 yards for a touchdown and a 31-0 lead midway through the second quarter. Matched against Colin Larmond, Carmichael read freshman quarterback Dave Shinskie's eyes, raced in front of the out route and saw nothing but grass between him and the end zone.

"The game is coming to me a little bit more," Carmichael said of his position switch. "I kind of feel like I'm getting into the groove."

The entire team is, witness Tech's 293-3 halftime advantage in total offense.

"That's a sophisticated defense," said Spaziani, who coordinated Boston College's defense for 10 years before his promotion to head coach in January. "I give them a lot of credit."

But it's a defense that had yielded 15 plays of 30 yards or more, 35 of 15 or more. All much to coordinator Bud Foster's dismay.

Saturday his first-teamers allowed one such play, a 15-yard run by Montel Harris early in the third quarter.

Making his third start, the first on the road, Shinskie threw more interceptions (two) than completions (one). Virtually untouched by Wake Forest and Florida State, he was harassed at every turn by ends Jason Worilds and Nekos Brown, and safety Davon Morgan.

"We felt if we could get him a little agitated early … we could have some success," linebacker Cody Grimm said.

Conversely, Tech had 10 plays of 15 yards or more from a variety of sources, including Williams, quarterback Tyrod Taylor and receivers Danny Coale, Jarrett Boykin and Dyrell Roberts.

"I think that's the most important thing," Beamer said. "We're kind of hitting on all cylinders."

David Teel can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at dteel@dailypress.com. For more from Teel, read his blog at dailypress.com/teeltime.

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