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Georgia Tech needs first ACC win against Virginia

Associated Press Modified: September 14, 2012 at 11:03 am •  Published: September 14, 2012

ATLANTA (AP) — It's only mid-September, and already Georgia Tech is feeling pressure in the ACC's Coastal Division.

A season-opening loss to Virginia Tech has left Georgia Tech in a must-win scenario against Virginia on Saturday.

Virginia coach Mike London agreed it's an important game for Georgia Tech. He said he wants to make sure his players feel the same urgency.

"Sure, we are the same way," London said. "It's a division game. It's as important to us as it is them. It's very important to us, as well, because it's our first conference game."

Virginia (2-0) is entering its Atlantic Coast Conference opener after last week's 17-16 win over Penn State.

Georgia Tech (1-1 overall, 0-1 ACC) used last week's 59-3 rout of Presbyterian as a get-well game. The Yellow Jackets opened the season with a 20-17 overtime loss at Virginia Tech that coach Paul Johnson called "gut-wrenching."

The Yellow Jackets can't afford a 0-2 start in the ACC. For added incentive, the visit from Virginia gives Georgia Tech a chance to make up for its first loss of the 2011 season.

Georgia Tech was No. 12 in the nation and had won its first six games for the first time since 1966 before losing at Virginia 24-21 last year.

"I think you have to give Virginia credit," Johnson said this week. "Last year they played well. Last year we were 6-0 and went up there and weren't ready to play. I think we'll be ready this time."

Johnson's spread option offense usually gives Georgia Tech the dominant running game. That wasn't the case in Charlottesville last season, when the Cavaliers ran for 274 yards and held the ball 30 minutes.

Last year's loss provided Johnson with ample motivational material for this week.

There should be no danger of Georgia Tech players dwelling on their 712 total yards, the program's second-highest total, including 469 yards rushing, in the lopsided win over Presbyterian. Johnson has reminded his team that last year Virginia bullied the Yellow Jackets.

The end of last year's loss was especially frustrating for Georgia Tech. Virginia held the ball for the final 6 minutes, making five first downs. The Cavaliers had the ball inside the Yellow Jackets' 5 as the game ended.

"Our big problem last year was they ran flat over us," Johnson said. "They rushed for 270 yards and kept the ball. We're used to winning the time of possession pretty handily. They did a good job holding onto the ball last year and staying on the field, so that will be a challenge. It's a lot of the same guys up front, the same running backs. So we'll need to see if we can stop the run."

Perry Jones had 149 yards rushing against Georgia Tech last year, but the senior has been held to 66 yards in the Cavaliers' first two games this season. Kenny Parks leads the team with 75 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

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