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VT defense among best in nation, just 'good' in ACC

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer remembered the first time he went to see cornerback Victor "Macho" Harris play at Highland Springs high school.

"He scored about three or four different ways," Beamer recalled this week. "An interception for a touchdown, a tailback run for a touchdown, a punt return ... he is really a good player."

Good enough to continue the multitasking for Beamer.

Harris is No. 4 in the ACC in passes defended (four breakups, six interceptions), leads the league in interceptions and has run two back for touchdowns. He has also returned punts, a few kickoffs, and lined up at wide receiver.

"He's been a valuable part of this football team," Beamer said. "He does a lot of things and he's very capable."

Which is important, considering the offense is not.

Harris, along with defensive ends Orion Martin and Jason Worilds, have anchored a defense that has been good enough to put the Hokies in contention to play for the ACC title. Again. Virginia Tech is ranked in the top 20 nationally in four major defensive categories, including scoring defense, total defense, rushing defense and passing defense.

And it's not even the best in the ACC.

In fact, the Hokies don't lead the league in any defensive team category, nor do they have any of the league's top 10 tacklers. That just goes to show how stingy the entire ACC has been this season.

Here's a look at who in the ACC ranks ahead of the Hokies' D nationally:

  • No. 17 Scoring defense -- Behind Clemson, Georgia Tech, Boston College

  • No. 8 Total Defense -- Behind Boston College, Florida State

  • No. 19 Rushing defense -- Behind Boston College

  • No. 12 Passing defense -- Behind Florida State, Clemson, Miami

  • No. 21 Turnovers gained -- Behind Boston College, Florida State, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech

  • No. 29 Sacks -- Behind Florida State, Georgia Tech, Boston College, Virginia

  • No. 18 Tackles for loss -- Behind Florida State, Georgia Tech

The Hokies are 1-3 against those teams they played ranked ahead of them. But they won the one that has mattered most so far -- Georgia Tech.

The Yellow Jackets will win the Coastal Division, though, if the Hokies don't get another standout scoring performance from Harris and the defense on Saturday against rival Virginia.