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Cavaliers question: Legit Coastal contenders?

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Virginia suddenly finds itself the only team in the Atlantic Coast Conference without a loss in league play.

The Cavaliers have won three games in a row, including two in the ACC.

Virginia - despite an 0-3 start - will have to be viewed as contenders in the Coastal Division with a win against No. 11 Georgia Tech this week.

Avoiding that kind of looking ahead could be critical to pulling off the upset, especially with a Yellow Jackets team that is playing as well as anyone in the league coming to town.

'Teams here and the players that have made up the teams, I think, are pretty strong believers that this is about one week at a time,' Cavaliers coach Al Groh said Monday.

'And if you do the right things during the course of the week to really prepare yourself for a peak performance, you've got your best chance to get the result you want,' he said.

Over the past three weeks, the Cavaliers (3-3, 2-0) have gone from a reeling team with a coach in jeopardy to one that has real reasons to feel positive about the possibilities.

Georgia Tech (5-1, 4-1) now looks like the favorite in the division after dominating then-No. 4 Virginia Tech 28-23 last Saturday night, sending the Hokies tumbling to No. 15.

But Georgia Tech's trips to Charlottesville rarely go well.

The Yellow Jackets haven't won at Scott Stadium since 1990, when they upset then No. 1-ranked Virginia 41-38 on a late field goal. Georgia Tech has lost eight in a row in Charlottesville since, and five of six overall in a series often been marked by wild games.

This week, the status of Virginia quarterback Jameel Sewell likely won't be known until Thursday, when the school is required to issue an injury report. Sewell was helped off the field with a right ankle sprain in the third quarter of Virginia's 20-9 victory at Maryland.

'If I knew I probably wouldn't tell you,' Groh said of Sewell's status.

Also unclear, likely until Saturday, is the status of defensive end Matt Konrath, who twisted an ankle against the Terps, and tailback Mikell Simpson, who missed the game with a shoulder injury that took him out of the week before in a 47-7 victory against Indiana.

Defensive end Nate Collins, the ACC's defensive player of the week after scoring on a 32-yard interception return and recording nine tackles against the Terrapins, said the holes caused by injuries only highlight a next man up philosophy critical to the team's success.

He said the team has adopted a 'chipping at the rock' mantra signifying its willingness to use physical play from the first snap to the last snap to wear down its opponents.

The strategy, helped significantly by the play of a defense that has allowed just 19 points in three games, has worked against North Carolina, the Hoosiers and Maryland.

Making it work against the Yellow Jackets, who will arrive with the nation's No. 2 rushing offense (286 yards per game), will be another challenge entirely.

SideBar: Georgia Tech at Virginia

· When: Noon, Saturday

· Where: Charlottesville, Va.

· TV: WUPA