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Monday,September 4, 2000
Defensive coordinator Bud Foster said he thought the layoff as a result of not playing the Georgia Tech game was responsible for the Hokies' defensive play in the first half against Akron.
VT had gone about 2.5 weeks without hitting or tackling at full speed, which affected the defense's timing. He said the D gave great effort and responded well in the second half.
Whereas Akron was 5-for-11 on third down conversions in the first half -- when Foster said there were several "busted coverages" -- the Zips were 0-for-5 on third downs in the second half, and didn't score offensively in the second half.
Foster singled out Houseright, Welch and Beasley for their strong play. He said Pile played more like a veteran than did Austin and Whitaker. Beamer singled out Beasley, Pile, Houseright from the defense. He talked about the play in which Bird broke through to make the stop when Akron tried to use four wideouts.
In response to a question about the play of Phil Summers at whip, Foster said he had a great fall camp to earn the start. His play was solid vs. Akron although he got beat once on coverage when VT lost containment.
The Hokies played eight freshmen (three of them true freshmen) and 32 people on defense. Foster said some responded, while some looked like it was their first college game.
He repeated that the effort was good, but said that some "coverage concentrations" were not as sharp as they need to be.
Bill Roth asked if VT blitzed maybe five times. Foster said they actually were using some zone pressures and bringing an extra guy. When this didn't work early, he said, he just wanted to let the defense play and not try to "outscheme" the Zips. When he was asked a similar question about plans for ECU, he didn't tip his hand, merely saying: "We'll be basic. We'll be solid."
Beamer's take on the Akron game: great effort, good execution in the kicking game, OL played well, defense got better as it went along. He also lamented the effects of five fewer days to practice against Georgia Tech for a pre-season game, cutting back on scrimmage time before GT and then not getting enough full-speed action in.
In talking about how the defensive backs broke on the ball, Beamer said VT was playing mostly "man free" and should have been watching the receivers more. Coverage techniques weren't good at times, he said.
One questioner asked about nickel coverages and the like for the ECU game. Beamer said Tech's defense relies on adjusting without substituting, thereby not letting a tendency with certain personnel to tip off what you're doing. He likes having a Sorensen at whip against four wideouts and said Taylor can adjust to the tight end or receivers out of the backfield. VT is as capable as its ever been about defending that situation, he said.
Besides the blocked field goal by Cory Bird, Beamer credited Ben Taylor with causing the bad Akron punt, even though he didn't get a hand on it. He said he expects better blocking out of the punt return team. Kicker Carter Warley said his back felt good at Monday practice.
Coach Beamer said that if every person who told him during the off-season to "watch out for the ECU game" shows up, the Hokies will have a great crowd at Greenville on Thursday.
Beamer and Foster each noted at different points in the show that the Hokies had an excellent practice on Monday. Foster, in fact, said it was the best practice of the fall.
Bill Roth talked about the presence of Tim Rose as defensive coordinator at East Carolina. Rose was the coordinator at Cincinnati in 1995 when the Bearcats shut out Tech in Blacksburg, and was the coordinator at Boston College in 1998 when VT used an interception return and blocked kick to gain a win. VT scored one offensive touchdown in those two games against the "screwy defense" Rose employed, Roth said.
Beamer said Rose uses a 50 scheme that moves people around a lot. He said what you hope for is that the defense gets bunched up on one side and the quarterback comes out the other side. He said something to the effect of using the option to keep them honest.
East Carolina returns 20 of its top 22 players on offense and four of five starters on the offensive line. The defense runs well, and Foster said the team is "very comparable to the best teams in the Big East."
QB David Garrard is talented and will complete some passes, Beamer said. The Pirates keep you honest by using receivers out of the backfield. Foster said ECU's big backs and corps of receivers are as good in size and speed as what VT will see in the Big East.
The coach talked about how ECU "likes those big ballgames." He mentioned that he wonders about the effect of VT taking a team that dressed 31 first-time players against Akron into the setting at ECU. Roth called it a good test for conference road games to come at Miami and the Carrier Dome. Beamer said that the young guys simply have to grow up and play.
Will the game be a shootout along the lines of some of the points scored in the early Rutgers games, Roth asked? Beamer said he would be surprised if it became that. He said ECU's defense is good and he'd like to think VT's is going to get better.
Roth brought up how ECU coach Steve Logan is known for trick plays, such as running a fake punt from his own 20 early in the 1998 game. "He'd rather trick ya than beat ya," Roth quipped. Beamer said the team rehearsed against such scenarios in practice, rather than just talking about it. With the short practice week, the coaches met with the team until 10:30 Sunday night to review Akron game film and go over the kicking game for ECU.
Beamer said it will be important for the Hokies to play a number of people early in the game and be fresh for the fourth quarter. He talked about the impact of last year's DL depth and rotation, and how important that is.
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