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Monday,October 16, 2000
OF THINGS TO COME
Frank Beamer gave a pretty direct answer to a caller's question about something every Hokie wants to know: what are the prospects of Michael Vick returning for future seasons.
The coach said the staff will help him get all the information he needs "at the proper time," but that it's not something MV wants to talk about right now. There's much more for him to consider than the money involved, Beamer said, like the collegiate experience and the teammates he's close to, etc. Peyton Manning has told MV that it's a serious game at the pro level and that you need all the experience you can have to get ready.
And then Beamer gushed about another reason MV could be looking to the 2001 season: Even though the Hokies are well positioned in 2000, "when we have a chance to be a REALLY good team is next year." He said that with all the returning players plus some of the redshirts and recruits, 2001 is shaping up with great prospects.
Bill Roth pooh-poohed a weekend column by Will McDonough in the Boston Globe that questioned Vick's future due to academic questions. Roth said that was something people around the Tech program had never heard before and said the info was "out of left field." Beamer said he hadn't seen the article but noted that the writer was in Boston and that "that's a long way from Blacksburg."
Beamer said that while the West Virginia game wasn't fun at certain points, a team needs the challenge and adversity of a game like the one that unfolded against WVU.
The Hokies didn't "stink it up" in the first half as some have suggested, Beamer said, but rather just let some opportunities to score get away from them.
He pointed to Bob Slowikowski's third quarter catch and run, coming right after a long penalty, as what will be looked back upon as a really big play in the 2000 season. And he and Roth agreed that Wayne Ward's stunning block will be a highlight reel play as well.
The Hokies were showered with conference honors for their play against the Mountaineers. Andre Davis, Ronyell Whitaker and Wayne Ward were named Big East players of the week respectively for offense, defense and special teams.
Bud Foster commented that freshman Eric Green played "very, very well" and said his poise reminds him of the kind of player Vick was as a freshman.
Regarding the officiating, Beamer said he thought Suggs made it into the end zone on the one play in question. The first interior holding call on Lehr was a legitimate call but the second one against DeMasi was not, he said. The 15-yard penalty on Suggs for roughing the kicker was probably a good call, he said as he got into a discussion of the rule. He also said Suggs got into the air too much on the play to cause that to happen, when he needed to keep his feet on the ground. Beamer showed the team a video of all the penalties and told them how they hurt themselves that way.
Several folks wanted to know what words of motivation were spoken at halftime. Interestingly, Beamer said there was really no screaming or hollering -- that sort of thing doesn't work anymore. The coach said he told the players that "with every great team I've been involved with, there comes a time to step it up, and this is it." He told them to stay poised in the second half, because he's seen people press too much and have it backfire.
He went on to say the key to it all is the week of preparation before a game. "It's Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. If you're prepared," winning can take care of itself.
Tech's place in the rankings (second in AP and ESPN) has not been talked about in the team meetings and the focus has been elsewhere, Beamer said.
He volunteered that he thinks the 2000 team is taking on a chemistry like that of last year's regarding leadership. He mentioned Beasley and Ferguson as emerging leaders.
Bowl scouts at the WVU game included those from the Orange, Sugar and Fiesta. Jim Weaver said in recorded comments that VT is pleased to have all the attention from the BCS bowl people, but it's best to just let the team "take care of the knitting." Weaver said all the continuing TV exposure is a tribute to Frank Beamer and the program. (Weaver and his wife were congratulated by Beamer and Roth as parents of a baby boy.)
The team had meetings and walk-thrus on Monday, but no physical practice. Beamer said a couple of the coaches thought the time was right to do that. While Beamer said he worries a little about the layoff, sometimes the players need to get away from it get fresh for what's ahead.
Another reason may have been that 10 players would have missed practice Monday due to injuries, according to Roth.
Injuries were just touched on and they planned to return to the subject, but didn't. Coach Foster talked about the two injured corners. Hardee has been held back with a groin injury, but they "hope" he can go full speed this week. Wilds "may be ready" -- they have been draining his knee. Larry Austin is off of crutches after ACL surgery and will be back for spring practice. Who knows, Foster said, he could be back for a bowl game. (Not sure how serious he meant that to be taken, though.)
VT has not won at the Carrier Dome since joining the Big East and last won there in 1986 in Bill Dooley's last season. Syracuse has fast, skilled athletes who are dangerous and their backs are against the wall, Beamer said. It's not a domed top that's beaten the Hokies in recent years, but rather the fact that SU really plays well under the dome. In 1996 the Hokies had won 13 games in a row and Syracuse was 0-2, but Tech got derailed on the road.
"It's up to us not to worry about crowds or domes. We don't need to worry about the circumstances. It's Virginia Tech and Syracuse, and are we better than Syracuse."
A caller suggested the Hokies might give the 'Cuse another taste of the 62-0 whipping they got in 1999. Beamer said his approach is to focus on the fact that "this team" (2000) and "that team" (1999) have never played.
The SU players mentioned by Beamer were RB Mungro (a former Tech recruiting target), the two defensive ends, a receiver named Campbell who's also on the basketball team, and QB Troy Nunes who lead the nation in pass efficiency until a game or two ago (4 interceptions vs. Boston College).