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Monday,October 30, 2000
MIAMI WEEK -- ALL THE MARBLES
So here's my sum-up of the Hokie Hotline from last night, and I hope I can do GalaxHokie some justice.
Jim Weaver was first on deck last night with a sold-out crowd at the Gobblertown Tavern. He commented on the 'poise' and 'character' the Hokies have played with, despite the fact that our 'backs have been to the wall.' Mr. Weaver and Coach Beamer both used the same analogy to describe our situation being down at the end of the first half in the past three games.
Bill Roth made the comment that this is the first time under Frank Beamer that the team has been behind in the first half for three consecutive games, then coming back and winning in the second half all three times is even more amazing.
He also made the comment that it puts Tech in a good bargaining position with television networks by providing a good exciting football game, that isn't over, until it's over. Unfortunately, as Jim Weaver pointed out, the TV negotiations have already been set in stone and won't be re-negotiated for the next six or seven years.
Turning to the Miami game at hand, Jim Weaver points out the importance of the Big East match-up and the significance of Virginia Tech being ranked #2 and Miami #3 in the polls. The Big East, he says has come a long way from being a questionable conference to a major contender. He mentioned Pittsburgh as a solid 5-2 team with bowl eligibility, as well as Boston College, and even Temple having possible bowl bids in their futures as well. Returning to Tech, we find that we've remained in the top tier of the conference, which is all the more exciting for Hokie fans and the Big East as well.
Bill Roth mentioned that season ticket holders and Hokie Club members would soon be receiving bowl game ticket information in the mail, and it will be in the same format as it has in the previous seasons.
Bud Foster was up next, and on being congratulated for the win, immediately responded with the struggle involved in earning the win.
There were seven sacks in the Pittsburgh game--a season high for the team so far. Coach Foster said that he has pleased with the progress of our ends, and the ability to pressure the quarterback. Chad Beasley and David Pugh, the 'tandem of tackles', are playing, in his opinion, better than any in our league. Despite their being slightly undersized, as Bill Roth points out, they are 'relentless' and play with great leverage and speed. Both have lots of experience and spend extra time studying their opponents.
Bill Roth brought up the criticism that CBS commentators made concerning the cornerback position. He also suggested that maybe the safety position might have hurt them as well.
Coach Foster responded by saying that Ronyell Whitaker was solid for the most part, with the exception of only one play. Eric Green, on the other hand, has been having some difficulty in his technique, despite being in good shape most of the game. He also went on to say that the corners might have gotten labeled a bit early on, because the safeties were indeed a factor in several touchdowns.
It's worth mentioning here that Eric Green is still a true freshman, coming out of high school as a quarterback. He's still adjusting to the position, and Coach Foster seems to think that he'll turn out to be much more aggressive as he matures. During the game he seemed to be less aggressive and more focused on trying to not make mistakes.
As far as yardage is concerned, Antonio Bryant was ten yards under his average receiving yards per game. In comparison to last year, he was held to half of what he got at Pittsburgh during the last match-up with Tech.
In addition, Tech held Pittsburgh to 24 yards rushing out of 29 attempts. Coach Foster pointed out that the team that was able to effectively run the ball was the one able to win the game, and odds are that would usually be the case.
The first audience question was from Nick from Roanoke, who asked Coach Foster's opinion of the quality receivers Pittsburgh had in Grim and Bryant.
Coach Foster had nothing negative to say about them, saying that Bryant was the most athletic receiver in the conference, if not the country right now. He went on to say that in many cases they doubled up on the Pitt receivers, but quarterback containment was also an issue as well. All said and done, it was good experience for the defense, but not at the expense of a loss.
Adding his two cents worth, Bill Roth made mention that some of the papers around the Pittsburgh area were spreading rumors that Grim, Bryant, and Turman (the Pittsburgh QB) would all be playing for the Steelers in the near future. Again, just speculation, but it certainly gives perspective to the level of respect the Pittsburgh media has for the trio.
The next guest was a caller from Richmond, Chester, who was concerned about containing Santana Moss. Coach Foster said that the Miami offense would be very similar to the Pittsburgh offense in the throwing game, but also would try very hard to run the ball as well. They have three of the best tailbacks in the country with Portis, Jackson, and Davenport.
Running the ball will be Miami's first priority, therefore Tech will have to respond to that by shutting it down. From there, the defensive strategy will look very similar to the Pitt game, with hopes of being able to execute better at the back end.
The next caller was Jim from West Virginia who asked about the possibility of moving Jim Davis to the first string. Bud Foster said that Jim had progressed very, very well. The last few weeks they have been playing Jim and Adibi at opposite ends with success. In addition, Lamar Cobb has been able to rest, and as a result all three have more equal playing time. This, in turn gives them all good solid experience and allows the coaches to have more productivity on the field at one time.
Injuries on the defense are almost nil. Billy Hardee is at full speed, Jim Davis has recovered from his toe injury, and despite a groin injury, Channing Reed was very solid in play last week.
The next guest was Fred, from the audience, who asked about the wide outs from Miami in comparison to those from Pittsburgh. A bit of a redundant question, so Bud Foster re-iterated the similarities between Pitt and Miami. He also noted that Reggie Wayne is a taller, bigger receiver and is a real threat with seven touchdown catches for year. Santana Moss, by weight of comparison, only has one. However, Moss has five or six other touchdowns from kick returns, reverses, and so forth.
The next guest was from Yorktown, Virginia; caller Don, with a general question about playing one on one with Pittsburgh's receivers, and even last year against Florida State with Pete Warrick. It seemed that Eric Green was having difficulty beating out the Pitt receivers. The second question dealt with Willie Pile, seemingly playing out of position in the linebacker slot, and he was curious about the intentions of that play.
Coach Foster responded by saying that it sometimes turns into a bit of a chess match in trying to anticipate the other teams, and that you don't always make the right call. In Green's case, Pitt ran a sputter and go route, with the receiver slowing up as if he were running a stop route. He went on to say that Eric Green should have been into him more instead of trying to re-route the receiver. To Pitt's credit, the ball was on the money throwing it outside and away from the safety.
Glen from Christiansburg was the next audience guest with a question about the blitzing scheme. He also wondered if Tech should have blitzed more during the game.
Coach Foster said that Tech blitzed early on, but the problem with blitzing is that you isolate your corners even more than normal. In addition, he felt that the front four was able to put adequate pressure on Pitt's quarterback, which helped to ease up on the corners a bit.
The next caller was Steve from Rocky Mount, who had some concerns about Big East officiating, and also was looking for insight on the recruiting situation at Tech.
Bud Foster was fairly tight lipped about recruited, only saying that we had been getting more attention than in years past from kids who might normally not have considered Tech several years ago.
Bill Roth spoke up to address the officiating by the Big East, saying that their only real problem was consistency. He pointed to an example involving a late hit to Vick after he had already taken several steps out of bounds that had not been called. Yet a previous nudge by Ronyell Whitaker not even related to the play was flagged for a penalty. So all in all he felt comfortable with the Big East officials, and Bud Foster, although unable to really criticize the Big East officiating crew concurred with him.
The last call was from Jim in Bluefield, who asked about the cornerbacks not playing closer in on passing plays and not looking back at the ball. Coach Foster stated that while Ronyell Whitaker plays more of a bump coverage, Eric Green does not. Part of this has to do with the learning curve of the position and a certain level of confidence. He also said that there is talent on way at that position, and we would see more of that in the spring.
Coach Beamer's Portion of the Show
Next up was Coach Beamer, who re-iterated Jim Weaver's opening remarks about being able to execute and finish the job despite being against the wall.
Pittsburgh was playing at full momentum and balls were being thrown on the mark, and despite losing two star players on our offense, we came through and get the win.
Bill Roth immediately went on to question the status of Michael Vick. The Coach responded, saying that he is responding well to the treatments to his ankle, but the situation is still day to day. He also compared his situation to that of Chris Weinke from Florida State, but also said that in FSU's case Weinke had two extra days to recover from his injury. In addition, due to the nature of FSU's offense, Weinke is less mobile than Tech requires Vick to be. Therefore the key to his being able to playing will be if he is fully able to out maneuver Miami under pressure without further aggravating his injury.
There was also a plug for BeamerBall.com in there, for anyone who wants up to date info on the injury.
Andre Davis' situation was next, and the Coach went on to say that Andre seemed to be in good shape; the boot was off, but they are still having problems with swelling. The issue with Davis is also speed, and he went on to say that his situation was day to day as well.
The first caller for Coach Beamer was TJ from Christiansburg. TJ asked about the fact that Miami will be very alert on Tech's relying on Lee Suggs in the ground game, since the passing game may be limited if Vick is out of the game.
Not much insight from the Coach, but he did seem to emphasize that their only offensive weapon will not lie in Suggs, but with other players, including receivers other than Andre Davis.
The next caller was Albert from Orange, Virginia. Albert brought up the infamous Alabama question, which was quickly shot down by Beamer.
>From the Coach's mouth:
You know it's just talk this time of year, and so forth. And somebody gave me an Internet something that said that I'd expressed interest and had the staff picked out and who's going to stay from 'Bama. And that is just absolutely crazy, it's just crazy. Sounds like somebody wants to screw up a good recruiting year for Virginia Tech. I don't know where it came from. I have no desire to leave Virginia Tech. I've had some opportunities, I've pursued some other jobs that I think had some opportunities, but I have no desire to leave Virginia Tech and that's gonna do it.
And speaking of the Internet he then turned around and plugged BeamerBall.com again, can you blame him?
After the commercial break, Bill Roth mentioned the potential number of fans that would be at the Orange Bowl this week. Five thousand tickets have been sold through the Tech ticket office, and an estimate of 8,000 fans is expected to be in attendance.
He also cautioned Tech fans that the Miami crowd is a different crowd. They have a pro mentality, and unlike friendly rivalry-type scuffles in Charlottesville and Morgantown, the fans may be hostile. He went as far to say that fans should not go to the bathrooms alone, and that they should be 'very, very careful at the Orange Bowl' Saturday.
The next caller Dave asked about Lee Suggs's scoring record and how it compared to the NCAA record. Bill Roth was unable to answer, and said he would have to look the answer up.
Dave also asked about passes on first down (or the lack thereof) during the Pittsburgh game. Coach Beamer said that it's sometimes easier to tell after the fact when you should have thrown a pass, and sometimes there are situations when Tech does pass on first down, and the emphasis should be more on mixing it up a bit with running the ball and throwing it a bit.
The next guest was Derrick from Christiansburg, who wanted to know the team's feelings when Vick went out of the game, and also wanted to know why Lee Suggs wasn't a candidate for the Heisman.
Coach Beamer said that the team generally felt about the same way everyone felt about Vick's leaving the game, especially not knowing the extent of the injury. On the flip side, everyone was ecstatic over the success that Meyer had in leading the team to a win under those conditions. As far as Suggs for the Heisman, Beamer wasn't sure about the limitations on the number of candidates you can have for one team.
Bill Roth made mention of some of Butch Davis' comments regarding Tech's 'skill players', a term that was coined in Miami years back. Interesting to see how things have come full circle. Davis held fullback Jarrett Ferguson in the highest regards as being one of the best fullbacks in the country. Coach Beamer knew of the reference, and corrected Bill on the fact that Beamer used the word fullbacks, meaning that Cullen Hawkins is right up there as well.
Jim from Richmond was next. Jim had a few negatives about the defensive backfield and bad officiating. Beamer agreed on the officiating, stating that there were some inconsistencies in plays that were being called, but that Pitt had calls that could have gone the other way as well.
Jerry from Springfield from Class of '69 was next with two questions. The first dealt with the confusion between Meyer and the coaches at the end of the game. The Coach admitted that Tech should have kicked the field goal, but because of the previous run from Ferguson, felt like they could have scored another touchdown, instead of risking a missed field goal with new kicker Carter Warley. It turned out to be miscommunication between Frank Beamer, Billy Hite and Dave Meyer, and by the time Tech knew what they wanted to do, time had run down on the clock forcing them into the field goal position.
Jeff from Knoxville was next, asking about Tech's record at Miami and if Miami was the 'typical trash talking team that they usually are.' He also asked if Tech utilized recruiting services.
Beamer responded to the recruiting question first, stating that for the most part they prefer to stick to a network of high schools in a familiar recruiting area. The advantages are that you are able to get a better first hand feel for the recruit, and you build a level of trust with the schools you recruit from. He also said that recruiting nationally is often too difficult because of the number of recruits you have to filter through.
Bill Roth answered the Tech record all-time, stating that Tech is 2-7 at the Orange Bowl with Miami, and 2-8 overall at the Orange Bowl, having played Nebraska there as well in 1996 (although Tech actually played Nebraska in Pro Player Stadium, not the Orange Bowl).
Bill Roth and Coach Beamer declined to comment on whether Miami was a trash talking team this year.