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Tech Talk Tuesday (football season only)
When: every Tuesday from 7:05-8:30
Station:  AM 910 in Richmond

Monday, August 20, 2001
by GalaxHokie


Offensive coordinator Rickey Bustle and Coach Beamer repeated the things they’ve been saying for the past couple of weeks about Grant Noel at #1 quarterback: he has shown improvement and he’s in control.

Bustle at one point cautioned fans not to base their judgment of Noel’s abilities on what they saw during the 2001 spring game. Remember, Bustle said, Grant was in Blacksburg all summer working on his throwing with Andre Davis and the other receivers. Bustle sees him throw 60 to 70 times a day in practice. He has worked hard and improved. Noel’s not yet where they want him and needs to throw with more accuracy, but his coach gives him credit for having developed.

"I think Grant has a better arm than you give him credit for," Bustle said in one response. And later: "He’s going to be a lot better than people give him credit to be."

Coach Beamer said that while Noel is in control, he just needs to function well. "There’s a toughness about him that I like. He wants to be the quarterback. You say that should be obvious, but it’s not always that way."

Bryan Randall is very much in control for a freshman, Beamer said, for him to be getting as many things right on the field as he does.

"I don’t know how Noel or Randall could handle the situation any better than they have at this point," Beamer said.

Bustle said he is putting in different plans for each QB. He doesn’t want Randall trying to do some of the things that he may tell Noel to do because of the difference in experience. "We just want [Randall] executing basics."

Bustle acknowledged that VT will see more pass rush, stunts, etc., because defenses won’t have to account for Vick’s abilities. And that has been taken into account by the coaches in setting up the play packages that will be used this year. "If we execute it well, [the defense] better be in the right places, too." They have put in plays for Randall in pieces that will give VT the ability to move the ball.

In response to a question, Bustle said that if Noel is not performing where they think he should be as the season progresses, then Randall will be given an opportunity to play. Bill Roth noted that Todd Greenwood from the Dooley era was the last true freshman to play QB for VT, and even then he had a year of prep school behind him.

Bustle said they had good competition between the three freshmen QB's and that the separation between the candidates emerged when they began adding to the offense, and the mental part of the game became critical. Will Hunt is known to have caught on quickly on paper in the pre-season, but at this point on the practice field, "he just hit a wall." Chris Clifton threw well but didn’t catch on and make the adjustments as well as Randall. The learning environment has been tough for the young QB's, Bustle said, because of the quality of Tech’s defense. (At third team QB, Jason Davis still needs to come along in terms of being in control and knowing what he needs to do, Beamer said.)


The Hokies will hold their second scrimmage on Tuesday, marking the team’s first outing on the new turf of Lane Stadium/Worsham Field. It will be heavily scripted so that they know how many plays each player gets in on. A priority is to get first-teamers more work and then work in the second and third teams.

Situations will also be scripted, so that series begin at VT’s own 10, 30, 50, and also in the red zone. Kicking situations are also planned, including two live kickoffs plus punts.

Another scrimmage will be held Friday. (Scrimmages and practices are closed to the public.)

Beamer noted that PK Carter Warley was 4-for-4 in the first scrimmage last Saturday. FB is still leaning toward using Jon Mollerup to handle kickoffs to save strain on Warley’s back. He thinks Mollerup can kick as far as Warley, and higher, too. Vinnie Burns will be the punter and Travis Conway probably will be the long snapper. Conway takes up a little more space up front in punt protection and has "great zip" on his snaps, Beamer said. Most of the time he’s pretty accurate, but needs to be more consistent.

There was some discussion of the defense clearly having the upper hand in the first scrimmage. Coach Beamer said he doesn’t like to hold anybody back: "Some places say you can’t stunt the first week and then work" in more complexity from the defense. "We don’t do that. We want our defense to go full speed." That led to things getting "a little ragged" in the first scrimmage for the offense.

Beamer singled out backup DL Jim Davis for having a great first scrimmage and also mentioned Cols Colas getting a couple of sacks. "We’re just good up front. Those guys know what they’re doing. They play hard."

Tuesday figures to be a big scrimmage in determining OL Will Montgomery’s status, FB said. The freshman walk-on from Centreville has been impressive and may play this year. (He also got a look at long snapper Monday). Freshman OL James Miller also has a chance.

FB said the team has to eliminate the number of penalties it committed in the first scrimmage.


A questioner asked about how leadership emerges on the team. FB said you hope the team will elect as captains the people you think should have that role, then went on to say that "we’re fortunate at Virginia Tech that our best leaders are our best people. Look at Lee Suggs," for example. Yes, Lee Suggs would like to win the Heisman, but if you asked him, he’d tell you it’s more important to win football games, Beamer said. "There’s not a better person than Andre Davis," FB said, whom he’s never heard talk about how many times the ball is thrown to him, even though he’s a likely first round NFL draft pick. "There’s not a better person than Ben Taylor." He mentioned Chad Beasley and Jake Houseright as other leaders.


The coaches have been impressed by all three freshman tailbacks, Bustle said. Of them, Hamilton and Humes will redshirt. As for Kevin Jones, his film from high school "didn’t even do him justice. When the ball is in his hands he is explosive. I can see why when he was in high school that every time he got the ball, people stood up."

Jones has taken some "hellacious hits" in practice drills from the Tech defense and hops right up with an all-business approach, according to Bill Roth. For a guy that didn’t get hit a lot in high school, Jones just gets in there and works, Bustle said. A lot of times freshmen don’t realize how hard they’ll have to work.

Tailback Keith Burnell has been very solid this fall after a good spring practice and "we expect him to help us. He’s gotten himself into position where we trust him," Bustle said.

Beamer said he thinks the Suggs-Ferguson tandem in the backfield is the best tailback-fullback combination in America. When Ferguson gets the ball, watch how many tackles he breaks and see how many yards he picks up after contact, he said.

Other fullbacks: Wayne Briggs had great preparation for fall practice at fullback and Doug Easlick is going to be good, Beamer said. Marvin Urquhart has lost weight and is coming around. Josh Spence has to get used to the position and all the blocking involved and needs to bulk up some more. (It was announced Sunday that fullback Joe Wilson is being moved to defensive line.)


A rash of injuries among receivers is impacting practice. Bustle said it seemed like there were more receivers riding the bike on the sidelines than playing on Monday. Ernest Wilford (hamstring) was back Monday for limited work. Emmett Johnson, Richard Johnson, and impressive walk-on Chris Shreve are still several days away from returning.

The offense runs 40 plays in "pass scale" during a practice. When too many receivers are out of action at one position it means extra work for the others and the staff has to be careful about wearing out their legs. For example, Beamer said, if Andre Davis winds up running half of the pass scales, that’s 20 40-yard sprints. "We don’t want to wear their legs out." Meanwhile, Ron Moody has had the opportunity of extra work. And Witten and Parham have worked some on the other side of the offensive formation (at split end, rather than flanker).

Coach Beamer said the situation with Chris Clifton is a tough call. They have been impressed with his abilities at quarterback and he can be a quarterback, but had he worked through the fall at receiver, Beamer said he possibly could have been a factor there now due to the injuries.


  • Beamer seemed to say as little as possible when asked about the playing status of Derrius Monroe. The coach said they are "checking on his graduation" from summer school to verify if he has another year of eligibility.
  • Andre Davis and Ronyell Whitaker will handle punt returns. DeAngelo Hall is a natural in that role because of how he catches the ball, and in time we’ll probably see him there, Beamer said. But for now he likes the experience that Davis and Whitaker bring. The kickoff return role is still uncertain. Beamer said Coach Hite likes Richard Johnson there, although it could be Andre Davis, Suggs or even Kevin Jones.
  • The offensive line is still somewhat of a puzzle and Beamer said he has "a little bit of a concern" as to how it’s going to come together. Jon Dunn went down with an ankle injury Monday. Beamer praised Matt Wincek’s leadership, said Jake Grove’s back is holding up, Luke Owens needs consistency, Jacob Gibson is a swing guy they are working at 2-3 positions. At tight end, Browning Wynn’s back problems are getting better. Beamer mentioned freshman walk-on "Mike Burnop" at that position. Bill Roth reminded him that he meant Greg Burnop, who is Mike’s son. "Wishful thinking," Beamer said of Mike Burnop. "No, you’re better off with Greg," Roth quipped.
  • Friday, August 31 is Hokie Pride Day, all over Virginia. Wear and display your VT maroon.
  • Beamer didn’t bite on an opportunity to compare the 2001 team to 1999’s team. "I think (2001) has a chance to be a very good football team. After that we’ll have to see." The Hokies have some special talent and now have to see about their chemistry, he said.
  • Monday was Day 688 in Virginia Tech’s continuous possession of the Commonwealth Cup.

-- GalaxHokie


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