The Hokie Hotline (football and basketball season)
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Tech Talk Tuesday (football season only)
September 3, 2001
Week 1 is in the books, and the Hokies were victorious. However, Tech lost one of its favorite sons to injury for the season. TD Lee was a big topic of conversation for tonight’s edition of the Hokie Hotline, which included Defensive Coordinator Bud Foster and Head Coach Frank Beamer. Bill Roth also took calls and played a pre-taped interview with Lee Suggs.
Defensive Coordinator Bud Foster
As the Hotline began, Roth asked about the difficulty of preparing for UConn. Coach Foster said this was a tough situation as they had no game tape on redshirt freshman QB Keron Henry. He felt the defense was a little anxious in the early stages of the game, made some mistakes and gave up 10 points early. He felt that the defense then settled down, and played a great game the rest of the way. Coach Foster also addressed the fact that the defense recorded zero sacks against UConn. He observed that offenses are attacking defenses more with quick slants and dump passes on first down. And while the defense never sacked Henry, Coach Foster observed that he was hit 19 out of the 28 times he threw the ball, so the pressure was there.
The next subject was the injury to defensive lineman Jim Davis. Davis seems to have injured his back in the weight room and will have an MRI to determine the extent of the injury. Roth asked if that will open up playing time for Derrius Monroe, and Coach Foster said that he will see playing time this Saturday. He stated that Monroe did not play in the UConn game as he was still getting himself back into playing shape.
After the break, Roth asked a question that I’m sure entered a lot of Hokie’s minds as they watched the defensive back play this past Saturday. The question dealt with the corner’s coverage of the man vs. going after the ball. Coach Foster proceeded to explain the difference between zone and man coverage. In a zone coverage scheme, the defensive back can read the quarterback, watch the ball, and break on the ball. In the man scheme that the Hokies play, the defensive back captures and secures the man, then looks for the ball. Coach Foster felt that this position, especially in the Hokies’ defense, is the toughest position to play in all of college football because the defensive backs are so isolated.
A caller from Chester, Va. addressed this issue, especially the play of Ronyell Whitaker, and asked about the play of our whip and rover backs. Foster felt that Whitaker played well and that Deon Provitt played well in his first game and the T.J. Jackson played well, although he is nursing a sore hamstring.
A student in the crowd asked about Western Michigan’s spread offense and how it compared to Clemson’s similar style, which Tech faced in the Gator Bowl. Coach Foster felt the two styles were comparable, but he offered the WMU does a better job of protecting the quarterback and that will offer a challenge for the Hokies this Saturday. Coach Foster also felt that this is one of the better teams that Tech will face this year and pointed to their success against Toledo, Iowa, and Marshall in the regular season from last year’s 9-3 championship game team. (Note: they lost to Marshall by 5 in the MAC championship game.)
A caller asked about Ronyell’s comments in the paper last week before the UConn game, in which he stated that the Hokies would be in Pasadena. Coach Foster stated that Whitaker is an emotional player who should focus on the Hokies and not give the opposing team any bulletin board material. He also felt that Ronyell learned a lesson this past week in his comments and his play and that he will gain experience from them.
Another caller brought up Ronyell and stated that it would be tough to play week in and week out in front of 50,000+ and do it as well as he does. Another caller stated that he introduced his child to Ronyell after the game and had nothing but praise on what a nice and poised young man he was, especially after a tough outing. Coach Foster again stated that Whitaker is a great player and they will need him down the road if the Hokies are to continue to be successful this year.
In closing, Roth asked about this Saturday’s game against the Broncos. Coach Foster said that they will take some deep shots and named senior wide receiver Josh Bush as a standout. He also stated that this is a very complete football team. He offered that some keys to success against WMU are putting them in long yardage situations, playing a "bend but don’t break" defense, and not giving up the long stuff.
Head Football Coach Frank Beamer
Coach Beamer then joined Bill and the sellout crowd at the Gobblertown Tavern. The first topic of discussion was the loss of Lee Suggs. Coach Beamer felt that the loss of key players is something the team has faced before even though "you just don’t replace a guy like Lee." Most recently, of course, is last year’s loss of Michael Vick for three games and the loss of Andre Davis for the second half of the season. He felt that this is part of the game and unfortunate to happen to such a great guy like Lee. Coach also said that the team practiced well today and that how a team reacts to adversity is the key to continued success.
Coach Beamer then ran down the depth chart, which included a potential bombshell. When Roth asked how things stacked up at tailback, the order was as expected: Keith Burnell, Kevin Jones, and Wayne Ward. However, Jones’ availability is in doubt. He received a deep thigh bruise during Saturday’s contest, and then re-injured it Monday during practice. He will miss practice Tuesday and could be out for this weekend. Coach felt that the most important thing for Jones right now is practice. So much so, that Jones has been removed from special teams so he can focus on the tailback position. So as of right now Wayne Ward, who Coach Beamer said, "will hit you in a minute", may move into the number 2 position at tailback.
Roth then played an interview with Lee Suggs that was done earlier in the day. The interview lasted about five minutes. Lee stated that he didn’t think his injury was as bad as it turned out to be, which may explain why he was walking on the sidelines after it happened. He will graduate in May, and he plans on focusing on his studies, his rehab and may enter graduate school next year. He stated that Larry Austin, who had the same season ending injury last season, approached him and gave him some advice. He also stated that he will return to the Hokies for next season.
Coach Beamer said that Austin’s rehab should give Lee some confidence in his own, as Larry’s knee is stronger than ever. Roth also stated that Lee has a great family unit that will be a constant source of support. While Roth offered this was one of the hardest interviews he has ever had to do due to the fact that such a disappointing setback has happened to such a great young man, he said that Lee wanted to do it because he feels the love the Hokies have for him and he wanted them to know that he loves them just as much.
The remainder of the evening saw a great number of questions from those calling in and those in attendance. The following topics were covered:
Bill and Coach Beamer closed tonight’s show discussing this week’s game against the Broncos of Western Michigan. Coach Beamer stated this is going to be a tough game and that people shouldn’t get all caught up in pre-season rankings when it comes to Tech's schedule. The Broncos finished with the 9th ranked defense in the nation last year, and Coach Beamer stated that Gary Darnell has done a great job with that program.
-- Joel Kelly (JKHokie)