The Hokie Hotline (football and basketball season)
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Tech Talk Tuesday (football season only)
September 17, 2001
Coach Beamer began his remarks by saying he was glad that all of Division I postponed its games last weekend, and that all of college football needed to stand together out of respect for those who were suffering from the acts of terrorism. Last Tuesday was a rugged day for everybody, he said.
Bill Roth suggested that teams like VT and Nebraska may be in position to gain most from the postponements because the SEC and other teams will have big games stacked at the end of the season, making it difficult to run the table. Beamer said you can look at it two ways: you can be hurt by injuries playing a series of games like that, or you can be a team on a roll and it doesnít matter. "Iíve seen teams get hot."
With the scheduling changes, such as the SEC championship game now moving to Dec. 8 instead of being played Dec. 1, someone asked about the possibility of ABC putting the VT-Miami game at night. Beamer acknowledged that "we want it as cold as possible" for that game, with some snow flurries. He said VT can look into such a possibility, but there was no indication that this would actually come about.
The scheduling throws the BCS into extra weeks of uncertainty, Roth said, and some teams wonít know their bowl destination until Dec. 9.
Offensive coordinator Rickey Bustle spent some time talking about the performance of QB Grant Noel. He said he is pleased with where Grant is and that a better opening game couldnít have been scripted for him as far as building confidence. Things will get progressively more difficult with coverages and pressure, which Noel will have to adapt to.
Noel told Bustle that he hurried some throws against WMU because he thought he felt the defensive pressure, but when they reviewed the film together it showed the pressure really wasnít there. More playing time and repetitions should help this. Bustle said Noel remained in control, ran the offense well, and checked the Hokies into some good plays against Western Michigan. "He just needs to keep competing and getting better."
Bustle said his concern right now is that heíd like to see the quarterbacks be better and farther along in throwing the ball. Noel needs to release the long ball sooner. Vick waited longer but had a superior arm. On the other hand, he said, you donít see the receivers dropping as many balls as the zingers thrown by Vick. Roth asked how many times a game that Vick typically didnít run the play that was called. After a pause, Bustle responded, "A couple of times a game." Noel follows the plan, he said.
Roth asked Bustle to compare Noelís arm to other VT quarterbacks, such as Vick, Druckenmiller, Furrer, Clark. Bustle replied that he would rather say that Noel has a good arm and throws a catchable pass.
In acknowledging that the deep ball hasnít gotten to Andre Davis yet, Bustle said the video showed WMU backing off him 10-12 yards, giving him lots of cushion. Itís tough to get behind the DB when he wants to turn and run right away, said Bustle, but VT will see some defenses that will come up and challenge Davis. Bustle said he wants to get back to calling some deep balls. So far they have been trying to create things underneath to Davis. Emmett Johnson has to get open deep as well.
The planned allotment of scholarships for recruiting calls for VT to commit one slot to a quarterback this year. Bustle said he has evaluated a number of QB's, but of course didnít elaborate or name names.
Keith Burnell had a good game against WMU and continues to prepare well. Lee Suggs was back at a team meeting Monday after undergoing knee surgery last Friday. "I still think heís gonna be back here (playing) in a week," Bustle quipped.
The coaches are pleased with the first team offensive line, he said, but still need to develop a wholesale second unit.
Under first year coach Greg Schiano, the Scarlet Knights use a Miami style 4-3 defensive package and bring lots of pressure even against the run "to cover up some things." The offense uses a lot of different motion looks and in one game even sent the QB in motion and snapped the ball to the tailback, which Beamer said will take focus to defend. He said their kicking teams are different, but didnít explain.
Roth noted that the Hokies scored 59 and 58 points in their last two games at Rutgers, where they have scored an average of 52 points in their past four meetings. The Hokies scored on a 78-yard pass play on their first snap in the 1999 game.
Beamer observed that it will be Rutgersí first home game under Schiano. VT is favored, he said, but "we were against Temple a few years ago," too. He is concerned about disruptions and delays in New Jersey Ė there will be no police escorts because the police are busy with other things, for example.
Jim Davis is back practicing and should be ready to play Saturday. Jake Houseright apparently has had strep throat for several days and his condition seems up in the air. T.J. Jackson is still gimpy but they hope he can play Saturday. Anthony Davis is back and working well after being gimpy for the WMU game. Emmett Johnson pulled a hamstring in practice last Wednesday and is iffy this week. Richard Johnson went full speed Monday. Kevin Jones looked fine on Monday.
For Rutgers, top tailback Dennis Thomas will not play.
LIVE FROM NEW YORK
Former VT receiver Nick Cullen was working in a building about 10 blocks from the World Trade Center last Tuesday and was a guest by phone on the Hokie Hotline to describe what he went through. Cullen was a member of Beamerís first recruiting class, played from 1987-1990, and was remembered on the show for a great TD catch against UVa on fourth and 11 in the 1990 game. His 13 catches in a game against Southern Miss remain a Lane Stadium record.
Cullen was in a training class on the 30th floor (of his building, not the World Trade Center towers) when they saw papers blow by the window and someone joked there must be a ticker tape parade going on, but it was the aftermath of the first crash. The building was soon evacuated, and Cullen and others walked down 30 flights of stairs which took about 15 minutes. They smelled the smoke as soon as they got outside, and moved away from the buildings because they didnít feel safe. They watched the towers burn, which he called "a horrific sight."
When the first tower fell, Cullen said, it sounded like another plane exploding and "we thought we were being bombed again." Several of them got under a truck. Then they saw a ball of smoke and decided to run. He said it reminded him at the time of an Indiana Jones movie -- running through the street trying to outrun the debris.
They wrapped shirts around their heads to breathe through because smoke was so heavy. The roar of the second building falling sounded like a fourth plane. They ran along the river, knowing they could jump in if they had to. His thoughts now are that so many future leaders of America went down with those buildings.
After his Tech career, Cullen married a member of the High Techs and earned a second degree from Northwestern. They have one child. Nick said he will be at the Rutgers game. He told Coach Beamer how proud he is in following the program and how it has progressed. Said Beamer, "Youíre part of the foundation of what we started."