The Hokie Hotline (football and basketball season)
When: every Monday from 7:00-8:30
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Tech Talk Tuesday (football season only)
December 28, 2001
Friday evening’s Hokie Hotline began the "Countdown to Kick-Off" for this year’s Gator Bowl between the Hokies and the Seminoles. The show originated from the team hotel in Jacksonville, Florida, and featured Defensive Coordinator Bud Foster.
Bill Roth began the show with a recap of the news of the day. He announced that there are only about 600 tickets remaining for the game on Tuesday, and that it was very likely that the game would be a sell-out for the second year in a row. Also, there will be news on the parking for the bowl game given out during tomorrow’s Hokie Hotline show.
On the injury front, there was news regarding five Virginia Tech players and two Florida State players. Shawn Witten wore a white jersey today, indicating that he was 100% and ready to play on Tuesday. He has a pin in his foot as a result of his injury during the Pittsburgh game, but will play in the game. Kevin Jones and Jim Davis are also ready to play following injuries sustained in the Miami game. Offensive Lineman Jacob Gibson has been downgraded to doubtful for the game (back problems), and Anthony Nelson was taken to the hospital on Monday after becoming dehydrated during practice.
From Florida State’s perspective, Bradley Jennings, their senior middle linebacker, is questionable (my word, not theirs) for the game after having his knee scoped a week after the final game of the season. The coaches are not happy with the circumstances surrounding the injury/surgery (they feel he waited too long after the last game to get it done, thus not leaving enough time for rehab before the bowl game), and have announced that he will not play if he is unable to practice during the week. Punter Chance Gwaltney is also an unknown for the game after injuring his foot jumping out of the bed of a truck. He has a broken heel on his non-kicking foot.
Following a break, Bud Foster joined the program, and began discussing a variety of issues. When asked to list the advantages of bowl games for the Virginia Tech program, he offered two primary issues. First, players want to go to bowl games, and the fact that Tech is one of only seven programs to be going to its ninth consecutive bowl game is a significant recruiting advantage. Second, the extra practices allow the coaching staff to evaluate the underclassmen, and provide a springboard for the Spring practices.
On Florida State’s offense, Foster said that they are very similar to the team that Tech played in the Sugar Bowl two years ago. They don’t have a Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback like they did then, but Chris Rix has developed throughout the season, and should be a solid player for the Seminoles. He pointed out that Tech has played a lot of young quarterbacks in bowl games over the years, and he hopes that this will not be a trend in which Rix uses this game as a springboard into next year like others, such as Peyton Manning and Scott Frost, have in previous bowl games. He said that Tech needs a solid game plan, such as they had against Miami in order to be successful.
A question from the audience concerned Fred Lee, a player that Tech had recruited in the recent past. Coach Foster declined to comment on any specific recruiting issues, but he did indicate that Tech has a number of commitments and is on the list of several others. He also said that he feels good about the process for this year.
Bill Roth asked if there was concern that a number of the recruits were talking to each other, potentially leading to all of them going to a single school. Foster said that many of the recruits had been on campus for the Hokies and that, ultimately, they would go where they felt comfortable and could be successful. He seemed to indicate that this would be an advantage for Virginia Tech.
As for numbers, he indicated that Tech would sign on the order of 16-18 players and that they had approximately 10 commitments already. They are still looking at defensive line, linebacker, receiver and quarterback as some of the key positions for this recruiting class.
Another question centered around a number of recruits that had joined the team recently. These included Chris Caesar, a gifted athlete that will most likely be a receiver for Tech in the future, Reggie Butler and Brandon Frye.
Coach Foster specifically mentioned three players who have shown promise for the future as a result of the extra practices for the Gator Bowl. They were Tim Sandidge, Jason Murphy and Blake Ward. All of them are on the defensive side of the ball, as could be expected from the defensive coordinator.
A member of the audience asked about the fact that there are 5 quarterbacks in the program and the coaches are recruiting more. He asked if there was a chance that some of those already in the program could be converted to other positions. Coach Foster said that the staff had not discussed the situation yet, but that there was a possibility that this could be the case. In many cases, Tech has recruited quarterbacks who are good athletes and that they could be moved to other positions in an effort to help the team as a whole.
Chris Clifton was mentioned specifically. Coach Foster indicated that he is a quarterback with a lot of raw talent, but that he is perhaps the farthest away from a mechanics standpoint. However, he said that he has the arm strength and skills to be an excellent quarterback.
Coaching Staff Changes
Another member of the audience asked about the potential effect of the change in offensive coordinators with the departure of Rickey Bustle for UL-Lafayette. Coach Foster indicated that the entire staff is happy and excited for Rickey, since this has been something that he has wanted for a long time. He said that he doesn’t think the offense will miss a beat though. New OC Bryan Stinespring has been in the program for a long time and is an excellent coach. He said that it could give the offense a chance to expand and use new formations, and that the addition of Kevin Rogers as the new quarterbacks coach will allow for some additional positive input.
A question from the audience concerned the new recruiting duties for Coach Jim Cavanaugh. Again, Coach Foster indicated that he was excited about the move and that he thought it would be a big plus for the program. He said that Coach Cavanaugh has great experience and knowledge in the recruiting arena, and that his ties with high school coaches around the state will serve the team well.
Defensive Game Plan
When asked about the players that Coach Foster feels are the most dangerous, he mentioned Javon Walker, the #2 rated receiver in the NFL draft, Chris Rix, and tailbacks Nick Maddox and Greg Jones. Each, he said, presents his own problems for the defense.
On the defensive game plan, he indicated that they would have to use a strategy similar to the Virginia game, in which the staff took chances on first and second down. He said that they wouldn’t back off on the skill players, and that they have faith in the Tech defense to make plays and beat the offense in one-on-one match-ups.
Coach Foster indicated that he was proud of the defense, and that they had played very well all season, with the exception of the Pittsburgh game. He mentioned that the team was near the top of the national defensive standings in nearly every major category, and that their 238 yards and 13 points per game were also near the very top of the statistics. He said that the team’s goal was to be at the top in every category and that they were in the top 10 or top 5 in many of the statistics.
Music City Bowl
The Music City Bowl was finishing during the tail end of the Hotline broadcast, and Bill Roth, Mike Burnop and Bud Foster discussed the bowl, including the irony of the current situation. Boston College had just pulled ahead of Georgia and was trying to run out the clock. Roth pointed out that if BC won, which they ultimately did prior to the end of the broadcast, the BIG EAST would be 4-0 over the SEC in the brief history of the bowl and yet the conference was losing the bowl tie-in to the Big Ten next season. They added that all four of the games had been won by different teams.
Coach Foster indicated that he was sorry to see the tie-in end, and that he was proud of BC for winning this game, and proud of the conference for their recent bowl success, which included a 6-1 record over the past two bowl seasons up to this point. Still remaining on the bowl schedule for this year, besides Tech, were Syracuse (vs. Kansas State in the Insight.com Bowl) and Miami (vs. Nebraska in the Rose Bowl).
-- Apex Hokie