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

Saturday, December 29, 2001
by Apex Hokie

Saturday eveningís Hokie Hotline featured outgoing Offensive Coordinator Rickey Bustle, incoming Offensive Coordinator Bryan Stinespring and Tech Athletic Director Jim Weaver.

News of the Day

From the Virginia Tech side, Willie Pile burst a bursar sack in his knee but is expected to play. Shawn Witten will play, but the question now is how much he will be able to play. There is also no change in the status of Jim Davis and Kevin Jones -- both are expected to play.

For Florida State, two corner backs went down in practice and are at best questionable for the game. Bradley Jennings did not practice again today, and Kendyll Pope has bone spurs that may limit or preclude his play for the game. Malcolm Tatum left practice to be with his girlfriend, who had a baby.

Mike Burnop reported on the teamís practice today. He said that the team looked sharp, that Grant Noel threw the ball well and that Shawn Witten looked good. He also commented on Emmett Johnson and Vinnie Burns. Burns, he said, punted the ball very well.

Rickey Bustle

Bill Roth introduced Rickey Bustle as the new head coach of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Raginí Cajuns. Bustle talked about his new position, and said that he had promised his family that he would never take a head coaching job just to take one. He said that he got involved in the discussions and things just "snowballed." He said that he would miss the players at Tech, but that this might be his chance to live his dream like Coach Beamer was living his right now.

On the Hokie practices, Bustle agreed with Bill Rothís assessment that Grant Noel was having some good plays and some "not-so-good plays," but he also said that Grant really wanted to get back out there and give a good performance. On Florida Stateís losses for the game, he said that we should "feel no sorrow for them;" that Coach Bowden has a way of making things sound worse than they are, and then have the players "come back from the dead" for the game. He said that the teams had traded game tapes and that the Seminoles werenít playing well early, but that they were a different team over the last three games.

On the probable starters for next season, Coach Bustle said that he honestly didnít know who the quarterback would be for next season, but speculated that Doug Easlick would be the starting fullback. He also commented on the number of quality running backs that will be on the team next season.

He said that his favorite play call over the 14 years that he was in the Tech program was "5X" to Jermaine Holmes in the 1995 Virginia game. He explained that he doesnít usually like to add plays during the week before the game, but that play was added on Wednesday and practiced again on Thursday prior to the game. He said it was originally designed to go to Cornelius White, but that it was switched to Jermaine after Cornelius had run a number of deep routes just before the call.

In closing, Bill Roth thanked him for being a good sport and wished him good luck in his new job. Coach Bustleís parting words to the audience were, "You guys are the best."

Bryan Stinespring

New Offensive Coordinator Bryan Stinespring was the next guest on the show, and he gave his perspective on the Tech practices. He said that the first day was very sloppy, but that they had gotten much better as the week progressed. He also said that he was looking forward to calling the plays in the Gator Bowl, and that he would be in the booth with Coach Bustle beside him, and Coach Hite would be on the field relaying the play calls to the players on the field.

He commented on several young players that have impressed him for next season, including offensive lineman Curtis Bradley, who has a good temperament and who he thinks will make the 2-deep roster for next season. He also mentioned Danny McGrath, Cedric Humes and Justin Hamilton, and left open the possibility that Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones would occasionally be on the field at the same time next season. Later he indicated that there were "concerns" about who would be the backup to Doug Easlick at fullback next season. He said the "candidates" were Marvin Urquhart, Joe Wilson and Josh Spence, but that they would have to show something to the coaching staff in order to be named the backup.

He said that he thought Jarrett Ferguson was the most underrated player in the BIG EAST, and assured a caller that the offense would try to get the ball in the hands of Andre Davis during the game. He suggested that this could come in the form of reverses, quick screens or down-field passes, but that it was important to get the ball in the hands of the most talented play-makers in order to be successful.

On the subject of Florida State, he agreed with Bill Rothís assessment that they are one of the few remaining "unconquered mountains" for the Virginia Tech program, since they had not beaten them in the Frank Beamer era, but he said that he didnít feel that this game was revenge for or a rematch of the Sugar Bowl two years ago.

In one of the lighter moments of the show, there was a question from the audience about whether he would be free to call the plays or whether Coaches Beamer and Bustle would have control. He said that he would have to let him know after the game, but that he could assure everyone that he would be calling all of the plays that worked. He suggested that he might make a sign that would point to one of the other coaches for the plays that didnít work. A sideways arrow would mean that Coach Bustle called the play, and a down arrow would mean that Coach Beamer called the play. He said that the offense would not be drastically different for the game. He said that you canít make a lot of changes for the bowl game. He also stressed the importance of the players holding onto the football and not giving up fumbles.

Toward the end of his segment, he commented on the importance of the February recruiting time period to the program and discussed the first class nature of the Tech program. From the Hall of Legends to the bowl game procedures, he said that everything Tech does is first class, and that players and recruits respond to those things. He also liked the suggestion that the Commonwealth Cup could be permanently bolted in place. He said that it was going to take a good team to take it back. Finally, he said that he was anxious to line up against Florida State and see whoís best.

Jim Weaver

Athletic Director Jim Weaver was the final guest. His comments covered several main topics, such as the way that Tech does everything first class ("If you want to win a national championship, you have to do everything first class."), the current bowl system and the Gator Bowl in particular and the Tech schedule for next season.

Weaver said that the bowl wins bode well for the BIG EAST Conference and that they make a statement that the conference is better than many people think or give credit for. At the time, the conference was 6-1 in the last two years in bowl games (7-1 after Syracuseís victory Saturday night), and that the wins this season were against quality opponents, including a ranked Georgia team last night.

He said that Jacksonville was delighted with the Hokie turnout, with an estimated 20,000 fans in town for the game. He pointed out that bowls began as a way to get people to come to the communities and that the bowls had always chosen schools that would bring a large number of fans to the communities to spend money. As he has in past shows, he said that Tech is in the Gator Bowl this year because of the fans -- in his opinion, the best fans in America.

On the subject of the Gator Bowl, he said that the organizers think that the BCS will eventually expand to 5 bowls and that they want the Gator Bowl to be one of them. He said that he thinks it might happen. They already have the Super Bowl planned in the future, and thatís good for the resume. He said that the Gator Bowl was anxious to extend the agreement with the BIG EAST and that was good for the conference, since it guaranteed two BIG EAST teams would play on New Yearís Day every year, and that was important for in-state bragging rights, especially when others donít go!

He said that he believed that Coach Beamer had made a very good move in naming Bryan Stinespring the new Offensive Coordinator and signing Kevin Rogers as the new Quarterbacks Coach. He said that Rogers is a good recruiter and is obviously a good coach, since he had developed some of the Syracuse quarterbacks such as Donovan McNabb. He also commented on the schedule for next season, which includes SEC champion LSU. He said that a lot of thought and discussion went into the decision to add LSU, including national television opportunities, schedule strength improvement and consideration for the final BCA game in 2004 against ECU.

In his concluding remarks, he suggested that there were more people in the bar to watch the show than Syracuse took with them to their bowl. He also said that he heard a rumor that Syracuse had sold just 300 tickets and asked Bill Roth if he could confirm that.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Sundayís Hokie Hotline will air at 5 PM and will feature Head Coach Frank Beamer, Running Backs Coach Billy Hite and incoming Quarterbacks Coach Kevin Rogers.
  • There are approximately 400 tickets left for the Gator Bowl as of 6:30 Saturday evening.
  • Parking for the game will be limited and security will be tight in the interest of fan safety. Fans are being encouraged to arrive early, use the park-and-ride shuttles, and bring only a small purse. (Hey, I just report what they say. I wonít be bringing a small purse -- or any purse at all, for that matter!)
  • The Tech broadcast of the Gator Bowl will be available at the stadium, but Roth did not know the frequency.
  • The halftime score of the Bowl was Syracuse 19, Kansas State 3. There were two blocked extra point attempts in the first half. By the end of the broadcast, the score was still 19-3, and the final score was 26-3, Syracuse.
  • Saturday was day 819 in Virginia Techís continuous possession of the Commonwealth Cup.

-- Apex Hokie


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