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Monday, August 19, 2002
by GalaxHokie

(Editor's Note: Please see the information for the "Tech Sports Tonight" radio show, listed above.)

After reviewing film of last Saturday's scrimmage, Coach Beamer is calling the 2002 Virginia Tech defense "probably the fastest defense we've ever had."

He qualified that by saying part of that ability to "play fast" comes from knowing what youíre doing on the field. Although VTís defensive tackle position is a bit undersized, it is helped by speed. "If you donít have great size then give me speed and quickness," he said.

Defensive coordinator Bud Foster says the 2002 defense has him as excited as much as any unit in a long time. It is a young bunch, with 80 percent of the D listed as sophomores and freshmen. How fast they develop will determine the number of wins and losses. This is an athletic group, he said, that with experience will "play faster."

Beamer touched on the inexperience as well when Bill Roth asked what the realistic expectations would be for this season. The coach didnít give a direct answer, but said the demanding schedule of the first month or so is a big factor. VT has some good players and a lot of inexperience, too. "You worry about that part (inexperience) in early ball games." The key is that the proven guys need to play at the level the coaches expect them to and then you have to hope that the developing guys at tackle, linebacker and tight end "get there quickly."

The final scrimmage Saturday turned out about as youíd expect, Beamer said: the first team offense scored 20 on the second team defense, and the first team defense shut out the second team offense. Issues remain with second team players at some positions as well as a couple of starting roles, he said. He did not elaborate.

Is he surprised at Grant Noelís play this fall, considering the ACL injury setback, Roth asked. No direct answer, but the coach said Grant has done well and shows that he has been part of the program for five years. Beamer has been impressed with Bryan Randall and predicted that "a lot of his plusses" will show up when heís going full speed and "doing things with his feet." He made the point that the quarterbacks wear yellow jerseys in practice and donít get hit, which holds back Randall in showing what he can do.

"Young Vick," as he calls him, has handled himself well. If all goes well, the plan is to play two quarterbacks against Arkansas State. It is "not our intention to play Marcus" in that game. They want to continue monitoring his progress in practice and bring him along. Ideally, they would like to redshirt him.

Foster went through a rundown of the leaders by position on defense. Nothing much new if youíve been following such things already.

He singled out defensive tackle Jason Lallis and backup linebacker James Anderson as the players who have moved up in status in recent weeks. Foster called Anderson the most improved player on defense. He had some concerns about Anderson after he was dinged up in spring practice, but James worked hard physically and studied the game during the summer and "came back like a man possessed." Heís in the 6-3, 230 range and Foster agreed with Bill Roth that Anderson "looks like an FSU guy" with that build.

Lallis, described as "about 260" pounds, is a little undersized at DT. Foster described him as instinctive, a player who uses good leverage, a playmaker, a DL with the speed and athleticism to put pressure on quarterbacks.

Whip linebacker Brandon Manning and rover Michael Crawford will get their first starts against ASU. Manning is ahead of Mike Daniels, who is bothered by a hamstring problem. Daniels is available but has missed a lot of practice time. True freshman Aaron Rouse looked good at whip early on but can use a redshirt year after encountering the complexities of the defense. Foster said Rouse is going to be outstanding Ė runs like a deer and plays like a wild buck. Crawford has moved ahead of Hardee at rover. Foster said Crawford has been a special teams demon for two years and "now itís his time." He has speed to cover people one on one.

The secondary should be a strong unit. Willie Pile has been slowed by a groin injury. Starting corners for the first game are DeAngelo Hall and Vince Fuller. Garnell Wilds backs up both corners. Freshman Cary Wade will dress Ė impressive, good speed, great mechanics, strength, and comes from a program where he learned the fundamentals well. True freshman Jimmy Williams backs up at safety. "Mark my word," Foster said. "He is going to be a very special football player for us." Speedy, hits like a linebacker, good open field player. He could play rover, whip, safety, backer. His speed and size could "hopefully" make him a Ronnie Lott type of player.

Defensive ends Adibi, Davis, Colas and Cobb had great summers. They understand the expectation and have worked toward it.

Foster said he feels good about the backups, but many of them will be playing for the first time, such as Jason Murphy, Tim Sandidge, Jonathan Lewis and Darryl Tapp up front; Anderson and Blake Warren (great spring, injured this fall) behind Robinson at linebacker. Senior Alex Markogiannakis and Jordan Trott will back up Mikal Baaqee at linebacker.

Junior college transfer DT Jimmy Williams is still finalizing his academic status in order to be eligible to play. While he will miss some playing time, JUCO players often donít mature until midseason anyway because they have to learn the new system, Foster said. "Once he gets going, heís an impact-type player." His academic situation is "on track."

Carter Warley, Vinnie Burns and Jon Mollerup have retained the respective duties of field goal kicker, punter and kickoffs. Freshman Nic Schmitt was a legitimate challenge to each of them and will dress for the first game but is unlikely to play unless it appears he would become a full-time kicker at one position this year. Brandon Pace proved himself as a "really good field goal guy" and last yearís backup punter, Bobby Peaslee, returns. Together they make up probably the best group of kickers that VT has ever had, Beamer said.

Richard Johnson will be the lead return man on kickoffs and punts. DeAngelo Hall had been listed as the lead punt returner, but with the suspension of Ronyell Whitaker, there was a concern about Hall being in on too many plays in the game overall, and so Johnson will take punts instead. Mike Imoh is the backup on kick returns. Beamer described his good hands and instincts about football. He has common sense about running pass routes and has shown some ability on the punt block team. While the coaches want him to concentrate on receiver for now, he is regarded as a tailback in the long run.

One questioner said the offensive line appears to be behind the 1999 OL in terms of strength. None of the linemen this year has reached Super Iron Hokie status. Beamer didnít respond directly. He ticked off names of the OL and said they are playing well. Heís been pretty impressed by the first teamers. Two true freshmen OL will play.

Regarding the suspensions of three seniors, Coach Beamer said he is disappointed any time such action has to be taken. "It affects the team. They are counting on these guys, and all of a sudden they aren't there. But it's something that needs to be done, and it's going to be done."

On a lighter note, a caller whose wife attended the coachís summer ladies clinic said she came back talking about Beamerís after shave and said he "sure smells nice." Beamer: "My wife never tells me that." He joked that he will reveal his cologne secrets Tuesday on BeamerBall.com.

Another caller wanted to ask Beamer which public lots have shuttle bus service. He didnít know the answer but did offer that "If we donít play well, Iíll be on one of those shuttle buses myself!"

TECH NOTES:

  • The winning entry was announced today in the naming contest for the VT tailback duo of Suggs and Jones: "The Untouchables."
  • A crew from ESPNís College GameDay was at VT Monday to film a segment on Lee Suggs. It will air prior to the Saturday night ESPN prime time game.
  • Sundayís kickoff is 2:30 p.m. Radio show begins at 1. The recent pre-game tradition of the Hokie Hike (?) will continue with the players getting off the bus at the same spot as last season and walking through the crowd and into the stadium.
  • In the greater Roanoke television market, the VT football show has been rescheduled to air at 12:30 p.m. this Thursday only. The show was pre-empted last Sunday due to a major local news development.
  • Roth said thereís a chance for the Arkansas State gameís attendance to set an all-time high for Lane Stadium, depending on student ticket sales. (No specifics). Regardless, a new record will be set for the LSU game.
  • 'Eer now, Hoos Counting? Today marks Day 1,045 in Tech's continuous possession of the Commonwealth Cup, and day 1,399 in possession of the Black Diamond Trophy.

GalaxHokie


          

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