The Hokie Hotline (football and basketball season)
When: every Monday from 7:00-8:30
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Tech Sports Tonight (football season only)
(previously Tech Talk Tuesday)
When: every Tuesday from 7:00-9:00
Station:  WXGI AM 950 in Richmond
Internet: (click on WXGI LIVE!)
Local call-in number: 345-0950
Toll free call-in number: 877-994-4950

Monday, October 7, 2002
by Joel Kelly

The Hokie faithful cast their eyes northward as their beloved Hokies travel to Boston College to begin Big East play. With a chill in the air, and a welcome autumn upon us, the Hokie Hotline was on the air. Bill Roth took your calls and hosted Head Football Coach Frank Beamer. Also joining tonight’s Hotline was Offensive Coordinator Bryan Stinespring.

Bill started tonight’s Hotline with the news of the day. The Hokies remain at the #4 spot in both the USA TODAY/ESPN Coaches Poll and the AP Top 25, all though they did pick up several votes after lackluster performances by Oklahoma and Texas, who meet this weekend in a Big 12 tussle in Austin.

Offensive Coordinator and Offensive Line Coach Bryan Stinespring’s segment

The first topic of discussion tonight was Tech’s recent struggles in the running game against Texas A&M and Western Michigan. Coach Stinespring joked that its convenient for critics to "point the finger" at a failed running play since he is both offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. On a more serious note, he did point out that the Hokies did not execute well during the Western Michigan game. He believes that the Hokies are viewed as a team that plays with its motor running all the time. He believes the Hokies play with that mentality and style, but it didn’t manifest itself during the WMU game.

Bill asked Coach Stinespring about the 2-minute-offense with a 4 wide receiver set and if we would see more of it, alluding to this week’s game against Boston College. He stated that the Hokies have actually opened the offensive playbook more in practice than they have shown on the field. He also stated that Sophomore QB Bryan Randall is handling the offense with confidence as they continue to expand the offensive game plan.

Todd in Christiansburg started off the evening with a suggestion that the passing game might focus more on the tight ends and tailbacks. "OK", was Coach Stinespring’s wordy response. In a more thorough explanation, he stated that the tailbacks and tight ends tend to be the 3rd or 4th reads for the quarterback during a pass play. He believes that as Randall continues to mature with the offense that these routes will result in big plays.

Bill then gave some interesting stats. The Hokies have converted 148 first down plays so far this season, but only 31 of those have been the result of passing plays. On the flip side of the coin, the Hokies are averaging a heady 9 yards per pass completion. Coach Stinespring acknowledged the success of the passing attack, but also understands that teams have been digging in to stop the Hokie’s running attack. He believes many teams, when faced with big games, deviate from what made them successful in the first place and they end up out-coaching themselves.

Stinespring also stated that even with two great running backs like r-Senior TB Lee Suggs and Sophomore TB Kevin Jones, the team must execute in its assignments to be successful. Bill continued with the passing statistics stating that Randall has completed 66% of his passes. While he has thrown the ball only 59 times, the average is still impressive. Coach Stinespring offered that the consistency not only comes from the play of his quarterback but from the solid play of the receiving corps as well.

Steve from Christiansburg called asking if some of the aggressive play calling he viewed in ESPN Classic’s replay of the 1999 Sugar Bowl vs. FSU could be utilized in this year’s game plan. Coach Stinespring stated that plays like the flanker screen have actually been called this year but have been checked at the line due to the opposing defense "pressing with a hard corner". If the cornerback is playing close to the line, the play is changed as this play can result not only in a loss, but an interception.

With the talk turning to defensive units playing close to the line of scrimmage, Bill asked if teams are showing this scheme more now that former Hokie FL Andre Davis is displaying his wares on Sunday. Coach Stinespring stated that instead of giving Davis a cushion, opposing defensive corners would play close to the line against Davis and then cheat the safety over to help with coverage. This, in turn, opened up the running game for Tech. Coach stated they haven’t seen this type of tight coverage this year, but opposing defenses haven’t "tilted" the defensive secondary to one side of the field or the other.

Bill then asked what problems familiarity plays when yearly conference play starts. The challenge, Coach Stinespring felt, was continuing to do the things that got you there while making subtle changes that the opposing team would not expect after years of competition. One similarity that years of competition bring is familiar faces. One of those faces is Eagles’ Defensive Coordinator Frank Spaziani, who coaches his 15th game against the Hokies.

Jason in Leesburg and Richard from Roanoke called and asked about the inconsistent play of r-Freshman QB Will Hunt and the excellent play of r-Sophomore FL Vance Goff in the J.V. game against Fork Union at Lane Stadium this past Friday. Coach Stinespring revealed that Hunt actually dislocated (or broke) two fingers on his throwing hand during the J.V. game, which obviously affected his grip on the ball. He did play receiver in that game and played well. Goff played most positions on the field during the J.V. game and even "sold popcorn in the stands during halftime" according to Coach Stinespring. When asked if Hunt might move to another position in the future, Coach Stinespring said there are no plans to move Hunt from quarterback to receiver.

Bill then asked keys to the game for beating Boston College. Coach Stinespring knows that Boston College has studied the game tapes regarding the running game and that his unit must play with poise. He also stated that taking care of the football, establishing the line of scrimmage with run blocking and pass protection, handling the zone package blitz of the defense, and mixing the game plan to keep the defense off balance would all be keys to winning a tough conference opener in a hostile environment.

Head Football Coach Frank Beamer’s segment

Bill started Coach Beamer’s portion of the show by observing that the power teams in the top conferences struggled this past weekend with Texas slipping by Oklahoma State, Oklahoma nipping Missouri, and Florida losing to Mississippi. Coach Beamer stated this is the very reason that they refer to opponents as "numbers" during game week instead of by name. He believes you can get too caught up in a team by their reputation or by making comparisons if you give your opponent an identity during game week preparations.

The talk quickly turned to the kicking game and Coach Beamer wasted no time in announcing that Freshman PK/P Nic Schmitt will be accompanying the team to Chestnut Hill on Thursday. Coach Beamer had high praise for the young kicker; stating that he is very versatile and can not only handle the place kicking duties, but also can kick off and punt as well. He referred to Schmitt by stating; " he has the most potential of any kicker" he has seen.

Bill then asked about the holding duties. Currently, r-Junior P Bobby Peaslee is the holder and has only had to handle right-footed kickers, as all the Hokie kickers, including the punters, are right footed. Schmitt is left-footed, and that will call for Peaslee to switch sides. Normally this would be cause for concern as the mechanics of the holder (catching and getting the ball down, rotating the laces away from the kicker’s foot) are all reversed. Coach stated that Peaslee has done a great job with the switch, all though some consideration has been given to bringing the talented Vance Goff along on Thursday simply for these duties (Goff will travel with the Hokies to Boston College). The Hokies will have to find a new holder for next season, with both Peaslee and back up holder Senior FL Sean Witten moving on.

John in Hampton called in with a question concerning the scripting of plays to start a game. Coach Beamer stated that the team normally has a series of plays that are pre-called for the offense to begin a game. They are not, however, set in stone and that you have to deviate from these scripted plays according to field position or the tendencies of the opposing team. Coach did say that some teams set 10 or 20 plays in stone and do not alter that game plan no matter where they are on the field or what down it is.

Nick in Covington called in asking who makes the decision on what to do with the ball on fourth down. Coach Beamer stated that Offensive Head Coach Bryan Stinespring and Running Backs Coach Billy Hite communicate with each other on the offensive side of the ball. When it comes to the defense, Defensive Head Coach Bud Foster consults with Strong Safety and Outside Linebackers Coach Jim Cavanaugh and Defensive Backfield Coach Lorenzo Ward. Coach Beamer has a headset that allows him to switch back and forth between the offensive and defensive discussions. He stated that in calling the game, "Bryan calls the offense and Bud calls the defense" all though ultimately he may make the fourth down call. He does like to coach the kicking game and may make a call in certain early down situations when the down or yardage may dictate a field goal or punting situation.

Mike in Virginia Beach asked about the bulletin board material Boston College gave the Hokies when they stated they would not lose another game this year after the Miami loss, knowing full well the Hokies were on the schedule. Coach Beamer stated he knew the mind set the Eagles were trying to take and understood the team’s intentions. He felt the Eagles, which return 8 players on each side of the offense and defense from last year’s squad, played Miami very well and only lost that game in the fourth quarter. Coach also stated that the Hokies would not be able to go up there and "trick them" with plays, but would have to execute a solid game plan to win in Alumni Stadium this week.

Eddie in Salem called in with a question about the business of recruiting during the season and how Coach Beamer feels about this year’s class. Coach Beamer called the recruiting process a year round job. With a greater number of mid-week games this year, the coaches are freed up a little more and have the time to catch future recruits playing on Friday nights. The coaches are only allowed to evaluate each prospect on the field once during the season. As far as the commitments the Hokies have received thus far, Coach feels they have some of the greatest players in and out of the state of Virginia already committed to Tech.

Bill then asked if the Coach got to catch some of this past weekend’s games, in particular, the Tennessee/Arkansas 6 OT thriller. He said he did get to watch that game and when asked to comment on the current NCAA overtime system, Coach Beamer stated he preferred the NFL’s equivalent of sudden death. He stated that while the current NCAA setup tries to minimize overtime marathons by forcing teams to convert a two-point conversion after the 3rd OT period, he believed that the lack of the kicking game in the NCAA overtime model is a disadvantage for the Hokies. Teams do not use the kickoff and punting units (Pride and Joy would not be able to take control of the game in this situation) in the NCAA overtime system, which are true strengths for the Hokies. He also felt that both Tennessee and Arkansas would feel the effects of this long game both mentally and physically somewhere down the road this season, as the two teams basically played an extra quarter during Saturday night’s game.

Mike in Radford called in and asked about the bright outlook not only for this year’s team, but also for the next several seasons. Coach Beamer stated that, including the introduction of Nic Schmitt this weekend; the Hokies currently have 10 true Freshmen and 16 r-Freshmen on the field. He also stated that all though r-Freshman QB Marcus Vick is seeing limited snaps in practice, he truly impressed the Coach with his raw talent as he ran the scout team this week, because regular scout-team QB Will Hunt’s throwing hand is injured. He felt another year in the weight room and a good spring practice will put Vick in a good situation to help the Hokies next season.

Jeff in Knoxville called in asking the status of Junior DT "Big" Jimmy Williams. Coach stated that Williams is still hampered by a sprained ankle and it will be determined on Tuesday if he will accompany the team to Boston College this week. Jeff also asked about the number of scholarships used on players. Coach Beamer stated the team always would always have two punters, snappers, and kickers on full scholarship. He felt that if one of these key players goes down, and you don’t have an adequate backup available, then in not only can limit your success during that game, but down the road as well.

Rhonda in Richmond called in praising the job done by the coaches in recruiting at both the college and high school levels. She asked about the status of Highland Spring’s product Junior DE Jim Davis. Coach Beamer stated that Davis was finally back to 100% and that’s great news, as the Hokies will need his speed on Thursday night. Coach also praised his efforts on the punting unit stating Davis was the first one down the field as a personal protector. Coach Beamer also offered that r-Freshman DE Noland Burchette was another player out of Highland Springs H.S to watch out for.

Jim from Pembroke called in asking about the Coach’s pre-season statement that the first five games were critical for the success of this team. Coach Beamer stated that this team played about as well as it could have and that credit goes to the players and coaches. He believes that the play has been sharp, with the exception of some missed assignments during the Western Michigan game. He feels the key for continued success if for this team to stay healthy, the lone setback being the injury to r-Junior PK Carter Warley.

Whitney in the audience asked about the health of r-Junior C Jake Grove. Coach Beamer stated he is continuing to improve and has been working with Head Trainer Mike Goforth to get ready for this week’s game. The only other concern on the injury front is r-Freshman LB Blake Warren who may not travel with the team this week.

Bill in Vinton called in asking the Coach’s thoughts on the BCS committee’s recent ruling to allow Notre Dame’s win against Maryland to count towards the required 9-win total to qualify for a BCS bowl game. Coach Beamer stated that this was more of a question for Athletic Director Jim Weaver, but added he felt, "you don’t change the rules in mid-stream", which was met by cheers of those in attendance.

Bill Roth ended tonight’s Hotline asking Coach Beamer his keys to the game. Coach felt that the offense had to handle the zone pressure of Boston College. He also stated that they had to neutralize the running attack of Boston College and turn their offense into a one-dimensional attack. He stated that the Eagles are capable of the big play and they have shown this propensity in recent years against the Hokies. The past several games were marked by large first half leads by Tech only to have to hang on as the Eagles came roaring back with some big plays late in those games.

News and Notes:

  • Game time for the game at Boston College is 7:45. The game will be aired nationally on ESPN.
  • Game time has also been set for the Rutgers game. The Homecoming matchup will kick-off at 1 PM. This game will NOT be televised.
  • It’s the Hokies 60th straight week ranked in the top 25. This is the 3rd longest streak in the nation. Only Nebraska and Florida (?) have had longer stints in the rankings.
  • BC Head Football Coach Tom O’Brien had some great things to say about the Hokies in his game day notes. You can read those comments here: BC Media Notes: Coaches' Corner-Page 4
  • Fall weather is approaching, and there's a nip in the air already. It's going to be cool…grab a new sweatshirt from!
  • Monday was Day 1,102 of Virginia Tech's continuous possession of the Commonwealth Cup, and Day 1,448 in possession of the Black Diamond Trophy.

-- JKHokie


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