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)
Monday, November 4, 2002
The equation of the lights, Lane Stadium at night, and an ESPN2 prime time TV slot did not provide the usual results for the Hokies on Saturday. The first loss of the season will cause Hokie fans everywhere to continue to debate the effectiveness of its teamís offense, especially with the loss of star Sophomore TB Kevin Jones. With an away tilt at Syracuse looming on the horizon, the Hokie Hotline was on the air. Host Bill Roth took your phone calls and hosted Hokie Head Football Coach Frank Beamer. Also joining tonightís broadcast were Virginia Tech Vice President Larry Hincker and Virginia Tech Athletic Director Jim Weaver.
Bill started tonightís program with the news of the day. The Hokies fell to #7 in the ESPN/USA TODAY COACHES POLL and to #8 in the AP. The new BCS poll came out on Monday night and the Hokies tumbled to 10th.
Big injuries continue to haunt the Hokies. Hokie Nation lost its collective breathe when TB Sophomore Kevin Jones went down early in the Pittsburgh tussle with a strained hamstring. Jones had an MRI on Tuesday and will continue to be evaluated. Hamstring injuries are not to be taken lightly and Jones probably will not play Saturday afternoon at the Carrier Dome. Sorely missed r-Junior LB Vegas Robinson is questionable for the Syracuse game after nursing a high ankle strain over the past two weeks.
Virginia Tech Athletic Director Jim Weaver
One of the more disturbing situations ever to start the Hokie Hotline took center stage as AD Jim Weaver started his portion of the show. It seems that a few overzealous Hokie fans (some of these are season ticket holders according to Mr. Weaver) threw debris on the field after the Pittsburgh loss. Some of the debris was targeted at the exiting Pitt players and injured an ESPN cameraman. Mr. Weaver stated that Hokie fans have a great reputation in college football and that he would not let a few idiots (my word, not Mr. Weaverís) tarnish the Hokies' sterling reputation. Mr. Weaver stated that the following guidelines would be instituted immediately:
Frank in Radford continued this topic of conversation with an email concerning fans seated near him with beer cans in stadium. There is, of course, no alcohol sold during NCAA events. Frank stated he reported the infraction to an usher, but the usher told him there was nothing he could do about the situation. Mr. Weaver said that the usher was wrong, and he would address the situation with stadium staff to make sure they were aware of all university policies concerning alcohol.
Jeff in Lynchburg had the first call of the night and he wanted to know if the athletic department was doing any work on Senior TB Lee Suggís Heisman campaign. Mr. Weaver stated that not only was Suggs up for post-season award consideration, but also are many of the Hokies, including Head Football Coach Frank Beamer. The players and their awards consideration can be viewed at allstars.hokiesports.com.
Hank in Richmond called in and praised the Hokies in attendance Saturday night for their spirit and support. He then asked if there had ever been a 300-yard passer in the Frank Beamer era at Virginia Tech. Bill chipped in stating that former Hokie signal called Jim Druckenmiller had over 300 yards against Nebraska in the 1996 Orange Bowl. Bill also thought that former Hokie QB Maurice DeShazo had some big passing days with former Hokie and current Philadelphia Eagle WR Antonio Freeman.
Phil in Charlotte called in stating he was disappointed in the Hokie fans sitting near him that were "leaving in droves" with 4 minutes left in the contest. Mr. Weaver stated he didnít see many people leaving, but that may have been due to the attention he was giving to the game.
Sean in Virginia Beach called in and gave Mr. Weaver kudos not only for the quality of this yearís schedule, but also on how it was laid out with an opening game before LSU, and multiple days between games to allow the Hokies to prepare for teams like Marshall, WVU, and Virginia. Sean then offered a plan to change the lay of major college football. He stated that Penn State, which Mr. Weaver has ties with and Notre Dame, a team coveted by the powers that be in the Big East, should switch their affiliations, with Penn State moving into the Big East and ND moving into the Big 10. Mr. Weaver laughed and said that his power may not reach quite that far. He did say the only down side for Penn Stateís membership in the Big 10 was their "Olympic" sports teams having to travel great distances.
Bill then gave Mr. Weaver an article in which a turf management company called the University of Coloradoís football field the best playing surface in the country. The irony here was that the field last season showed problems of maturing as sandy spots had cropped up on the field. According to the article, this was due to the use of paint on the playing surface, which had hindered the development of the fieldís root system. It would seem Mr. Weaver had checkmate against the myriad of Hokies fans that had called in requesting the end zones and center of the field carry the Virginia Tech logos.
Hokie fans, however, are a persistent bunch. With Mr. Weaverís victory barely seconds old, Andy in Roanoke called in asking when the athletic department would paint the end zones. He also stated that Hokie fans should act with more sportsmanship in defeat. He stated that the fans of Texas A&M were not only cordial hosts, but that they were gracious in defeat. Hokie fans should continue to emulate the qualities that we are so often praised for.
Dave in Huntsville, Alabama called in and asked if the athletic department had given thought to send a pep band with the football team to away games. Mr. Weaver said that this has been discussed but there are many factors that will play in his decision. One of those is cost. If a pep band does make an away game, it would definitely be a game that would involve ground and not air travel. The other consideration is the fans and their desire for tickets. For example, only 4,000 tickets are allotted to fans that want to attend a football game in Charlottesville. However, 10 to 15 thousand Hokie Club members apply for those tickets each season. Mr. Weaver feels that fans that support the athletic department financially deserve ticket consideration over the roughly 400 seats needed for the pep band.
Francis from Culpeper echoed an earlier call this year regarding negative fan reaction to opposing teams as they enter our stadium. He also suggested that the scoreboard should show updates of ongoing games around the nation during Hokie football games. Mr. Weaver stated he wasnít sure if the software that currently runs the scored board would allow for a "ticker", but he would check into it.
A caller in Wilmington, Delaware called in with an interesting suggestion concerning a standing section for fans. He stated that many fans like to stand and cheer for the whole game. Mr. Weaver said he understood both sides of this popular argument. Some fans feel they purchased a seat and like to enjoy them while watching the game. He also said he appreciates those fans who like to show their support by standing and cheering during the games. He did say that fans could stand in any one of the four patio areas that corner the field and stand for the whole contest without anyone from security or other fans asking them to sit down.
Floyd in Richmond also called with a scoreboard suggestion stating that it should give cues such as "D-fense" or "Block That Kick" to help fire up the crowd. Mr. Weaver again said he didnít know if the scoreboard had those capabilities, but he would address the matter during his next meeting.
Associate Vice President Larry Hincker
Mr. Hincker joined the broadcast with a request for all Hokie fans in the Commonwealth. Tomorrow is Election Day and one of the referendums on the ballot is a bond that would approve a 900 million dollar education bond for colleges all over the state. 95 million dollars of that money is earmarked for Virginia Tech and would be used for classroom upgrades, ventilation and heating systems, and new buildings for the schools of Agriculture, Biology, and Engineering. Both Bill and Mr. Hincker were quick to point out that these funds would not come from taxpayers and with the recent budget cuts, this money is crucial for the universityís growth.
Head Football Coach Frank Beamerís segment
Coach Beamer started his segment with a report on the overall physical and mental state of the team after its first loss of the season. Coach Beamer thought the team played a hard fought game against a good team. He did say that this team has played some good football considering where they are at this point in the season. Bill asked the coach about the success that Pitt Coach Walt Harris had running the ball up the middle against the Hokies. Coach Beamer stated that the Pitt offense had 5 plays worth 218 yards, or roughly half of their total yardage. Bill then asked if the loss of LB Vegas Robinson and the play of his replacement, r-Freshman LB James Anderson was the reason for the success of the Pitt running game. Coach Beamer was very hesitant to attach blame to anyone on the team, but did offer that Anderson, a redshirt freshman, made some freshman mistakes that he would learn from.
Coach then commented on the passing game and stated that Sophomore QB Bryan Randall needs to rely on his quick feet and not try to be too much of a pocket passer. He believes Randallís quickness is an asset and that if the pass isnít there, he needs to "get on his horse." Coach Beamer also doesnít want an opposing defense to dictate when Tech throws the ball.
The Coachesí comments then turned to Senior CB Ronyell Whitaker and the personal foul penalty that quickly turned the momentum of the football game. TB Lee Suggs had just given the Hokies a big scoring run and the defense had taken the field and played a great defensive series. Coach Beamer also felt another blocked punt was about to be delivered courtesy of "Pride and Joy". Then, Whitaker, showing the lack of attention to the situation on the field that he has displayed time and time again over the years, shoved a Pitt player after the whistle and allowed a referee to change to course of the game. Coach Beamer said the hit itself was not vicious and the flag came from a back judge who was not on top of the play. Coach did say that it is not only important for the players to make their hits, but return to the huddle after the play is whistled dead.
He finished his comments by comparing this season to the up and down season of 1998. Temple came to Blacksburg and upset a very highly ranked Hokie football team at home. The team picked itself up and won the following week with a big victory against UAB. The following week, Donovan McNabb beat the Hokies with a last second touchdown pass. The Hokies came back from that tough loss with a blowout defeat of Rutgers. Virginia handed the Hokies a very tough regular season loss, only to see them humiliate Alabama in the Music City Bowl. His point wasnít that the Hokies finished out the year at .500 but that they continued to storm back after very tough losses. Evidently, Coach Beamer feels this team has the same sort of mental toughness.
Coach Beamer then moved onto the injury situation. TB Kevin Jones is out for this weekendís game against Syracuse. Coach Beamer stated that Jones had the same injury when he was running track in high school. Jones told Coach that the injury was not as serious this time around. He will have an MRI on Tuesday.
R-Freshman FL Justin Hamilton is also out for the Syracuse game with a sprained ankle. LB Vegas Robinson is an official "wait and see." Coach Beamer stated he wanted to make sure that Robinson was back to full speed before he put him back into active duty.
John from Dublin called in and observed that the struggling offense would enjoy more success if the return game got the kickoffs closer to midfield. He asked if any thought had been given to using Junior CB DeAngelo Hall on kickoff returns. Coach Beamer stated he like the job that Johnson was doing and that he thought he could achieve the success he had at the position last year. He did say that he thought true success at the return position comes from more north/south running and less cutting back and forth across the line of defenders. He did say the idea has received some discussion and may include Hall or TB Lee Suggs on that package against Syracuse.
Steve in Richmond called in and asked if r-Freshman QB Marcus Vick would see playing time this weekend or this season. Coach Beamer, as he has so many times this season, stated that the teamís wish is to redshirt Vick. He feels there is not enough time left in the season to warrant the use of that redshirt. He again stated he liked the development of QB Bryan Randall and likes the talented young man as the teamís signal caller.
Irv in Craig County called in with some words of wisdom from a former Hokie. After a particularly tough loss, former Hokie LB and current St. Louis Ram Nick Sorensen stated, "Football is a big part of life, but only a PART of life." Coach Beamer agreed and stated that the right perspective is important. He also likes the mental attitude of the team after this loss and thought the lessons learned from mistakes made in the game would help the team down the road.
Gary in Centreville, a Hokie fan from the 70ís, stated the program has come a long, long way for fans to get so discouraged after only one loss. He also asked about the tendency for the Hokie cornerbacks to not look back for the ball when defending the pass. Coach Beamer stated that the corners are taught to look back for the ball if they have position. They will, however, continue to read the eyes of the receiver if they do not have the right proximity to the receiver.
Wayne in New Jersey called and asked if Offensive Coordinator Bryan Stinespring was spread too thin coaching both the offensive line and calling the offensive plays. Coach stated that he has great offensive personnel and that he didnít feel this was the case. Wayne added that he thought the O-line coach should be on the field to congratulate the line after a good series. Coach Beamer stated that Offensive Tackles Coach Danny Pearman is down on the sidelines to handle the line during games, while Coach Stinespring sits and coaches from the box.
Drew in Winchester called and asked if more of the offensive coaches should have input in the decisions of coaching a game. Coach Beamer stated his coaches do act as a group and he has complete confidence in Coach Stinespring. He also stated that while fans feel the Hokies should do certain plays more often, the flow of the game often dictates what you can and canít attempt. He again reminded fans that the offense is a work in progress. The Hokies have a young QB who is maturing each week and a true freshman at OT in Jimmy Martin, and these guy are learning more and more with each snap.
Big Al called in and asked if there is more pressure coaching a 2-8-1 team and trying to get them to the top or coaching a top team and trying to avoid that first loss. Coach Beamer thought the pressure was equal and both situations offer their own challenges.
Steve in Virginia called in and asked about OL Brandon Gore. Coach Beamer stated that the talented freshman is redshirting this year and continues to learn more and more in practice. When asked about recruiting offensive lineman, Coach stated that he experimented with getting guys that may have been tight ends and defensive linemen, and if they didn't work out, switching them to positions on the offensive line. The main problem with that is most players like staying at the positions they played in high school. Coach also stated he is focusing more and more on recruiting true offensive linemen.
News and Notes: