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, November 18, 2002
by Joel Kelly

The Mountaineers come calling to Lane Stadium as the Hokies jump back into Big East play after a welcome ten-day layoff. Can the Hokies return to their early-season form or are more tough times ahead? Will the Hokies head west for their bowl game, will they play a little closer to home, or a lot closer to home? With those questions looming, the Hokie Hotline was on the air. Bill Roth took your calls and hosted Hokiesí Head Football Coach Frank Beamer. Virginia Tech Offensive Coordinator Bryan Stinespring also joined the program.

Bill started off with the news of the day. The time for the Virginia game was announced todayÖsort of. Kickoff for the Dominion Virginia Power Classic will be at either 1 PM or 3:30 PM. If ABC carries the game, it will be broadcast regionally and the game time will be 1 PM; if ABC passes and ESPN carries it, the game will be broadcast nationally at 3:30 PM. The final decision on game time will be made on Friday.

Offensive Coordinator Bryan Stinespringís Segment

Coach Stinespring started his segment with comments on the end of game week preparations. He thought the team looked good in practice and benefited from the extra time off since the 3OT loss to Syracuse. He felt the extra few days has allowed to team to shake the edge off and get its feet back on solid ground.

Bill stated that opposing teams view the Hokiesí offensive aerial explosion as a fluke and asked Coach Stinespring if that perception was correct. Coach Stinespring felt that more and more teams are playing eight man fronts which force the Hokies to go to the air more often. WVU plays a 3 down-3-5 defense with the outside linebackers acting as safeties during passing downs. While this defense sounds alien, it acts as a true zone most of the time. Coach Stinespring stated that the team has seen a form of this against Texas A&M and will see a variation against Virginia.

Bill then asked about the status of Sophomore TB Kevin Jones. To the delight of all those in attendance and listening at home, Jones will play Wednesday night against the Mountaineers. He has had some good practice days this week, although he was tentative earlier during game week practices.

Bill then asked Coach Stinespring about the flip-flop in turnover statistics over the last few weeks. It seems the first five games saw minimal turnovers while the last five games have seen the Hokies cough up the ball 15 times, 10 by Sophomore QB Bryan Randall. Bill also made the point that the trend should reverse itself with a young quarterback in that he should fumble in the early part of the season and improve as the season progresses. Coach Stinespring thought that ordinarily that would be so. However, he stated the offense was growing along with Randall. As the offense has opened up, so has the opportunity for turnovers. He also stated that the offensive line has allowed pressure by the opposing defenses, which is beyond Randallís control.

Mike in Roanoke had the first call of the evening. He asked about the possibility of seeing Jones and Senior TB Lee Suggs in the same backfield more often, especially in the red zone. Coach Stinespring stated this formation has been used. He is, however, very pleased with the play of fullback play of r-Freshman Cedric Humes and r-Junior Doug Easlick. Their exceptional play is the reason why the coaches havenít used move of their powerful tailback tandem in the same backfield.

Horace in Harrisonburg asked if the Hokies ever give more thought to using the option. Coach Stinespring pointed out that the Hokies do run the option. However, due to opposing defenses stacking the line with eight-man fronts, it has put the ball more in the quarterbackís hands.

Bill then asked if Randall has more success running the option (and protecting the ball) to the left or right side of the field. Coach Stinespring pointed out that the problem wasnít the direction, but the lack of blocking interior defensive linemen by the Hokie offensive line. The interior linemen have a more direct route to the quarterback and can make a play on the football before the option pitch is made.

Tom in Ohio asked if the receivers have more success catching the football over their inside (towards the center of the field) or outside (towards the sideline) shoulder. Coach Stinespring stated that the easier catch was over the inside shoulder. A catch made over the outside shoulder involves the receiver twisting his body to make the catch.

Tom also asked about seeing more of r-Junior TE Keith Willis in the offense. Coach Stinespring stated that Willis has played some good football this season and that the coaches need to do a better job of working the tight end into the offense.

John in Radford asked why so many of Tech's offensive running plays involved attacking the middle, or teeth, of the line. Coach Stinespring thought our tailbacks were versatile and powerful enough to run or catch the ball anywhere on the football field.

Bob in Roanoke called and asked if Jonesí injury during the Pittsburgh game altered the offensive game plan. Coach Stinespring felt that it didnít. It was the opposing defense squeezing the line that caused the Hokies to go to the air in that game. He also thought that the Hokies never got in offensive rhythm in that game due to penalties and turnovers.

AC in Richmond asked the level of involvement r-Freshman QB Marcus Vick has on the sidelines during a football game and observed that his use of a headset might get him more involved. Coach Stinespring stated there are only so many headsets to go around on the sidelines. He also feels itís more important for Vick to learn from the atmosphere of the game than the "Xís and Oís" when he is on the sideline. Vick does run the offensive scout team during game week preparations and he does take regular offensive reps. He is also involved in all quarterback and offensive meetings.

Bill then asked a question Hokie Nation has been wondering:

Bill: "Just how good is Vick?"

Coach Stinespring: "Letís just say the acorn didn't fall far from the tree."

Andrew from Roanoke Rapids asked why the offense hasnít run many reverses this season. Coach Stinespring stated that the eight man front makes it hard to run this sort of play. The reverse has to occur as a result of the flow of the opposing defense. Coach Stinespring stated that the hanging linebacker also has to be playing undisciplined football. He also observed that Big East teams donít get the recognition they deserve for their fine defensive play.

Fred in Roanoke called in stating he should have a coaching position with the Hokies. While he didnít say those exact words, he did say that he and his friends that attend the Hokies games can call the offensive plays from the stands. He observed that if he can do it, then the opposing defenses must know what plays the Hokie offense is going to run. He also asked Coach Stinespring if he always ran the same 6-8 plays.

Coach Stinespring took the comments in stride. He stated that the Hokies would never shy away from their "bread and butter" plays, which mainly consist of power football. He also offered that the offense must be doing something right as the rushing offense is ranked top 20 nationally with a 6 yard-per-carry average.

Coach Stinespring ended his segment with some comments about the Mountaineers. He called them a team that has a swagger about them. He thought they had some good ball players and personnel who are executing a good scheme. He also offered that the Hokies play with skill, heart and intensity and this game will be "two teams hitting each other in the mouth and somebody is going to blink."

Head Football Coach Frank Beamerís Segment

Coach Beamer started his segment with some general comments about the team. He pointed out that this is the youngest team playing the toughest schedule that he has ever had. He also offered that the WVU team they host Wednesday is playing better football than anyone had given them credit for. Bill asked if the team feels that there is anything left to play for and can the players get "it" back. Coach Beamer felt that his team has not given up on the season and the team has practiced well this week. He also thought his team has played well this season. Bill stated that the team is a few plays away from being undefeated.

The conversation turned away from the mental well-being of the team and turned to the physical health of the squad:

  • R-Junior LB Vegas Robinson will play on Wednesday, although Coach Beamer thought he still looked a little gimpy in practice. He did say that many times the lights of a night game smooth things out for a player that is coming off an injury.
  • Sophomore CB DeAngelo Hall may be back for the Virginia game.
  • R-Junior PK Carter Warley is back as the starting kicker and Coach Beamer hopes to remain with him for the rest of the season. The Coach stated he doesnít like to move back and forth between kickers, as platooning doesnít give these specialists the consistency they need to be successful.

Coach did state that Freshman K Nic Schmitt handled his kicking duties very well during the JV game this past Friday against Hargrave Military. He converted two field goals of 46 and 47 yards. He also handled both kickoff and punting duties in that contest. Coach Beamer stated he feels confident about Schmittís ability to enter a game as the Hokiesí kicker.

One change has been made on special teams. Lee Suggs will handle kickoff return duties against the Mountaineers. Coach Beamer stated Suggs has handled these duties before and "he just hits it."

John in Virginia Beach asked how the departure of long time WVU Head Coach Don Nehlen affected Coach Beamerís preparation for this game. Coach started by praising the work done by Nehlen. He did say that the years of notes made while coaching against Nehlenís teams were rendered useless when current WVU Head Coach Pete Rodriguez took the helm in Morgantown.

Bill in Parkersburg, WV asked if the coaching staff recruited in West Virginia. Coach Beamer stated that he did not recruit in the state of West Virginia due to the sparse population and his preference to recruit mainly in the state of Virginia.

An email was sent asking about Coach Beamerís meeting with Nike in the off-season and a possible uniform change. Coach Beamer joked that heíd wait and see how the rest of the season went before deciding on whether or not to change the design of the uniforms.

Jeff in Knoxville asked Coach Beamer if he would like to see a change on the date of national signing day for recruits. That day, which is currently in February, leaves time after the season for coaches to approach kids that have already committed to a university and try to lure them away. Coach Beamer stated that he would like to see the day moved to mid-December. He also stated that he lobbied for this change at the last coaches meeting he attended, but he felt the idea garnered little support. The down side to changing this day would be the overall effect on the recruiting cycle. He also stated that a change wouldnít be necessary if coaches would leave recruits alone that had already made a commitment to a university. He felt the last minute wrangling that goes on for players only makes the coachesí work more difficult.

Jim in North Carolina called in suggesting a possible schedule change that would move two of the Hokiesí bigger rivals, Pittsburgh and Syracuse, to different times of the season instead of playing them back to back as they have in the past several years. He also asked about Lee Suggsí plan after this season. Coach Beamer stated that if things continue to go well for "TD Lee", he would probably declare for the NFL draft after this season.

Some guy named Joel in Mooresville, NC (wink, wink) asked a question that nags all loyal Hokie fans year in and year out: Are you going to stay long term at Virginia Tech? Coach Beamer stated that there have been opportunities in the past, but his future is in Blacksburg. He feels the facilities and the program are great but can get better. As always, he lauded his coaching staff and stated that recruiting is the best that it has ever been. He feels the staff has built a fine tradition in Blacksburg and they have more to accomplish.

Bill came with a daunting follow up. AD Jim Weaver had stated recently that Penn State didnít have a plan to replace Joe Paterno, whom Bill stated was "getting cranky up there." Bill built on this statement and put the question to Coach Beamer: How do you get rid of a legendÖa Paterno, a Bowden, or a Beamer. Bill stated that Coach was cementing his status as a legend in Blacksburg. The Coach joked that he had only lost two games and everyone was trying to find a way to get rid of him. His only real response to the question was "weíll get it figured out one of these days."

Bill turned the talk back to the Big East Conference and its fine record against OCC top-25 teams this season. The Big East Conference leads all major conferences with a 6-5 record against the top teams. The next best record is 3-3 by the Big-10. This is followed by woeful record by the ACC at 1-5 and the almighty SEC with a dismal 1-6 record against top-25 out of conference teams. Bill also noted that all 8 Big East schools were represented in the NFL this past weekend by former players that scored a touchdown.

John in Goochland asked about the number of senior starters the Hokies will lose to graduation. By Coach Beamerís count, the team will only lose two players on defense (Willie Pile, Ronyell Whitaker) and three players on offense (Anthony Davis, Luke Owens, Lee Suggs). West Virginia, on the other hand, brings a team to Lane Stadium that starts 12 seniors.

Bob in Ft. Lauderdale, FL called with a comment on the great play of r-Junior SE Ernest Wilford and noted his development from last season through this season. Coach agreed and stated he felt Wilfordís best playing days were ahead of him. He also gave credit to Hokiesí Wide Receiver Coach Tony Ball for much of the reason for Wilfordís development.

Bob then asked what the Coach thought of the odd Wednesday night scheduling of home football games this season. Coach stated he knew this was a problem and a windfall for the Hokies and their fans. The problem, of course, occurs when fans and alumni canít make these mid-week games due to their commitments to work. The benefit is that the Hokies are the "only game in town" in front of a national television audience, which is great for recruiting. The revenue received by the athletic department is also an incentive to play mid-week games.

Matt from Virginia called in asking if the long season is a reason for the rash of injuries that have plagued the Hokies this year. Coach Beamer thought that the conditioning of the team was not the problem and that these things come in cycles. He pointed to the Hokies run for the National Championship in 1999 as a year when the starting lineup played the regular season from start to finish with very few injuries. He also stated that better recruiting has led to less of a drop-off from first to second string players in injury replacement situations.

Barrett in Blacksburg asked if the team from Notre Dame was scared to play the Big East elite. He stated that the Irish have played each team in the Big East in recent years, with the exception of the Hokies and the Hurricanes of Miami. He thought that this meant that the Irish were avoiding games with the two teams that many see as the Big Eastís top two football teams. Coach Beamer said that the schedules were made years in advance and he had no idea why the two schools have not met in the regular season. He did say he would welcome a change to play Notre Dame, whether is be in the course of the regular season or in a bowl game.

Jeff in Christiansburg called with a concern about the recent rash of Hokie turnovers. Coach Beamer shared his concern and stated the offense, which is playing less conservatively than they were in the beginning of the season, needs to improve in all areas of the game.

The final comments from Coach Beamer concern the team his Hokies will face on Wednesday night. He stated that this is a talented football team that is led by Senior SB Avon Cobourne, the Big Eastís all time leading rusher. He also called the QB of the Mountaineers, Sophomore Rasheed Marshall, "very athletic."

News and Notes:

  • Kickoff for the WVU game is 7:05 PM. The game will be televised nationally by ESPN2. Radio coverage with Bill Roth will start at 5:30 PM.
  • There will not be a Hokie Hotline next Monday due to the Hokie Menís Basketball tournament game in the Virgin Islands. The Hokies kick off that tourney with a game against St. Bonaventure on Friday. Radio coverage for that game starts at 4:45 PM with a 5:15 PM tip-off. The next Hotline will be on Wednesday the 27th, the day before Thanksgiving.
  • Help the Hokies feed the Hungry! Bring your canned goods and donations to the football game on Wednesday night and help give those in need a great Thanksgiving. The Marching Virginians ask you to grab a can or two on your way out the door to see the Hokies in action at Lane Stadium. The goal this year is for 65,100 cans of food. Go Hokies!!!!
  • The Hotline will no longer be broadcast from the Gobblerown Tavern. While it will be in the same location, the name will be changed to "Beamerís." Bill Roth, the voice of the Hokies, is a partner in this venture. Word on the street is he will not be giving up his day job.
  • Monday marked day 1,144 of Virginia Techís continuous possession of the Commonwealth Cup and day 1,489 of its ownership of the Black Diamond Trophy. The Black Diamond is up for grabs on Wednesday night.

-- JKHokie


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