The Hokie Hotline (football and basketball season)
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Tech Sports Tonight (football season only)
Tuesday, December 3, 2002
Tuesday's guests were defensive coordinator Bud Foster and head coach Frank Beamer. The show came from Gobblertown Tavern, soon to be "Beamer's," but there was no studio audience, as the restaurant is undergoing renovations.
News of the Day: The Pittsburgh Panthers accepted an invitation to the Insight Bowl. Tech's bowl destination will be the Charlotte Continental Tire Bowl if UCLA beats Washington State, or the San Francisco Bowl against the Air Force Academy if WSU beats UCLA. We will not know Tech's bowl destination officially until Sunday.
Bud Foster's Segment
Foster opened by saying that they were proud of the team for playing more fundamentally sound defensive football than they had been lately, particularly in light of the fact that Tim Sandidge and Jonathan Lewis were making their first starts at defensive tackle.
Foster said that VT had film of UVa's last four games, and PSU played a very basic defensive game plan, whereas NC State and Maryland pressured Virginia and wound up giving up big plays. So VT emulated PSU and played basic football. Foster said that VT did not blitz a single time, for the first time in his years as the VT defensive coordinator (since 1995).
Roth asked if VT would play similarly against Miami. Foster said that UVa doesn't allow you to pressure the QB, because they get rid of the ball so quickly, and Miami does some of the same things. Tech will play some zone, some man to man, and will pressure if they think they need to.
Roth said that he wasn't sure he had ever seen Ronyell Whitaker play a better game, and that was why they gave him co-player of the game with Lee Suggs. Foster agreed and said he was proud of Ronyell for bouncing back from adversity.
Nick in Covington asked what Miami runs that is different from what VT has seen, and what Tech will do to stop the run and Willis McGahee. Foster said they still do the same stuff they've done in years past, and that they have great personnel. McGahee has great speed and great vision. Foster said the key for VT is leverage and securing gaps. The coaches have been watching film of VT, Pitt, and Temple versus Miami to try to learn more, since those teams run similar defenses to what Tech runs.
Tom in Belfry, Ohio asked how Vince Fuller and DeAngelo Hall were doing with their injuries, and if VT could get ACC refs for the Miami game. Foster laughed and said the referees were indeed good in the UVa/Tech game, and that they handled the rivalry game well. Fuller has two broken fingers on one hand and broke his wrist on the other hand. He might play against Miami, but will be evaluated daily. Hall played 20 snaps against Virginia, and is practicing, and the coaches hope he is ready for Miami. Davis had some injuries earlier in the year, and has had some "off and on things," and the coaches want him to "get back to where he was earlier in the year."
Roth asked what Foster thought of Ken Dorsey and Willis McGahee. Foster said that Dorsey is the catalyst for the Canes, and that McGahee is a great football player, too. He also noted that he thinks the receivers are the difference this year (versus last year), and are playing better than they did last year.
Roth said he felt that Miami, which has not played well at times this season, would be ready for the Hokies and would play hard, because Tech is ranked and has given Miami trouble in the past.
Roth noted that Pitt was able to get Dorsey to move around and make some bad throws. Foster said that if you get Dorsey out of his rhythm and start making him move around, that it's a good thing and helps your chances.
Roth said that Cols Colas is going back near his home town in this game and was talking the other day about his critical penalty last year against Miami, when he shoved Dorsey to extend a Miami drive and enable the Canes to kick a field goal right before half time. Foster said that Colas had a great game against Virginia, and they were hoping he would get the Big East Defensive Player of the Week honors, but he didn't. Foster said he has been playing well all season and is excited about going home.
Roth asked what Hokie fans should look for on Saturday. Foster said the Hokies had to play with emotion and play hard, as they have been all season. He said that some young players have been put in some positions and have not necessarily responded in big games, and that this is a chance for them to step up and come together as a group. He said Tech will have a "wrinkle or two" to try to take advantage of some things, but nothing real earth-shattering. He said that Monday's and Tuesday's practices were good.
Roth asked Foster to compare Miami's offense to some great offenses VT has faced in the past. Foster said WR Andre Johnson is as good as anybody in the country, McGahee is also one of the best, and Kellen Winslow, Jr. is a tremendous athlete as well, very comparable to Jeremy Shockey from last year, though younger.
Coach Beamer's Segment
Beamer said that even through the three-game losing streak, the Hokies never had a bad practice and never got down on themselves. Roth asked if Beamer ever thought he would get the ball to start both halves in the same game, as he did against Virginia, and he said no. He went on to say that he thought VT was better positioned than Virginia to win a cold, windy game, because VT could run the ball and control the clock.
Roth noted that while you can debate how good UVa's recruiting class was last year, you can't debate what a great job the Virginia coaching staff has done talking about that recruiting class, how many freshmen they're playing, etc. He asked Coach Beamer, "Now that you've seen their freshman play, and you've seen yours play, what do you think, head-to head?"
Coach Beamer answered, "Well, I said last year, after our recruiting, 'We'll take ours and we'll play theirs.' And I still feel the same way." Beamer noted that VT started two freshmen defensive tackles Saturday (Lewis and Sandidge) and a freshman offensive tackle (Jimmy Martin). He said that both teams are young and have bright futures.
Roth asked if Coach Beamer had seen something on film that led to the punt block. Beamer said that Virginia has an "unusual" punt-block formation, something the Hokies hadn't seen all year. He spent some extra time working against it, and he said that the one VT blocked actually started out as a return strategy. He wanted Nathaniel Adibi and Jim Davis to try to pressure UVa punter Tom Hagans, because when he gets a punt off quickly, he tends to kick it low, which would lead to a good chance for a return.
As the week wore on, Beamer decided to add in an extra element with Tapp and Hamilton rushing, hoping that either Adibi, Tapp, or Hamilton would be able to make the block. Beamer then glossed over the specifics by saying that it "worked out well."
(Note: for a diagram and a detailed breakdown of the punt block -- which was a more interesting play than you might think, not to mention a brilliant coaching job -- see theTSL Extra supplement to the Virginia game analysis. If you're not a TSL Extra subscriber, you can click here to subscribe.)
Roth asked how Virginia Tech can keep blocking punts when everyone knows it's coming and works against preventing it. Beamer said, "We work on it hard, too," and he said it comes back to the personnel. The personnel are athletic and execute things well. As for returns, Beamer said that Richard Johnson catches it well, and DeAngelo Hall is an incredible punt returner that he wishes hadn't gotten injured.
Barrett in Blacksburg asked if it was more important to stop Willis McGahee or Ken Dorsey. Beamer said that they kind of go together, but that VT's philosophy is to always stop the run first, and turn the opponent into a passing team. He said it's tough to do that with Miami because they do both so well.
Randy in Chilhowie asked how Beamer would handle the situation that Al Groh is in, with the Cavaliers getting passed up for bowls in favor of teams that Virginia beat during the regular season. Beamer said that bowls have always invited who was best for them, without regard to on-field performance (within reason). He said the way the Big East has it set up is good and tends to prevent this sort of thing.
Roth said that since VT graduates more students than Virginia, and therefore has an alumni base that is growing faster, that it's probable that VT's reputation as a traveling team versus Virginia will continue to increase. Beamer said that VT has great fans, and that several recruits at the UVa/VT game remarked that even as cold as it was, the Tech fans were still into the game and still making noise.
Steve in Midlothian was next, and before he could ask his question, Coach Beamer talked about how great Miami is, and that he still thinks they're the greatest college team of all time. He said that he counseled his team and coaches not to be satisfied with the Virginia win to the point where they forget to get ready to face the Hurricanes.
Steve said that as good as Kevin Jones is, he fumbles too much, and what are the coaches doing to correct that. Number two, "it looks like we keep trying to make Bryan Randall a pocket passer, and he's not comfortable with that." It looks like he's better rolling out. Number three, he remarked that Dorsey is not nearly as effective when he is forced to move his feet.
Beamer said that KJ is a strong guy, and he doesn't think that fumbling is going to continue to be an issue with him. He didn't really address the Randall point clearly, saying that he's as tall as Michael Vick, who was a good pocket passer, and that they try to do both -- pocket passing and rolling out -- with Randall. He then agreed that Dorsey needs to be forced to move a little bit.
Roth said that it's the second year in a row that VT is all that stands between Miami and another appearance in the championship game.
Injury update: Beamer said that Vince Fuller will probably play, but how much is a question of how well he tackles, with his finger and wrist injuries. He will not play on the punt block team, where he will be replaced by Mike Imoh. DeAngelo Hall is expected to play on Saturday.
An email from Joe in Afghanistan asked if the Hokies could get Dorsey to "run around like he did in 1999." Beamer said, "I sure hope we can."
Roth said that VT was having problems with penalties, but they fixed it for the UVa game. They joked that perhaps it was the ACC refs.
The next email asked what Coach Beamer thought of Virginia Coach Al Groh's repeated post-game references to Virginia Tech as "the other team," never once calling them "Virginia Tech." Beamer said that he didn't know if that was on purpose or not, and that the question was best asked to Al Groh. They later noted that Gerry DiNardo never called Tennessee by name, and they thought that Woody Hayes never called Michigan by name, either.
Jeff in Knoxville asked if the Big East was the most balanced top to bottom that Beamer has ever seen. Beamer said yes, and he proceeded to praise WVU, Pitt, and BC. He said that Temple always worries him, Rutgers needs a couple more recruiting classes, and even Connecticut, who will begin Big East play in 2005 is coming on strong, with a late-season win over Iowa State and a 6-6 record overall.
Jeff asked if the team was working on hydration, because of the upcoming warm game against Miami, and a possible warm destination for the bowl game. Coach Beamer said they're not going to worry too much about that kind of stuff -- wind, temperature, turf, etc. -- because it gets distracting.
Jeff asked who was going to return punts, and Beamer said it was most likely Richard Johnson, but it was also possible for DeAngelo Hall. They'll figure it out later this week.
Mark from Florida asked for an update on Michael Crawford, and Beamer said he will play again against Miami.
Joe in Yorktown asked if VT expected any surprises in the passing game (the reception on Joe's call was poor, and it's not clear what he meant -- was he asking if VT would have surprises for Miami, or vice-versa?). Beamer said that Miami has the lowest possession time in the league, an indicator of big plays and quick-strike scoring. Beamer noted that in Tech's first 8 games, the Hokies only had 9 big plays against them (22 yards or longer). Then, in the three losses, there were 13 big plays by the opponents. Virginia had no big plays, so that's a big indicator of possible success.
On the subject of special teams, Miami has had four kicks blocked this season, but their long-snapper has improved dramatically in the last few games.
Roth said that the Miami game is the first time since last year's Miami game that VT will be the underdog.
Howard Pardue in Los Angeles called in. He's a former VT basketball player from the early 60's, and he said he'll shoot some 3's for the team. He and Beamer exchanged compliments, but Pardue never did ask a question.
Roth asked Beamer if he was surprised about R.C. Slocum being fired from the Texas A&M job, and Beamer said yes. Beamer said he "had a call in" to R.C. He praised Slocum, and then said, "We get paid well in the coaching business, but the more they pay you, the quicker they'll fire you."
Beamer said that former VT offensive line coach J.B. Grimes, an assistant at Texas A&M, called him this morning, and he told Grimes that he'll look out for some jobs for him. He didn't say whether J.B. was inquiring about jobs at VT or not.
Roth asked Beamer what he'll tell the guys before they take the field against Miami. Beamer said he's not big on pregame speeches, and that he tries to prepare the team during the week instead of getting them fired up right before the game. "You win games like this during the week," he said, through preparation and training.
Beamer repeated that he is trying to keep the players from being satisfied with the Virginia win, and trying to keep them focused for Miami. Miami has a 33-game winning streak heading into Saturday's 1 pm game (nationally broadcast on ABC) against Virginia Tech.