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

Tuesday, December 10, 2002
by Joel Kelly

The regular season has come to a close and the Hokies went out in fine fashion. They didnít beat the Canes, but gave them all they wanted in one of the Hokiesí gutsier performances of the year. With the bowl season, exams and the holidays looming, the Hokie Hotline was on the air. Host Bill Roth took your calls and hosted Hokie Head Football Coach Frank Beamer. Also joining tonightís programs was Assistant Head Coach and Running Backs Coach Billy Hite.

Bill started tonightís Hotline with the news of the day. The biggest news is of course the Hokies bowl birth in the inaugural Diamond Walnut San Francisco Bowl. The game will be played in Pac-Bell Park, home of Major League Baseballís San Francisco Giants. Game time is 7:30 PST (thatíd be 10:30 here, folks). The game will be carried nationally on ESPN2. Even with the Miami loss, the Hokies still claim a place in both the USAToday/Coaches Poll and the AP poll.

Assistant Head Coach and Running Backs Coach Billy Hiteís Segment

Coach Hite started his segment of the Hotline by capping off his 25th season as a coach for the Hokies. Bill gave a great statistic that shows the consistency and expertise that Coach Hite has brought to the Hokie football program. In the past 25 years and hundreds of football games, the Hokies have averaged over 200 yards rushing a game with Coach Hite controlling the running game.

Bill asked if the 9-4 record this season was a bit of a letdown after roaring out to an 8-0 start. Coach Hite stated he felt 9-4 was about right considering the schedule the team played, even though they achieved it in an odd fashion. He also thought that a 9-4 record was a more realistic expectation considering the Hokies lost 12 players to graduation and the NFL last season. Coach Hite also gave hope for the future concerning the youth of this football team. Of the 68 players that traveled to the Miami game this year, 40 of those players are young enough to return for the game in Miami in two years.

Bill then turned his attention to the release of the All Big East Team. 7 Hokies made the second team, including Senior TB Lee Suggs and Sophomore CB DeAngelo Hall. When asked his opinion, Coach Hite felt some of the selections were popular votes. He did say that while Miami TB Willis McGahee and West Virginia TB Avon Cobourne both had fine seasons, he would have chosen Lee Suggs for his first team. When Bill asked Coach Hite his choice for Heisman, he tapped Miami QB Ken Dorsey. Both Dorsey and McGahee were chosen as Co-Big East Players of the Year.

Tom in Bellfree, Ohio asked about the fullback situation. Coach Hite stated that the play of r-Junior FB Doug Easlick was the biggest surprise on the Hokie football this season. R-Freshman FB Cedric Humes, who briefly moved to wide receiver, is more of a tailback but could play at both backfield spots next season. R-Sophomore FB Josh Spence had his third concussion this season and his playing future is up to the team physicians.

Mike in Roanoke asked if we might see Humes and Sophomore TB Kevin Jones in the same backfield next season. Coach Hite stated that was something the team would definitely take a look at in spring practice.

Floyd in Richmond asked about the turnover bug that plagued the Hokies this season. Coach Hite stated that this was very uncharacteristic of Hokie football. He also stated that the rash of fumbles truly developed in the late season. In the first 6 games, the Hokies fumbled 5 times, or less than once a game. In the final 7 games, the Hokies put the ball in the turf over 25 times, which raised the fumble-per-game average to 2 for the season.

(Note from Will Stewart: According to statistics, the Hokies fumbled 28 times this year.)

Coach Hite stressed that fumbling is a mental problem and rarely a physical one. He stated that when a player gets tired, he has a tendency to carry the ball away from his body. Keeping it tucked at the three pressure points (fingertips at the tip of the ball, against the rib cage, and in towards the elbow) is crucial in protecting the ball.

Pat in Manassas again asked about the fumbling issue and the way it haunted certain players. Coach Hite stated KJ fumbled 5 times in the last five games after his injury. Tech lost all five of those fumbles. Sophomore QB Bryan Randall fumbled 7 times this season (note: says Randall fumbled 12 times) and they were a result of being hit from behind after he had starting moving down the field for positive yards. Coach Hite also stated that this is an area of the game the Hokies will be working on before their New Yearís Eve showdown with Air Force.

Talk then turned to the Miami game and Coach Hite felt that this was the best Miami team that the Hokies have ever faced. Coach Hite thought that the Canes would be thin in the defensive secondary since so many of their players were taken in last yearís NFL draft, but this proved not to be the case. Tech faced a Cane defense that only put 7 players in the box. The Hokie running backs have faced teams that have stacked the line with 9 players this season in an effort to stop the run. Miami was successful in limiting the Tech ground game with only those 7, and Coach Hite said that this was a typical Miami defense. He stated that they were the easiest team to prepare for since you know their scheme will not change from week to week. He also stated that they are also the hardest team to beat each year.

Bill asked Coach Hite if Ohio State had a chance to beat Miami at a neutral site, and he replied that they would have a tough time. He added that there were several pro teams that the Hurricanes could defeat. Coach Hite added he spoke with a representative from the Chicago Bears that attended the VT-Miami game who stated that 7 down lineman from Miami were on the Bears draft board for the 2003 draft.

Bill from Bellevue, Washington called in and relayed a message that many west coast Hokies are gearing up for the December 31st bowl game. He then asked about the progress of Freshman TB Mike Imoh and Freshman WR Fred Lee. Coach Hite called Imoh a talented player but there just werenít enough balls to go around this year. He stated that Lee has a lot of talent and that spring practice will be very important in his development towards an active member of the receiving corps for next season.

Coach Hite also added that several redshirt freshmen, including LB Aaron Rouse and OG Will Montgomery, are looking very good for the Hokies next season. He also added there was a young man named Vick who was going to bring a lot of talent to the table next season.

Coach Hite began and ended his segment by thanking all the alumni and fans that have helped make Hokie a football a success this and every season.

Hokie Head Football Coach Frank Beamerís Segment

Bill Roth began Coach Beamerís segment with news that East Carolina Head Football Coach Steve Logan was no longer the coach in Greenville. Talk immediately turned to the Miami game. After reviewing the game tape, Coach Beamer stated he was happy with the effort and intensity the team displayed, although he wasnít pleased with the teamís execution. Coach Beamer stated this, in part, could be due to the emotional stress put on the team due to back-to-back games with in-state nemesis Virginia and conference and national rival Miami. Coach stated he spoke with Hokie AD Jim Weaver and asked him not to schedule these games in consecutive weeks in the future.

Coach gave Miami its due credit, but he felt the Hokie team wasnít in the game mentally. He was pleased with the way the team continued to fight back against, in his opinion, the best Miami team the Hokies have ever faced.

Barrett in Blacksburg asked Coach Beamerís opinion of Notre Dameís affiliation with the Big East. Coach stated that the Notre Dame relationship is a double edged sword. On one hand, Notre Dame can be given a BCS game or any Big East game it chooses due to its national following. They do not share bowl money with the conference or its member schools. However, the Big East would not have some of the bowl alliances it enjoys, namely the Gator Bowl, if Notre Dame hadnít been affiliated in some way with the Big East.

The Gator Bowl was on its way to tying in with the SEC, until the lure of Notre Dame playing in Jacksonville persuaded Gator Bowl officials to choose the Big East. Coach Beamer did say that AD Jim Weaver was currently attending a Big East conference meeting in New York and Notre Dame's future membership in or affiliation with the Big East was being discussed.

Bill then brought up the way in which the Big East conference decided its recent bowl match-ups and the way the ACC had courted potential bowl hosts. The Big East recently had a conference call to decide where Virginia Tech and Boston College would play, since both schools ended the season tied in the conference. Although the Hokies won the game straight up, both schoolsí athletic directors did not participate in the conference call vote to see which team played in which bowl. The Hokies head to San Francisco, while the Eagles play MAC champ Toledo in the Motor City Bowl. Coach Beamer felt there was an air of democracy in settling the matter in this fashion.

The ACC had somewhat of a free-for-all when teams sought out their bowl bids. This process left 2nd place finisher Virginia out of the Gator Bowl to 5th place finisher NC State.

Jeff in Knoxville, TN asked Coach Beamerís thoughts on Dennis Franchioneís abrupt departure from Alabama to coach Texas A&M. Coach Beamer stated that while it looks bad for Coach Franchione on the surface, you never know what goes on behind the scenes. He did say that the Alabama players deserved better treatment from the departing coach.

Jeff then asked about the play of the defensive backs in the Miami game. Coach Beamer then put Defensive Backs Coach Lorenzo Ward on the spot by handing him the mike. Coach Ward stated that the defensive backs were occasionally out of position. He also stated that CB DeAngelo Hall was rusty in his return from an injury and it showed.

Jeff then asked about the offensive interference call on r-Senior FS Willie Pile in the first half. Coach got a little testy when the talk turned to the officiating. He thought "the call was bad then and it's bad now". Bill asked if Coach Beamer was surprised at the officiating crew that was chosen for such a high profile game. Coach said he was, although many of the crews are assigned early in the season. He did say that there were several young officials that feel the need to make a call to assert themselves. Coach Beamer thought calls in a game like this should be left to the senior officials, who make the best decisions in big games such as this.

Clark in Roanoke called and asked why Senior QB Grant Noel didnít play in the Virginia game (referring to the tradition of playing all seniors in their last home game). Coach Beamer stated he has always felt that playing one quarterback and sticking with him was important. He did praise Noel on his professionalism and leadership in what Coach called a "tough year for Grant." Bill chipped in, calling Noelís touchdown pass to r-Junior SE Ernest Wilford (mirroring the duoís failed 2-point conversion from last yearís Miami game) the senior play of the year. I think we all agree itís a great way for Grant to go out.

Patrick in Roanoke asked about the progress of Fred Lee. Coach stated that Lee needed to turn it up a notch. He feels if he can practice with more intensity and go on every play, he will be a big addition to the receiving corps. Patrick also asked about the progress of the defensive line. Coach Beamer stated he felt that the D-line was close to being a real solid unit. He stated that there were two true freshman that saw a lot of playing time against Miami and that r-Freshman DL Jason Murphy and Junior DT "Big" Jimmy Williams are coming into their own. He also pointed out that r-Sophomore DT Kevin Lewis will be back from injury next season. He added that Strength Coach Mike Gentry needs to get a hold of them and continue their development.

Steve in Blacksburg asked about recruiting, specifically about Florida High School TB Tyrone Moss. Coach Beamer stated the NCAA rule of recruiting didnít allow him to name specific players, but that recruiting was going very well and that Tech was still in the running for some big time players.

News and Notes

  • The Hotline returns to its regular Monday time slot next week.
  • Bill Ortega from University Travel joined the program tonight and talked about the different bowl packages that were being offered for the San Francisco Bowl.
  • Keith Jones, who coached at Virginia Tech and played for Coach Beamer at the Citadel, lost his wife last week. Hokie Nationís thoughts and prayers are with his family.
  • Tuesday was Day 1,163 of Tech's continuous possession of the Commonwealth Cup and Day 20 of West Virginia's possession of the Black Diamond Trophy.
  • Thanks Coach HiteÖkeep Ďem running.

-- JKHokie


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