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, December 16, 2002
‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through Hokie Nation…not a creature was stirring…except for the Hokie Football team getting ready for San Francisco! With most other college football teams all nestled and snug in their beds for the year, the Hokie Hotline was on the air. Bill Roth took your calls and answered your emails as he hosted Hokie Head Football Coach Frank Beamer. Also joining the Hotline tonight was Offensive Coordinator and Assistant Head Coach Bryan Stinespring and a surprise guest.
Bill started off with the news of the day. The big news in the Commonwealth tonight was the presentation of the 2002 Dudley Award, which honors the state’s best college football player. This year’s winner was Senior TB Lee Suggs. Suggs is the first ever two-time winner of the Dudley Award and beat out Virginia and ACC Most Valuable Player QB Matt Schaub.
Offensive Coordinator and Assistant Head Coach Bryan Stinespring
Coach Stinespring stopped by the Hotline amidst one of the busiest times of year for a Hokie football coach: bowl preparation and recruiting. Bill started Coach Stinespring’s segment asking about the offensive explosion against the nation’s #1 team, the Miami Hurricanes. Coach Stinespring felt that the team was confident in its execution of the game plan on both the practice and playing fields the week of the Miami contest. He also gave credit to the special teams for creating a short field for the Hokie offense to take advantage of on several occasions. The difference, Coach Stinespring felt, in this game were the turnovers and penalties. He stated that you couldn’t beat most teams with miscues such as those, especially a good team such as Miami.
Bill then asked if he had any tips for the offensive coordinator at Ohio State, who will take on the Hurricanes in the Fiesta Bowl. Coach Stinespring thought that Miami’s confidence in its 7-man defensive front could be taken advantage of, especially if you have a strong running game like the Hokies or the Buckeyes.
Bill asked if this was the best Miami defense the Hokies had ever face. Coach Stinespring felt that the best Miami defense was the ’93 squad which had such defensive stalwarts as Warren Sapp, Kenard Lang, and Kenny Holmes.
Bill asked what was being done to solve the turnover problems that have plagued both Sophomore TB Kevin Jones and Sophomore QB Bryan Randall over the last half of the season. Coach Stinespring stated that while it is an area of concern, the problem shouldn’t be given so much attention that it continues to manifest itself. The main themes are simple. The first is to put two hands on the ball when a player gets into a crowd. Randall has to be able to feel the pressure when he gets into open space. The second is knowing when to fight for extra yards and when to go down. Jones loves to fight for those extra yards, but sometimes the best play is to be tackled.
Mike in Roanoke had the first call of the night and commented on the fantastic play of Suggs in his years at Tech. He also gave a statistic that should depress Hokie fans everywhere. Out of 117 Division 1 schools, the Hokies were 109th in turnovers. Ugh. That’s really all I want to say about that.
Tom called in and asked about using our tailbacks in a flanker or wing formation in passing situations. Coach Stinespring stated that the Hokies have used that formation against LSU (with TE Keith Willis) and against Marshall this season. He stated the favorable match-up you look for is a tailback against a linebacker. Bowl opponent Air Force also runs this offensive set in a modified version.
John in Botetourt called and asked if the lack of draw plays, delays and screens by the Hokie offense against Miami was due to the youth on the offensive line. Coach Stinespring stated that the Hokies attempted a screen close to the goal line, but Randall had to pull it down, run, and leap for the end zone.
John also asked about the lack of passes to the tight ends this season. Coach Stinespring stated that the tight end is about the third or fourth read on a pass play. He stated that the first or second reads were open many times this year which resulted in less pass plays to the tight end. He did say that the tight ends are a definite asset and he is talking with Tight Ends Coach Danny Pearman about developing specific plays that blend well with the Hokie offense.
LT in Lynchburg called and asked how Randall compares to former Hokie QB Michael Vick. Coach Stinespring stated that other than the turnovers, the coaches are pleased with the play and decision making of Randall. He stated that Randall has been put in some tough situations this year and he has run both the ball and the offense admirably.
Virginia Tech Senior TB and 2002 Dudley Award Winner Lee Suggs
2002 Dudley Award winner Lee Suggs called in live from Richmond and took some questions from Bill. The first was if he was surprised at winning the award. The ever-humble Suggs stated that he was, as he thought Virginia QB Matt Schaub would win the award.
Coach Stinespring then asked him if winning this award would be enough to make him reconsider his medical redshirt and return to Tech to play one more season. Suggs chuckled and stated he thought it was time to move on.
Bill then asked Suggs which was the hardest part of rehabilitation: the physical pain or the mental strain. Suggs stated that the thought of not being on the field with his teammates was the hardest part of the whole ordeal. Bill did point out that the fans showed their love and support for the talented senior when he returned to the sidelines for the first time last season after the injury to the cheers of the Lane Stadium faithful.
Suggs finished his impromptu call-in by thanking the fans for all their support during his years at Virginia Tech. He also stated he hopes to see everyone in San Francisco.
Hokies Head Football Coach Frank Beamer’s segment
Coach Beamer started his segment by congratulating Suggs on his Dudley Award. Coach praised Suggs for the work and dedication he has given to the Hokies in his years at Tech. Bill brought up a great point. Of all the great players to play in the state of Virginia, including names such as Michael Vick, Herman Moore, and Corey Moore, Suggs is the only two-time winner in the award’s history.
Thoughts then turned to recruiting and the bowl trip to San Francisco. Coach Beamer participated in a press conference earlier in the day and stated that anticipation is high for the Hokies’ visit. Bill then asked about a report out of a Denver paper questioning the Hokies’ concentration playing in a second-tier bowl. Coach felt that the team couldn’t be more pleased about its bowl destination. He stated the Hokies play a quality opponent in Air Force, the players can spend Christmas at home with their families, and the team gets to visit a new city.
He then asked for as many Hokies as possible to make the trip, although he knew it could be a stretch for a lot of fans. He stated that it makes a big impression when the Hokies travel well and that impression will be more impressive if the fans make it to San Francisco.
Richard in Blacksburg asked if the coaches had given any thought to using wheel routes, underneath patterns, or the swinging option pass that was used against WVU. Coach stated that these offensive schemes were used and the key to their success was getting the ball to r-Junior SE Ernest Wilford.
Barrett in Blacksburg called with congratulations for Lee Suggs. He then asked how the Hokies would prepare for the unique triple option offensive set run by Air Force. Coach Beamer stated that a team that ran this set was another Service Academy, Navy, in 1995.
Jeff in Knoxville started his weekly segment with a question about the general recruiting process. Coach Beamer stated there is a lot of driving and flying since things can change quickly. When asked what question he hears most from recruits, Coach stated it all depends on the recruit, although there is a lot of conversation concerning the success of the season.
Jeff also asked if Coach Beamer attempts to dissuade a recruit who wants to play more than one sport. Coach stated that he has great relationships with Head Basketball Coach Ricky Stokes and Head Baseball Coach Chuck Hartman. Basically, if it is in the best interest of the future student-athlete, then he has no objections.
Dave in Deep Creek asked about the health of Sophomore CB DeAngelo Hall, pointing out that the Hokies will need his talents to slow the Air Force option attack. Coach Beamer agreed that the defensive unit will need Hall and hopes he will be full strength by the bowl game.
Dave also asked how recruits feel about being redshirted. Coach stated that the decision to redshirt depends on the position the athlete will play and how far along he is physically. Some line positions require work with Strength and Conditioning Coach Mike Gentry. Other players benefit from a year preparing to play on the gridiron by work in the classroom or adapting to the college atmosphere by growing socially.
Joel in Charlotte (yours truly) asked the Coach about the recent rumors that the University of Alabama had contacted him in hopes he would fill their head coaching vacancy. Coach stated that he spoke with Virginia Tech Athletic Director Jim Weaver the day following the Miami game and told him he had no interest in the Alabama job. He continued to say that his refusal to consider the job was nothing against the University of Alabama, but more of the commitment he has at Virginia Tech.
Bill switched gears and asked for the Coach’s thoughts on the Heisman Trophy ballot and its winner USC Quarterback Carson Palmer. Coach Beamer felt that both Big East and Miami candidates cancelled each other out, as did both Big-10 candidates. He did say that Palmer had a fine season and was deserving of the honor.
Doug in Culpeper called and asked Coach Beamer’s thoughts on the Hokies’ Big East opponents for next season. In an early preview of next season, he stated that it would be interesting to see if Miami would lose underclassmen to the NFL. He also stated that they would be breaking in a new quarterback.
He thought Pitt was returning some fine talent as well as a seasoned quarterback (Rod Rutherford). He said WVU was returning the core of a team that beat the Hokies in Lane this season. He thought BC might be in for a challenging season, as they lose some key starters, including their starting signal caller (Brian St. Pierre). He thought that Syracuse would bounce back from a down year, that Temple always is a source of concern for Tech, and that Rutgers would continue to improve. He finished these comments stating the conference was built of one great team and many good teams.
Bill then asked if there was any relation to the Hokies’ first Big East losing record in a decade and the lack of a Hokie on the first team All Big East squad. Coach Beamer felt that some mistakes were made with those selections, stating that he felt that Suggs and r-Junior C Jake Grove were overlooked.
Chad in Vinton asked if the Hokies were recruiting any offensive linemen. Coach stated that he feels the current offensive line, which he felt played well as a group this year, is talented and ready to step up its play. He did say that his experiment with recruiting tight ends and defensive linemen, and converting them to offensive linemen, put them behind developmentally for a few years. He did say that the coaches now recruit true offensive linemen to play that position due to their natural size and reach.
Eric in McDowell County asked about the quarterback race for next season. Coach stated that while Randall has played well, next year he will get competition from true Freshman Marcus Vick and r-Freshman Will Hunt.
Bill asked about Randall’s recent problem with turnovers. Coach called Randall "smart, a good leader who is not shaken." He believes that experience and better care of the football are the keys to stopping this problem.
Bill then asked the Coach to pick the winner of the Continental Tire Bowl, which features two Tech opponents from this and every season, Virginia and West Virginia. After a little thought, Coach said he would be rooting for the Big East Conference and WVU. He did say that both teams might struggle mentally due to WVU’s snub by the Gator Bowl and Virginia’s snubbing by any number of post-season bowls.
The Coach did say the Big East conference was the top conference in post-season bowl wins over the past two years, with Bill adding that winning percentage was 82%.
Charles in Roanoke asked if the bowl trip West would create any recruiting possibilities. Coach Beamer stated that he prefers to keep recruiting close to home and focusing the team’s attention on D.C., Pennsylvania, Florida, and of course, Virginia. He stated that the Hokies have no problems finding kids locally with all the talent they need to win the National Championship.
Rachel on a cell phone asked if Senior QB Grant Noel would see playing time in the bowl game, especially due to his first half touchdown in the Miami game. Coach stated that was a great moment for Noel and that if the situation presented itself, he could see playing time.
AG called in with praise for the job Coach Beamer has done with a young team this season, calling him the "Coach of the Year." He also commented on Suggs and his Dudley Award. Coach Beamer thanked him for his kind words. He also stated that football fans would get a real idea of what Lee Suggs is about when he plays next season in the NFL. He stated that the league is a real measuring stick of true talent.
Coach Beamer ended tonight’s Hotline with a rundown of the team’s itinerary leading up to the bowl game. The players will finish up exams this week and get some work done in the weight room. They will practice Friday and Saturday and then leave to spend time with their families for the holidays. They will then depart for San Francisco on Christmas Day.
News and Notes: