The Hokie Hotline (football and basketball season)
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Monday, August 25, 2003
by Wayne Clevenger

Tonight's guests at Beamer's Restaurant in Christiansburg were defensive coordinator Bud Foster, Athletic Director Jim Weaver, and head football coach Frank Beamer.

Phone Numbers: 1-888-TALKISP or 1-336-794-9045 or Email: [email protected]

Featured guests: Bud Foster, Jim Weaver and Frank Beamer

Bud Foster - Defensive Coordinator & Linebackers Coach

At the beginning of the segment it was pointed out that this will be Fosterís 17th year in the VT football program. Foster stated that he was very excited with this yearís defensive unit. He admitted that last yearís squad was young and lacked depth at certain positions, while this year the players are bigger, stronger, faster and possess more overall experience. He singled out LB Mikal Baaqee and DT Tim Sandidge as two players who have benefited greatly from "Gentrification."

Roth asked about which freshmen might be redshirting this season. Foster proudly stated that all true freshmen on defense would redshirt this year, which says a lot for the talent and depth of the upper classmen. Roth then asked how preparations were going for the UCF game. Foster explained that their schedule was a little different this week because the game is on Sunday. He also said that every practice and scrimmage previous to this week were focused on the team getting ready for the overall season, whereas this week the team focuses solely on preparing for UCF.

A question was raised about VTís defensive struggles late last season. Foster responded candidly by saying how disappointing that had been for him and the other coaches. He said that his wife could verify that he was a "hard person to live with" back then. He continued by saying that he and the other coaches had spent a great deal of offseason time evaluating the defensive collapses from last year. He attributed many of the problems to youth, inexperience and lack of fundamental execution. Foster verified that last seasonís shortcomings have become something of a motivating factor for the entire defensive unit. He said the players understand what is expected of them, and they know they can be better. He flatly stated that itís time VTís defense "got its swagger back." He then brought up the fact that VT could have won all the games they lost and even included the Miami game as one where "we never gave up."

Roth then commented about how much bigger Vegas Robinson looked this year. Foster confirmed Robinsonís size increase and attributed some of it to inactivity after offseason surgery. He then added that it didnít take Robinson long to get back in shape and stated that heís ready to go full speed into the season. Foster also singled out Blake Warren, Jordan Trott and Chad Cooper as solid backups that have added size and athleticism over the offseason. He said that Blake Warren reminds him of a young Ben Taylor. Roth then brought up the size Baaqee has added since last season and Foster classified him as "one of the best players on the team."

At this point the conversation trailed off as Foster gave accolades to Brandon Manning (solid last year Ė better this year), Aaron Rouse (plays "like a missile") and James Anderson, whoís at the Whip position this year. Foster pointed out that Brandon Semones was in the audience this evening at Beamer's Restaurant and said that it was always good to see him.

Someone from Roanoke called and asked a question about UCFís offensive line. Foster stated that UCFís entire offense will definitely be ready for Tech and thatís heís more worried about VTís preparation than the oppositionís preparation at this point.

He continued by saying that the VT defense had their best scrimmage of the fall this past Saturday. He highlighted the unbelievable speed of Cols Colas and mentioned Tapp and Burchette as both having tremendous fall practices. Roth brought up Nathaniel Adibi and Foster proudly characterized the 5th year senior as "the player whoís had the best camp." He went on to describe Adibi as a leader and almost "father figure" to many younger defensive players. He compared Adibi to John Engelberger, saying that both were smart, fundamentally sound, and "shiners off the field" as well. Foster then noted that Adibi had been battling a slight ankle injury recently, but that he would be ready to go full speed entering the season. Roth asked who else Foster was excited about on defense, and Foster praised a few more players such as Isaac Montgomery, Tim Sandidge, the Lewis brothers, and Noland Burchette.

Chris in Christiansburg called in and asked if DeAngelo Hall would definitely be starting for both the offense and defense entering the season. Foster emphasized that Hall is a cornerback first and foremost, and needed to focus on his defensive responsibilities. He continued by saying that Hall has had a tremendous camp on both sides of the ball and will be a real contributor on offense, but never seemed to directly answer the original question.

Someone from Somewhere emailed asking Foster what he expected to see from UCF this weekend. Foster replied by pointing out that UCF is "scary talented" and very well coached. He said that VT fans should understand how good UCF really is and how they are no push-over. Foster then gave accolades to the UCF quarterback (Ryan Schneider) and alluded to the fact that heís on pace to break all of Daunte Culpepperís records. He went on to illustrate that UCF had lost some players to graduation and eligibility, but they have a lot of talent returning this year on both sides of the football. He characterized UCF as comparable to Boston College or Syracuse talent-wise and maybe on the verge of breaking into the top 25 rankings. He offered proof of this by stating that theyíve played tough against (and even beat) some really good teams in recent years.

Jim Weaver Ė Virginia Tech Athletic Director

After a break and Weaverís introduction, Roth began by announcing that today was one of the biggest days in the history of the VT football program. Weaver agreed and continued the announcement by relaying that the Board of Visitors had all but finalized the west side expansion/renovation plans for Lane Stadium.

Weaver went on to provide the following details: The initial cost estimates for the renovation are $52.5 million. The project will be implemented in two phases, presumably the implosion phase and the construction phase. Work will begin the day after the final home game this fall, but real progress will probably not be seen until March 2004. The renovation/expansion is scheduled to be completed for the beginning of the 2005 season.

The completed plans show the west side at over 400 feet in length from goal line to goal line, and other highlights include 23 new luxury suites, 780 new indoor club seats, new outdoor club seats (didnít catch the #), new lounge space for all club seats, new press facilities and new (and much improved) areas for television media. Weaver indicated that, out of the total cost of the renovation, $15 million will be paid upfront from funds that have been raised, and the remainder will be financed over 25 years. He also pointed out that many areas of the entire stadium had improved seating installed over the offseason.

Wayne in Blacksburg called and asked Weaver if he was worried that it may be tougher to sell out Lane Stadium after the renovation because of the emphasis on premium seating. Weaver thought this was a good question, but pointed out that expansion can only happen as a result of premium seating revenues. He also indicated that the "market is there" for more premium seating and offered proof by citing the great demand for the premium seating areas offered in the recent south end zone expansion. He concluded by saying that more facility improvements are being planned as a result of the west side renovation initiative.

JD in Charlottesville called and asked if the "Home of the Fighting Gobblers" lettering will survive the west side renovation. He also asked what the seating capacity of Lane Stadium would be after the west side project AND an expanded north end zone area. Weaver answered the first question by stating that the "Home of the Fighting Gobblers" lettering would not survive the renovation. He then answered the second question by saying that, after the west side renovation, Lane Stadium would boast a total capacity of roughly 66,233.

Weaver concluded by saying that there were no future plans to expand the north end zone areas because there was no room to do so. Any expansion in the north end zone area would infringe on the new practice fields just beyond that area. However, Weaver did admit that there was a possibility of adding maybe 1500-1800 seats in the north end zone at some point in the future.

David in Richmond, who organizes the bus trips from Richmond to Blacksburg for home games, called in and asked why the bus had to let people off on Washington Street this year as opposed to the previous drop off location on Spring Road. Weaver stated that this decision was an attempt to relieve Spring Road of some post-game congestion and to keep that area safer for pedestrian traffic. He said that even though the bus travelers will have some extra walking, this new policy should make everyone safer in the long run.

Johnny in Raleigh called in and asked Weaver to clear up recent rumors and grumbling over ticket allotments for the Texas A&M game. Weaver stated that aTm was provided the same number of tickets as VT was allotted last year (5,200). He said that the VT athletic department received a call from aTm athletic officials, who indicated that they didnít want all 5,200 tickets because they didnít think they could sell that many in light of the travel difficulties for a Thursday game. So, VT took back 600 tickets out of the 5,200 and put them up for sale to the public. Weaver stated that this was their only option and that it was purely a sound business decision. He assured everyone that nothing unethical took place.

Charlie from Christiansburg in the audience asked if ISP Sports would still be sponsoring VT sports broadcasts after VT officially joined the ACC. Weaver replied by saying that the relationship would indeed continue and also announced the recent signing of a four-year extension between ISP Sports and VT athletics.

The segment finished up with some miscellaneous conversation. Weaver illustrated his excitement about the planned facility upgrades by pointing out the fact that "better facilities attract better student athletes." He also invited everyone to attend the "Hokie Respect" local sportsmanship meeting on Thursday August 28th in Cassell Coliseum from 8 Ė 9PM. On a sportsmanship note, Weaver announced that any unauthorized person trying to run onto Worsham Field during or shortly after a game this year will be arrested. He also stated that VTís goal posts are now the same collapsible variety as those used at the University of Iowa, and can be taken down in 10 seconds. He said that he doesnít want anyone at risk this year during over-exuberant post-game celebrations.

Frank Beamer Ė Virginia Tech Head Football Coach

Beamer was introduced to the usual big round of applause, and Roth immediately asked him to give his thoughts on the newly finalized west side renovation project. Beamer said he was extremely excited about this and went on to state that he thought VT would have the "best stadium in the country" and the best home field advantage when the renovation is complete.

He followed up by saying that VT may not have the biggest stadium in terms of seating capacity, but it will be the best in terms of quality atmosphere and great overall seating facilities. He reiterated Weaverís view that better facilities will bring better student athletes to the program.

Roth cited a recent NCAA study that suggests schools with bigger, more expensive facilities donít necessarily end up having more athletic success. Beamer countered by saying that having better facilities is a big part of the equation because it shows the administrationís commitment to success, but that VT would still have to do all the other work to make the overall program move forward and be one of the best.

Roth asked if Beamer had been to the FSU campus recently and seen their unbelievable new athletic facility improvements. Beamer said he had heard they were nice and added that all the ACC schools have great stadiums and facilities. He said this made it even more critical to improve VTís facilities. He said that he wanted VTís athletic facilities to be the best in the ACC and shared that heís always had the belief that, "if your facilities arenít improving, then the overall program canít improve."

Beamer went on to state the importance of the plans to improve facilities for other VT sports such as track and field. He shared his view that one sportís success can tend to spill over into another sport. He offered an example where many track and field athletes come to VT and can end up playing football as well. Beamer said he always wanted to recruit speed and thatís precisely what the track and field athlete can bring to the football program.

Beamer concluded the discussion of facility improvement by saying he was also excited about the future plans to build a new indoor practice facility because the one the players use now (Rector Field House) has some limitations in terms of the roof height.

Roth then asked for Beamerís thoughts on some of the preseason predictions from ESPNís Kirk Herstreit, Sports Illustrated, and Charlotteís Newspaper that have VT playing in the Sugar Bowl for the national championship this year. Beamer replied by saying that if any of these prognosticators had seen the scrimmage this past Saturday, theyíd "take it back." He stated that the players were "not real sharp as a group" in that scrimmage and admitted they had a lot of work to do to get ready.

Beamer went on to temper everyoneís expectations by pointing out that "a lot of things need to happen" before VT and the Sugar Bowl should be mentioned in the same sentence. He continued by saying that VT had also been picked to finish 3rd in the Big East this year and urged everyone to realize that predictions donít mean much if you canít get it done on the field.

Roth asked Beamer if any true freshmen would see playing time this season. Beamer said that WR David Clowney will play this year. He expressed uncertainty about WR Josh Hyman, but said that the coaches would decide in the next few weeks whether to red shirt him or not. Beamer then went on to reiterate his praise for the talent level of this yearís freshmen.

Roth asked if a decision had been made regarding the starting kicker situation. Beamer announced that, "for now," Warley will kick field goals, Brandon Pace will handle kickoffs and Travis Conway will be the long snapper.

Barek from Blacksburg called in and asked how much playing time Mike Daniels would get this year. Beamer replied by stating that Daniels will see a lot of action on special teams and will backup Jimmy Williams at free safety. He said that the coaches have great confidence in Daniels at the free safety position so he will see some action there as well.

Beamer and Roth then commented on a certain playerís range and mobility in terms of improved pass coverage ability, but I wasnít sure whether they were talking about Mike Daniels or Jimmy Williams. I think they were talking about Williams because they commented that he was really good against the run last year and had improved his pass coverage ability.

Roth then commented on the amount of experience on this yearís team. Beamer agreed that the increased experience and depth was a luxury VT didnít have as much of last year. The conversation turned to Nathaniel Adibi and his leadership qualities. Beamer said Adibi does his job day in and day out and never complains. He also said that Adibi is the kind of guy he really enjoys coaching.

Beamer then posed a question to Roth: What person, whose name has been mentioned this evening, will be a featured speaker at Beamerís menís fantasy football camp next summer? It didnít take Roth long to guess that is was none other than ESPNís Kirk Herbstreit!! Beamer seemed proud that Herbstreit would be attending and also mentioned that there were around 25 signed up for the camp so far out of the 50 available slots. For those who want to sign up, visit BeamerBall.com for details.

Robert from Christiansburg called and asked Beamer what he thought about last yearís late season struggles and how teams seemed to really stack up against VTís running game. Beamer replied by asserting that a more balanced offensive attack will help against teams who load the box to stop the run. He said that the coaches want less predictability in this yearís offense, so they can run when the defense is stretched and pass when the defense is stacked. However, Beamer also cautioned that VTís offense didnít want to try to do things they werenít capable of, just for the sake of variety.

Beamer then announced his intention to shorten practices later in the season this year in an attempt to keep the players fresher as the schedule wears on. He said he thought they pressed too much in practicing a lot late last year because of the injuries and the fact that less experienced players needed to be rotated in. Beamer said he hoped that injuries would be less of a factor this year (obviously).

Ivan from Christiansburg (Russian Hokie) in the audience then posed several questions for both Roth and Beamer. First he asked if the VT athletic department was receiving any revenue from the Yahoo broadcasts of the Hokie Hotline show. Roth fielded this question by saying that he wasnít really sure, but he theorized that Yahoo and ISP kept the revenues. He stated that it was great while it was free, but that those companies needed to make money too. Ivanís second question was a bit garbled, but I think he asked Beamer where he saw himself in 20 years from a coaching perspective. Beamer answered by jokingly saying he just hoped he was still able to walk in 20 years. Ivan finished up by asking who Beamer thought were this yearís most important senior leaders on the team. Beamer said we have a lot of leaders on the team (who arenít necessarily seniors) who lead by example instead of doing a lot of talking. These include Cols Colas, Nathaniel Adibi, Bryan Randall, Mikal Baaqee, and Kevin Lewis, among others.

Mike in Richmond called in to ask if the traditional "Hokie Walk" would continue before games, and if so would it continue to be named the "Hokie Walk" and when would it happen this Sunday. After consulting with Weaver, Beamer confirmed that the tradition would continue and would continue to be called the "Hokie Walk." He concluded by confirming that it would happen 2 hours before the kickoff of each game, so this Sunday it will happen at 1 PM.

Someone from Somewhere emailed and asked about the young players that were being converted from defensive line positions to offensive line positions. I believe the question was something to the effect of which of these players was showing the most promise after the change. Beamer replied by singling out Chris Burnell and Jason Murphy as showing promise at offensive line after being converted from defensive linemen.

Roth then asked Beamer about the quarterback situation. Beamer stated that both Vick and Randall had handled the situation with class and used the competition to make themselves better. He admitted that Vick had a tough day early in Saturdayís scrimmage, but added that he came on strong later as the scrimmage progressed. He mentioned that both quarterbacks will definitely play on Sunday.

Charlie from Christiansburg in the audience asked Beamer about how the coaches get the team focused during game week, especially as the season drags on. Charlie also wanted to know if there were any plans in the works to push Kevin Jones for the Heisman Trophy this year. Beamer replied to the first question by indicating that the players hopefully knew better than to take any team lightly. He pointed out that UCF, as the underdog, basically has nothing to lose so VT will definitely get their best shot. He finished by reiterating Fosterís earlier comments about how UCF is a very talented team poised to break through and upset some opponents.

Beamer answered Charlieís second question by maintaining that KJ can push himself for the Heisman with his on-field performance. Beamer reminded everyone that there was no real marketing push for Michael Vick to win the Heisman, yet he did well in the final balloting. Beamer finished by saying that, while he hopes some players on the team can achieve their own individual goals, the overall team goals are much more important.

Brian in Richmond called in and asked Beamer how the turf was looking on Worsham Field. Brian referenced worries over VT players slipping during some of last yearís home games. Beamer assured everyone that the field is in fine shape and has held up remarkably well during the scrimmages this month. He also pointed out that the recently resodded areas are doing just fine as well.

Mike in Blacksburg called and asked a question about Jeff King and which position he will play more of, fullback or tight end. Beamer praised King for his versatility in terms of running, receiving and blocking. He said King will be a valuable player at both positions this year.

Rich in VA Beach called and inquired about the injury status of Mike Imoh and Isaac Montgomery. Beamer said that they had both recently sustained very mild concussions, but that they will be fine to practice some this week and should both be 100% for the UCF game. He alluded to a new kickoff return formation that was installed during camp where both Cedric Humes and Imoh will return kickoffs. He praised both players as good returners and good blockers. Beamer said he (and the other coaches) got the idea after meeting with the Atlanta Falcons special teams coach over the summer.

Greg from Dublin called and asked if Nic Schmitt would be redshirting this year. Beamer confirmed that all non-starting kickers would redshirt for now, but that the situation was constantly being evaluated. He made it sound like they might pull a redshirt off one or more of them as the season progresses if Warley and/or Pace start struggling.

Frank on I-81 called to ask how Beamer would prefer to score first on Sunday; offense, defense or special teams. Beamer replied by saying that he likes to score any way they can and he has no preference. He then jokingly said "how about all three ways?!?!"

Roth then asked Beamer a theoretical question. If VT had not been included in ACC expansion, would the $52.5 million dollar stadium expansion still be moving forward? Beamer said yes without hesitation. He stated that he felt confident that VT supporters would have rallied to make it happen. He offered proof for this by pointing out that there was support and contributions for the funding, even when the league expansion situation had not been resolved. He stated that VT should never "let others determine its future." However, he did admit that VTís future success will be easier to achieve now that they are in the ACC.

Dick in Blacksburg called in and asked if the recent NCAA sportsmanship initiatives have affected any football rule changes for this year. Beamerís response was hard to make out, but it vaguely referenced the fact there was no more "Halo Rule" on punt returns and said something about penalties being enforced on kickoffs. Sorry I wasnít able to get more on this (Editor's Note: the two-yard halo rule on punt returns has been eliminated, and unsportsmanlike penalties on touchdowns can now be enforced on the ensuing kickoff, instead of the extra point).

Roth then cut in to ask Beamer if he thought the offense actually looked sharper in the spring than it does now. Beamer said that it did look sharper in some areas, but that the offense was still improving and "weíll see" how far it can go.

Dan from Blacksburg called and asked if the coaching staff ever scripts the first sequence of plays for each game. Secondly, he asked if Vick would play quarterback against UCF regardless of the score or situation. Beamer confirmed that they did indeed script plays and that he thought that was a good strategy to get the offense into the flow of their game. He then confirmed that Vick would definitely play on Sunday, but admitted that he and the other coaches had not determined exactly how and when yet. He said that the staff wanted to see how the game was going and play it by ear. He gave the example of how Texas A&M might have put their inexperienced quarterback (Reggie McNeal) in too early last year against VT in a tough situation. Then the quarterback ended up throwing an interception on his first series.

Roth followed up about the play scripting strategy by telling an amusing story. He said that early in a game a few years back, his colleague Mike Burnop was giving commentary and saying how VT needed to do certain things on their next play from scrimmage. Sure enough, VT did exactly what Burnop said they needed to do??? It wasnít until later in the game that Roth found out that Burnop had a copy of the play calling script. LOL

Roth closed the program by asking Beamer for any final thoughts. Beamer simply said that he wanted to see a packed and loud stadium for UCF on Sunday. "Letís get in there and get right !!"

Monday was Day 1,414 of Tech's continuous possession of the Commonwealth Cup.

-- Wayne

          

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