The Hokie Hotline (football and basketball season)
When: every Monday from 7:00-9:00
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Monday, September 1, 2003
by Wayne Clevenger

The opening segment began with Roth pointing out that VT had moved up to #9 in the Coaches poll to match their same ranking in the AP Poll. That marks the 72nd consecutive poll where VT has been ranked and that streak is second only to the University of Michigan. Roth went on to praise the game Bryan Randall played against UCF and announced that heíd been voted the Big Eastís offensive player of the week.

Roth then announced that, as of late Monday afternoon, there were still around 1200 tickets available for the upcoming game against JMU. He also said that single game tickets were still available for the Boston College game, but that all other home games were completely sold out. Tickets can be purchased at www.hokietickets.com or by calling 1-800-VATECH4.

This week's featured guests: Mike Gentry, Jim Weaver, and Frank Beamer.

Mike Gentry Ė Assistant Athletic Director and Strength & Conditioning Coach

Roth introduced Dr. Gentry and both pointed out that Jason Lallis, Mikal Baaqee and a few other players were in attendance at Beamerís in the audience. Roth asked Gentryís thoughts on the UCF game, and he responded by saying that VT looked explosive and physical at times, but looked unfocused at other times. He mentioned that he thought VT was in a little better condition than the UCF players (surprising for a Florida team) and Roth confirmed this by mentioning that the game was stopped several times because UCF players were cramping up.

Roth then asked Gentry what VT players did to try to avoid cramping. Gentry said that the Mike Goforth (the VT head trainer) was involved a lot in this area and that they took hydration very seriously. He said that bottled water and electrolyte fluids such as Gatorade are always made available to the players at all times. He also said that 2-a-day practices help VT players in terms of conditioning.

Roth asked how this yearís VT team compares with other past VT teams in the weight room. Gentry said that this yearís VT squad is as athletic and strong as any in the past. He pointed out that this year's team has 17 Super Iron Hokies, which is the highest weight room honor they bestow. Roth mentioned that the weight room is not a glamorous place at times, but that itís probably where the players make their most improvement. Gentry agreed and said he enjoyed his time with the players in the weight room because it allows him to get to know them and watch them grow up.

Roth asked Gentry to highlight some recent off season weight room accomplishments. Gentry said that Jake Grove had tied Josh Reddingís bench press record of 500 lbs, and went on to single out Will Montgomery for his 366-pound power clean and noted that Bryan Randall had broken most of the weight lifting records for the QB position.

Steve in Richmond called in and commented that it seemed the backs had improved their blocking from last year. Gentry agreed with this assessment and highlighted Kevin Jonesí athleticism (40" vertical, 380 lbs bench and sub 4.4 40 yard dash).

Roth asked Gentry if he was surprised about the tremendous improvement and success of the VT football program over the past 10-15 years. Gentry said he was not surprised and that it was "a miracle." He went on to credit VTís coaching leadership and Big East membership as contributing factors in the program's rapid rise to national prominence.

Roth pointed out that Gentry has really turned out some great assistants over the years, many of whom are now working for other programs around the country. Gentry agreed that he has always been blessed with talented assistants, but wanted to also give tremendous credit to his current assistants.

Roth then brought up the subject of Gentryís book, A Chance to Win. Gentry said he had been talking with Tony (didnít catch the last name), Director of Exercise Physiology at Ferrum, about writing this book for about 20 years and finally got a chance to do it. He said that the book contains all the knowledge you need to get bigger, stronger and faster no matter what level of athlete you are. Roth asked what age is old enough to begin weight training. Gentry said that 12-13 years old was old enough to begin a weight training regimen.

When asked which weight lifting records he thought would be hard to break in the VT football program, Gentry mentioned William Boatwrightís 1990 squat record of 755 lbs and Druckenmillerís 405 lbs hang clean record. Roth brought up DeAngelo Hallís outstanding 40 yard dash time and Gentry explained that Hall has worked a little with the track team to get to that time. He also stated that the coaches timed Hall with three different stop watches and took the average.

Roth then brought up Mikal Baaqeeís off season weight gain to 240 lbs. Gentry said that Baaqee worked very hard on the big muscle groups and must have eaten everything in sight over the off season.

Roth asked if Gentry thought that VT recruited better athletes now than 10 years ago. Gentry said that the real difference now is speed. He said that Beamer and the other coaches stress that speed is critical in recruiting. He singled out Xavier Adibi as a good example.

Roth then asked about the menís and womenís basketball programs at VT. Gentry praised both coaches for emphasizing strength and conditioning in the athletes they recruited and their subsequent training regimens.

Roth then asked who Gentry thought the next great walk on football player might be at VT. Gentry immediately singled out Matt Roane from Wytheville as having a solid chance to be a future playmaker for the Hokies. Roth finished up with Gentry by pointing out that the book A Chance to Win was available at www.hokieshop.com, www.beamerball.com, and at Tech Bookstore.

After a break, Roth talked to Jason Lallis briefly about his interception again UCF and subsequent return run for a touchdown. Roth pointed out that this is the second consecutive year that Lallis has scored in the first game of the year. Lallis said he got a little lucky and that the play called for him to drop into zone coverage while others blitzed. Roth jokingly asked Lallis how fast he ran the 45 yards to the end zone and Lallis playfully replied, "about 3.2 seconds."

Jim Weaver Ė Athletic Director

Roth then introduced Jim Weaver, who continued the praise for the play Lallis made. Weaver announced that the first game went well both in operational terms and because VT won. Roth asked Weaver if he was surprised that this game drew the largest crowd ever at Lane Stadium (because the game was on Sunday and because it was a smaller name team). Weaver said he wasnít surprised at all. He said that the VT athletic department can never afford to turn down TV exposure on a national level, because it brings in more revenue and really helps recruiting. He said the fan support at VT is special and the fans are willing to be flexible when such circumstances arise. Weaver then mentioned that Lane Stadium is one of the loudest places to play in the country and a tough place to play for all opposing teams.

The conversation then turned to NCAA ethics and the recent events where Mike Price, Rick Neuheisel, and Larry Eustachy were fired by their respective Universities. Weaver pointed out that these issues all happened after the national sportsmanship summit in Dallas back in February, but that these were serious situations that needed to be dealt with. Roth asked if there were plans to send out memos in the spring reminding all staff to not bet in NCAA basketball pools. Weaver stated that this issue is brought up every year and thereís no circumstance where itís regarded as acceptable. Roth asked if Weaver would hire a guy like Neuheisel after what had come to light in recent months. Weaver said that because of Neuheiselís long track record of rules violations going back to his days at Colorado, that no he would not hire him under any circumstances at this point.

George in Hampton called and commented on the fact that both UCF and VT entered the field simultaneously to cheers at the beginning of the game, but that UCF was booed by the student section when they ran onto the field for the second half. George asked what was being done to discourage such fan behavior. Weaver stated that the athletic department was working with student leadership in attempts to discourage booing of the opposition, but that it would not be stopped overnight. Weaver also mentioned that the simultaneous team entrance at the beginning of the game was scripted for TV purposes and that some visiting teams preferred this to avoid the verbal abuse.

Roth read an email from Dave in Atlanta. Dave asked if there were any plans to sell standing room only tickets to the general public now that all premium seating is sold out. Weaver admitted that VT already provided 200 standing room only tickets to selected VHSL coaches and administrators, as well as some UVA representatives, but that there were no current plans to offer such tickets to the general public. Weaver then digressed a little by announcing that the additional 1200 tickets available for the JMU game were a result of them being sent back from Harrisonburg unsold.

Bruce from Radford, who has had 50 yard line season tickets for 30 years, called in and asked Weaver if the wireless antenna could be moved down the sideline because it obstructed his view of the game. Weaver said that he wasnít sure, but he would check on it.

Jimmy in Danville emailed another possible financial scenario about immediately continuing the VT Ė WVU football series. Weaver responded by saying that the WVU athletic director had indicated that it wouldnít be possible to play the game next season, but that VT is committed to continuing the series as soon as possible.

Judy in Richmond commented that she liked the scoreboard updates of other games, but asked if there was any way to make the display larger because it was hard to see from the 40 yard line seats. Weaver said he was happy to get the scoreboard updates up this year, but that heíd have to check and see whether or not the display can be enlarged. Judy also asked if there were plans in the works to extend Coach Beamerís contract. Weaver explained that, as far as heís concerned, Beamer has a lifetime contract at VT as long as he wanted to stay. He explained further that it was a rolling contract that always extended 4 seasons beyond the current one, so no extension was really needed.

Judy finished by asking why VT chose to play a Division 1-AA team like JMU. Weaver responded by giving the following reasons: 1. These types of schools (when they're close by) tend to sell more tickets than larger programs that are further away from Blacksburg. 2. It brings in revenue to these smaller programs, helping them financially. 3. In the case of JMU, it keeps the money in-state. 4. VT can usually attract these teams at a less expensive price than other programs, so it helps the bottom line of the VT athletic department. Weaver also pointed out that NCAA rules allow VT to use one win every 4 years against Division 1-AA competition toward bowl eligibility.

Roth asked Weaver if he was surprised at UConnís win over the University of Indiana. Weaver said that he wasnít surprised at all because UConn has some talent and has invested wisely in its fledgling football program.

Frank Beamer Ė Head Football Coach

Roth began Beamerís segment by reading the official press release announcing the suspensions of Marcus Vick and Brandon Manning for the JMU game this weekend. The press release stated that both players were being suspended for "violation of team policies." Roth asked for comment from Beamer on this subject, but Beamer only said that they were "two good kids who made a mistake" and would not comment further.

Roth then asked Beamer for his thoughts on the UCF game. Beamer said he thought the defense played well overall and that they only had real breakdowns on 3-4 plays in the game. He continued by saying the defense played hard and physical. Beamer also said he was pleased with the offensive play, but that "UCF out-did VT a bit on special teams." He brought up the blocked field goal and the unorthodox punting strategy where the UCF kicker would take the snap and run left away from the oncoming punt blockers. Beamer said this strategy caught VT off guard a bit.

He said he asked DeAngelo Hall to move up a bit, but this only resulted in the punter sending one over Hallís head. He concluded by saying that VT will most likely see this strategy used against them again and that preparations for it will begin this week. He also said that UCF using this punting strategy was a compliment to VTís punt coverage team. Roth asked if the UCF punter would have been protected against roughing the kicker while scrambling and Beamer said that no, the punter is only protected while squared up in the act of punting (not while on the run).

Jeff in Knoxville called and asked Beamer to assess the offensive line play in the UCF game and compare it with last yearís overall performance by that unit. Beamer responded by saying the offensive line had a good day for the most part. He said that Jake Grove was having some fatigue problems and they werenít sure whether it was the heat or nervousness. He continued by saying that Jacob Gibson, Jim Miller, Jimmy Martin, Will Montgomery and Chris Pannell all played well, but run blocking could have been a little better.

Someone asked if Beamer thought that Kevin Jones was dancing too much at the line of scrimmage and not hitting his holes like he should. Beamer said that itís never a good idea to "mess with a good tailback" and that he was confident that Coach Hite would work with KJ if there were cause for concern. He continued by saying that KJ has good instinctive field presence and can sometimes make something out of nothing.

Bill in VA Beach called in and suggested a play where Marcus Vick could line up as a slot receiver with Randall at QB. Beamer jokingly asked Bill to send the play to him. Roth then pointed out that others had suggested a lot of different positions for Marcus Vick on offensive plays, but that these might end in and unnecessary injury. Beamer praised coaches Stinespring, Rogers, and Ball for developing good formations and good offensive game plans where VT could be utilize their weapons.

Roth asked Beamer if heís ever seen as much motion in the VT offense as in the UCF game. Beamer said this was a product of offseason planning by the coaching staff because they wanted more motion in the offense. Beamer said that the more motion a team has, the more chance the defense might mess something up. Roth pointed out the success of the pass play to Easlick in the flat and Beamer said this was a good solid play to call at the beginning of the game. Roth asked Beamer if he know when the last time was that a VT offense completed 29 passes in a game. Beamer guessed that it might have been when Don Strock was QB at VT. Roth said it was in 1972, but didnít give the QBís name.

Marion in Chesapeake called and asked about the status of the contusion injury KJ sustained during the game. Beamer said that he met with Trainer Mike Goforth earlier in the day and that KJ would be a little sore, but should be fine to practice this week and play against JMU.

Mike in Richmond emailed a question asking what the coaches can do to maintain the teamís intensity level when VT jumps out to a big lead. Beamer commented that it was partly human nature to relax when VT is up 28-0 and allowed the opposition only 9 yards of offense. He said that UCF did a good job at getting back into the game and it seemed to "snowball a little." He said that it was all a matter of concentration and that the coaches will work with the team to make sure they play with the same intensity regardless of the score.

Barek in Blacksburg called and asked, with Randallís performance, why he wasnít getting the same type of hype as Kevin Jones and Marcus Vick. Beamer said he didnít want to hype any one player, but instead wanted to emphasize team goals and just focus on VTís next opponent (JMU). He went on to say that any talk of awards or bowls is too premature at this point.

Robin in California emailed and jokingly asked if the fans could expect to soon see Jason Lallis at the wideout position. Beamer laughed along with everyone else, but ended by praising how good Lallis looked when speeding toward the end zone after his interception.

Jeff in Raleigh called in and asked about the increased amount of defensive rotation against UCF and noted that a lot of players saw action. Beamer stated that this was a definite goal because it not only allowed 2nd string players to get experience, it also kept fresh legs on the field as much as possible. Beamer said that he and the coaches wanted the 2nd string players to be just as experienced and talented as the 1st string players and the only way that can happen is to get them on the field.

Tim from Blacksburg called and jokingly asked what Coach Stinespringís punishment would be for throwing to the tight ends. He then followed up by asking about the deep tailback handoff plays that usually ended in negative yardage. Tim said he thought these used to be used to setup something else? Beamer said that this play was used to setup the touchdown pass to DeAngelo Hall. Beamer also said that the coaches all agree that KJ excels when he can receive a handoff 3-4 yards deep and find some room to run. He did admit that maybe the OL could have slowed their push a bit in an attempt to confuse the defense into thinking pass. Beamer noted that all the plays called tend to setup other plays in the big offensive scheme.

Steve in Vinton called asking about the offensive play calling after VT had a first and goal at the 5 yard line, but ended up kicking a field goal that was blocked. Steve commented that it looked as though VT ran the plays to the short side of the field and got in trouble. Beamer admitted that there was some bad execution on these plays and that VT should have scored a touchdown on at least one of them if there was better blocking.

Curtis in Harrisonburg called and commended Randallís progress at the QB position since last year. He also commended Cols Colas for a great block on the Lallisí interception return. Beamer agreed on both points and praised Randallís work ethic and character.

Tom from Blackstone asked if it was Beamerís plan to put in the 2nd string defense when VT was up 28-0. Beamer reiterated his earlier comments by saying that itís a definite goal to get the 2nd string as much playing time as possible so those players can be rotated in when necessary.

Denny in Tazwell called and noted that Randall was faced with an end zone pass play in the UCF game that was very similar to the one where he threw a game ending interception against WVU last year. Denny pointed out that this time Randall made the correct decision and threw the ball away instead of risking the turnover. Beamer seemed to know exactly what Denny was referring to and said that Bryan Randall seldom makes the same mistake twice. Denny also asked about the large number of pass plays against UCF that feature QB roll outs. Beamer said they wanted more of these type plays in the offensive plan this year because it gives the defense different looks and also allows the QB different field perspectives. Beamer did point out however, that VT completed many good pass plays against UCF from the pocket position.

Nancy in Warrenton praised the two cadets who playfully stole the UCF flag from the UDF cheerleaders. Beamer said he didnít notice this and Roth said he thought the cadets got in trouble for it, but wasnít sure if it was just staged. Roth said that when the Mascots start fighting itís usually staged, except for the incident between the Hokie Bird and the Miami Ibis a few years back.

Victor in Blacksburg commented on the impressive play of David Clowney and asked what other schools recruited him out of high school and what made him choose VT? Beamer thought that Clowneyís high school coach contacted VT about Clowneyís interest. Beamer also confirmed that there were at least two other schools interested in Clowney, but that he committed to VT verbally shortly after his visit. Beamer commented that Clowney has talent, but definitely needs to learn the offense fast because he was caught out of position a few times against UCF.

Jeff in Ashburn again brought up Kevin Jonesí dancing at the line of scrimmage vs. Cedric Humesí tendency to just hit the hole and go. Beamer reiterated his tremendous confidence in KJ and noted that he broke and amazing 16 tackles during the UCF game. Rarely did the first UCF defender ever bring him down. Beamer went on to again praise KJ for his field presence and explosiveness.

Eric in Leesburg had a comment about when VT checks off to a running play from the shotgun position. Eric claimed that VT always runs the tailback off left tackle in this check off and said the UCF coaches and players must have known this because the play was usually for no gain. Beamer claimed that Humes missed a block or two on these plays that might have prevented them from going for more positive yards. Beamer again praised VTís innovative offensive play calling in the UCF game.

Beamer was then asked to assess the play of the VT linebackers in the UCF game. Beamer admitted that Baaqee might have been bothered a bit by his ankle during the game, but commended Vegas Robinson on a solid performance. He also singled out Jordan Trott for a nice play he made near the end of the game and said Blake Warren performed well, but should have squared up more on a goal line play to stop the runner.

An email asked Beamer if he saw a banner in the Lane end zone that read, "Welcome to Beamerís Hotel of Pain." Beamer said he didnít see it, but that heíd look for it this Saturday.

Hugh in Richmond called and stated that at the end of the 3rd quarter, with the game still in doubt, the fans rose for their usual performance of the Hokie Pokey. Hugh wanted to know if this was really the fear inspiring thing the stadium needed with the game still in doubt. Beamer laughed and admitted that Hugh might be right. Roth noted that the Hokie Pokey was a VT tradition and these were hard to change. Beamer asked for a vote from the audience on whether or not to keep doing the Hokie Pokey at the end of the third quarter and those in attendance voted overwhelmingly to keep the tradition.

John in Lynchburg asked Beamer if the UCF PK/Punter, Matt Prater was any relation to a former player at VT Jack Prater. Beamer said he didnít think so.

An email asked Beamer who the 3rd string QB would be against JMU this weekend with Marcus Vick suspended for the game. Beamer confirmed that Lance Goff would be the third string QB behind Bryan Randall and Chris Clifton.

Frank in Rosedale told Coach Beamer that he was disturbed by the fact that no Hokie players made the first team all Big East last year. He then asked about the large number of receivers and pass formations VT used successfully against UCF and wondered if this was by design or just an experiment. Beamer confirmed that VT wanted to use those receivers and formations against UCF, but admitted that plans change from week to week based on the opponent. He said VT would always have these plays in the plan, but how much would be the question.

Jeff in Richmond asked how it worked out having Rogers on the sideline for the UCF game instead of his place last year in the coaches' box. Beamer said it worked out well and explained that this was a group decision made by the offensive coaches because they thought Rogers needed more hands-on time with Randall and Vick during the game.

Tony in Charlotte called and basically asked what defensive plans were being made to prepare for the teams that beat VT last year. Beamer confirmed that Syracuse, WVU and Pittsburgh generally seem to have success against VT offensively, but that right now the team was focusing on JMU and just thinking about one game at a time.

Larry in Culpeper asked Coach Beamer how UCFís WR Tavaris Capers had so much success against VT. Beamer said that Capers was a great athlete and very fast. He said it was a combination of questionable execution and the talent and speed of Capers.

Roth asked Beamer if he watched the Miami Ė Louisiana Tech game and Beamer said he watched it for a little while. When asked what he thought of Miami, Beamer said it "looked like the same old Miami to me, so I changed that channel."

Roth finished up the show by asking Beamerís thoughts on JMU. Beamer said that JMU will be coming off a big win against Liberty and should be fired up to try to upset VT.

Monday was Day 1,421 of Tech's continuous possession of the Commonwealth Cup.

-- Wayne

          

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