The Hokie Hotline (football and basketball season)
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Monday, September 8, 2003
by Wayne Clevenger

Tonight's show featured offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring, athletic director Jim Weaver, and recruiting coordinator Jim Cavanaugh.

The opening segment began with Bill Roth announcing that UConn returned roughly 500 tickets to VT and that some single game tickets are still available for Boston College (home, Nov. 22nd) and Temple (away, Nov. 15th). The remaining games (home & away) are all sold out. Roth noted that VT stayed #9 in both polls and Miami moved up to #2 in both polls and Pittsburgh dropped a spot from #10 to #11.

Bryan Stinespring Ė Offensive Coordinator / Offensive Line Coach

Roth introduced Stinespring and both noted the presence of his newborn daughter in the audience. They talked about the new VT offensive attack this season. Stinespring gave the credit to the confidence of the players and mentioned QB Bryan Randall by name. Roth asked about the new plays with more pre-snap motion. Stinespring said it has been from studying other teams and evolving to new formations.

Roth pointed out that Randall is the only BE QB who has ever thrown for 500 yards in a game and run for 100 yards in a game. Stinespring said Randall is underrated everywhere except in VTís athletic department. He said Randall has gotten better and better every day since last year. Roth noted that VT had passes completed against UCF and the line was stacked. Stinespring said that VT wants to be able to run and pass when they want to Ė and not always take only what the opposition gives.

Stinespring noted that Billy Hite thinks VT must have the right attitude to run the football, and he thinks the team has the right attitude to do so at this point. Roth asked if Stinespring thought VT could run the ball against aTm as well as Utah did. Stinespring responded by saying that he thought they could. Although he noted that aTm was very good at defending the run in the beginning of that game, but then they got behind and couldnít catch up. Stinespring said that VT wants to figure out what they can do well then come up with the aTm game plan accordingly. He noted that aTm averages 298 lbs across the board on their defensive line and also said that the VT coaches have spent most of Monday reviewing the Utah Ė aTm game tape.

Eric on his cell phone called in and asked how much of the offense can be executed out of the shotgun formations, specifically the two tight end, two wide, one tailback formation. Stinespring responded by saying that there are a lot of options from that formation. He noted that the TE becomes the additional blocker in that set and many play options are available from there including (but not limited to) the speed option and the power game. Roth asked if Stinespring longed for the days when most defenses (like Miami) lined up in straight 4-3 or 3-4 without bringing their safeties up. Stinespring said that he did miss that, but that the days of simple defensive formations are "antiquated at best." He said that even Miami will bring their safeties up close to the line more often than not.

Charles from Blacksburg called and asked how the second string offensive line was progressing. Stinespring said that they were coming along nicely. He noted that last year the VT offensive line was very thin as opposed to this year. He said heís anxious to get Tripp Carroll and Jason Murphy back into the mix. Stinespring also praised the progress of Chris Pannell. Roth asked specifically about the status of Carroll and Stinespring said that heís missed so much practice time that VT will probably redshirt Carroll this year (same with Matt Welsh).

Roth read an email asking the status of ex-Hokie Curtis Bradley, who transferred. I believe Stinespring said Bradley transferred to Morgan State (or maybe Oregon State?) and that he has had no further contact with Bradley or his family (but Stinespring wished him the best).

Burt from Clifton Forge called and congratulated Stinespring on the new addition to his family as well as his nice work with the VT offense. He asked Stinespringís thoughts on the offensive game plan for aTm. Stinespring said that VT would continue to build and develop on what had already been accomplished this year in the first two games. He said the offense wanted to be even more diverse and try to make opposing defenses adjust more to VTís plays and formations.

Roth asked Stinespring what aTm most resembles: Texas A&M, Alabama (where Franchione last coached) or North Carolina (where aTm defensive coordinator Torbush last coached)? Stinespring said that aTm looked a lot like Alabama more than anything else. He noted aTmís 4-3 defensive concept and also admitted there were similarities to the former UNC defense under Torbush.

Someone from Roanoke called and asked if VT fans could expect to see any no huddle offense under normal game conditions this season (not just two minute drills). Stinespring assured the caller that the no huddle offense has been explored and discussed by the coaching staff as a viable method to changing the game tempo when necessary. He all but said that it would be used at some point this season, but noted that it might not be used against aTm.

Roth asked how Kevin Jones was progressing with his injured wrists. Stinespring said that KJ would be fine. He admitted that the trainers and physicians had done several X-rays and MRIís to make sure there were no broken bones and these all came out negative. Stinespring said that the ligaments in KJís wrists were stretched, but it shouldnít be a big deal, and he was expected to fully participate in all practices before the aTm game.

Roth brought up the play of Cedric Humes during the game against JMU. During the postgame interview, Roth noted that Humes seemed more disappointed in the fumbles and missed block(s) as opposed to being excited about the touchdowns or positive running yards. Stinespring said thatís the type of person Cedric is and pointed out that the entire team has a commitment to limit mistakes and excel in all phases of the game. He mentioned the overall team commitment to have all offensive drives end either in scores or punts that pin the opposing team inside their own 30 yard line. He said that turnovers will accomplish neither of these goals.

Bill in Tazewell called and asked the obligatory, "Why does Kevin Jones dance too much instead of hitting the hole hard and driving through for positive yards?" Stinespring responded by saying that this might have been more of a problem in the UCF game than the JMU game. He compared KJ to Barry Sanders in that heís probably one of the best tailbacks at making quick cuts and making defenders miss tackles. Stinespring said he thought KJ was well on his way to having a big day against JMU before the injury and that heíll be fine with respect to hitting holes and gaining positive yardage. He also noted that the two defenses the Hokies have faced this year have run a lot of zone blitzes, which sometimes forces tailbacks to cut back as the line shifts left or right during the pursuit.

D.K emailed and asked what percentage of the offensive playbook had been used thus far this season. Stinespring admitted that he couldnít give an adequate assessment of that, but said that he would estimate that 75% of the offensive playbook had been used thus far. He also said they were developing more plays as well.

Bob from Roanoke called and expressed concern about VTís ability to score points quickly in the event that a big comeback is ever necessary. Stinespring said he understood this concern and noted that VT had missed a few quick strike opportunities recently, but that VT was constantly working on these types of plays so they could be used when the opportunity presents itself. He said that some of the opposing defenses VT has seen thus far have disallowed big play opportunities. He mentioned that the no huddle offense could be used by VT in the future to move the ball more quickly when necessary.

Francis in Culpeper called and expressed concern over getting playing time for Marcus Vick. He noted how Randall had missed a few deep balls already this season. He also asked how Brandon Gore was doing. Stinespring answered the first question by saying that overthrows are not always the fault of the QB. He said that sometimes the routes run by the receivers are not quite as accurate as necessary. Stinespring said that Brandon Gore is doing well for a redshirt freshman and praised his play against JMU, but also mentioned that he needs some time to adjust to the speed and complexity of the college game.

Jim Weaver Ė Athletic Director

Roth then introduced Jim Weaver and joked with him about Penn State losing this past weekend. Weaver responded by saying something like, "Who cares, they donít put food on my table."

After the laughter subsided, Weaver discussed the meeting that day in Chicago that involved all the presidents of the BCS conferences meeting with "The coalition group" of non-BCS conferences. Weaver reported that the meeting was focused solely on the BCS issue and Division 1-A postseason football. It was mentioned that neither side seemed to favor an all-out playoff system similar to the NFL.

The big issue seemed to be access to the BCS bowls for the Coalition Groupís five Division 1-A conferences. Weaver predicted that, in the end, there might be a 5th bowl added to the BCS system that would allow two additional teams to be added from the 5 Coalition Group conferences. Roth asked if Weaver thought that a Conference USA or WAC champion deserves to get the same financial rewards currently available to BCS conference champions. Weaver said that he didnít think that had been or will be discussed, but that this was all about correcting the growing distinction between the "haves" and the "have nots" in college football.

Roth noted that it seemed to be to the advantage of the current BCS conferences to remain somewhat exclusionary. Both noted that the 2004 ACC conference will be the strongest football conference in the nation, with possibly three teams poised to finish in the top 10 this season (Miami, VT and FSU).

Charles in Roanoke called and asked several questions: First he asked that Weaver shed some light on the realignment of season ticket holders and second he asked about future VT scheduling with respect to dropping WVU and possibly being able to pay more for OOC opponents to come to Blacksburg (mentioned UT paying Marshall $500,000 for coming to Knoxville this past weekend).

Weaver answered the second question first by saying that VT was not yet to the point of paying that much for OOC opponents to come to Blacksburg. He pointed out the disparity in the seating of UTís stadium versus Lane Stadium (106K vs. 65K). He noted that the Marshall / UT deal may have been a 2 for 1 situation.

Weaver answered the first question by saying that season ticket seating realignment has not been finalized enough for any type of announcement, but he also noted that this process would be conducted with as much sensitivity as possible to the holders themselves.

After a break Roth mentioned to Weaver that UConn beat Army this past weekend for their 6th straight win. Weaver praised the UConn program and said he thought they would have a fine season this year and be an excellent addition to the BE conference. Roth and Weaver then switched gears and talked briefly about the new VT womenís tennis coach.

Gary in Salem called and congratulated the VT football program on its 600th win. Weaver noted that only 25 schools in America have accomplished that. Gary also praised the new expansion plans. He then asked if the SEZ game score ticker display could be made easier to see by adding an additional display in the NEZ. Weaver noted that some scores are announced during the game by loudspeaker, but admitted that VT does not currently have the ability to duplicate the display on the board in the NEZ. In the future, he said that VT would look at ways to make the game score display more readable for the entire stadium.

Roth then read an email from a person who thought that sportsmanship was getting worse in college football. A suggestion was made to introduce the away team first to give the fans an opportunity to applaud for them. Weaver reiterated that the entrance of most visiting teams is scripted and that itís very difficult to control the sportsmanship behavior of 65K+ Lane Stadium fans.

After a break Roth and Weaver continued by discussing the upcoming VT soccer double-header at the new VT soccer stadium. Weaver highlighted some recent accomplishments in the VT soccer programs and said he thought that VT had outstanding soccer coaches.

Larry on his cell phone called and asked if Weaver thought that VT had a shot at the national championship this year. Secondly, Larry asked if Weaver thought that having two quality QBs (like VT does) is an asset or a liability in terms of potential controversy. Weaver responded to the first question by saying that he thought VT could indeed compete for the national championship, but only by taking one game at a time and staying focused on the task at hand. Both Weaver and Roth mentioned how Auburn had high hopes entering the season and are now 0-2 and have scored only 3 points. Weaver answered the second question by saying that it is always preferable to have two quality QBs because the backup is always an injury away from playing first string.

Louis in Lynchburg called and asked if there were plans to pad the concrete walls in Lane Stadium in light of KJís collision during the JMU game. Weaver responded by saying that cost isnít an issue with adding padding. He noted that heís seen only 3 players collide with the walls in his 7 year tenure at VT. He said that the athletic department would take the issue under advisement and consider whether there was a real need to pad the walls. Weaver also pointed out that most of the time, there are players or other personnel on the sideline who will catch an out of control player who might collide with the wall.

Jeff in Knoxville called and praised the condition of Worsham Field and asked if the heaters would be installed this year to keep in green. He also asked why the Lot 10 parking has been limited along Washington Street. Weaver responded to the second question first and said that the horticulturists on campus have told the athletic department that the parking around Washington Street should be disallowed because of potential damage to the trees nearby. Weaver answered the second question by confirming that the field heaters were installed this past February.

George in Orange called and noted that the fans seated on the west side are not as vocal in their participation as their east side counterparts. George wanted to know if Weaver could do anything about this (such as send out letters to regional Hokie Clubs, etc.). Weaver responded by saying that Lane Stadium is already noted as one of the loudest stadiums in the country. He said he thinks that VT also has the best fan-base in the country and that he sees a lot of cheering and noise coming from the west side stands.

John from Blacksburg asked why the VT band has not played the "Goodbye" song at the end of the two games this season. Weaver proudly responded that the band is not allowed to play that song (at his direction) because it is sometimes seen as offensive to opposing teams who "just got shellacked." Roth verbally supported Weaverís decision on this.

Don in Roanoke called and noted that in the past the VT band has played the opposing conference teamís fight song at home games. Don thought that this would be a sporting gesture for OOC opponents as well. Weaver and Roth both noted that the past two OOC opponents have brought their bands with them, but Weaver went on to admit that this was a very good idea in terms of sportsmanship as long as the opponent didnít find it offensive. He concluded by saying that the bands were already usually in a time crunch with their current pre-game and half time agendas.

Jim Cavanaugh Ė Recruiting Coordinator, Whips and Rovers Coach

Roth began Cavanaughís segment by asking him to asses VTís defensive showing in the first two games this season. Cavanaugh said that both UCF and JMU are very different teams offensively. He praised UCFís mature offense and said they were worthy to test VTís defense. Cavanaugh said JMU came in with nothing to lose and it was an accomplishment to shut any team out these days.

Roth asked what value a game against JMU has. Cavanaugh said that it basically allows the players to play in live game conditions with real crowd noise and a real opponent. Roth asked about the play of Aaron Rouse against JMU. Cavanaugh said the Rouse probably graded out the best of anyone heís ever coached as a first time starter. He praised Rouse for his athleticism and toughness.

Roth asked about Michael Crawford at the Rover position. Cavanaugh said that Crawford played much better against JMU than UCF. He said Crawford has really paid his dues and worked his way up through the system to get to where heís at. Roth brought up James Griffin, and Cavanaugh praised his progress since spring, in light of the less structured JUCO program he originated from. He went on to say that this is the deepest VT program he can remember in terms of overall talent.

Barek in Blacksburg called and asked how VT prepares to face mobile QBís like aTmís McNeal and does practicing against Randall and Marcus Vick help in this area. Cavanaugh confirmed that facing Randall and Vick in practice does indeed help prepare the defense for a mobile QB. He went on to say that VT will usually practice against certain schemes that the upcoming opponent tends to use. Roth asked if all the Coaches have been looking at Alabama game tapes to see what Dennis Franchione might have in store for the Hokies. Cavanaugh admitted that some coaches had been watching Alabama game tapes, but also said that he didnít think Franchione has installed all the Alabama schemes at aTm as of yet.

Kevin in Blacksburg called and asked Cavanaughís thoughts on Sam Wheeler (a football player at Blacksburg High School). Cavanaugh said that NCAA rules prohibit any public comment from coaches about high school players before signing date. Roth asked if Cavanaugh wished there was an early signing date, such as some time in November. Cavanaugh said he was in favor of the kids signing when they are ready. He said that the current window from September to February is OK, and also noted that verbals donít mean anything until signing day. Cavanaugh said that 98% of all recruiters are "good guys" and that the rules are basically in place for the remaining 2%. He admitted that he would like to sign the players before February if possible, but Roth pointed out that this would lock the kids in to bad situations when the destination team is hit with sanctions or coaching changes.

After a break, Roth reminisced about the official signing of Michael Vick in February 1998 and how that changed the VT program forever. He then asked if the recent conference expansion mess had adversely affected VTís early commitments. Cavanaugh stated that VT targets both high profile players and specific players that fit VTís system. He said he didnít think VT got off to a slow start with these early commits because sometimes it takes time for the kids to decide what they want after several offers have been made.

Cavanaugh admitted that the month of May was a little aggravating, because it seemed that VT needed to defend themselves when talking to the high school coaches as opposed to selling themselves. He also noted that it seemed like VTís recruiting competition was spreading some false or unsubstantiated rumors that made things hard on the recruiting staff as a whole.

Cavanaugh said that VT is in very good shape so far this season in terms of recruiting. Roth asked if VT would tap into the new ACC North Carolina market now in terms of recruiting and Cavanaugh said that they would. He said that NC had been divided into three territories and one recruiter was handling each area. He also mentioned that none of the NC schools seemed to dominate the state in terms of recruiting and the thought this boded well for VT. He said VT just needed to get a few of these guys on VTís campus and then "weíll have a good chance."

Greg from Dublin in the audience praised last weekís guest, Mike Gentry. Greg asked how VTís weight training program factors into the recruiting process. Cavanaugh said that Gentry is the best strength and conditioning coach heís ever been around. He said that Gentry tailors specific programs to the requirements of each athlete. He also said that Gentry is the best at getting the most out of each athleteís natural ability. Cavanaugh said itís uncanny how Gentry can get players bigger and faster at the same time. He says he uses examples like these to help players decide that VT is the program for them.

John in Radford emailed and asked if VT was log jammed at the wideout position, in light of Fred Leeís departure. Cavanaugh said that he never felt "log jammed" no matter how many players VT had at a position. He said heíd like to have 200 players if it were possible. In Leeís instance, he said that Fred probably came in with certain hopes and expectations that werenít fulfilled because the competition was so fierce at wideout this year. He said that VTís football program is so good now, that some players come in with unrealistic expectations. He cited Cory Bird as an example of someone who put in his time on the bench before starring his senior year.

Rick in WV called and asked if the high school offensive scheme made a difference in terms of whether VT would look at them for recruiting (the example given by Rick was the I formation versus Single Wing). Cavanaugh replied by saying that VT didnít really care that much about the type of offense a player comes from in high school, unless looking specifically at a QB, because the high school scheme can really affect a QBís development. He went on to say that VT is just interested in talented athletes they can mold into their system.

Roth asked if players from small high schools should attend camps to improve their visibility. Cavanaugh confirmed that this is sometimes a good idea. He also said that sometimes high school playersí parents will hound high school coaches about their sonís recruiting visibility. Cavanaugh said that sometimes heíll do the high school coaches favors by calling the parents and telling them why VT is not recruiting their kid and also offer advice as to where he thinks their son will best fit in terms of other programs.

Kevin in Chesapeake (Chris Cliftonís cousin) called and asked how Clifton fits in with VT plans over the next few years. Cavanaugh said that Clifton is primarily a receiver where heís making great strides. He said that Clifton has molded himself into an outstanding player.

Richie in Richmond emailed and noted that VT was hurt last year a lot by teams running spread formations running weak side draws. Richie asked why VTís LBís tended to take the wrong pursuit angles in these situations. He also noted that this happened again in 3rd and long situations against JMU. Cavanaugh said that tackling may have been a problem in the past and that spread formations are a sign of the times, but stated that Bud Foster is one of the best defensive coordinators around and that VT LBís are playing very well right now.

After a break, Roth asked Cavanaugh what he thought about Miamiís comeback win against UF this past weekend. Cavanaugh commented that Coker is a great Coach and he thought that UF relaxed a little to much after they got up big.

George in Evergreen, CO emailed and stated that his friends in Charlottesville are claiming that UVAís recruiters are out-working their counterparts are VT. George wanted to know if there was any truth to this claim.

Cavanaugh thought this was funny, because there are only a certain number of days to go out and visit recruits, and VT recruiters have been manning the phones as well, so unless UVA is doing something against NCAA rules, VT is not being out-worked.

Cavanaugh said the Internet "is going to kill us all," because those who represent the web sites tend to bug the kids to death and that leads to false information. He said he knows of instances where some kids will intentionally give false information to get the web site reps to leave them alone. Cavanaugh said that some fans take Internet recruiting reports as gospel and this is a mistake.

Roth asked Cavanaugh why he thought fans found recruiting to interesting. Cav said he didnít know the answer to this because recruiting is tough and drives him crazy at times. He said he doesnít even check his email much anymore. He said that he once checked his email and he only needed 4 out of the 160 messages that were in his inbox.

After a break, Roth asked Cavanaughís thoughts on Bryan Randall. Cavanaugh said he first saw Bryan play football as a junior in high school and he always had poise. He said most recruiters saw Randall as an athlete more than a QB. Cavanaugh said he always saw Bryan as a QB. He praised Kevin Rogers for nurturing Randallís development. He said Randall is a true leader with all the necessary intangibles.

Monday was Day 1,428 of Tech's continuous possession of the Commonwealth Cup.

-- Wayne

          

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