The Hokie Hotline (football and basketball season)
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Advance Auto Parts Hokie Hotline Notes
Monday
, September 15, 2003
by Wayne Clevenger

Bill Roth began the opening segment by announcing that Rod Rutherford of Pitt and Will Blackman of BC were named the BE offensive and defensive players of the week respectively. He then notified everyone that there will be a "Beat Texas A&M" pep rally Wednesday September 17th on the Alumni Hall Lawn (across from Squires) at 6 pm. The High Techs, cheerleaders, Frank Beamer and the entire VT football team will be there. Roth then referred to the recent news that FSU and Syracuse had agreed to play a home and away series beginning in 2004. Before introducing Bud Foster, he concluded by alluding to the State of Emergency declared today by Governor Warner due to the potential danger of hurricane Isabel.

Tonight's guests were defensive coordinator Bud Foster, athletic director Jim Weaver, and head coach Frank Beamer.

Bud Foster Ė Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers Coach

After introducing Foster, Roth asked what he thought about the ramifications of Hurricane Isabel. Foster responded by saying that VT should focus only on what they can control and the upcoming game against aTm. He continued by pointing out that aTm is a great team and very storied program that should never be taken lightly. Roth then praised Fosterís unit for the 43-0 shutout of JMU and pointed out that VT had shut out at least 1 opponent now for 9 straight years. Foster agreed that the streak was a tremendous accomplishment and not an easy thing to do by any means.

Roth then asked who Foster thought was playing particularly well thus far on the Hokie defense. Foster said that so many deserved praise in light of the fact that so many had seen playing time already. He singled out Aaron Rouse, Mike Crawford and Vegas Robinson as outstanding thus far this year. Foster was then asked by Roth to comment on the development of Noland Burchette and Jimmy Williams. Foster stated that Burchette was playing himself back into shape after his injury and went on to praise Jimmy Williams for his growth and improvement.

After a break, Eric in Atkins called and asked Foster which team on the 2003 schedule he thought would most challenge the Hokies defensively. Foster said that he was just focused on aTm right now and didnít want to look ahead. He continued by saying that VT had a commitment to take the season one day at a time and should not look past any opponents because they are all good from here on out. He mentioned the quality QB aTm has in McNeal in addition to their overall high level of talent. Foster concluded by saying that VTís defense must play inspired football the rest of the season.

Roth continued by pointing out that, even though VT and aTm staged a defensive battle last season, aTm improved offensively from that point on. He mentioned the fact that they beat Oklahoma later in the season. Foster agreed that aTm is definitely talented and athletic on offense. He especially praised aTmís wide receivers and tailbacks and said that their QB McNeal is a little of Vick and Randall all rolled into one.

Roth then asked Foster if aTm displayed a lot of Alabama-type offensive schemes now that Franchione is the coach. Foster said that there are some definite similarities, but that is expected when you transplant a coaching staff from one program to another. He said that aTm had not yet installed all the offensive schemes that Alabama was running, but VT should expect more wrinkles than just whatís been seen on film of this season. Roth asked if aTm has been utilizing the versatile "A Back" position where a single offensive player can line up in multiple positions, depending on the situation (slot, split, etc.) Foster confirmed that aTm was using this and praised the athletic player they used for this position (didnít catch his name).

Roth illustrated how aTm fans tend to get frustrated during recent years by the perceived lack of success in the football program when compared to other conference rivals like Oklahoma and Texas. Roth pointed out that aTm won some big games at times, but never seemed to do as well as the other powers in their conference. Foster said this was probably about tradition. He admitted that aTm had not made any national championship runs recently, but overall the program history was very successful and deserved the utmost respect. Foster said it was VTís goal to have that same storied tradition and they must begin by consistently beating great teams like aTm.

Brad in Blacksburg emailed and asked Foster if the other VT coaches ever asked for his assistance or advice when preparing the team offensively. Foster said that yes, there were instances where the coaches would cross over and help each other prepare for a game. He then supplied a similar example that showed how Kevin Rogers was such an asset to VT in that, after his hiring, he showed them how he prepared for VT while at Syracuse.

Roth asked Foster what past VT opponent was most difficult to prepare for Ė powerhouses like Miami and FSU or teams with more unorthodox schemes like Air Force. Foster said that both Miami and Syracuse were tough because they show so many different offensive sets and motion formations. He said that it all comes down to preparation and execution against a talented offense. Roth also asked what particular team had the best offense VT has played against in Fosterís tenure. Foster singled out the 2001 Miami Hurricanes as the best heís ever faced, but admitted that FSU was a close runner-up in the 2000 Sugar Bowl.

Sean in Chester called and asked which players would see the most playing time behind Vegas Robinson and Mikal Baaqee. Foster stated that Blake Warren was a solid backup for Robinson and Jordan Trott was coming on strong behind Baaqee. He also pointed out that Chad Cooper had come a long way in terms of improvement, but regretfully is suffering from a nagging stinger injury right now and wonít play against aTm.

Roth then asked Foster to name the best quarterback and tailback VT has faced during his tenure as defensive coordinator. Foster quickly anointed Donovan McNabb and Willis McGahee. Roth mentioned Edgerrin James, but Foster seemed to think that VT had contained James fairly well over the years. Before taking a call, Roth pointed out that former VT president Bill Lavery was present in the audience.

Bonnie from Christiansburg called and praised the play of former Hokies standout Kevin McCadam in yesterdayís Falcons game. She said this was a tribute to Fosterís ability as a coach to prepare his players for careers in the NFL. Foster regretted that he wasnít able to watch the game but heíd heard that McCadam had done well. He said he was very proud of Kevin and praised him for being a fine young man.

Roth read an email that asked Foster to point the VT offensive players he was most impressed with (since he had to face them every day in practice). Foster singled out Kevin Jones, Cedric Humes, Mike Imoh, Justin Hamilton, Jeff King, Jake Grove and Keith Willis among others. He said that VTís offense is a talented and hard-working group.

Mike in Richmond emailed and commented how VTís defensive players were fine upstanding young men, but asked Foster if he thought they were nasty enough to play his attacking style defense. Mike wondered if they have the killer instinct. Foster responded by saying that he was very demanding of his defensive players. He said he wanted them to have a nasty attitude on the field, yet be fine citizens off the field. He said that this yearís VT defense is faster than last year and continuing to get better.

Roth then asked Foster what he expected to see out of aTm offensively. Foster said he saw some similarities between the VT offense and aTmís offense. He said he expected aTm to try to establish the run, then go to some play action passing. He said the similarities between aTm and VTís offenses have aided in practice preparations.

Jim Weaver Ė Athletic Director

After a break, Roth introduced Jim Weaver and immediately asked him about the weather situation with Thursday nightís game against aTm. Weaver said that VT officials had met today and created a special committee to track the Hurricane Isabel situation and make necessary recommendations. Weaver also pointed out that the storm had decreased in strength over the past 24 hours to category 3, and mentioned the current Blacksburg forecast for Thursday called for scattered showers.

Weaver said that if a postponement became necessary, VT would like to make the call before aTm leaves College Station at 1pm on Wednesday. Weaver stressed that everything is "wait and see" right now because there are still too many variables involved to predict the storm with any true accuracy. He said that if a postponement does become necessary, then that decision would hopefully be made early Wednesday by the appointed committee in conjunction with the two schools' athletic directors. Weaver even conceded that moving the game to Saturday was a possibility. Roth pointed out that postponing the game would mean losing the television revenue brought by national coverage on ESPN. Weaver countered by saying that safety always takes precedence over monetary concerns.

Roth then changed the conversation to the new NFL flashback recognition ceremonies planned during the remainder of the VT home games this year. The ceremony will take place between the first and second quarter and will recognize a former Hokie football player with at least 3 years of NFL experience. During Thursday night's aTm game, the first honoree will be former VT and Baltimore Colts great Walter Preas of Roanoke, VA. The players to be honored in remaining home games will not be announced ahead of time, said Weaver. He said they would like it to be a surprise for each game so the fans could eagerly anticipate who the honoree might be for each game.

Joe in Buena Vista called and referenced the new Hokie Respect campaign. Joe complained that an annoying heckler has been seated behind him in recent seasons. He said the heckler verbally abuses opposing team players and even will toss verbal rants at Coach Beamer. Weaver sympathized with the caller but said there was little that could be done to change the behavior of such fans other than everyone trying to "lead by example." However, Weaver did stress that if a fan becomes verbally vulgar or otherwise out of control, it is within oneís rights to alert the nearest usher or other stadium security official to intervene.

Rich in Pulaski called in to ask if any adjustments had been made to aTmís travel schedule to Blacksburg in light of the danger of Hurricane Isabel. Weaver said he thought that the aTm players/coaches were scheduled to leave College Station around 1pm Wednesday and arrive at some point in Roanoke. He said this had not changed, but if a change became necessary, he reiterated that the call would most likely be made Wednesday morning.

Pam in Culpeper called to ask Weaver if there were plans to cover Worsham Field to protect it from any potential rain before kickoff. Weaver replied by saying that no plans had been made to cover the field. He said that they have the utmost confidence in the fieldís current drainage system.

Judy in Richmond asked Weaver who was in charge of designating certain home games as "Orange Effect" games. She said this was puzzling for her and other fans. Weaver assured Judy that this call was not made by anyone in the athletic department. He went on to guess that the "Orange Effect" initiative most likely originated somewhere in student government.

Roth then mentioned that ACC athletic directors had recently met and would meet again in November where Weaver and Miami AD Paul Dee would be present for the first time. Roth asked Weaver if he had heard anything new out of the most recent meeting of ACC athletic directors. Weaver said he thought that basketball scheduling for 2004 had been discussed and he predicted that the ACC might go with a 16 game league schedule, but conceded that other models made sense as well. He then announced that he and Paul Dee (Miami AD) were scheduled to be present on a conference call with ACC commissioner John Swofford and the ACC athletic directors this Wednesday to discuss football scheduling for 2004.

Roth asked if Weaver knew who VTís permanent playing partners might be (assuming the ACC remains an 11 team league). Weaver said he had no idea other than the fact that VT had requested to continue playing UVA every year because "it just makes sense to do so."

Roth asked Weaver if he would rather have a big name team like Miami as another permanent playing partner, or a closer smaller team school like Wake Forest (less travel costs). Weaver said that there were arguments that could be made for having either as permanent playing partners and merely concluded that this was "a good question," without offering more comment.

Roth confirmed that FSU and Miami had agreed to play on Labor Day Monday night in 2004 and 2005 to open each season, so "a schedule must be almost completed." Weaver agreed that the schedule should be completed soon. Roth asked if Weaver knew of any plans to add a 12th team to the ACC and Weaver said he knew nothing about the ACC moving beyond 11 teams.

Roth then read an email from a VT alumnus who asked the proverbial question about painting Worsham Field. The alumnus said he was embarrassed about VTís inflexible attitude in this area. Weaver joked by saying that they had indeed painted the field. He said theyíd painted yard lines, hash marks, goal lines etc. After the laughter subsided, Roth pointed out that Notre Dameís end zones were not painted and admitted that it might not make a difference with respect to the aesthetic quality of a field. Weaver interject by seriously saying that VT used to paint the end zones, but had stopped when the new turf system was installed. He then announced that a new paint was being looked at as viable system for painting the grass in the end zones without causing slippage or damage (Big News - NO JOKE!!).

Roth then read another email asking two questions: Is there a B2 Bomber flyover scheduled for the aTm game? And are reports true that VT players will wear all maroon uniforms against aTm? Weaver confirmed the flyover and Roth confirmed the uniform change. Weaver stressed that he did not get involved in decisions like uniforms changes Ė he said he left that up to the coaches and players.

Michael in Blacksburg called in and asked, in light of the similarities between aTm and VT, was there a possibility of future home/away football series between the two schools. Weaver agreed that the two schools have similarities, but referenced the fact that VT had already completed most of their out of conference scheduling through 2015. However, he did note that some things could change with VTís move to the ACC. He cited an example of this by announcing that Temple had contacted VT last week to cancel their game for next year. Weaver pointed out that VT would need to fill this home slot ASAP, but it would be hard to find a team who needs to fill an away slot. Roth asked what teams might be in the running, and Weaver cautioned that there werenít a lot of available choices, but mentioned San Jose St. as a possibility.

Frank Beamer Ė Head Football Coach

After a break Roth introduced Beamer and asked him how things were going. Beamer said that he and the other coaches had been having a good mini off-week. He said that some progress was made on the recruiting trail and the team was practicing well and improving. Beamer said that their normal Monday preparations began on Saturday and went on from there (because of the Thursday game this week).

He mentioned the JV game against Hargrave and praised the Hargrave players. Beamer said that, even though VT lost, it provided good experience for Techís JV players. He mentioned that VT had gone on a recruiting visit to Hargrave last Tuesday. At that point the conversation turned to VT signee Cory Holt, who played very good for Hargrave last Friday. Roth asked if there was ever a sense that VT had too many QBís in the recruiting pipeline and Beamer responded that he was in agreement with Coach Rogers in this area: You can never have enough quality quarterbacks Ė itís the one position where you want to be over-signed.

Roth then mentioned Beamerís close friendship with R.C. Slocum and pointed out that Frank and his wife are having the Slocums in as guests for the aTm game. Beamer said that he and Slocum had been friends for a long time and also said that their wives had become close over the years. He said he always had the utmost respect for Slocum and the program he ran at aTm. He commended Slocum for always fielding good teams and posting good graduation rates. Beamer emphasized that Slocum "did things the right way." As an aside, Beamer pointed out that he was also friends with aTmís current coach Dennis Franchione.

Roth pointed out that a lot of Alabama fans are pulling for VT against aTm because they are angry with Franchione for leaving their program. Beamer joked that a football coach can never win. Youíre either fired because fans donít like you or you leave of your own accord and still the fans donít like you. Roth then brought up the report that Shane Beamer had gone to aTm recently with other Tennessee staff to discuss football strategies and was asked to leave the room during a defensive strategy meeting because of the upcoming matchup between aTm and VT. Beamer said he understood why Franchione did this and he didnít even think about the ramifications of Shane going there (I hope I got this right, because my signal faded a little here).

Roth asked Beamer to confirm that the players were planning to wear all maroon uniforms for the game Thursday. Beamer joked that everyone might have to wait till the game and see. He then said there was a "good possibility" of them wearing all maroon. Beamer then seriously stated that the seniors had approached him about wearing the all maroon uniforms and he had told them it was their call. He said this we as much their team as anyoneís. He then cautioned everyone that the color of the uniforms didnít matter as long as the team played well against aTm. Roth also pointed out that Beamer allows the seniors to design the bowl rings as well.

Roth brought up the fact that 3 Big East teams are currently ranked in the top 10 (VT, Pitt, Miami). Beamer added that BC had caught some peopleís attention as well. He said it was impressive how they had bounced back from the Wake Forest loss to beat PSU and UCONN. He said that the Big East is better than itís ever been in terms of good teams.

Roth read and email from Mark and Jenny in Florida asking which team would most benefit from windy and rainy conditions Thursday, VT or aTm? Beamer pointed out that aTm is huge along both lines and has more height than VT. He said that a sloppy field might favor aTm because of their size. It might come down to a slug fest in the trenches, which VT wants to avoid. He said aTm is the last team you want to get into a such a game with.

Roth then read another email asking how John Hedge was progressing as a kicker. Beamer said he was doing well and stated that he thought Hedge would eventually be the full time varsity kicker for the Hokies.

Mike in Richmond emailed to ask Beamer what was involved with Randallís unbelievable progress since last season. Beamer admitted that this might be a better question for Coach Rogers. He praised Randall for his improvement and maturity and said Rogers deserves the credit for translating the potential of Randall and Vick to on-field success.

Roth noted that Randall was on the cover of a recent issue of ACC Area Sports Journal (one that Beamer was on recently as well). Roth asked Beamer if he ever got caught up looking forward to next season in the ACC. Beamer said no way. He said the BE competition this year is tougher than ever and full of great teams. Beamer reiterated that even though VT is ranked 8th in the country, they are still picked to finish third in the Big East.

After a break Roth brought up the story of 25 year old Sarah Chandler, a former neighbor of the Beamerís who is in need of a bone marrow transplant. Beamer seemed passionate about this and appealed to anyone who could help by testing as a donor or by donating money (the donor tests are $65 each). Those interested in helping Sarah Chandler should visit www.marrow.org or call 1-800-MARROW2.

Barek in Blacksburg called to ask how aTm compares as a defensive unit to other teams VT plays in the Big East. Beamer pointed out that few BE teams area as big up front as aTm, but said maybe Miami was comparable.

Roth read an email from an aTm fan applauding the Hokie Respect campaign. The Aggie fan said that he couldnít take his young son to most road conference games (especially in Austin) because of rude fan behavior. Beamer agreed that the Hokie fans needed to be respectful, but also maintained that they must be loud and enthusiastic as well. He noted that ESPNís Kirk Herstreit once said that he thought Lane Stadium was the loudest place in the country during night games. Beamer said he wanted it to stay that way.

Steve in Roanoke called and pointed out that the last time VT wore uniforms with an odd color scheme it was against Tennessee in the 1994 gator bowl (which VT lost). He asked if anyone thought that VT wearing all maroon would give aTm players added motivation because maroon was their color as well. Beamer said he really didnít want to focus on uniform color because it was more important to worry about how VT plays against aTm than anything else.

Roth brought up the predominantly orange uniforms VT wore against UVA earlier in 1994 and Beamer admitted that game didnít go well either (he said, "we got hammered"). Roth noted that maroon was VTís predominant color as well, and that they should be allowed to wear any combination of it they want. However, Roth did recount a story where the Syracuse basketball team wore blue uniforms during a road game at Kentucky one time and said, "youíd have thought they were dragging the body of Adolph Rupp around the arena." He said Syracuse got beat and the uniforms didnít go over well at all.

After hearing this story, Beamer basically said "uh oh" and said the coaches and team would meet Tuesday to see if they really wanted to wear all maroon against aTm after all. It was difficult to tell whether he was joking here or not, but I think he was serious about reconsidering the uniform change for aTm.

Burt in Clifton Forge called and asked which team Beamer thought might be more distracted over the issue of Hurricane Isabel. Beamer said he had stressed to the team to only worry about what they can control. He said they canít control the weather, but they can control how they play and adjust to the weather.

Jim in Roanoke called to inquire as to how teams go about obtaining game tapes of upcoming opponents. Beamer said that it was customary to swap video of previous games with the upcoming opposing team (this was the case with aTm). He said that coaches used to be able to do advanced scouting of an upcoming opponent, but that wasnít allowed anymore. He said that todayís video technology negated the need for advanced scouting and also added that teams will use televised versions of games to prepare as well.

Francis in Culpeper called to voice his opposition to the plans of wearing all maroon uniforms against aTm. He said theyíll look high schoolish and unattractive. Beamer said if the seniors want to wear then, then heíll probably let them. He said he doesnít care as long as all the players look the same (laughter). He reiterated that itís most important to stay focused on the game (applause)!!

Victor in Blacksburg called and asked if KJís sore wrists would limit his carries Thursday (in light of the possible weather conditions). Beamer assured everyone that KJ is fine and is looking forward to playing against the best team VT has played this year.

Roth then asked Beamer the same question he asked Foster earlier about aTm fans being frustrated with their lack of success when compared to other conference teams like Texas and Oklahoma. Beamer pointed out how many NFL players come from aTm and noted the fact that theyíre a top notch program with great facilities and a huge student body following. He said they deserve a lot of respect for what theyíve accomplished over time.

In the audience Steve from Blacksburg revisited the Sarah Chandler story discussed earlier. He said that his daughter Jennifer had battled Leukemia and is now fully recovered. He held up a photo of Sarah wearing a VT hat and said that Jennifer had given the hat to Sarah because she felt that it aided her recovery. He noted that many VT and UVA players visited Jennifer while she was at UVA hospital. Beamer again appealed for everyone to help Sarah in any way they could.

Roth switched gears by asking about the VT injury situation. Beamer said that Ryan Hash and Chad Cooper are still recovering from injuries and will not play against aTm. He said everyone else is healthy and ready to go. Roth continued by asking about the quarterback situation, and Beamer said that both quarterbacks were still looking very good. He confirmed that Marcus Vick would see playing time against aTm, possibly in the second quarter, but theyíll have to see how the game is going.

Roth asked if Beamer felt that VT could establish a running game against the big aTm defense. Beamer said that Utah was successful running against aTm because they spread the field much like WVU did against VT last year. He noted that it should be interesting because last years VT-aTm game was a defensive struggle, but this time both offenses are improved. Roth agreed with this and added that both starting QBs (Randall and McNeal) have more experience now and that should open things up a bit. Beamer agreed and pointed out that last year's matchup probably came down to two plays, Randallís TD to Wilford and McNealís interception.

Roth pointed out that VTís wideouts are really looking impressive this year. Beamer agreed and gave the credit to their coach, Tony Ball (as well as the players). Roth asked Beamer to once again confirm the status of KJís wrists. Beamer reconfirmed that KJ was fine or else he would have heard otherwise from Coach Hite or KJ himself. Roth praised Murphy (receiver for aTm that I think Foster was referring to earlier) and Beamer agreed that he was very athletic and fast. He said that he say him on a long play on tape and no one even got near him, much less was able to catch him.

In closing Roth asked Beamer if he thought Thursdays game would be an offensive or defensive struggle. Beamer said he wasnít sure but that it would be interesting to see how it plays out. Roth and Beamer both commented on the fact that the recent GT-FSU game turned into a defensive struggle that no one expected.

Roth asked Beamer which team he wanted to replace Temple with in the home game next year. Beamer said that was up to Jim Weaver, but admitted it was difficult at this point because the options are limited. Roth asked him if he would uncomfortable continuing an out of conference series with Syracuse in coming years. Beamer said he would not be uncomfortable with playing Syracuse or any other Big East team because he has a lot of respect for all of them. He went on to state that VTís ACC conference schedule would be tougher than the Big East, no matter how you arrange it. He said there are just more good teams in the ACC and that makes the road to the national championship that much tougher.

Roth closed by saying that Lane Stadium would probably sell out no matter who VT is playing. Beamer agreed and said itís all about the fans and the home game atmosphere.

Monday was Day 1,435 of Tech's continuous possession of the Commonwealth Cup.

-- Wayne

          

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