The Hokie Hotline (football and basketball season)
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Advance Auto Parts Hokie Hotline Notes
Monday
, October 6, 2003
by Wayne Clevenger

Bill Roth opened the show as usual by making several announcements. After his great performance against Rutgers Saturday, Bryan Randall was voted the Big East Offensive Player of the Week. After beating Rutgers 48-22, VT remained ranked 4th in both the AP Poll and the Coaches' Poll.

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


Bud Foster Ė Defensive Coordinator

After introducing Foster, Roth asked if heíd been watching any Syracuse game tapes. Foster confirmed that the staff had been studying SU game film for the past two days while the team had been practicing mostly fundamentals and execution. Roth asked Foster to comment on Beamerís recent admission (after the Rutgers game), that VT may not have a dominating defense. Foster said that VT has some players that can certainly be dominating at times, but admitted that the defense loses some continuity in the course of its effort to rotate in a lot of players. He added that VT forced Rutgers into "3 and out" situations on about 2/3 of their drives and RU only really managed to mount one true offensive drive during the game. Foster also added that, while VTís defensive stats donít look dominating, they are stopping opponents when it counts. He said that he didnít really see any dominating defenses in college football right now due to the diverse and complex offensive schemes many teams are using.

Roth asked Foster to rate DeAngelo Hallís performance so far this season. Foster said even though Hall had a few offensive and special teams miscues during the Rutgers game, his defensive contributions so far have been outstanding. He added that Hall has not been attacked much on defense thus far and that says a lot about his ability and the respect he gets from the opposition.

Robin from Durham NH called and commented how VTís defensive line seems to get "stood up" a lot by the opposing offensive lines. He asked if VT would run more slant or stunt variations on defense to help disrupt the offense more. Foster agreed that running more slants and stunts was an option to keep the opposing offense in check. He cautioned everyone not to be too judgmental about the performance of VTís defensive line because sometimes you have to give the opposing offensive line some credit. He added that VTís defensive line is getting better and is not quite where theyíre going to eventually be in terms of overall execution.

Someone from VA Beach emailed asking if VTís loose coverage formations would be able to shut down the likes of Pitt, WVU and Miami in upcoming weeks. The email also mentioned VTís lack of quarterback sacks (10 in five games). Foster said that VT tries to adjust their defensive looks depending on what the offense is trying to do. He said that sometimes you need to run a tighter coverage and other times they like to sit back in zones and let the offense make mistakes (give the offense a lot of different looks and keep them guessing). He added that, even though VT isnít registering a ton of QB sacks, they are getting good pressure on opposing QBís in terms of hurries and knockdowns. He pointed out that VTís interceptions against Rutgers were a result of that pressure.

After a break Roth asked Foster for his overall thoughts on SUís team. Foster said they are very talented, athletic and physical up front. He praised SU tailback Walter Reyes for being a tremendous tailback and said their receivers were good as well. Foster said that SUís offensive line will be the best theyíve faced all year and added that R.J. Anderson is completing over 60% of his passes this year. He said it should be a hard-fought battle, just like in past years.

Roth commented that SU seems to play a lot of "BeamerBall" against VT. Foster agreed that SU had been outstanding in defense and special teams during recent matchups with VT, but added that theyíve always done these things well. Foster said he was concerned with the fact that SU will have had two weeks to prepare for VT, but added that VT just needs to play their game and avoid the mental mistakes that were made in last yearís game against SU. Roth asked if the coaches used the stats from last yearís game as motivation for the team. Foster said they did and went on to point out that SU (as always) will try to control the clock and wear VT down. He said VT needs to do the clock controlling in order to win.

Roth then asked about the status of Jason Lallis. Foster said he is taking limited contact right now, but said heíd be ready to go on Saturday. He also added that Cols Colas will be back for the game against SU, which is good because historically heís played well against them. Foster said that offensively Syracuse is one of the best teams in the country right now and added that the noon start shouldnít be a factor, because both teams have too much at stake not to play hard. He said he wanted to see all the fans get in their seats early and be loud for this one.

Francis in Culpeper called and asked Foster if he was concerned about he recent unsportsmanlike conduct penalties against VT. Foster admitted it was a concern and said that the coaches have been covering that since the spring. He added that Jimmy Williams might not have known that his end zone dive would be a penalty, because Darryl Tapp did it last year against UVa (with ACC officials) and it wasnít called. He pointed out that VT could not afford these types of penalties in future games against better competition.

Dave in McKenny VA called in and asked Foster to explain the "cover 2" defense. Foster explained that it was a generic term for anytime the defense brings two safeties up to the line while the corners stay deep. He added that there are a lot of variations to this set that are used by VT. He also noted that itís become a very popular defensive formation because Tampa Bay used it a lot last year during their championship run.

Roth asked what percentage of the time VT blitzed against Rutgers. Foster said he wasnít sure of the percentage, but pointed out that Rutgers definitely showed them some offensive looks that were different from what theyíd prepared for in film study. He admitted this was common and noted that VT adjusted well to what Rutgers was trying to do offensively. He said VT is constantly making defensive adjustments during all games, not just at halftime. Foster joked that this was where he earned his paycheck.

As the conversation then turned once more to SU and the upcoming game, Foster almost admitted that Reyes will get some yards in their running game. He said that VT just needs to contain their rushing and passing attacks in order to have a chance to win. He also said that Lane Stadium needs to be just as loud as it was for the aTm game (if not louder).

Jim Weaver Ė Athletic Director

After a break, Roth introduced Jim Weaver and began the discussion by bringing up last weekís ACC meetings in Charlottesville. Weaver said that the meetings were good and that VTís representatives were treated very well. The football scheduling was set and VT will play neither Clemson nor FSU in 2004 or 2005. He added that VT is very pleased with their schedule, but admitted that others in the ACC were not pleased with their schedules. He said that the schedules were generated by computer, so some will be happy and some wonít.

Roth asked if there was any truth to the rumors that BC would be joining the ACC. Weaver said he could offer no insight as to what institution might join (but sounded like he knew more than he was willing to admit). Roth pressed a bit more by pointing out that the ACC divisional split seemed to lend itself towards preparation for a 12th team. Weaver simply said that the divisions were made in preparation for a championship game with or without a 12th team. (Weaver obviously knows more than heís willing to admit on this, because he basically implied that a championship game is all but inevitable.) Weaver went on to point out how the economics of the future ACC would only work if a championship game was added.

Mary in Bristol called to say that VT needs better performance from the cheerleaders during games so the players wonít have to flap their arms to get the crowd into the game. Weaver said he thought VT had terrific cheerleaders and said that heíd received many compliments from third parties to that effect. He said that itís normal for the players to incite the crowd sometimes when they feel they need a little more noise to help disrupt the opposition.

Bill from somewhere emailed and asked about the flagrant fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties against VT this year. He wondered if there were really more than in years past, or more was being made of them this year because of VTís sportsmanship campaign initiatives. Weaver said he didnít know if there were more or these types of penalties being called against VT this year than in past years. However, he went on to make the distinction between avoidable and unavoidable personal fouls. He said some are unavoidable because the players are hustling and accidentally might inadvertently make a late hit out of bounds. Other times there are avoidable penalties such as the one called on Jimmy Williams for diving into the end zone against Rutgers.

Sean in VA Beach called to comment on the "Thunder Sticks" handed out to fans at some college stadiums. He said he didnít like these at all and asked Weaver to never start this tradition at Lane. He said that Hokie fans knew how to get loud without such paraphernalia. Weaver thanked him for the comment and said heís take it under advisement. Sean also noted how much he loved the VT uniforms and asked Weaver to never allow Nike to radically change them into something like WVUís. Weaver said he thought WVUís uniform style was a trend started by the NFLís Denver Broncos. He stated that he doesnít get involved in decisions on the football uniforms and trusts the football coaches and players to make the right choices in that area.

Donald from somewhere emailed asking if there was any word on new ACC bowl partnerships in light of VT and Miamiís pending membership. Weaver said that the current ACC bowl alliance contracts donít expire for another two years. He said that after that the ACC would most likely tie in with at least one more bowl to make sure that all ACC bowl eligible teams can play in the post-season. Until then, Weaver said he didnít think it would be a problem getting ACC teams into bowls if they are eligible because a lot of ACC teams are much improved (Maryland, NCSU, UVa).

Bill in Hampton Roads called asking if VT had gotten an opponent for the BCA game next year or if a 12th team had been added to VTís schedule. Weaver expressed some frustration here with the entire BCA process. He said that LSU would definitely not become the BCA opponent. He added that VT might not even participate in the BCA game next year, but if it does, it would only do so if it is a home game. VT needs 7 home games (out of 11 or 12) in 2004 in order to meet its budget. He noted that VT is still owed $163K by the BCA for the lightning game that got cancelled in 2000.

After a break, Jim in the audience asked why there wasnít more Hokie stone being incorporated into the Lane stadium west side renovation. Weaver noted the following reasons for this: Hokie stone is very expensive to install, there are safety concerns with its usage on the interior, itís primarily used as foundation material Ė not for facing walls. Jim then asked what measures VT was taking to protect players and fans in Morgantown, WV on October 22nd. Weaver said that the safety measures for the WVU game were handled completely by WVU administration. He said he had confidence that the Big East and WVU officials would take every precaution to ensure security in and around the event. Roth noted that he would try to get the WVU athletic director involved in next weekís Hokie Hotline in order to address this ongoing concern (Weaver said this was a good idea).

Chad from somewhere called and asked why the ACC was looking at northeastern teams like BC to add for the 12th team. He suggested getting a team closer to the mid-Atlantic to lessen travel costs. Weaver agreed that this was a legitimate concern. However, he noted that this decision will not be made by the ACC athletic directors. Itís completely in the hands of the university presidents and chancellors. He also added that VT and Miami will not become full voting members of the ACC until July 1st of next year.


Frank Beamer Ė Head Football Coach

After a break, Roth introduced Beamer and quoted an email that asked why VT kept seeing 41-7 leads deteriorate in the 4th quarters of recent games. Beamer laughed and said that was a good problem to have because not a lot of teams even get leads that big. Beamer then got serious and said he thought that VT settled in and played very well on both sides of the ball after the first Rutgers scoring series. He noted that the VT defense was allowing some longer drives, but not really giving up big plays. He said that you canít always fault the defense for allowing a long drive or a score Ė sometimes you have to credit the opposing offense.

Beamer then said that VT could have controlled the clock during the second half of the Rutgers game a little better. He said that the coaches didnít want to put Randall and Jones back in the game, but they felt a little threatened when Rutgers closed the gap to 41-22. He praised the offense and Cedric Humes in particular for good execution on VTís last touchdown drive that sealed the victory.

Jeff in Knoxville called to ask if Chris Shreve would start this weekend against SU. He also asked if Beamer thought that college officials should call out the name/number of the player who commits a penalty. Beamer confirmed that Shreve would start against SU and also noted how proud he was of Justin Hamiltonís toughness in coming back from an ankle sprain to contribute against Rutgers. He went on to praise Shreve for not only catching the ball well, but also blocking well against Rutgers. Beamer answered the second question by stating that he didnít think the players should be singled out when committing penalties. He said thatís OK in the NFL because those guys are getting paid to not make mistakes.

Kevin from somewhere emailed and asked if the VT coaches ever watch certain stats during a game to ensure that a certain player gets past a certain milestone (ex: 100 yds rushing or receiving). Beamer said the coaches didnít pay any attention to stats in deciding when and how much to play someone during a game. He said that winning the game is the most important thing, so the coaches just watch the scoreboard. He said he was happy to see individual achievements by the players, but stated that team goals were more important overall.

Ken in Richmond called to comment about the fact that Marcus Vick never seems to be in the games long enough to get a feel for things. Beamer said that the plan is always to get him into the game in the second quarter if possible, but admitted that Vickís preparation is sharper when he doesnít know when heís going in. In talking about the interceptions Vick threw against Rutgers, Beamer noted that one was underthrown, and the second one was thrown too late over the middle. He said that Marcus understands what he did wrong and doesnít expect it to happen again.

Roth then brought up the play of Bryan Randall against Rutgers. He said that Randall played great, but could have had even better stats because he threw a few balls that were dropped. Beamer agreed and said that Randall is very poised and aware as he runs the offense. He said it seems like Randall just knows what it takes to win.

Mike in Richmond called and asked if Beamer thought there was too much pressure on DeAngelo Hall to make big plays whenever heís in the game. Beamer agreed that Hall might still be pressing too much instead of using his athleticism and just letting the game come to him. He said DeAngelo will make big plays eventually if he gets enough touches.

Barek in Blacksburg called and commented that it looked like VTís receivers were a lot bigger than SUís defensive backs. Barek asked if VT would take advantage of this, much like last year when Wilford had a career day against some smaller defenders. Beamer cautioned everyone by saying that SUís defensive backs are better this year. He said they have some new players in the backfield and they donít take as many risks that can result in long yardage plays.

John in the audience asked how the players keep up with the demands of football, school work and classes all at the same time. Beamer said that many of his players use this challenge as an opportunity to become more disciplined and manage their time better. He said that the players all have a great opportunity as student athletes at VT - and as a result, he encourages them to step up to the challenge of managing all the demands.

After a break Roth commented on the great Hokie fan turn out at the Rutgers game. Beamer agreed that it was good to see all the Hokie fans there in NJ. He also added that the team will REALLY need the fans this weekend against SU. Beamer then took a moment to thank everyone who turned out for the Sarah Chandler bone marrow screening. He and Roth said Sarah should be in everyoneís prayers.

John in VA Beach called and pointed out that VTís spacing and execution of the option play seemed to be a little off lately. Beamer agreed that Rutgers in particular was running some slants and doing some other things to break up VTís option play. Rather than bringing up Randall and Jones, Beamer said that the blocking needed to be better. He said that itís not how fast you run the option, itís how you block and execute it.

Chuck in Christiansburg called and asked why VTís QBís point at certain defenders when they are under center (before running the play). Beamer explained that the QB is sometimes pointing out a defender that VT needs to adjust off of, and other times itís meaningless and just intended to fool the defense into second-guessing.

Steve in Midlothian emailed asking what VT coaches were doing to prepare for WVU, Pitt, SU and Miami; since all these teams know the VT system so well. Beamer said that the main adjustments (during the off season) have been to revamp the offense. He credited Bryan Stinespring with doing an excellent job of making the offense more diverse and less predictable. Beamer said he hoped that would be one change that would help against such teams. Roth pointed out that the Rutgers coaches admitted that VT is much harder to prepare for this year.

Someone emailed and asked which players had exceeded expectations so far, and what might be areas of concern at this point. Beamer singled out OLs James Miller, Will Montgomery, Jimmy Martin, and all the receivers as having done better than expected. He also praised Randall for his great improvement from last season.

Roth asked if Beamer might be concerned about Carter Warley or the place kicking right now. Beamer said he had full confidence in Warley. Beamer also added that Jake Grove might be the long snapper against SU because the current snapper (Conway?) had been experiencing a little delay in getting the ball hiked (he called it a hunch). He said this was allowing the opposition to get more of a jump on the ball, and it was taking an average of 1.6 seconds to get the ball away instead of the target of 1.3. (I think he was talking mainly about punting here.)

Brad in Lynchburg called and asked why DeAngelo Hall seems to get better returns sometimes when VTís coverage team goes for the block. Beamer said that the coverage team is coached to "peel back" to form a blocking wedge as soon as they see they canít get the block. He also added that Hall is a very good runner in open space. Beamer added that SU has beaten VT recently in several special teams areas and this needs to be corrected.

Roth asked if SU reminded Beamer of VT, with their emphasis on defense and special teams play. Beamer said that they did remind him of VT. He praised Paul Pasqualoni for coaching the team well and said that SU makes the opposition prepare for so many different things. He said that it would be nice to have SU be the first game of the year because once youíve played them, youíve seen everything.

After a break Beamer and Roth discussed the difference between day games and night games in Lane Stadium. Beamer said that the fans really need to get there early and make those day games as loud as the night games.

Steve from Louisa in the audience asked if VT has seen a boost in recruiting since the decision to join the ACC. Beamer said he thought the boost came when they finally knew what the future would be Ė stability is important. He then said that he thought VT was doing pretty well in recruiting in the Big East. He admitted that recruiting will probably pick up for all ACC teams now that it is the strongest conference in the nation.

Roth asked if Beamer thought the rivalry with UVA would become more intense in the ACC. Beamer said he thought it would, simply because the stakes will be higher (conference championship, bowl invitation, etc.). Roth then asked if Beamer wanted to continue to play UVa at the end of every season. Beamer said he would, but admitted that playing them early would allow the losing team to go on and improve their season. He said heíd just wait and see when the ACC would say theyíll play.

Roth then asked Beamer what he thought of next year's VT schedule in ACC play. Beamer said it will be tough, but VT is just glad to be in the ACC. Asked if he wanted to see an ACC championship game, Beamer said it would make it tougher to go all the way, but admitted that there was too much money at stake to not have a championship game.

Pete in Christiansburg called and again brought up the topic of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. He said the players should be allowed to have fun, within the rules. Beamer agreed and said that some penalties (like Williamsí end zone dive), arenít called consistently. He pointed out that Darryl Tapp did the same thing in VTís game against UVa last year, and the ACC officials didnít call the penalty. Beamer said the bottom line is that the coaches donít want VT players doing anything that will "show up" the other team. They just want them to score, hand the ball to the official, and briefly celebrate with some teammates.

Someone emailed and asked why the following plays arenít run more: screens passes to KJ, shovel passes to KJ, fake field goals, fake punts. Beamer said that VT tries to get KJ the ball on screens sometimes, but the opposition seems to key on him and have him covered most of the time. In addressing the calling of "fake" plays, Beamer said that "we tried those in the (1999) Sugar Bowl and they didnít work, so we didnít try them anymore."

After a break Beamer continued to praise SU and mentioned that they really handled Toledo (who beat Pittsburgh). He said they are very talented and dangerous.

Jim from Louisa in the audience asked how VT does so well in blocking kicks so often. Beamer noted that VT didnít do that well against Rutgers in this area at all. He said that Rutgers' unorthodox formation made it tough to go for the block, so VT would go from the return. However, Beamer said that VT didnít do well in the return department either against Rutgers and said the team would work on both aspects this week. He added that VT works very hard on punt blocking / returning every week. He said that only the best athletes are on the Pride and Joy units and noted that many of VTís past special teams players have gone on to the NFL. He mentioned players like Adibi, Tapp, and Hamilton as having requested to be on the punt coverage unit. He said the team takes a lot of pride in this area.

Cal from VA Beach called and noted that VT seems to recruit well in the Tidewater area. He asked how VT identifies the players they want to pursue in this area. Beamer said that the coaches and staff have developed relationships with coaches in the area who help identify possible future VT players as early as the 9th grade. This was the case with DeAngelo Hall at Deep Creek High School.

After a break, Roth asked for Beamerís final comments on SU. He said he hoped the fans will get in there early and get right!! This is a team that can beat VT, so they need all the help they can get, and the crowd hitting on all cylinders will definitely help.

Roth asked if Beamer knew where VT was as a team at this point. Beamer said that the jury may still be out as to how well VT can do, but the SU game will be a great test to see how VT will do as the season goes on.

Monday was Day 1,456 of Tech's continuous possession of the Commonwealth Cup.

-- Wayne

          

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