The Hokie Hotline (football and basketball season)
When: every Monday from 7:00-9:00
Click here for a list of radio stations, and to find the link for listening to the show on the Internet (look to the right on the hokiesports.com page that loads when you click the link). You can also watch the archive on hokietv.com.
Advance Auto Parts Hokie Hotline Notes
Bill Roth kicked off the broadcast with the following announcements: After losing to WVU last Wednesday night in Morgantown, VT dropped out of the BCS rankings. There are now 8 one-loss teams in the rankings, and they should all be rooting for VT to upset Miami this Saturday. The VT Ė Pitt game time has been set at 7:45 PM and will be broadcast on either ESPN or ESPN2.
After introducing Foster to a healthy round of applause from the audience, Roth asked him how the team was dealing with the WVU loss. Foster said that the team was very disappointed because they started the game bad and just couldnít get anything going from there. He said he was personally disappointed in the teamís lack of focus as well as the uncharacteristic number of penalties committed by the Hokies.
He went on to put things in perspective by saying that sometimes you have setbacks in football, just like you have setbacks in life and you have to put those things behind you and move on. He said the team now needs to focus on the tremendous opportunity they have in the upcoming game against Miami.
Roth pointed out that VT had now "lost their focus" against an unranked team two years in a row and asked Foster how VT could be so unprepared for a game that they knew all along would be a tough one. Foster seemed at a loss to answer the question directly. He started his response by stating that "Itís hard to sayÖ" He went on to point out that lack of fundamental execution was the difference in the game, but he didnít really have an answer as to why the team failed to execute against WVU.
Roth noted that WVU seemed to be very prepared on offense, while VT seemed to be confused and unprepared on defense. Foster said that this is the nature of WVUís hurry-up offense. He said that VT just didnít execute well in their base defense and committed too many penalties. Foster also said that some VT players were "jawing" with the WVU players and that may have caused some lost focus. He went on to point out that WVU has a very good football team and mentioned the parity among all Division 1A programs right now. He said that you have to give credit to WVU for executing their offensive system very well.
Joe from Buena Vista called and asked how Foster would get VT back to playing better defense after the breakdowns against WVU. Foster said that the team met on Thursday before getting Friday and Saturday off to rest, then returning to practice on Sunday. He said the Thursday meeting was a good one, but didnít elaborate on what was discussed. He reiterated that the WVU loss was a setback and VT needs to refocus and learn from that setback. He said that the team/coaches have been trying this week to replicate the preparation process they used for Syracuse. He said VT has shown signs of being a very good football team, they just need to be consistently focused from here on out. He mentioned that are now only two or three undefeated teams in Division 1A college football right now and stressed how difficult it is to remain undefeated when all the other teams are gunning for you.
Roth asked Foster if he thought WVU was the best offensive team VT has faced. Foster said that WVU definitely performed the best offensively, but admitted that he thought (a few weeks ago) that Syracuse would challenge the VT defense more. He went on to say that he thought WVUís Wilson is one of the best tailbacks in the country.
John in Tampa FL called with some encouragement. He said that most Hokie fans think that VT can beat Miami, despite the loss to WVU. He also encouraged all fans to show up in force for the Miami game because it will be the biggest game in the history of the VT football program. Foster said he appreciated the kind words and said he hoped VT fans werenít ready to "pack it in" after just one loss. He said that VT has four other big games coming up after Miami and noted that thereís a lot of football left to be played this season. Foster said he told the team that they control their own destiny if they come into this week expecting to win.
Roth and Foster both discussed the disappointing season-ending injury suffered by Garnell Wilds. Foster said that losing Garnell will definitely hurt, because heís a very smart player who had really stepped up this year. He mentioned that thereís a possibility that Wilds could be back for a VT bowl game this season. Roth asked who would move up and replace Wilds in the lineup. Foster said that Brian McPherson may move up from special teams and play some corner/safety, but also mentioned that Vinnie Fuller and Eric Green can fill in there as well.
Eric in Atkins called and asked Foster what he thought were the major failures VT had in the WVU game. Foster listed the following: poor technique and fundamentals, improper leverage on coverage, improper leverage in the gaps, and poor attack angles. He said that these failures were primarily caused by lack of mental focus as opposed to poor schematics. He said he might change one or two calls if he could do it all over again, but thatís about it. He also pointed out that VT lacked focus and execution in all phases, offense, defense and special teams.
Roth read an email that requested a definition of the term "leverage" thatís so often used to describe the VT defense. Foster explained that VT is a gap-control defense, so itís important to keep leverage on the gaps. He went on to illustrate that leverage is about forcing the football or the offensive play away from or toward a certain area of containment or help. He used that example of WVUís long pass play in the third quarter, which showed how Crawford lost leverage on the wide receiver containment. He finished by explaining that maintaining leverage is simply good technique, no matter what type of defensive system a team uses.
Paul in Washington, DC called and pointed out that the VT coaches seemed to lose their morale when VT went down by two touchdowns in the third quarter. He asked for Fosterís comments on this. Foster denied that the coaches had low morale after WVU went up 21-7. He said that he was encouraging the defensive unit to keep grinding at that point, because there was still a lot of football left to be played in the game. He said that there are some psychological battles going on when a team is losing, but maintained that he and the other VT coaches were trying to keep the players focused and motivated during that frustrating time.
Ray in El Paso emailed and pointed out that WVU players claimed during post-game comments that VT used poor (arm) tackling technique in the games leading up to WVU. Ray asked if the VT coaches had previously identified this problem and went on to ask if VT might have been "getting by" on sheer athleticism before it all caught up with them against a tough WVU squad. Foster said that VT prides themselves on being a very good tackling football team. He disagreed that VT was guilty of poor tackling technique in previous games and went on to point out that tackling is one of the areas where VT is much improved from last season. He said that the VT players always seemed a step behind against WVU, which may have led to a poor tackling performance in that one game.
Jeff in Christiansburg called and pointed out that Brock Berlin has looked shaky at times this year and asked what Fosterís defensive unit might do to put pressure on him. Foster said he thinks that Berlin has progressed with each game this year, but admitted that he can be rattled. He pointed out that this will be the first time Berlin has faced the VT defense. He said that VT hoped to get pressure on Berlin not just by blitzing, but also with a simple four-man rush. He emphasized that VT must not allow Miami to run the football with too much success. He said if VT can force Miami into a one-dimensional situation where they have to pass, then it will open up their pressure options.
Charles in Roanoke called and noted that the timeout called by VT in the second quarter against WVU seemed to get the team going a little bit. He asked Foster what was said during the timeout. Foster said the timeout focused on WVU's rushing power play that VT had practiced for. Foster said he spent the timeout correcting some alignment and over-pursuit problems VT was exhibiting against that play.
Roth asked Foster if he remembered VT playing worse at any point in the past than they did against WVU. Foster said VT might have played worse against Pitt in 2001 but pointed out that that game was after a loss. He said that it was frustrating to see VT play so poorly coming off a big win. Foster reiterated that fact that the team must put the loss behind them and focus on Miami and the rest of their upcoming games.
After a break, Steve in Vinton called and revisited the point about WVU players claiming they knew they could run against VT because they used poor tackling technique. He also pointed out that WVU players were very surprised that VT failed to put more pressure on the WVU quarterback. Foster pointed out that the tackling issues had been addressed in his response to a another call earlier in the show.
With respect to QB pressure, Foster said that he didnít put in a lot of pass rush packages at the beginning of the game because he didnít want to give the WVU offense "anything cheap." He again pointed out that the VT defense wasnít using good fundamentals against WVU and illustrated the point by going over a few examples of missed assignments and poor execution.
Chuck in Midlothian called and said he thought the current VT defense lacked the aggressiveness it has displayed in past years (especially 1999). He said he thought VT now plays more of a containment-type defense as opposed to the attacking-style defense VT seemed to play in past years. He finished by asking for Fosterís comments on these points. Foster agreed that these were good points. He said that VTís defense has evolved based on personnel, as well as adjusted to what frequent opponents have been doing to counter their defensive schemes. He went on to say that many college football offenses are protecting better these days. He said these max-protect offensive sets are designed to lure an attacking defense into a vulnerable position. He finished by saying that the key for VT is to successfully control the line of scrimmage in general, and good things will happen from there.
After a break, Roth introduced Weaver and brought up the topic of WVU fan behavior in Morgantown. Weaver said he witnessed the entire post-game spectacle from his box location. He said he never imagined that fans would use team benches in an attempt to ram ushers and state police on their way to get the goal posts. He said he was not sure if WVU could have done more to prevent what happened, because the walls separating the field and the stands are quite high and the students seemed undeterred as they jumped down over it. He went on to point out that fan safety isnít all about the goal posts, it mainly is about preventing unnecessary injuries to fans who rush the field after a game.
Roth then read some emails, the first of which was from a major VP of a commercial bank in Winchester, VA (my hometown, woo hoo), whose son is a student at VT. This person claimed he was physically threatened after the game by a group of WVU fans and might have been hurt if he had not been rescued by a group of Hokie fans. He went on to request that VT discontinue the series with WVU due to this reprehensible behavior.
Roth read a second email that said it was Weaverís responsibility to cancel all future games between VT and WVU in the interest of fan and player safety. Weaver responded by saying that he had received similar emails and assured everyone that he would have a conversation with WVU athletic director Ed Pastilong about these issues. He also stated that VT President Steger would have a similar dialogue with WVU president Hardesty to address these concerns.
Weaver admitted that the WVU fan behavior last Wednesday night was the worst heís ever heard of. He said he thought it was undoubtedly caused by anger over the ACC expansion and VTís ultimate departure from the Big East. Weaver pointed out that it might come down to no VT fans traveling to Morgantown in 2005 and WVU would lose the money from ticket sales as a result.
Roth asked Weaver if there was more that could be done to protect the VT players in Morgantown in 2005. Weaver pointed out that most of the VT players exited the field quickly and safely after the game, although a few players stuck around to congratulate WVU players and that became a concern as the WVU fans became more unruly.
Frank in VA Beach called and pointed out that VT gets a lot of bad press over their scheduling strength early in the season. He questioned if this type of strategy might leave VT unprepared to face tougher competition later in the season. Frank then said that the LSU game cancellation next year makes the matter worse. He asked Weaver to address these issues.
Weaver quickly pointed out that the LSU game was not cancelled, only pushed back. He also pointed out that last year VT had a tough schedule early (playing 3 top 20 opponents), yet still struggled later in the season. Weaver said he didnít see any correlation between the teamís struggles last Wednesday night and early season scheduling. He explained that the UCONN game was like a Big East game in that it was a requirement of their entry into the Big East. Weaver illustrated that playing MAC opponents is nothing to be ashamed of, because MAC teams are some of the best in the country.
He finished by saying that VT played a AA opponent (like JMU) once every four years as allowed by NCAA rules and added that the media creates the myth about VTís scheduling as an easy way of filling broadcast time when VT is beaten. Roth seemed to agree with most of Weaverís points, because he said that even if VT has played Washington St. and Oklahoma earlier in the season, they still would have lost to WVU with all the Hokie miscues in that game.
Chris in Christiansburg called and asked for an update on who the opponent would be to replace LSU on next seasonís VT schedule. Weaver said he had no update on this because he hasnít had time to work on it in the last 10 days. He said there were some discussions with Louisiana Tech, but doubted anything would come of it. Weaver said that thereís a possibility that it might be a 1AA opponent, but wouldnít say one way or the other until all other possibilities had been exhausted.
Larry in Lynchburg called and made a few comments. He said how ridiculous he thought it was that some "fair weather" Hokie fans were calling for coaching dismissals after losing one game. He also mentioned Beamerís "love tap" on Wilfordís helmet and how over-hyped he thought it was. He said Beamerís only mistake was not lining up all the players for the same type of treatment (laughter, applause).
Larryís question revolved around the comment during the game by one of the ESPN announcers (Rod Gilmore) claiming that Jake Grove had always been notorious for being a dirty player. He asked for Weaverís thoughts on this and wondered if Grove had any recourse to strike back and protect is reputation. Weaver said he didnít hear the comment from the announcer, but praised Grove for being a mentally and physically tough center. He said heís glad Grove is a Hokie and never has known him to play dirty.
Weaver then invited Coach Beamer to address this question again later. Roth explained that ESPN the magazine had run a preseason article on Grove entitled "College Footballís Dirtiest Player." He said that announcers read clips like this about players on each team before the game and thatís where they come up with a few uninformed comments here and there.
Richie in Richmond called with two questions. First he asked if Weaver had considered Florida A&M, whoís moving from the 2A to 1A level next year, as a replacement opponent for the postponed LSU game next year. Secondly, he said heís heard that VT had saved some money in a "rainy day fund" and wondered if this money could be used to absorb the financial hit taken by giving up a home game next year and play LSU away as scheduled. Weaver said he didnít think an athletic department could ever afford to take a million dollar hit. He explained that the only time VT has made money going to a bowl game was when they went to the Sugar Bowl in 1999 (and made 1 million dollars). He said that this money has already been spent on facility improvements.
Weaver stated that VTís athletic department cash reserves are not as substantial as many people think, especially considering the upcoming Big East exit fees, ACC entry fees and legal fees ($5 million total). He did say he appreciated the suggestion about contacting Florida A&M and admitted that he wasnít aware they were moving to 1A play next year. He said he would check on their availability.
After a break, Beamer was introduced and he immediately assured everyone that the team would put the WVU loss behind them and come back strong against Miami (applause). Roth read a touching email to Beamer from an Army operations officer named Mike Olsen. Olsen is currently serving in Afghanistan and noted that 5 of his team members had been killed or injured during their duty there. He respectfully noted that war and football canít be completely equated, but drew a few analogies nonetheless.
Olsen pointed out that sometimes you lose the battle, but the overall goal is to complete the mission successfully. He said that this can never be accomplished by dwelling on the past; rather the team must embrace the next challenge with a mixture of confidence and fear. He said the Hokie team must do these things as they approach the Miami game this weekend. Roth pointed out that when the Hokies hit speed bumps in 2001 and 2002, the team ended up totally derailed and said that shouldnít keep happening. Beamer agreed and pointed out that there have been many upsets in college football this season (Cal over USC was mentioned) and explained that sometimes these things just happen, but you have to bounce back. Beamer said that the team practices have been going well and added that he felt good about things right now.
Roth said that some characterize VT as a "momentum team" because they have a hard time coming back after a loss. Beamer disagreed and said it was all in how you look at it. Some say VT lost 4 of their last 6 games last season, but he prefers to point out that VT won 2 or their last three (including the bowl game). He also pointed out that in 1995 VT lost their first two games, then won the next 10 straight. He said that last yearís late season swoon was probably due more to injuries and youth than some larger systemic issues.
Jeff in Knoxville called and, after assuring a VT victory over Miami, asked Beamer what caused the Hokies to commit so many penalties during the WVU game. Beamer noted that out of the 16 penalties committed by VT, a few were questionable, but most were good calls. He said that the penalties near the end of the game might have been a product of the players trying a little too hard and getting frustrated. He said the whole night was crazy in that everything went wrong that could go wrong and he illustrated this using the 3 fumbled QB snaps as an example. Beamer finished by saying that VT prides itself on being a disciplined football team and they will work to correct what went wrong against WVU.
Bob in Carroll County called and said heíd been following VT football for a long time and noted that heíd take this team over any of the Hokie teams in the old days. He illustrated an instance where he traveled to Alabama to watch VT play and they lost 77-6. He then went on to wonder why the WVU fans would treat Hokie fans so poorly when all they were doing is killing their local economy in the long run. Beamer said heís heard about the WVU fan behavior and admitted that it was a shame, but said heís let the WVU and VT administrations take care of the issues. He went on to point out the WVU played great and deserved to win the game. Roth agreed that the WVU fan behavior was disappointing, but added that he thought the WVU administration did all they could to prevent it.
Barek from Blacksburg in the audience asked if thereís one player on the Miami defense that worries Beamer more than any other. Beamer laughed and said "letís go down through the list." He then singled out Jonathon Vilma and Sean Taylor as maybe the two most talented players on Miamiís defense, but admitted that their entire defense is very athletic and talented. He also added that Miamiís offense and special teams are just as talented. Beamer said that Taylor and Winslow line up on the punt coverage unit, so VT will need to really be prepared to defend against blocked punts.
Jonathon in Powhatan called and asked Beamer what general preparations VT was making for the big game against Miami. Beamer said that VT always prepares the same way each week. He said that itís important not to get too high or to low, but just keep making progress and moving forward. He added that heís confident that the effort will be there from the players, they just need to execute like they did against SU instead of like they did against WVU.
Roth read an email that asked why WVU was allowed to use a PA system early in the game to disrupt the VT team. Beamer said he wondered the same thing because the Big East had instituted rules against this after SU tried it against VT in 2000. He added that the system was turned off after the VT coaches addressed the issue with the referees.
After a break, Roth asked Beamer if he considered replacing Bryan Randall with Marcus Vick against WVU. Beamer said he really didnít consider it. He said that, while Randall didnít play well, the loss wasnít his entire fault. He added that Randall had played well this year up to that point and he felt that if Randall were left in, something good may finally happen. On the other hand, Beamer admitted that Vick would get more reps this week in practice and said there was a possibility that he might be called upon at some point against Miami.
Warren in Smithfield called and expressed how much he wants VT to maintain the respectability that Beamer had brought to the program. He said that he thought VTís respectability was damaged against WVU and told Beamer that he hoped that VT would be respected in the future. Beamer said he agreed with him, but said nothing more.
Dean in Lynchburg called and asked if WVU did anything unexpected on offense or did the plays VT expected, but wasnít able to stop. Beamer said that, although WVU didnít run anything that was that unexpected on offense, he did admit that VT was caught in some unfavorable mismatches at times. He said that the defense can feed off the success of the offense and special teams, but in this game no unit was playing well. He said he thought the game might be getting ready to turn around when VT recovered the fumble and returned it for a TD, but the team synergy wasnít there during the third quarter.
Roth noted that Kevin Jones seemed to get off to a good start in VTís first drive, but suffered a thigh bruise and seemed to play slower the rest of the game. Beamer agreed and announced that KJ is okay and will be in fine shape for the Miami game. Beamer and Roth both discussed the disappointing loss of Garnell Wilds for the rest of the season. Beamer said that Wilds was a steady and valuable player for VT. Roth asked if any other players were questionable for the Miami game. Beamer said that Shreve was still questionable, but everyone else should be ready to go.
Chuck in Richmond called and asked why VT (against WVU) was attempting so many short 2-3 yard passes (after they started to go away from the run) instead of striking downfield for 15-20 yards. Beamer agreed that VT needs to take some more deep shots. He said he was disappointed by the fact that VT gave up a few QB sacks against WVUís 3 man rush. He said that Randall should have pulled the ball down and took off in those situations.
Randy in Blacksburg called and gave a ringing endorsement for staying with Bryan Randall at QB and asked how Beamer planned to get him fired up and motivated for Miami. Beamer said that Randall is definitely VTís QB, no question. He said that Randall doesnít get too hyped up; he just stays poised and thinks about ways to beat the opposing defense. Beamer assured everyone that Randall would come out ready to play against Miami.
Roth and Beamer discussed how VT should go into the Miami game viewing it as a tremendous opportunity because they only have one loss and thereís plenty of time to climb back up in the polls if they just focus on winning each game one at a time. They both talked about how many of the current one-loss teams still have to play each other, so there will be a lot of movement in the rankings over the next few weeks, and VT controls its own destiny to a certain extent.
After a break, Steve in Midlothian called and gave high praise to Beamer as a coach and said that he is very proud to have him leading the VT football program. He offered some advice by suggesting that Beamer just tell the players to go out and have fun and play with a swagger against Miami. Beamer appreciated the kind words and agreed that VT can have fun and play well because theyíd done it in games earlier this season (like Syracuse). Beamer said the WVU loss was a tough one, but you have to keep it in perspective and move on. He urged everyone to judge the Hokies on the entire season, not just one game.
Nancy and Carol from Wytheville in the audience expressed their disappointment in VTís loss to WVU, but said they were more disappointed in how the local media treated VT after the loss (especially the Roanoke Times). She told Beamer that they and a lot of other loyal Hokie fans would be rooting for the team in Lane Stadium on Saturday. She finished by saying that after VT beats Miami, all Hokie fans should head up to Morgantown and build a big bonfire using copies of the Roanoke Times as fuel (applause, laughter).
Beamer said he appreciated the support, but Nancy and Carol werenít done. One of them went on to say that Randy King of the Roanoke Times had characterized the VT football team as an overrated farce, and she announced that she thought that Randy King is an overpaid farce (more laughter and applause).
She also expressed disappointment about the biased attitudes of the ESPN commentators and pointed out the outrageous characterization of Jake Grove as a dirty player. Beamer repeated amid the laughter that he loves his loyal Hokies. Beamer reiterated Weaverís earlier point that the media tends to be critical to spark controversy, which in turn sells newspapers and/or increases ratings. He finished by saying that he just does his job and they do their job and leave it at that.
Bill in Richmond called with two suggestions. First he said he thinks that Mike Imoh should get more touches because he can be a play maker. Secondly, Bill said he thought that VT should go back to the attacking style defense that has become the hallmark of the team over the past years. Beamer explained that the VT defense can be limited at times because the opposing offense is throwing quick passes or setting up for maximum protection. He said that sometimes the defense can only do so much blitzing depending on the opponent and the offensive schemes theyíre facing. Beamer never addressed the suggestion about Imoh.
Ken in Las Vegas called and asked what VT was planning to do to control Kellen Winslow Jr. Beamer spent some time praising Winslowís athletic ability then simply said that VT would make sure they know where he is at all times and have a body on him the entire game.
Roth pointed out that itís tough to hate Miami anymore because Larry Coker is such a nice a respectable guy. Beamer joked that itís easy for Larry to be nice because heís only ever lost once. He went on to explain that Miami is not a great team just because of their players, they have great coaching too.
After a break, Curtis in Winchester called and suggested that all the coaches promise to shave their heads if VT wins out the rest of the season. Beamer laughed and said he would suggest it in Tuesdayís 11am coaches meeting.
Chris in Atlanta called and asked how the coaches were prepping the players to focus on Miami after the devastating loss to WVU. Beamer said that they basically told the players that there is a lot of football left to be played this season. All the top teams have tough games coming up and if the players look at it in that perspective, then the loss to WVU doesnít seem as bad. Beamer said that if VT takes care of business, good things may happen down the road.
John in Christiansburg called and asked if Beamer stayed in touch with former Hokie players who are in the NFL now. Beamer confirmed that the coaches did stay in touch with the players and a lot of them come back to visit. He pointed out that Kevin McCadam came to visit recently and said they expected Andre Davis and some other players to come to Blacksburg this weekend for the Miami game. He said they like the fact that a lot of the players want to come back and visit the players and coaches.
Steve in Maryland called with two concerns. First he wanted to know why WVUís inexperienced offensive line seemed to control VTís vaunted defensive line. Secondly, he wanted to know why VT seemed to play worse in the second half than the first half. Beamer simply said that he wondered the same things. He said that the second half started bad for VT (just like the first half) and that seemed to set the tone.
Roth read an email that referred to Beamer equating VTís loss to WVU with USCís loss to Cal. The person pointed out that USC lost to Cal in overtime, while VT got dominated by WVU. He asked if this was just a bad game or symptomatic of a deeper issue with the team. Beamer was at a loss to answer this, and he agreed that it was stunning how well VT played against SU then how poorly they played against WVU one game later. He said that you have to give WVU some credit for playing well, but said that VT should have beaten WVU. The same email person also asked Beamer if he predicted a defensive struggle against Miami or an offensive shootout like last year. Beamer said that VT needed it somewhere in between because Miami is too good to keep out of the end zone for the entire game. However, he added that VT didnít want to get into a shootout, but admitted that VT needed to score some significant points in order to win.
Jim in Roanoke called and challenged all Hokie fans to make a difference against Miami in Lane Stadium on Saturday night because it is the biggest game VT has played since the 1999 Sugar Bowl. Beamer thanked Jim and agreed that the fans needed to be loud and into the game.
After a break, a Jen in the audience asked Beamer how he lets go of the disappointment after a tough loss like the one at WVU. Beamer admitted that it is hard to get over the hurt of a tough loss and guaranteed that no Hokie fan hurt worse than the players and coaches after losing to WVU. He went on to say that you have to be mentally tough and stay on an even keel in order to handle the emotional rollercoaster of college football.
Greg in Carroll County called and suggested that VT does more to hold the opposing safety in the middle of the field so Randall doesnít throw picks like the his first one against WVU. Beamer agreed and admitted that Randall might have locked in on Hall a little too long before making the throw.
Roth signed off by wishing Beamer luck against Miami and thanking everyone for coming out.
Monday was Day 1,477 of Tech's continuous possession of the Commonwealth Cup.