The Hokie Hotline (football and basketball season)
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Advance Auto Parts Hokie Hotline Notes
Monday
, November 17, 2003
by Wayne Clevenger

Bill Roth began the broadcast with the usual news of the day. The VT menís soccer team received its first ever at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. VT will host Clemson Friday (11/21) in a first round matchup at 7pm. The winner of that match will play at VCU next. VT menís basketball coach Seth Greenberg recently announced that heís signed a third player (Deron Washington) to a national letter of intent.

The VT/UVA game will be broadcast by ABC at either 1pm or 8pm on 11/29. The actual game time will be officially announced on Sunday, 11/23. The BC/VT football game this Saturday will kickoff at 3:30pm and televised nationally by ESPN. The VT campus dormitories will remain open until 12pm on 11/23 to accommodate those students attending the BC/VT game. Finally, Roth announced that Ohio State had jumped USC to take the #2 spot in the latest BCS rankings.


Bud Foster Ė Defensive Coordinator

Roth introduced Foster and commented on how VTís defense seemed to play well for the first three quarters against Temple, then fell apart and almost allowed a Temple victory. Foster admitted that he was disappointed in VTís performance, but added that Temple probably played their best game of the season against VT. He said that Temple is always the game that scares him the most because it should be an automatic win, but their team always seems to step it up and overachieve against VT.

Roth asked how Washington (the Temple QB), was able to break so many tackles and be so elusive against VTís defense. Foster said that the main reason was missed tackles. He said the staff counted 18 missed tackles by the VT defense in the Temple game, which is huge after having only 5 in the previous two games. He said that the players will be running some intense tackling drill circuits this week in an effort to improve fundamentals.

He also pointed out that Temple deserves credit for playing well and going full speed the entire game. He added that VT might not have respected Temple enough going into the game. Roth pointed out that the VT coaches always point out that every team is dangerous and asked why the VT players donít always buy into what the coaches are preaching. Foster, speaking as a former player and current coach, said that you run into those types of games sometimes. He said that itís always a challenge to stay motivated when playing opponents with less perceived talent.

Roth asked if he thought the VT defense looked tired in the 4th quarter. Foster said he didnít necessarily think so. He said that VTís 4th quarter struggles were probably more due to the playersí mindset than actual fatigue. Roth pointed out that VT came very close to losing, and asked if Foster felt lucky that VT escaped with a victory. Foster confirmed that he did feel lucky, but also pointed out that he thought there were offensive pass interference penalties committed by Temple that werenít called near the end of the game. He added that the game of football is 10% fundamentals and 90% heart and determination. He said VT might have been lacking against Temple in the heart and determination department.

Joe in Buena Vista called and asked two questions. First he asked Foster what he thought the key would be to stopping BCís offense. Secondly he asked who, out of the current redshirt class, Foster thought would make the biggest impact on the VT defense next season. Foster said that VT needs to stop the run against BC and also not allow the big play. He pointed out that BCís Derrick Knight is leading the Big East in rushing with over 1,400 yards this season, and heís doing it behind a big, physical offensive line. Foster answered the second question by singling out Xavier Adibi, Vince Hall, Chris Ellis, Carlton Powell, and Kory Robertson as future stars on the Hokie defense. He said the entire redshirt class is a great bunch of young men who all seem very hungry to contribute and excel.

Roth asked about the injury status of Nathaniel Adibi (thumb) and Kevin Lewis (MCL). Foster said that thereís a small chance Adibi could be ready for BC and that the same small chance exists for Lewis to be ready for UVA.

George in Roanoke called and asked Foster to comment on recent statements by WVU coach Rich Rodriguez stating that Pitt and VT were two easiest defenses to run on in the Big East. He also suggested that Jordan Trott replace Mikal Baaqee as a solution to the "arm tackling" problem against Temple. Foster said that he didnít think Rich Rodriguez would say that to his face. He said that Rich has respect for VT and its defense. With regard to the Baaqee/Trott situation, Foster said that he felt fortunate to have two outstanding football players who could share time at the same position.

Roth asked Foster if the Hokie players had lost some mental toughness since the mid 1990ís as a result of the recruiting emphasis on team speed and overall athleticism. Foster said he didnít think so. He said that mental toughness and killer instinct comes from within each player. The coaches can help instill these attitudes, but the final responsibility always lies within the mindset of each athlete. He said that he thinks VT has tough players now, but the coaches will have to work hard to make them play tough each and every game.

After a break, Roth revisited the issue of Ohio State jumping USC in the BCS rankings and said that the topic would be discussed more later in Jim Weaverís segment.

John in Newport News called and asked if there are any plans to bring Jason Murphy or others back to the defensive side of the line in light of the recent rash of injuries. Foster said there were no plans to do that. He said that the staff wants to let those players develop as offensive linemen and stay with that plan. Roth and Foster went on to briefly discuss the outstanding crop of current red shirts on the Hokie defense. Foster said he is very excited to have the opportunity to work with these kids and reiterated his high hopes and expectations for the entire group.

Andrew in Roanoke Rapids called and agreed with Fosters earlier point about Temple not getting penalized for offensive pass interference on several occasions. He noted that VT opponents have only been penalized 3 or 4 times in the past two games (Editor's note: actually, just twice) and asked for Fosterís comments on this. Foster said he was reluctant to comment on officiating, but after some coaxing from Roth, pointed out that the penalty called against VT that nullified Vickís long touchdown past was "an average call at best." He also noted several occasions where VT defenders were "literally tackled" in front of the referee without drawing any flags. He finished by saying that heíd like to see more consistency from the officials down the stretch.

Ernest in Suffolk called and asked why the VT defense allowed Temple to move the ball so easily in the 4th quarter. Foster said he was disappointed about this too. He said he accepts some responsibility for the defense not stepping up, but you have to give Temple credit for their effort as well. He promised that the defense will focus on improving for the final 3 games.

Roth asked why the Hokies seem to play so much better at home than on the road. Foster said that VT always uses the same routine for both home and away games so the players can feel the comfortable and focus on the task at hand in both situations. He said that lack of focus and maturity can both come into play when on the road. He pointed out that VT is still a relatively young football team.

Jeff in Christiansburg called and asked if the VT coaches had expected Washington (the Temple QB) to start the game against VT. Foster said they did expect him to start. However, he said that Washington and the Temple offense in general was doing some different things against VT than theyíd seen on game films. He admitted that VT didnít expect Washington to take off and run as much as he did, but also pointed out that the Hokie defense didnít respond well in making adjustments. He reiterated the fact that Temple played very well, but VT was guilty of not focusing and/or executing well at times. Foster finished his segment by saying that VT will have a very tough and intense practice on Tuesday, even though they normally try to shorten practice time this late in the season. He also said he expects the players to respond well and show better fundamental execution and aggressiveness in the last three football games.


Jim Weaver Ė Athletic Director

After a break Roth introduced Weaver and reminded everyone that the VT menís basketball team will open the season at home in Cassell Coliseum on 11/22 at 8 p.m. against New Hampshire. Roth pointed out that the Gator Bowl officials have shown strong interest in inviting VT. Weaver agreed that this was exciting, but noted that VT would still need to at least defeat BC this Saturday (if not win out) in order to have the opportunity to be considered for such an invite. Weaver also explained how, due the Big East 1 loss separation rule, the Gator Bowl is allowed invite a team with two losses over a 1 loss team if thereís a perceived benefit in doing so (i.e. increased ticket sales, increased TV ratings, etc.). Weaver said that Gator Bowl officials are scheduled to attend the BC/VT game this Saturday, but no other bowl officials are scheduled to attend as of yet.

Steve in Midlothian called and suggested that VT players might be better prepared to play on the road later in the season if they had an early away game that presented a true test. He also suggested that the players stay in several different area hotels before home games in order to more closely imitate the atmosphere of an away game. Drawing on his background as a coach and administrator, Weaver pointed out that every team is different. He noted that VT played very well early last season in beating aTm away in a very hostile environment. Weaver also pointed out that VT played extremely well against Pitt on the road, but didnít play well at all against WVU away Ė so the home/away argument doesnít tell the whole tale about VTís inconsistency. He said he agreed with Coach Foster in that it all comes down to the focus and mental toughness within each player. He also admitted that VT didnít play well in the 4th quarter against Temple, but added that wins and losses are all that counts and VT is 8-2 and ranked 12th in the nation.

After a break, Bonnie from Christiansburg in the audience asked if fan behavior is a consideration by bowl officials when deciding what teams to invite. Weaver said that VT had an excellent reputation among bowl officials with respect to traveling and good behavior. He said he believes that this type of reputation does indeed have an impact when a bowl committee makes its final decision regarding invitees.

After a break, Michael in Richmond called and asked if there would be an official artistís rendition released depicting the final representation of the West Side expansion of Lane Stadium. Weaver said that an official rendering is not available yet, however the illustration in the program (media guide?) is fairly accurate. He said the architects have made a few final tweaks on the plans since the program illustration was done. Weaver said he expects the final rendering illustration to be available at some point after construction begins and the premium seating marketing is in full tilt.

Tom in Abingdon called and asked if there was any chance of re-establishing the Naval Academy as a future out of conference opponent for VT. Weaver said he has contacted Navy several times over the years and all of his offers have been rejected. Regarding scheduling, he said that 98% of the offers are outbound from the VT athletic department, while VT receives very few offers from other schools. Roth asked for an update on the opponent to replace the game vacated by the LSU postponement next season. Weaver said that VT was talking to a 1-A opponent but the matter hadnít been finalized yet.

The last call of the segment came from Rick in Dublin and he asked if there was any possibility in continuing the VT/Pitt series in the future. Weaver said that there was a strong possibility of continuing the series and added that he was currently in discussions with Pitt regarding that very issue. He said that the two sides will try to finalize something over the next 10 -14 days, then make an announcement if it all works out.

Roth asked for Weaverís final thoughts on the upcoming BC/VT game. Weaver said that BC usually has big physical linemen and Coach Foster has confirmed that this yearís team is no different. He said that VT must bring their "A" game to counter BCís high power rushing attack.


Frank Beamer Ė Head Football Coach

After a break, Roth introduced Beamer and both wished Cheryl Beamer (Frankís Wife) a happy birthday. Roth then asked Beamer for some opening comments on the Temple game. Beamer admitted that VT didnít play well at all. He said they lacked focus and motivation, and took some of this responsibility on himself. He pointed out that upsets happen in college football a lot these days, and noted that VT isnít the only victim in this area. He said that you look at some games and wonder how in the world one team beat another team, or how one team didnít beat another team by more points.

Beamer said that thereís more parity in college football these days than some people think. He said that it all comes down to being prepared every week to play with the same determination and heart. He said that the VT players are still coming along in this area and have some things they need to work on. Beamer added a note of appreciation for all the fan support the team saw at the Temple game and apologized for the poor performance. Roth said that the throwback uniforms VT wore at Temple have met with mixed reviews. Beamer laughed and said that he liked them because they were similar to what he wore when he played for VT. He said that Nathaniel Adibi is in charge of game apparel and agreed to check with him on the issue.

Jeff in Knoxville called and asked what Beamer thought of the Pitt/WVU game this past weekend. Beamer said he thought WVUís rushing attack made the big difference in the game and noted that Pitt has had trouble stopping the run recently. Jeff also asked if VT had expanded its geographic recruiting radius of late. Beamer said that the recruiting staff will look at the types of position players they need, then look in the normal recruiting areas and usually find lots of potential recruits. However, he said that sometimes they will expand out and look elsewhere when the rare need arises. Beamer noted that VT will definitely strengthen their recruiting efforts in North Carolina now with the pending membership in the ACC.

Richie in Richmond called and asked if the coaching staff had any plans to visit other institutions in the off season in an effort to pickup new offensive and defensive packages and schemes. Beamer said that the staff did intend to study some other systems, especially the ones that have had recent success against VT. However, he said that overall success is more about personnel and execution than constantly changing schemes and strategy.

Roth then asked Beamer for a current injury update. Beamer said he hoped that Kevin Lewis would be the only significant absence against BC. He said that theyíd know for sure about Adibiís availability later this week. Roth noted that VT would be facing a hungry BC team this Saturday since itís almost an elimination game with respect to their bowl eligibility. Beamer pointed out that itís a very important game for VT as well. He said that VT wants this win bad and noted that they have bowl implications on the line too.

After a break, Greg from Dublin in the audience noted that the ball was bouncing a lot before being fielded by VT lately on punt returns. He asked for Beamerís comments on this. Beamer said that this was primarily due to opposing teams respecting Hallís ability and trying to kick away from him whenever possible. He said this can also happen when VT lines up to go for the block and hurries the punter.

Roth and Beamer briefly talked about the team "Walk" this Saturday at 1:30pm and urged all fans to show up and support the team like they did before the Miami game. Beamer said the VT fans have been great all season and the team needs them now more than ever.

Brian in Midlothian called and said that he had a hard time giving credit to a Temple team for playing well when they were obviously a sub-par team. Beamer interrupted and asked Brian if he saw the game. Brian said he only listened to the game on the radio. Beamer said that those who saw the game saw a Temple team that played extremely well and he will continue to give them credit for it. During the slightly heated exchange, Brian jumped back in and asked how the VT offense could only put 3 points in the first two quarters, and 17 points through 3 quarters. Beamer flatly stated that VT had one touchdown called back on a highly questionable holding call and had another touchdown negated when Jeff King slipped in the end zone, allowing Vickís pass to be intercepted. He noted that this was a 14 point turnaround and made a huge difference in VTís total offensive production for the game.

Roth noted that winning and losing is all about perception. Many times when teams win, the fans say itís because they played well. When in actuality, it could have something to do with the fact that the other team played poorly. Beamer agreed and said that most of the time itís a combination of both execution and mistakes that help determine the outcome of a game. He admitted that VT played poorly at Temple but also wants it known and accepted that Temple played well. He said that both factors contributed to the fact that it was a close game that VT was fortunate to win.

Rob in Naples FL called and asked who would get the Big East BCS bid in the unlikely event that WVU, Pitt, Miami and VT all finished 5-2 in the conference. Roth confirmed that WVU would get the bid because a mini conference would be created among those four teams and WVU would only have one loss in that mini conference, while the others would all have two. If all the teams had the same record against each other within the mini conference, then BCS rankings would determine the winner. Beamer said he thought Roth was wrong on this, but Bill promised to print out the rules and show Beamer later in the show. Beamer thought it all came purely down to BCS rankings.

Dave in Columbia MD called and asked why VT, at the beginning of overtime versus Temple, chose to defend the end zone where there were less Hokie fans seated. Beamer laughed and said that he and Coach Hite discussed this and Beamer noted that a lot of wacky things had happening in the other end zone in the 4th quarter, so they decided to stay away from there for as long as they could. He said it all came down to a gut feeling.

After a break Beamer announced his congratulations to Radford High School coach Norm Lineburg who just won his 300th game last Friday night.

Tony in Charlotte called and expressed support in Beamer's decision to play both Randall and Vick in the past few games. He asked Beamer how he saw this competition playing out in the near future. Beamer said that VT is fortunate to have two gifted QBs in their system. He said that both deserve playing time right now and heís going to stick with the plan to make decisions on the fly. He also noted that the situation has been tough on both Randall and Vick, but added that theyíve handled the situation as well as can be expected.

Greg in Salem called and asked Beamer to comment on some of the opposing venues where VT will be playing next year in the ACC. Beamer said heíd coached VT in games at all the venues except for Duke, Wake Forest and UNC. He said he really looks forward to playing at some of those opposing stadiums in the ACC. Beamer also said it would be exciting and refreshing to play a new slate of opponents. Roth also pointed out the benefits of shortened travel time for both the team and the fans. Beamer agreed and added that itís always easier to take a bus to an away game whenever possible due to the tightened security requirements that surround charter flights.

Joel in Yorktown called asked what Beamer thought about the mediaís perceived attempts to hype the quarterback controversy between Randall and Vick. Beamer said heís the first to admit that it can be a tough situation at times, but he added that VT has never had two QBs as good as Randall and Vick in the system at the same time. He stated that he thinks both deserve playing time and both will get it until one QB shows that he truly deserves all the snaps.

Roth and Beamer then switched gears and talked about BC. Beamer said that they're coming off an emotional win at Rutgers and will be a tough opponent for VT. He pointed out that they rank in the top two or three in several Big East statistical categories. He also stated that they have a good QB in Peterson and an outstanding tailback in Derrick Knight. As the discussion went on, it was stressed that BC has beaten Notre Dame, Penn State, Connecticut and might have beaten Miami if you subtract UMís special teams scoring in that game.

Les in Chesapeake called and noted that Beamer said that Vick gave VT the best chance to win against Pitt and Miami (when he got most of the snaps), but has seen diminished playing time recently. He asked Beamer to explain how this original stance changed. Beamer said that Vickís running ability was seen as an opportunity to exploit some weaknesses in the defenses of Pitt and Miami, but Randallís skills were valuable down the stretch versus Temple. He said itís tough to make these decisions on the fly, but added that both deserve to play and the coaches are doing their best to make the right decisions as they go along.

Jeff in Tazewell called and noted that VTís defensive backs have been giving opposing receivers a lot of cushion recently. He said that VT might not need to give this much room since the defensive backs are very athletic. He asked for Beamerís comments on this. Beamer said that it depends on what coverage VT is in. He said the VTís defensive backs get up in the receiversí faces at times, but other times they give more room in certain situations. He said they try to mix it up and keep the opposing offense guessing as much as possible.

After a break, Barek in Blacksburg called and noted that VT has had some running success against BC in the past, which might open up some option play situations for VT on Saturday. He asked if this might affect the coaches decision on which QB plays more. Beamer said that this consideration wouldnít really factor into the decision. He said that both QBs have had their good moments and bad moments running the option, but added that Vick is probably the faster of the two.

Tom in Blacksburg called and asked why VT didnít run many screen passes on offense lately. Beamer agreed that VT had gotten away from this a little too much. He said that they need to get the ball to KJ in open space whenever possible and also noted that the wide outs can participate in screen plays as well. He promised he would mention this to Coach Stinespring on Tuesday.

Roth asked why David Clowney hadnít seen much action recently. Beamer said he got his knee hurt a little in the Pitt game and hasnít been able to practice full speed as much as the coaches would like. He said he hoped to get him more balls in the remaining games this season, because he definitely has the talent to do well.

After break, James in Rocky Gap called and asked Beamer if he thought DeAngelo Hallís absence in the first half of the Pitt game had an impact on the final outcome. Beamer said it might have affected it a little, but the turnovers were more of a factor. He said that VT gave Pitt a short field too many times in the game and that really hurt their chances. He said that VT turns the ball over a lot against Pitt, and you canít afford to do that against a team like that.

Steve in Vinton called and suggested that VT run the end-around play more on offense, as well as the halfback screen. Beamer agreed that VT needs to continue to install new plays and new twists to existing plays to keep opponents off balance.

Roth asked how Beamer felt about this VT team right now after the poor performance against Temple. Beamer reiterated Coach Fosterís earlier point about how mental focus is so much a part of the game. He said that BC will come in and play with intensity and VT needs to match and exceed that intensity. Roth agreed and wished Beamer luck and signed off.

Monday was Day 1,498 of Tech's continuous possession of the Commonwealth Cup.

-- Wayne

          

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