The Hokie Hotline (football and basketball season)
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Advance Auto Parts Hokie Hotline Notes
Monday
, November 24, 2003
by Wayne Clevenger

Bill Roth began the broadcast with a few quick announcements. VT menís basketball player Jamon Gordon was named the Big East rookie of the week for his performance Saturday night versus New Hampshire (20 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals). The VT menís basketball team will take on Western Carolina on Tuesday 11/25 at 7pm. After beating Clemson last Friday night, the VT menís soccer team will play at VCU on Wednesday (11/26) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. On Friday (11/28) the VT menís basketball team will take on UVa in Charlottesville, while the VT womenís basketball team will play Iowa State in the Virgin Islands. The kickoff for the VT/UVA football game is set for 1pm Saturday (11/29) in Charlottesville.


Seth Greenberg Ė Menís Basketball Coach

Roth introduced Greenberg and congratulated him on the season opening victory over New Hampshire. Greenberg acknowledged the excellent effort of Jamon Gordon and said he might have the best "feel for the game" as any player on the team. Roth brought up the fact that the VT menís basketball team has been hit hard with injuries. Greenberg said it has been hard to practice with all the team injuries and regretfully added Fabian Davis, who re-injured his toe in the New Hampshire game, to the list of players who will be unavailable this week. The team is now down to a total of six healthy scholarship players. Greenberg also said that Carlos Dixon would most likely be redshirted this season, to allow his foot injury to heal properly.

After a break, Roth asked Greenberg if he was enjoying being a Hokie. Greenberg said that the transition has been great. He said that he and his family are now settled into a lovely home and the entire community has been very accepting, friendly and kind.

Matt in Vinton called and congratulated Greenberg on the win against New Hampshire. Greenberg thanked Matt and said he was encouraged by how hard the team played. He also admitted that the team has a long way to go and needs to improve in a lot of areas.

Jack in Bangor, ME called to wish Greenberg luck and added that he hoped the results of this season (versus expectations) end up being the direct opposite of the VT football team (ouch). Roth jokingly pointed out that VT is picked to finish last in the Big East and pointed out that VT canít do any worse than that. Greenberg agreed and said that the Big East is a terrific conference where anything can happen. He said itís a long season and different teams peak at different times, so who knows how things will end up. He said that the most important thing is finding a way to compete early in the season with such a thin lineup. Keeping players out of foul trouble and playing at a consistent tempo will be the keys.

Jaime in Roanoke called and welcomed Greenberg to Blacksburg and said that the fans would continue to support the team as long as they play hard all season. Greenberg thanked Jaime and assured him that playing hard is not an option, but a given on his teams. He again added that the biggest challenge will be finding a way to play hard from the start till the final buzzer with such a shallow team early in the season. He pointed out that the team will play six games in a 13 day stretch, which can be physically and mentally exhausting.

Roth brought up the fact that Greenberg came to VT thinking he was going to be competing in the Big East, but now the VT future lies in the ACC. Roth noted that Marquie Cooke reportedly signed with VT because of the future VT/ACC affiliation. Greenberg said that Cooke is a big, tough physical guard who has many talents on the basketball court. He went on to praise Cooke for his leadership ability and said that heís a type of player you can build a team around. Greenberg also said he was excited about the incoming 6í 7" transfer Justin Holt, who will have 3 years of eligibility at VT.

Somebody from Blacksburg called and asked about reports that Greenberg might be planning to invite past VT basketball greats like Dell Curry (and others) back on certain occasions. The caller also asked for Greenbergís thoughts on VTís future ACC membership. Greenberg said that they had a tip-off dinner a few weeks ago that over 20 former players and coaches attended including Charlie Moir, Bill Foster, Bimbo Coles and Dell Curry. He said this was a great occasion and added that VT needs to keep honoring its tradition by hosting visits from people that have contributed to that history.

After a break, Roth noted that VTís upcoming basketball opponent, Western Carolina, has a player that scored 44 points in an 8 point loss to Georgia. Greenberg agreed that Martin is a very good player and added that VT will have to be ready for Western Carolinaís different defensive looks. Roth asked for a quick look ahead to the Friday match up with UVA. Greenberg said that UVA is young but very talented and will be looking for some payback from the loss they suffered against VT last season.


Jim Weaver Ė Athletic Director

After a break, Roth introduced Weaver and asked him how he was doing. Weaver said he was disappointed just like the fans, the team and the coaches. However, he added that no one can afford to focus too long on the disappointment of the BC loss, because VT has a big game to prepare for, and it will be special if they can beat UVA for the fifth straight year.

Roth announced that WVU would likely be playing Maryland in the Gator Bowl and asked Weaver where he thought VT might end up in the bowl scenario. Weaver said he didnít really know for sure, but guessed that VT might end up in the Continental Tire Bowl in Charlotte (Dec. 27th) or the Insight.com Bowl in Phoenix, AZ (Dec. 26th). He said that the Charlotte Bowl is better for VT financially because of travel costs and timing.

Roth asked Weaver why he thought VT has struggled down the stretch during the past 3 seasons. Weaver said that different factors probably contributed to each season. He noted that injuries took a big toll last season, while this year VT has been very close to winning in two of its three losses. He said that normally VTís defense can protect a 4th quarter lead, but that wasnít the case against Pitt and BC. Weaver also added that now is not the time to dissect the reason behind VTís recent football struggles. He said that he and Coach Beamer will sit down and do that after the season is over. He said now is the time to prepare to beat UVA. He finished by saying that VT is not the only college football program in the country thatís disappointed at this point in the season.

Jerry in Tazewell called and asked for an update on BCís ACC status in 2004 and also asked if there had been any progress in finding an out-of-conference opponent to fill the opening in VTís schedule next season. Weaver said he had no news regarding BCís 2004 ACC status and added that VT is still working on signing a 1-A opponent to fill the void in next seasonís schedule (from the LSU postponement).

Dave in Atlanta emailed asking for an update on the Lane Stadium west side expansion project. Weaver said that the foundation contractor has been chosen and work will begin ASAP. He said that progress should be seen before Christmas, but if not, then no later than early January 2004.

Darrell in Richlands emailed the following question for Weaver: "Do you think the VT football team is underachieving or overrated?" Weaver said he really didnít know the answer to that but it depends on your perspective. He said that VT has built a very successful football program over the last 10-11 years and with success comes higher expectations. He reiterated the fact that two of VTís three losses were very close games against very good football teams.

Bennie from Somewhere called and noted that the pressure must be very intense on Division 1-A college football players these days because the BCS makes every regular season game a do or die situation. He followed up this comment by asking why VT schedules teams like JMU. Weaver agreed that the expectations and pressures are high in every Division 1-A college football program. Every team wants to go undefeated, but only Oklahoma has been able to do that this season. Regarding the JMU question, Weaver said that Division 1-A teams are allowed to schedule a division 1-AA team once every four years and have the win count toward bowl eligibility. He said 52 of the 117 division 1-A teams have played division 1-AA teams this season. He said that VT playing JMU helps JMUís program, sells more tickets because of the geographic proximity, and keeps the money in-state, which is good for all involved.

John in Lynchburg called and asked a question regarding VT womenís basketball. He asked about a young lady heíd read about in the Hokie Huddler that VT recruited out of Connecticut who had excellent credentials. John wanted to know her name and status. Both Weaver and Roth knew who John was referring to, because sheís playing on the team now, but neither seemed to know her name. When they finally found her name, they confirmed that she was from overseas and I didnít catch her name (Editor's Note: Nare Diawara, from Mali by way of Cheshire Academy in Connecticut). Both Roth and Weaver went on to praise the VT womenís basketball team for their win over UVA in Charlottesville Sunday.

John in Suffolk called and asked Weaver why he thought this wasnít the time to dissect the VT football program. He noted that it seems like a lot of errors are being made with respect to coaching decisions, and any good manager (like Weaver) should be constantly evaluating these decisions. Weaver said that the VT coaches do constantly evaluate their own decisions throughout the year, but his evaluation role doesnít come into play until the end of the season when he sits down with Coach Beamer. John also asked what was being done about "the LSU situation" and trying the make sure that VT has good quality opponents early in the season. Weaver said he thinks VT does play quality opponents early in the season and referenced aTm, LSU and Marshall last year as well as Connecticut and aTm this year. He said that VT canít totally control the level of quality of each opponent, because sometimes opponents end up having uncharacteristically bad seasons. Weaver finished by noting that VT has many good out-of-conference opponents scheduled in the future and said that heís constantly working to schedule new and better opponents for VT.

Darrell in Richlands emailed again to clarify his earlier question. He said that VT has underachieved in the latter parts of the last three seasons (after very strong starts). His actual question was: "Does VT need to rethink their schemes, their coaching or their recruiting philosophy?" Weaver said he would not be able to answer that question from his perspective until the season is over.

After a break, Mike from Roanoke called and asked if VT has given the ball enough to KJ this season to prepare him for the NFL next year. Roth said that the VT coaches can evaluate whether or not KJ gets enough touches, but it will have nothing to do with the NFL. The players and their families may think about the NFL, but the VT coaches do not. Weaver agreed with Roth on this point and added that KJ has probably averaged over 25 carries in the past 3 games. He said that this is good number, given the fact that you want to also give the player rest, keep him healthy, and allow his backups to get quality playing time as well.

Robert in Richmond called and asked Weaver if any Richmond TV affiliates were planning on carrying VT menís or womenís basketball games this season. Weaver answered by saying, "Probably not," because the production costs are too high unless a major network is carrying the broadcasts. Roth noted that 12 VT menís basketball games will be broadcast this season, and said that more information on this can be found at HokieSports.com.


Frank Beamer Ė Head Football Coach

After a break, Roth introduced Beamer and asked him how he was doing. Beamer said it has been a rough week. He said that VT lost to a good BC team, mainly because of inconsistent play. He noted that VT gave BC a short field to work with three times in the first half and also added that VT committed too many penalties. Overall, he said VT just didnít play consistent enough to win.

Roth told Beamer that the Hokie Nation is hurting and wants answers. They want to know why this team played so consistent earlier in the season and so inconsistent recently. Beamer assured everyone that the players and coaches are hurting too. He said that theyíre all searching for those answers right now.

Beamer then gave an interesting analogy by equating a football season with a round of golf. He said that you can hit the ball really well for 6 holes, then you can hit the ball every direction but straight for the next three. He said that consistency is often elusive in sports, and sometimes more so in team sports. Beamer said that those who played a team sport may understand this reasoning better than those who didnít. He said he remains excited that VT can still have a ten-win season. Beamer finished by saying that you have setbacks in football as in life. He said that this VT team bounced back with wins after their first two losses of the season, now letís see if they can do it again against UVA.

Roth turned the focus of the conversation to VTís preparation for UVA. Beamer announced that Bryan Randall will be the quarterback for the entire game, but added that he still has tremendous confidence in Vick. He then went on to illustrate a lot of plays that have gone against Vick this season that havenít necessarily been his fault. Roth asked Beamer if, in retrospect, he should have left Randall in during the second quarter against BC. Beamer said he probably should have, but added that hindsight is 20/20. He pointed out that VT played both Randall and Vick in the Miami game and it worked out well. Beamer said that Randall will play the entire game against UVA unless thereís a situation that absolutely dictates the need to bring Vick in the game. Beamer said that the Vick/Randall situation has been tough on everyone, but added that sometimes itís not real obvious who should completely take over.

Roth noted that VT has had 4th quarter leads in the past three games, yet the defense has allowed a comeback by the opponent in each game (2 losses, 1 OT win). He asked what might be causing these late game defensive collapses. Beamer said that the VT defense played well for the most part in the second half against BC. He said he was disappointed in the two big plays they gave up late in the 4th quarter and blamed that on a lack of mental toughness. He also said that the VT linemen may not be big enough to withstand the rigors of an entire game with limited substitution (because of injuries). He said he didnít want to use injuries as an excuse, but just thinks the VT defense needs to be more mentally tough when it counts. He admitted that the coaches might call the game a little differently if they had another opportunity, but again reminded everyone that this is always the case and hindsight is 20/20.

Beamer said the major problem with the team right is lack of execution consistency. Roth noted that VT is still playing for a lot. He said that VT can still retain the Commonwealth Cup and bring home a bowl trophy. He asked Beamer if the players have the mental attitude to win the last two games. He said that he "hoped so." He again pointed out that the team has been able to come back to post a win twice this year after a loss and said he thought they could do it again.

After a break, Roth noted that Beamer canít be happy with the way VT was handling kickoffs lately. Beamer agreed that VT needs to work very hard on both the kickoff distance and the coverage this week. He said that kickoffs are an area where VT has been good at times this year, but inconsistent recently. Beamer said that VT really needs to focus and execute well on kickoffs for these last two games.

Roth asked Beamer if he thought VT was overrated or underachieving this season. Beamer said that he didnít think this VT team was a lot better than any of their opponents or a lot worse than any of their opponents. He said that the team has a lot of talented players, but havenít been playing well as a group the past few weeks. Beamer finished by saying that the opponents have played well in those games too and that has contributed to the losses as well.

Jason in Herndon VA called and said he thought that VT has better talent than anyone theyíve played this year, with the exception of maybe Miami. He said VT should have beaten two of those three teams they lost to and said itís time to walk the walk instead of talking the talk. Beamer said itís tough to say if VT is really more talented than most of the teams theyíve played this season. He said thereís not as much separation in talent between conference teams like there once was. He said he knows the losses are disappointing for everyone, but added that VT can still win ten games this year, and thatís a great accomplishment. He urged everyone to be happy with the teamís achievements, instead of only focusing on the losses.

Roth noted that VT used to have a tough blue collar mentality in the mid-late 1990ís and asked Beamer if this mentality has faded as VT began recruiting more star athletes of late. Beamer almost agreed with Roth when he responded by saying that team chemistry is sometimes question mark. He said it appears that teams like WVU and Pitt have it right now, but then you ask yourself how WVU lost to Cincinnati and Pitt lost to Toledo earlier in the season. Beamer said he thinks the effort has been there for VT in the past three games, but maybe not the focus. He said that things just havenít gone VTís way in the past three games. Roth asked Beamer what the mental state of the team was in preparing to play UVA this Saturday. Beamer said that everyone is disappointed, but theyíre working hard and moving on. He said that everyone will just have to show up in Charlottesville and weíll see what happens.

After a break, Barek from Blacksburg in the audience asked Beamer why VT hasn't been going for as many blocked punts as normal recently. Beamer said that he really wanted to go after a few punts against BC, even though they were using an unorthodox protection scheme. He the first time he wanted to go for a block, he needed Darryl Tapp in the game but Tapp was hurt. He said he tried to communicate what he need to Burchette, but then decided against going for the block in that situation. The next time he wanted to go for the block, it was 3rd and 15 for BC and BC jumped offsides to make it 3rd and 20. He said he was afraid to get a roughing the kicker penalty in this situation so he called off the dogs. Beamer said the third time they went for it and didnít get it.

Roth noted that UVAís tight end Heath Miller had been named 1st team all conference. Beamer said he was a good player and very deserving of the award. He said that Wali Lundyís return really helped UVA against GT, and VT will have to prepare will to stop their rushing attack. Roth asked about the UVA defense, and Beamer said theyíre showing a lot of different looks compared to the past few years. He also noted that UVA does a good job of disguising their coverages. Roth asked if VT would be able to run against UVA. Beamer said that VT would have to be balanced on offense in order to have success against UVA in either the run or the pass.

Jeff in Christiansburg called and asked two questions. First he asked if VT had gone away from the attacking-style defense of the mid-late 1990ís that terrorized opposing QBís and held opposing tailbacks in check. Secondly he asked if VT defenders were concentrating too much on stripping the ball instead of wrapping up and securing the tackle. Beamer said that VT had not changed their defensive philosophy at all. He praised the way the VT defense played aggressively against BC in the second half (for the most part). He reiterated the fact that two big plays hurt VT at the end of that game and said that sometimes the opposing team just makes a good offensive call. Regarding tackling, Beamer said that VT defenders are always taught to wrap up first then give the second defender a chance for the strip.

Matt in Roanoke called and asked for Beamerís opinion on VTís offensive play calling in the second half against BC. Matt noted that KJ only touched the ball 4 times in the second half. Roth corrected Matt by saying that KJ had 13 carries in the second half and at least one catch on the screen pass for a long gain (later it was confirmed that he had 2 second half catches). Beamer agreed however that if VT isnít giving the ball to KJ as much as possible, then theyíre making a big mistake. He also added that he would have liked to have some of those second half runs back and replace them with play action pass plays.

Mike in Christiansburg called and commended Roth for asking the tough questions in a professional way. He said he was proud to have Beamer and the other coaches on the VT staff and added that they knew more about doing their job than any of the fans who are calling for their dismissal. Mike finished by saying he was proud to be a Hokie and heíll be there till the end (applause). Beamer said that heíll be the first guy to say that VT shouldnít have lost to the three teams theyíve lost to. However, he said that there are a lot of quality teams in the country right now with 2 or 3 losses and VT just happens to be one of them. He said he didnít want the fans to lose all hope when VT loses to a few good teams because thatís going to happen from time to time. Roth pointed out that VT fans have been to the national championship game before and now their expectations and disappointment levels are greater. Beamer simply said that the VT coaching staff is doing the same things now as when VT made it to the national championship game. He said itís not like they all just woke up stupid one day since then (laughter Ė applause).

Larry in Culpeper called and noted that UVA runs a lot of misdirection and trick plays. He asked how VT would prepare for this. Beamer agreed that UVA runs a lot of different plays out of similar formations and said that VT will work this week on learning their tendencies and playing fundamentally sound as a defense.

Roth asked Beamer for an injury update. Beamer said Kevin Lewis is doubtful, Adibi is questionable and Gibson should be more available this week.

Mike in Roanoke called and asked what process the Big East uses to assign the officiating crew for each game. Beamer said that the Big East officiating crews have been very good over the years. However, he said theyíve been very inconsistent of late in VT games and singled out the pass interference non-call against Pitt, the holding call that negated the Vick to Wilford TD against Temple, and the fumble call against Wilford against BC as examples. He added that he doesnít want to use the officiating as an excuse, but the VT coaches would like to see more consistency. Roth also pointed out that Wilford was obviously held on a trick play that VT tried to run in the BC game. Beamer flinched and groaned at the mention of this so I assume he agreed with Rothís assessment.

Billy in Pulaski called and suggested that Beamer may be stretched too thin in trying to coach the VT special teams. He suggested that Beamer might be well served to hire a special teams coach. Beamer laughed and disagreed with Billy. He said that VT plays special teams very well for the most part. He said that VT specials teams just need to be more consistent like the other units. He said he was more than capable of handling the special teams coaching duties and wasnít ready to fire the special teams coach yet (laughter Ė applause).

After a break, Roth reiterated the great opportunity VT has to beat UVA for the fifth straight year. Beamer agreed and said that VT probably wants to beat UVA more than anyone else on the schedule. He added that the future of both programs looks bright and it should be a good game this Saturday.

Brian in Chesterfield called and noted that if VT loses to UVA, VT fans may come "unraveled." He asked Beamer how he would get the team as fired up for this game as they "should" have been against BC. Beamer said that VT would go to Charlottesville and play their very best. He said he has the utmost confidence in his coaching staff to prepare the players well, but if VT should come up short, he said that he would not come unraveled.

L.T. in Lynchburg called and asked if the VT defense missed having tough leaders like Corey Moore around to fire up the team. Beamer said that the team has leaders in Nathaniel Adibi and Jake Grove. He said that no one would complain about how VT defense played against Miami or Syracuse this year. He said that the coaches and players just need to correct the things that have lead to recent 4th quarter lapses and theyíll be fine.

After a break, Bill in Lynchburg called and noted that VT has won 76% of their games since the start of the 1993 season. He said that VT football has always prided itself on having a family atmosphere, "now letís take that family up the road to Charlottesville and come back with a victory." (applause) Beamer thanked Bill for the kind words and Roth said that was a good way to end the show. Beamer said he appreciates the fans that are strongly supporting the program, and added that heís disappointed in the ones that are jumping ship.

Roth asked Beamer for final thoughts on UVA. He said that VT will have to contain Schaub and limit yards after the catch. He also said that itís important for VT to score points early, because UVA will be up for the game.

Roth thanked Beamer for his candidness and signed off.

Monday was Day 1,505 of Tech's continuous possession of the Commonwealth Cup.

Please note the Hotline will be on Tuesday next week, due to the men's basketball game Monday night.

-- Wayne

          

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