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Advance Auto Parts Hokie Hotline Notes
, December 2, 2003
by Wayne Clevenger

Bill Roth began the broadcast with a few quick announcements. Renovations have begun on the west side of Lane Stadium. The VT womenís basketball team is still undefeated and ranked 23rd in the new AP poll. The VT menís basketball team is 3-1 on the season and scheduled to take on ODU at home on 12/4 before traveling to play Ohio State in Columbus on 12/6. Former VT menís basketball standout Dell Curry was recently inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. VT tailback Kevin Jones will forgo his senior season and enter the upcoming NFL draft.

Billy Hite Ė Assistant Head Coach and Running Backs Coach

Roth introduced Hite and they discussed KJís upcoming press conference. Hite said he would not divulge any details because itís only fair to allow KJ to announce his intentions. Hite did say that he was absolutely sure that KJ will be a great NFL running back. Roth then asked Hite for his thoughts on what caused the football team to play so poorly after beating Miami earlier this season. Hite said that the coaches are meeting with each other, as well as the players, in an effort to determine what might have gone wrong. He also referenced that fact that VT has had a lot of success over the past 10 seasons and mentioned the long streak of being in the top 25. He said that expectations were high this season and VT simply fell short.

Roth asked about the outlook at tailback next season. Hite said heís concerned about Humesí fumbling problems, but assured everyone that he will improve next season with more touches (hopefully 25-30 per game). He said that Justin Hamilton will stay at wide out, but Mike Imoh will be back in the mix at tailback next season. Hite said that Imoh will be a special player at VT before itís all said and done.

Shana from Lynchburg called and asked how the departure of KJ might affect the team next season. Hite said that VT already has a commitment from one very good tailback, and theyíre in the running with a few others. He added that VTís outlook looks very bright at tailback, even though you can never truly replace a player like KJ. Both Hite and Roth agreed that a player should leave early if they are likely to be drafted in the first round. However, Hite added that a player needs to do the necessary research before making such a critical decision (see Shyrone Stith). He added that KJís decision should be a no-brainer (as was Michael Vickís).

After a break, Roth read an e-mail from a fan who said that Hokie faithful are entitled to honest answers from the coaches about whatís wrong with the team at this point in time. Hite said that a lot of times coaches canít tell the whole story when answering fan questions because they never want to call out specific players by name. The coaches know that a lot of mistakes were made this season both by themselves and the players, but Hite said itís not right to call attention to specific individuals. Roth asked if the expectations were too high this season for the VT football team. Hite said that the expectations were high but justified at the beginning of the season. He said that they knew they had a good team, but as the season went on, the expectations increased as the Hokies rose to #3 in the nation. He said the win against Miami was great, but the team really seemed to get down and lose some focus after the loss to Pitt.

Mike in Roanoke called and referenced Hiteís earlier comment about the possibility of Humes getting 25-30 carries a game next season. He noted that KJ (one of the best tailbacks in the country) didnít even average that this season. Hite said that KJ did get that many carries in some games, but noted that sometimes you canít just keep running the ball if the defense is stacking to stop it. He said that the offense needs to know when to go away from the run and attack the defense where it is weakest.

Johnny from Botetourt County called and voiced his support for KJís apparent decision to enter the NFL draft. He said that he would make the same decision if he were in KJís place. Hite and Roth both agreed that KJ is doing the right thing if he decides to forgo his senior season at VT. Hite also noted that KJ has expressed a commitment to come back to VT and finish his degree at a later time. Roth noted that KJ is in the running for several post season honors such as the Dudley Award and the Doak Walker Award. Hite said that KJ has an excellent chance of winning one of all of them. Roth asked if getting the whole KJ situation decided now would benefit the team heading into the bowl game (fewer distractions). Hite admitted that it would probably help if the team could just focus on preparing to get back to VT football, instead of answering a lot of questions about KJís future.

Joby in Richmond called and noted reports stating that UVAís Schaub bruised his shoulder on the last play of the first half, yet UVA threw the ball on the first play of the third quarter. He asked if VT might have been getting disinformation at the time. Roth said that probably wasnít the case because Schaub was definitely in pain as he left the field at halftime. Roth quipped that UVAís sports medicine program must be top notch because Schaub didnít miss many passes in the second half. Hite agreed that Schaub was a very good QB who will probably play on Sundays in the future.

Dave in Roanoke called with two questions. First he asked why VT opted to play the two tight end set so much against UVA (keeping Easlick on the sideline). Secondly, he asked why VT allowed UVAís tight end (Miller) to come off the line unchecked almost every play in the game. Hite said that VT likes to run the two tight end set because you donít want Easlick in the game for every offensive play. He said that this set allows the tights ends to become more involved as both blockers and pass catchers. Regarding VTís defense of Miller, Hite said that they had defenders on him all day but UVA did a good job of mixing up his routes. He said you also have to give credit to Miller because heís a very smart player and a talented pass receiver.

Roth asked how this VT team can get things turned around for the Insight Bowl against Cal. Hite said that the players have had a chance to get away from football for a few days, and that will help. He also noted that the coaches are already starting to break down game film and come up with strategies. He said that Beamer either has or will personally meet with each and every player on the team and try to evaluate things and get back on track. He said that VT has been a successful program and will be again Ė hopefully sooner than later.

Jim Weaver Ė Athletic Director

After a break, Roth introduced Weaver and they both briefly discussed the launch or the west side renovation project in Lane Stadium (some of the lights have come down already). Roth then kiddingly mentioned painting the end zones. Weaver stated (seriously) that VT wanted to give the new turf system a few years to mature before introducing paint, but added that itís a definite possibility for next season.

At this point, Roth and Weaver were joined (via phone) by John Junker, the president of the Fiesta Bowl and Insight bowl. Junker said he and his staff are pleased to have a match up between Cal and VT because both teams have beaten BCS qualifiers this season. Weaver agreed that the Insight bowl presents a very interesting matchup and added that VT is looking forward to traveling to Phoenix later this month. Junker then talked about Bank One Ballpark and the fact that itís a great venue for college football. He said they will bring in an entirely new grass field for the game (replacing the baseball diamond) and added that the fans will be very close to the action. He said he expects a sellout.

Weaver said that VT is very fortunate to have the opportunity to play in the Insight Bowl against a quality opponent like Call (who beat USC earlier in the season). He said he admires the way the Phoenix bowls are run, and added that he hopes VT will be able to play better than they have recently. Junker thanked Weaver for his kind words and said that the Insight Bowl has wanted VT for a long time and added that thereís no one they respect more than Coach Beamer. Junker also pointed out that there are already a lot of Hokie fans / alumni in the Phoenix area and said that VT fans who travel to Phoenix for the game will have a lot of company waiting for them. Roth thanked Junker for his time and ended that call.

After a break, Roth asked Weaver how many tickets VT expected to sell for the Insight Bowl. Weaver said he didnít know for sure, but hoped the final purchase count would be around 3,000 tickets. He said that VTís overall financial responsibility is to sell 10,500 tickets for the bowl.

Chuck in Christiansburg called and thanked Weaver for "not elevating" some of the independent VT web sites. He said that there have been some really disgusting things being said on some of those sites over the past few weeks. He asked Weaver if he thought these sites could negatively impact the players or recruiting. Weaver said that he was sure these sites impacted the players and recruits to a certain extent, but admitted that he didnít know how much. He assured everyone that the VT players and coaches are very committed to winning and they are hurting as much as the fans over the way the season has unfolded. Roth pointed out that many rival schools' fans will print vitriolic Internet message board comments from opposing fans and e-mail them to recruits in an effort to sway their interests away from committing to that school.

Sean in VA Beach called and noted that it was a very good idea to have the "little Hokie Bird" mascot accompany the big Hokie Bird this year. He said he heard the kids really loved it. Weaver said that he wasnít sure whose idea it was, but agreed that the little Hokie Bird is a very nice complement to the big Hokie Bird. Sean also suggested (if VT actually adds paint to the football field in the future) that they paint the Hokie Bird at the 50 yard line instead of the VT logo. Weaver said that was an interesting idea and promised he would take it under advisement.

Jeff in Raleigh called and asked if the ACC would add to/renegotiate its six bowl affiliations before next year in light of the fact that the conference will grow from 9 teams to 12. Weaver said that he didnít expect bowl realignments to occur until the 2005 season, but added that planning for this is already in the works among ACC officials.

Frank Beamer Ė Head Football Coach

After a break, Roth introduced Beamer. Beamer said he was just as disappointed as anyone in how things have gone. He said (as always) that he tries to avoid getting into the "what if" mentality, but itís hard to not consider what might have been if a few key plays had gone the other way in the UVA game. He assured everyone that heís going to look toward the future, instead of dwelling in the past.

Beamer confirmed that he has been meeting with VT players personally over the past few days in an effort to get things figured out and straightened out. Roth asked Beamer if he heard anything while meeting individually with the players that surprised him. Beamer said he didnít really hear anything that surprised him, but whenever you have a lot of players on a team; little problems are bound to come up. Then when you lose a game or start to struggle, those little problems get magnified into larger problems. He said that expectations play a big factor and maybe they need to determine a way to focus on smaller goals as the season progresses and avoid getting caught up in the hype. Beamer pointed out that VT never really played well in any game after that loss to Pitt. He said that the mental aspect is an underrated critical component to the game of football and in the absence of a good mental approach, inconsistency and poor play will surely follow.

Beamer then discussed the question Hite got earlier concerning the fact that VT didnít check UVAís Miller (TE) a lot at the line. He said that theyíd love to man-up on all of UVAís receivers, but the problem is that UVA is a very good screen pass team and they didnít want to risk the big play. Concerning the VT defense, Beamer said that sometimes the defense has played well in the past few games. However, he said that there have been way too many defensive breakdowns mixed in there that have led to big plays.

Bob in Tidewater called with several questions. First he asked if VTís football program would be adversely affected by slipping out of the top 25 polls for the first time in years. He also asked if this was a sign that the program is slipping backwards. Finally he asked Beamer why VT has played relatively poorly near the end of the season in every year since Michael Vick left. Beamer said that itís a great compliment to the VT program to have been ranked for so many consecutive weeks in the major polls. He said that this shows how consistently good the program has been over the years and should attract recruits for the future. As far as the recent late season struggles, Beamer attributed these to inexperienced quarterbacking, injuries and the fact that opponents seem to get a little more hyped for VT. He finished by saying that you canít judge a football program based on a few games. Instead you have to look at their performance over time.

Charles in Roanoke called and asked if VT keeps records on pass breakups (both offensive and defensive). Beamer said that they do keep records on such things. He said that VTís defensive line is a good group, but theyíre not that tall so they wonít knock down as many balls as some others might. He said that going against a taller QB can also work the defenseís disadvantage in this area. Charles also asked if VT was beginning to recruit more "true linebackers" now instead of converting them from other positions. Beamer confirmed that VT is indeed attempting to recruit more players at their native positions now (see Vince Hall and Xavier Adibi). However, he pointed out that the rover and whip positions at VT are very unique and require special athletes (sometimes converted from other positions).

After a break, Roth announced that University Travel has Insight Bowl charter flights available from both Roanoke and Richmond. They leave the day of the game and will return on Sunday. For more information on these packages visit

Bill in Roanoke called and pointed out that Beamer is always promising to open up the offense more each season. However, Bill noted that KJ has only been thrown one screen pass all season before the UVA game. In Billís opinion, VT has a very predictable and uncreative offense that will eventually hurt recruiting. Beamer agreed that VT does need to throw the screen pass more. However, he disagreed that the offense lacked creativity. He said that VT was doing a lot of things to open up the offense earlier in the season, but then some receivers got injured and they had to scale back and try to execute more simple plays for the less experienced players. He said that the offense lacked good execution at times late in the season as well. Beamer also pointed out that itís easier to be creative when the offense is executing well (which hasnít necessarily been the case recently).

Dave in Dublin called and asked if VT had played a more conservative defense in recent years than in the mid-late 1990ís. Beamer said that any perceived changes in VTís defense have been a result of how the opponents are changing the ways in which they attack (max protect, mobile QB, long ball threats, etc.). He said that if every player on VTís current defense would execute their assignments on every play then they would be fine, but that hasnít been the case.

After a break, Roth read an e-mail from Ron in Roanoke who asked Beamer what VT could do to return to the "glorious November play" of the past. Beamer said that there were some valid reasons for the late season swoons at the end of 2001 and 2002, but admitted he had higher expectations for this yearís team. He flat out said that VT should have won more games this year and he going to do his best to correct the problems and look to the future.

Roth read another e-mail that compared Hokie football to a large corporation where the fans were like stockholders. The email said that the fans need a "return on their investment." Beamer said he understood the analogy, but pointed out that itís hard to define a proper return on investment. Is it a national championship? Is it a 10 win season? He reiterated that he and coaches all hate losing just as much as anyone, but youíre not going to win them all.

Jeff in Waynesboro called in with concerns that VT was losing the overall recruiting war. He asked if VT may have lost even more recruits that witnessed the loss to UVA. Beamer said he thought VTís recruiting was going just fine. He confidently stated that VTís performance on the field over the next few years will prove that point.

Bill in Durham called and referenced a recent quote from Beamer on where he said that the team's only goal this year was winning the national championship. He pointed out that maybe the team should set smaller, more immediately attainable goals as the season progresses. Beamer agreed and said that his quote was taken a little out of context. He admitted that VT does have the ultimate goal of winning a national championship, but agreed that smaller goals should be set in order of priority throughout the season.

Billy in Pulaski called and (just like in previous Hokie Hotline shows) implored Beamer to hire a special teams assistant. Billy went on about this for a while as Beamer stayed silent, and Billy finally made the following analogy: You wouldnít want the CEO of a company to also be the sales manager. Beamer heard Billy out, thanked him for his suggestion and said absolutely nothing more. After an uncomfortable silence the show went on.

Doug in Culpeper called to share some insightful comments. He said heís been a season ticket holder and Silver Hokie for over 10 years so heís been through good times and bad. He said that all anyone can ask is to be part of a program with enough quality and tradition to have a shot at winning it all every year. NCAA football is too competitive to expect 10-12 win seasons every year Ė so all fans can realistically hope for is to field a team that gives them a chance at winning the national championship. There can be no guarantees (applause). Beamer thanked Doug for his comments and said that he couldnít have put it better himself.

Roth made some supportive comments about the VT coaches. He pointed out that these are the same coaches that helped VT beat quality opponents like Miami and LSU over the past two years. He said that people are too quick to blame coaches sometimes when things donít go perfect.

Bruce in Blacksburg called and asked if the VT defensive coaches planned to allow the defensive backs to play the ball/QB more in the future instead of running down field with their back to the offense (playing the man). Beamer said that man defense is supposed to be played with your back to the ball, while zone defense is played facing the offense. He said there are variations to this, depending on other factors like field position, but those are the basic fundamentals. Before Bruce hung up, he and Beamer agreed to get together sometime in person and discuss Xís and Oís.

Tim in Roanoke called and offered support by saying that he couldnít imagine anyone other than Beamer coaching VTís special teams. Beamer thanked Tim for his support and pointed out that VTís special teams have performed well this year, but other times have shot themselves in the foot with unnecessary penalties, etc.

After a break, Barek in Blacksburg called voiced his undying support for the Hokies through thick and thin. Beamer thanked Barek and reiterated his commitment to correct any current problems with the program.

Mark in Smithfield called and voiced even more support. He pointed out that VT is a few plays away from being 10-2, 11-1 or even undefeated. He said that the long TD pass at WVU changed that game and made it seem like a blowout. Beamer thanked Mark and told him how good it was to hear from fans like him. He again promised that the coaches and players would get the program turned around.

Roth chimed into the love fest by pointing out the positives for VT football in 2003: invited to the ACC, signed many good recruits, KJ had a record breaking season. Beamer agreed that the fans should be happy about these positive developments.

Sam in Roanoke called and pointed out that VT has not gotten a lot of breaks this year in terms of penalties committed and officiating judgment. Beamer agreed that it has been a tough season but urged everyone to hang in there and look forward to better days.

After break, Eric in VA Beach called and voice his opinion on the Hokie defense. He said that it seems like the opponents have figured out our schemes and how to attach them with success. Beamer disagreed and said that he bet Eric wasnít saying this after the Miami game. He said that VTís defense will be fine, they just need to execute better and be more consistent.

Jack in Blacksburg was the last caller to voice his unwavering support for Beamer and VT football. Beamer thanked Jack and again promised everyone that VT football would come back stronger than ever before.

Roth and Beamer briefly discussed the schedule for the teams and coaches over the next few weeks. The players will have this week off (other than meetings). The coaches will have big recruiting weekends over the next few weeks. After this week the coaches will begin final formulation and installation of the game plan for the bowl game and work hard to get the players prepared for Cal. Roth thanked Beamer for his time and signed off.

Final Commonwealth Cup tally: As of Saturday's loss, the Hokies had possession of the cup for 1,510 consecutive days.

-- Wayne


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