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Advance Auto Parts Hokie Hotline Notes
, December 22, 2003
by Wayne Clevenger

Editor's Note: We were unable to post this edition of the Hokie Hotline Notes prior to the bowl game, so we present it here for archival purposes, unedited. -- Will

Roth opened this broadcast from Scottsdale Arizona and was immediately joined by Frank Beamer and Mike Burnop.

Frank Beamer Ė Head Football Coach

Beamer said that practices have been going well since the team arrived in Phoenix. He said the overall attitude and focus of the team is very good as well. He said that this team has had some disappointments this year, but never stopped playing hard. However, he did admit that the team didnít always play well down the stretch. He said he told the team that there were a lot of quality programs who didnít make it to a bowl at all this year, so the VT players need to count their blessings and go out and win #9 this Friday. Beamer also praised the quality of the practice facilities as well as the overall organization of the entire Insight Bowl setup. Burnop agreed with Beamer and commented on the picturesque beauty of Scottsdale.

After a break, Beamer talked about the graduating seniors on the team. He said that 13 out of 14 are graduating now and the other one will probably graduate in June 2004. He commended these players for their academic work ethic and off-field success at VT. Roth brought up the topic of VTís recent recruiting success. Beamer said that he and the other coaches are very excited about the recent verbal commitments that VTís been getting. He said that VT has been a very solid program over the past 11 years. He said that VTís reputation is always growing in the eyes of prospective recruits. Burnop mentioned the recent commitments out of North Carolina. Beamer said that VTís move to the ACC will really assist their push to recruit aggressively in North Carolina. Beamer said that VT will most likely extend their recruiting as far as South Carolina as well.

Joe in Buena Vista called and asked what the most important aspect of recruiting will be for the 2004 season. Beamer said that VT will need some explosive playmaking receivers. He said that linebackers and tailbacks are also high on the priority list. Beamer also mentioned the talented red shirt freshmen players that will factor into the mix next season. He said that Xavier Adibi and Vince Hall should make immediate impacts at the linebacker position next season.

Tim in Roanoke called and asked Beamerís thoughts on playing USC to start the season in 2004. Beamer said he thought the game had been finalized by not the destination. He said heíd like to play that game at Fedex Field, but the Meadowlands would be OK too. He said that VT is very honored to be considered for this match up and added that VT probably wouldnít have been invited to play in such a game 10 years ago. He said that USC looks to be a very talented team next year and VT looks forward to the challenge.

Mike in Blacksburg called and said heíd had the privilege to meet and talk with Beamerís former agent, the late Craig Kelly who recently passed away. He said that Kelly thought very highly of Beamer and would be missed. Beamer agreed and said that Kelly had been a close friend and advisor over the years. He praised Kellyís ability to execute negotiations in a way that left both sides feeling good about the situation. Beamer mentioned that Kelly was Al Grohís agent as well, and would be missed by many people around the country.

After a break, Barek in Blacksburg called and noted that Cal has had some kicks blocked this season. He asked if Beamer planned on going after some kicks in the bowl game. Beamer said he was very impressed from what he saw of Calís special teams on film. He said that VT would "try some different things" but praised Calís special teams execution. Beamer also noted that Cal led the Pac 10 in rushing and has a very good offense. He said VT will have to work very hard on defense to slow down Calís balanced offensive attack.

Brooks in Culpeper called and offered high praise for Beamer and commended everything heís done for the program. He said that Hokie fans need to stop whining about the recent losses and appreciate how far the program has come over the past 10-12 years. He said that some of VTís losses this season were due to poor officiating and he mentioned the Pitt and BC games specifically. Beamer thanked Brooks for the kind words. He said that VT has been a consistent program for a long time and things will get better in the future.

After a break, Roth asked Beamer for some closing comments on the upcoming bowl game. Beamer said that VT will try to get back to the more balanced offense that they had earlier this season. He said the VT will try to employ more motion and find a good mix of run and pass plays. He said that Marcus Vick will probably be used the same way he was in the UVA game. Defensively Beamer said that VT just needs to get back to solid execution. He pointed out that VT played very well defensively at times this season, and mentioned the Miami and SU games specifically. He said that the defense just needs to get back to playing the way they know they can.

Jim Weaver Ė Athletic Director

After a break, Roth and Burnop were joined by Jim Weaver. Weaver praised the Insight Bowl organization for itís solid logistical planning of the event. He said that he couldnít remember getting treated any better at any bowl in the past. He said the Insight Bowl and Fiesta Bowl officials do everything "top notch."

Burnop asked Weaver if he was surprised that Mike Price and George OíLeary were recently hired as head coaches for UTEP and UCF respectively. Weaver said he was very surprised by these hirings. He said he wasnít sure what these institutions were thinking when they made these choices because itís been a relatively short period of time since Pricesí and OíLearyís recent indiscretions became public. He said it might have something to do with the fact that both men had prior relationships with these universities.

Roth asked Weaver for an update on BCís status for ACC membership in 2004. Weaver said itís a toss up right now, but he expects a decision to be made in mid-January 2004 regarding that issue. Burnop asked Weaver if he was surprised that NBC extended Notre Dameís television contract through 2010. Weaver said that he wasnít surprised at all. He said that Notre Dame is a "special entity" because their games have been televised since the 1950ís. He said that Notre Dame had recognition and following throughout the country and this is attractive to the television networks. When asked if he thought Notre Dame would join a conference Weaver said that he wasnít sure. He said that Notre Dame probably wonít enjoy the same bowl revenue guarantees after the 2005 realignment, so they might join a conference for this reason.

Roth asked Weaver for an update on the proposed VT/USC match up in the BCA game next season. Weaver said that letters of intent had been signed by both institutions, but until a venue is decided (Fedex Field or Meadowlands) there will be no formal announcement. Burnop asked Weaver for his thoughts on the Orange Bowl matchup between FSU and Miami (given the fact that those two teams will end up playing 3 times in 9 games between 2003 and 2004. Weaver said that the Orange Bowl wanted the Ohio State / Miami rematch, but the Fiesta Bowl got first pick and took Ohio State first. He said thatís just how it worked out this year with the current BCS system. Roth asked Weaver how VT will fare this year with the current bowl revenue sharing system in the Big East. Weaver said the VT will get a total of $1,450,000 when all bowl revenue is paid out from the Big East, so playing in the Insight Bowl is not a financial loss for VT.

Bud Foster Ė Defensive Coordinator

After a break, Roth introduced Foster. Foster said that the players have been working and practicing hard since the UVA game. He said theyíre focused and motivated to redeem themselves in the bowl game. He pointed out that this VT team could be 10-2 or 11-1 if a few plays had turned out differently down the stretch. He said he sat the defense down talked to them after the UVA game. He said that each player was willing to take ownership for any missed assignments or technique breakdowns. He also said that he takes ultimate responsibility for how the defense performs and promised that they would improve. He said that every snap is critical on defense because one missed assignment can cost you the football game. Roth pointed out that this VT defense has been very good at times this year, but had a propensity to give up big plays down the stretch. Foster said that big plays will happen at times, but agreed that VT shouldnít have given up some of those. He said that the players seemed to lose focus at times against UVA, which canít happen if they want to be successful. He said the defense is highly motivated to redeem themselves and theyíre focusing on playing well on each and every down.

Burnop asked Foster if there would be any changes in VTís defensive schemes for next year. Foster said that theyíre constantly evaluating what works and what doesnít. He said that they may adjust some personnel in terms of what position they play. He said that his goal is to put each player at a position where they can maximize their strengths and minimized their weaknesses. He also said that VT would probably make some adjustments to their 4-3 defense for next season after the personnel talents have been evaluated.

After a break, Richie in Richmond called and praised Foster for how heís developed VT into one of the premier defenses in the country. He then asked a specific question about the BC game. He said that it looked like BC would spread the field, then cut back to the weak side of VTís defense for big running gains. He said it looked like the VTís defensive end was never in a position to defend this and asked if this was a product of experience or a flaw in the scheme. Foster said that it was more the Whipís assignment to stop that play than the defensive end. He said it was probably a question of experience because the Whip may have gotten caught focusing on the back field more than hitting his primary key.

Charles in Roanoke called and asked Foster what role he played in Deangelo Hallís decision to go pro. He also asked if Foster would extend his stay after the bowl and do a little west coast recruiting. Foster said that he wasnít sure yet what Hall was going to do. He said heíd like Hall to stay for his senior year because heís a tremendous athlete, consistent performer and team leader. He said he would support Hall in whatever announcement he makes after the bowl game. He said heís been assisting Hall in making sure that heís talking to the right people and getting solid information regarding his upcoming decision.

Roth asked Foster for closing comments on the upcoming VT / Cal Insight Bowl match up. Foster said that Cal is very athletic and well-coached. He said that their balance on offense is particularly impressive and added that their QB doesnít create a lot of turnovers. He said their tailback is one of the best in the country as well. He said that VT is focusing on themselves right now, because they know they can beat anybody if they play up to their potential. Foster finished by saying the expected a very good and exciting football game.

Bryan Stinespring Ė Offensive Coordinator / Offensive Line Coach

After a break, Roth introduced Stinespring and asked him how the team was looking this week in practice. Stinespring said that VT has been practicing very well. He said theyíre practicing fast and aggressive, which is what the coaches want to see. Burnop asked how Marcus Vick would be used against Cal. Stinespring reiterated Beamerís comments from earlier, saying that they want to use Vick the same way they did in the UVA game. He said that they always want VTís best athletes on the field at all times. When asked about the specific preparations for Cal, Stinespring said that Calís strength lies in their front four on defense. He said theyíre aggressive, relentless and always around the ball. He said they put tremendous pressure on the opposing quarterback and force interceptions as a consequence. He said that itís been challenging to plan for such a talented opponent like Cal. Stinespring said that VT absolutely has to keep the Cal defense off balance in order to be successful. He said that this Cal team is much better than their record and pointed out that 4 or their 6 losses have come in the last two minutes of games (or in overtime). He said that their defense is setup to directly challenge a one dimensional offense, so VT must mix it up.

Burnop asked Stinespring about the two All American Hokies who are playing their last game at VT in the Insight Bowl, Jake Grove and Kevin Jones. Stinespring said that both players are tremendous athletes and excellent representatives of VT off the field. He said both players have amassed several reels of highlight tape during their careers at VT. He praised both for their work ethic and congratulated Grove for the honor of winning the Rimington Award. He said both players will be greatly missed by the VT football program.

Roth asked Stinespring whether VT would play a conservative ball-control strategy against Cal or try to out gun them. Stinespring said that they plan is to do what VT does well. He said that keeping the offense balanced and the Cal defense off balance are the critical keys to the game. He said that he and the other VT coaches have spent a lot of time since the UVA game evaluating what VTís strengths and weaknesses are, as well as what Calís strengths and weaknesses are. He said they would try to take that information and convert it into a VT win.

When asked about what personnel would see a lot of playing time versus Cal, Stinespring said that itís important for Mike Imoh to get on the field as much as possible. He said that Deangelo Hall probably wouldnít see any time at receiver because his duties at cornerback and punt returns will be enough work for one night. Burnop asked Stinespring about his wish list to fill empty voids left by players who are departing after this season. Stinespring said that it will be tough to replace Jake Grove so he really wants to focus on getting a quality center in there during spring practice (Tipp Carrol or Robert Ramsey). He also said that VT will need to fill the void at tailback after KJ leaves for the NFL. Lastly he said that VT will need some quality play makers at wideout to replace the production of Ernest Wilford. He said that VT has been recruiting well at all these positions and the future looks bright.

After a break, Roth and Burnop brought up the subject of recruiting. Stinespring said that VT is recruiting better and better every year and thatís a tribute to the stability and success of the program over the past 10 years. He noted that many of the current recruiting prospects have yet to visit VT and many will wait to make their decisions at the last minute in February. Stinespring also pointed out that VT has a very talented and hungry redshirt freshmen class that will factor into the playing time mix next season. Stinespring touched on the importance of the incredible atmosphere at the VT / Miami game this season. He said that the way to fans showed up and supported the team after the WVU loss was phenomenal and had to positively affect the prospective recruits that were present at that game (it didnít hurt that VT won either).

Burt in Clifton Forge called to wish everyone a Happy Holiday. Roth, Burnop and Stinespring wished Burt the same.

After a break, Stinespring said that this VT team should do fine against Cal in the bowl game. He said that the players have showed a lot of resilience in bouncing back from some tremendous disappointment this season. He assured everyone that VT will be fired up and ready to go against Cal. Roth thanked Stinespring for his time and signed off from Scottsdale, AZ.

-- Wayne


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