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Advance Auto Parts Hokie Hotline Notes
Monday
, August 16, 2004
by Phil Noftsinger

You know Hokie football is just around the corner with the airing of the first Hokie Hotline, and Bill Roth opened the first of thirty Hokie Hotline shows of the 2004-05 academic year from Beamerís restaurant in Christiansburg. The guests for tonightís program were Bryan Stinespring, Bud Foster, and Frank Beamer.

Bryan Stinespring

Bill Roth kicked off the interview portion of the show by introducing Techís offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring, who is starting his twelfth season with the Hokies. The Hokies completed their first scrimmage of the season last Saturday and are currently running two-a-days on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and single day practices Tuesday and Thursday.

Bill started by pointing out that the Hokies lost three great players off last yearís squad. Kevin Jones, who left Virginia Tech after completing his junior year, center Jake Grove, and record setting wide receiver Ernest Wilford are all playing on Sunday now. Coach Stinespring felt like a lot of people are talking about the guys we donít have, but the coaches are focusing on the guys we do have. We have a lot of young guys out there, and he admitted that they are making some mistakes. However, they are working hard and we have a lot of guys trying to step up. By and large the coach thinks they have done a great job stepping in and filling the voids left by departing players.

Bill Roth wanted to start the position discussion by addressing the situation at tailback where the heir to the position, Cedric Humes, seems to still be bothered by a broken leg suffered in the spring. Coach Stinespring felt like he had made some progress last week, but he had a temporary setback yesterday when he tweaked the previous injury. Stinespring felt like Cedric would not participate in Tuesdayís scrimmage, but heís very anxious to get out there and get working again. Bill moved on to backup tailback Justin Hamilton. Stinespring said he couldnít be more pleased with Justin, who has moved back to tailback after previously moving to wide receiver. Coach said, ďJustin is really just a team player whoís willing to do anything to help the team. In high school he was a heck of tailback, so he understands protections and the position.Ē Coach felt like he has a good understanding of the game.

Bill pointed out that those qualities might not be something we see in the other two tailbacks, George Bell and Brandon Ore, who are freshmen. Coach Stinespring said that Tuesdayís scrimmage would play a large part in deciding which of those two freshmen players would be active this season, and which might redshirt.

Bill next moved on to the quarterback position, and made the point that the starter is solidified, with Bryan Randall throwing the ball as well as he ever has. Coach Stinespring said that Bryan is a confident and mature leader, who steps into the huddle and either keeps things on track when theyíre going well, or puts a halt to things when theyíre going the other direction. Heís willing to address any player whoís not getting it done. Heís assumed a leadership role and is very much in control of whatís going on out there.

Bill pointed out that the ball is getting out of Randallís hands quicker than it ever has before, due in part to a new piece of equipment the Hokies are making use of. Coach Stinespring confirmed that comment by stating that the use of a quarterback tee, which has a timing device on it, is helping develop proper timing among the quarterbacks. The QB Tee emits an alert when a certain amount of time has passed in order to make sure the quarterbacks are getting rid of the ball. The tee is set to the proper time limit for the play thatís called, allowing the Hokie quarterbacks to work on their timing without the whole team running the drill. Stinespring also said that Bryan is smarter and more confident, allowing him to get off his reads quicker. Coach Rogers has also done an excellent job with Randall, helping him learn to move through his checks and get the ball out of the backfield.

Roth then talked about the backup role, which comes down between two freshmen, Sean Glennon and Cory Holt. Stinespring confirmed that it would be one of those two, but we havenít really made a decision as to whoís 2nd and who's 3rd. Stinespring did say that Mondayís practices and Tuesdayís scrimmage would be major factors in deciding who is going to assume the backup role for 2004. Each of them brings something to the table, they understand the situation, and they get after it. After Tuesdayís scrimmage they will narrow it down to one. Itís not just handing the ball off each time, there are different sets and motion, which take time to learn.

After the break Bill Roth returned with Coach Stinespring to discuss the wide receiver group. Bill pointed out that Tech has an impressive corps of receivers, and that they have been stood out thus far. Stinespring agreed, except that he wasnít very impressed with their performance in Mondayís practice. The weather was a little ďsoupyĒ, but there were balls that should have been caught. These receivers are good, but you have had some members of the group miss some practices. When that happens the otherís end up taking those reps, and they are getting a little fatigued. Bill pointed out that they are very young receivers, but that Tony Ball, the Hokies receiver coach, said that this might be the best group of receivers VT has ever had.

Bill wanted to know if Coach Stinespring had picked any of the starters at this point. Stinespring liked the way Chris Clifton has practiced, and Josh Hyman might be one of the hardest workers out there. He likes the way they have approached things. He said David Clowney has battled some injuries to stay on the field. Eddie Royal has really stepped in, and in the last couple of days has really made his presence known. Bill agreed that he looks like a natural catching the football.

Gabe from Blacksburg, who was in the audience, a former Hokie bird, wanted to know if there had been any discussion about Chris Clifton possibly taking some snaps this year at QB. Clifton had at one time been listed on the quarterback depth chart. Stinespring said that he would not be considered for the backup spot. Clifton had a live arm, but his accuracy wasnít consistent enough to put him the race for that position. They felt like his most natural position is at receiver.

Bill moved to the fullback position where Doug Easlick has moved on as well. Stinespring said that John Kinzer is a guy that has all the physical attributes you look for at that position. Heís also been slowed by injury early in the practice season, but heís really picked it up the last few days. Jesse Allen is a player who packs a punch. Bill pointed out that in the past they have had a tight end move to the fullback position or wingback position, giving VT a two back set. Stinespring confirmed that is definitely an option and that thereís a lot of merit to that. When you look at who the tight ends are in Jared Mazzetta and Jeff King, who are experience and talented, you want to put your best eleven out onto the field, so thatís a route they might take to get the best players on the field.

Bill moved on to the offensive line, where Stinespring came right out of the box saying they have a ways to go. They are going to keep Will Montgomery inside at the center position against USC. They have Jimmy Miller who will be at right guard and John Dunn at right tackle. Jimmy Martin is at left tackle and Reggie Butler at left guard.

Bill wanted to know about some of those younger guys, because you canít go up against a talented defensive line like USC with just five guys. Stinespring agreed that USC had a very talented defensive line. Brandon Frye has been a great improvement and trying to transfer his athleticism and strength to the field, and he will back up right tackle. Reggie Butler will be key because he can back up at either tackle position or left guard. Tripp Carroll and Danny McGrath are two guys who from the spring to now have shown vast improvement. Tripp is working at guard, and Danny has done a great job at center as well.

Bill wanted to know at what point do you conclude your evaluation and decide on a starting team and start focusing on preparations for USC. Stinespring said that Tuesdayís scrimmage would focus on that point, and that the offensive and defensive coaches would break out and put together their starters. After that they all will meet with Coach Beamer and take several hours putting it all together. Stinespring did give himself an out and said that sometimes you make those decisions and someone breaks out and you re-think earlier choices, so theyíre not set in stone.

Bill said that overall the Hokies have been dealt a real difficult challenge, with the Marcus situation and getting ready to play the #1 team in the country. Stinespring agreed, but that you continue to focus on getting better each week, work hard, and give your best effort. You play the hand youíre dealt the best you can.

Bill returned from the break, mentioning that the Hokies will face Southern Cal a week from Saturday, and that this will be the best defensive line VT will face all year. He specifically pointed out defensive lineman Sean Cody, and asked Stinespringís opinion. The coach said that they have been looking at him since last February right after their bowl game. Heís watched a lot of football teams, and their front four can cause havoc in your offense. Bill mentioned that Cody has played inside and outside. Stinespring said that Cody reminded him of John Engelberger. He was very good at using different styles of escape to get to the quarterback.

Stinespring closed out by saying that they are going to have a tremendous ten days of practice and work hard to get themselves ready for this first game of the season.

Bud Foster

Bill returned from the break introducing Bud Foster, Techís defensive coordinator. Bill asked Bud if he was happy with his defense at this point in pre-season. Coach Foster said that most people believe that the defense is typically ahead of the offense at this point of the season, but he doesnít necessarily believe that. Right now they have a lot of players flying around the field and attacking the ball. They are really playing with team concept, which is something they have been working on since the end of last season.

Foster mentioned he has really been pleased with the work ethic that the defense is showing. Bill mentioned that there have been some tweaks on defense, but that the real change has been the attitude and camaraderie that is being displayed. Foster said that we have high expectations here, and we have built a national reputation on playing great defense. Not that we have gotten away from that, but more that some teams have found ways to get after us in different ways. Also, some of the position players in the last couple years havenít been up to the level of some of the players VT has had in years past.

Bill said that Foster had told him that this version of the Hokie defense is reminding him of the 1998 defense. Foster said that a big part of it is the attitude, the chemistry and that this is an athletic group. This group is really focused on taking ownership of their responsibilities, and they are going out and getting it done.

Bill asked Coach Foster to discuss how Jim Davisís return has affected this team. Foster said that heís an outstanding football player, and before he was hurt, he was their best defensive end. His leadership role has been a real help; his work ethic and weight room work has set an example. Noland Burchette and Chris Ellis are really coming along and making some strides. This allows them to maybe move a guy like Jim Davis inside and he can be a different player inside, and really disrupt an offense.

Bill mentioned Jason Lallis, and wanted to know where he fits in. Foster said that Jason is a very talented football player, but he is a utility guy inside and heís best suited to play outside. If he gets into some combo blocks inside, his size becomes a factor. Jim Davis can handle the double team.

Bill asked about the Lewis brothers, and at times they are guys that can stand up and make plays from the tackle position. Roth wondered what they have to do to be consistent for the whole season. Bill said that the tackles get beat up over a long season. Kevinís situation has been staying healthy, and Jonathan needed to be in great shape to play at the level they need. Jonathan has stayed at Tech all summer working out, and heís ready to play at a high level. Foster said he didnít want to say to many good things about him, because they want to keep him hungry, but that he is progressing. He is the best shape of his life.

Foster said that consistency was what hurt the defense last year, and thatís all he wanted to say about last year. This year they have better depth and can help out and keep guys fresh. Foster said that heís real excited about Barry Booker and Kory Robertson, they arenít ready to play just now, but they are pushing the starters. We may see some of them later in the season. Vince Hall and Xavier Adibi make the whole defense better, itís just the way those two guys play. Carlton Powell and Roland Minor, they are just flying around, and they have an enthusiasm and a hunger thatís rubbing off on the whole group.

Bill returned from the break to discuss a change in the Tech backfield. After Tech got beat deep by a couple of teams late last year, the coaches made a decision to change the Tech defensive backfield. They have moved Jimmy Williams from free safety to corner, and moved cornerback Vincent Fuller to free safety. Both kids have embraced the change, and it appears that both guys really love this move. Foster said thatís really true, and without giving too much away, but with a 4-3 scheme were going to bring some corner blitzes and Jimmy will be a force coming off the edge. Also, the boundary corner needs to be a key spot for them in run support and single coverage. They felt like Jimmy can bring both of those, heís a hard hitter, tall and quick.

Vincent Fuller is a player they recruited as a free safety in the first place, and they had Willie Pile at safety and Jimmy just coming in, and so Fuller jumped in at corner. Fuller is a great leader back there too, not that Jimmy wasnít, but Fullerís just a little more vocal.

Bill mentioned that Michael Crawford was the leading tackler last year, and asked how James Griffin is adjusting to taking over that Rover spot for all these plays. Foster said that heís a Griffin fan, heís a guy that you noticed last year. However in the new scheme that position will be a little farther away from the line of scrimmage.

John from Blacksburg, who was in the audience, wanted to know about the depth behind James Griffin. Foster said that right now they have a tremendous battle for that position between Cary Wade and D.J. Walton. Cary redshirted last year, came in as a corner, primarily used as a special teams player. D.J. sat out last year, so both guys are really getting ready to step up. Cary is a step quicker, but D.J. is more physical. Neither is to the level of Griffin, but both will be solid backups. Bill asked if Brandon Flowers would back up Williams. Foster said that he was, Roland Minor has really come along. D.J. Parker has come in January and has been very impressive. Brandon Flowers, has come in this summer, but he has stepped it up the last few practices. Foster said that Flowers and Minor have shown the most consistency, and they will probably play this year.

Tommy from Blacksburg, who was in the audience, wanted to know if any true freshmen would start on defense. Foster said that the only way that would happen would be in case of injury. It may be possible to see some redshirt freshmen starting, but the true freshmen would be third and fourth string.

Bill asked Foster about the USC offense. Roth said they set all sorts of Pac-10 records last season, and he wasnít sure what was going to happen with wide receiver Mike Williams. Foster continued to say that he didnít really care what happened with Williams, they are preparing for an entire season up until tomorrow. They will focus on Southern Cal after that. Foster said that they are traditionally one of the premier football teams and they have had 129 All-Americans.

Frank Beamer

Bill Roth introduced Techís head coach Frank Beamer. Roth said that you can really see the unity on this team, but they are a young team. Beamer said that they are probably a little young to take on a team like Southern Cal, but they are a talented young team and can become a decent football team as the season progresses. That is their objective.

Roth pointed out that Beamer has spent a lot of time since the bowl game talking about the unity and chemistry of this football team. Why has that been so stressed during the off-season? Beamer said that with any football team that team chemistry is a big thing in the end, and for whatever reason last year they just didnít play well down the stretch. There were a lot of things that go into this, so it wasnít just chemistry. Roth mentioned that the Hokies have lost an incredible amount of talent, but you watch some of these young guys and you can see the talent there on the field. Beamer agreed that you could see that, you look at guys like Brandon Ore and Eddie Royal and you feel like youíre going to be a really good football team. Itís just a question of how long will it take to become that good football team.

Roth asked Beamer about the kicking game so far. Beamer said that they are kicking the ball very well. Brandon Pace is hitting the ball very well, but the protection is having some issues. They had two blocked the other day and had another one blocked today. With every bad thereís a good though, and defensively they are putting an incredible rush on the kicking plays. They have blocked a lot of field goals in the past and hopefully are going to block some more this year.

Nic Schmittís field goal work is real good and heís the number two guy right now. On kickoffs, they have Jared Develli, a true freshman, and heís getting the ball to the end zone, actually 5-8 yards deep into the end zone. Thatís something the Hokies havenít done a real good job of in the last two or three years. Jud Dunlevy has also been kicking the ball well. Develli is the number one right now.

Vinnie Burns and Nic Schmitt have punted the ball well. Overall the kickers are doing a good job.

Also on kickoff coverage, they are going to get some key guys back in there. Last year they got some guys hurt. This year theyíre going to get some better players on those special teams. Roth asked who the primary punt return guy is going to be with the loss of DeAngelo Hall. Beamer said Jimmy Williams is doing a good job back there. Eddie Royal is another guy who is doing it very naturally. Richard Johnson is another guy who could be back there. The punt return guy may be the toughest assignment back there, so you would like to have a guy who has some experience.

Gary from Jersey City wondered if they were excited to be playing the national champs on opening day and if they think they could compete with them. Beamer said that the team is very excited about playing the national champs. Despite knowing how talented they are and knowing that the Hokies are a little young to be playing a team like that, they are very good on both sides of the ball.

Jeff in Knoxville called in and wanted to know if the coaching staff visited any other teams during the off-season. Beamer said that both the offense and defense staff went out to visit other teams. Coach said that both the offense and defensive staff have worked very hard during this off-season. Beamer said that generally itís not schemes, but execution.

Roth asked the coach if Beamer wanted to play a ďshootoutĒ game like the last bowl game were each team got 20 possessions during the game. Beamer said that he didnít, that if Southern Cal gets twenty possessions the Hokies would probably lose that game.

Barek from Blacksburg, with two questions, first, he wanted to know who the kick returner might be, and the second question was if there was an organized walk for the USC game at FedEx. Beamer felt like Robert Parker would be a good kickoff return guy. Eddie Royal is another consideration, and Josh Hyman would also be a consideration. Neither was sure if there was an organized walk at FedEx.

Roth asked Beamer if he could recall going into a season talking about so many young players. Beamer said that they havenít had that in some time, but the exciting thing is that they are very talented. Beamer said that the exciting thing is that they are young, but he sees this football team getting much better every day.

Roth asked Coach Beamer about Cedric Humes, and at what point he has to decide to go with Hamilton and let Cedric rest up. Beamer agreed and said that this USC squad plays great defense, and you donít want to put him out there if he has not taken any hits. No decisions have been made yet, Cedric felt better this afternoon, and he didnít think they would scrimmage him Tuesday. The real test will be if they can get him some work later this week and he can scrimmage this coming weekend.

Roth asked if either of the freshmen in his mind have stepped up and may be on the field at FedEx. Beamer said that they both have a ways to go, and Tuesday will be a big day for them. Justin Hamilton is a good solid guy, he knows the position very well. Neither one of them broke out like they would like to see, but itís going to be a good scrimmage. Roth felt like Oreís ability to cut reminded him of Suggs. Beamer agreed, but qualified that with the fact that he needs to be a little more productive in the scrimmages.

Roth returned from the break by talking about something really exciting that was going to happen to the Hokie football team this year. Beamer passed the mike off to Kim, Nancy, and Stephanie from the United Way. The Virginia Tech football team has decided to sell orange bands, which say Team United. These bands have a dual purpose of uniting the football team, the fans, and the community, as well as raising money for the United Way. The team will also be involved in community service activities. Communication, Trust, Responsibility, Caring, and Respect are the foundations of the Team United program. Fans will be able to buy these orange bands for $1 each, and all the money raised will stay local. You can get them at Gate A at FedEx field, or on Beamerball.com. The team is very excited about this program and hopes that fans and the community will get involved and be excited as well.

Roth pointed out that 92,000 fans would be on hand to watch the Hokies match up against USC.

Steve in Richmond called in and had a couple observations on college football and the changing climate. He pointed out that, Penn State, Notre Dame, and Nebraska, for the first time since 1964, were not ranked in the Top 25. Steve would like to think that Tech and Frank Beamer were part of the reason that has happened. He also felt like if he was going to have a team, and not be in the Top 25 he canít think of a better coach than Frank Beamer to guide these kids back into it. Beamer thanked Steve for his comments, and that everything we do around here we try to do the right thing for Virginia Tech and the right thing for the kids. Beamer said that with everybody being on TV and the 85-scholarship limit, there are possibilities for teams to move up. The way college football is nowadays there are going to be some ups and downs, and itís gotten closer for everybody.

Roth mentioned that the difference between teams ranked 3-8 in the ACC is minimal. There isnít a lot of difference and one or two mistakes can mean the difference between a win or loss. Beamer agreed.

Jim from Christiansburg, wanted to know about the incoming freshmen and what are the techniques that the coaches use to shorten the learning curves for the young guys. Beamer felt like thatís been tougher, because you used to bring your freshmen in early and work out the details early. The NCAA has limited the time you can bring people in, and the freshmen come right in with the varsity guys. It sounded like Beamer didnít agree with the changes made on that subject. He did say that the further you get away from the ball on the field, the greater your chances of playing right away. The learning usually ties up your feet a little bit, and there are not enough reps in practice. Those kids that came in January are much further along than the kids that have just come in.

Roth asked how important was Bryan Randallís role this summer when Kevin Rogers couldnít coach up the freshmen quarterbacks, but Bryan can actually spend some time with them. Beamer agreed that Bryan is made out of the right stuff and thatís the type of person you would like to have come back on your staff.

Tommy from Blacksburg wanted to know if Nic Schmitt would be contending for the starting job at field goals. Beamer said that Nic continues to improve, but that Brandon Pace is the starter right now. He isnít as consistent as he would like in areas, so heís got that to work on, but heís got a real strong leg. When he hits itÖit goes.

Roth reminded everyone that Friday August 27th is the fifth annual Hokie Pride Day!!!

Bill from Belleview, Washington called in and wanted to know if USC was going to have a ruling on Mike Williams before the BCA game. Beamer felt like they would have ruling prior to the start of the game. He felt like Williams affects the game, but that right now we are worrying about Virginia Tech. The NCAA will do what they think is best, and he will leave it up to them. Williams had 95 catches for 1,300 yards in thirteen games.

Jeremy from Christiansburg commented that he knows the coach has taken a lot of heat over different scenarios, but he wanted to let him and the players know that we are all behind the coach and the players. If thereís anything we can do as the Hokie Nation itís to come together and support the team at this game. Beamer said that the support of the Hokie Nation is not something he has to worry about Öhe can always count on them.

Tom from Springfield, Missouri, wanted to get the coachís opinion on how Coach Rogers is bringing along the young quarterbacks. Beamer said that they are doing very well, and that Cory Holtís sore arm is slowing him down a little. They look like freshmen, and the coaches are cutting back their playbook a little bit.

Roth closed out the show by talking to the coach about the scrimmage that occurs Tuesday. Beamer said that the format will be one that will concentrate on execution and they will be careful not to wear out the players.

Remember to tune in next Monday to hear from Kevin Rogers to talk about who the Hokies back-up quarterback will be, and Techís AD Jim Weaver will be on-hand for an out of conference scheduling update.

-- Phil

          

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