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