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Advance Auto Parts Hokie Hotline Notes
, September 13, 2004
by Phil Noftsinger

The Hokie Hotline was broadcast live from Beamer's Restaurant in Christiansburg, VA. Tonight's broadcast featured interviews with Tech Defensive Coordinator Bud Foster, Athletic Director Jim Weaver, and Head Coach Frank Beamer.

Bill Roth opened this edition of the Hokie Hotline by reviewing the Hokie news of the day:

Tech opens its first ACC season with a home matchup against Duke next weekend. Game time is set for 12:00pm (Jefferson-Pilot broadcast), and there are still 800 tickets left and available for purchase.

Techís game against NC State a week from Saturday has been set for 12:00 pm and will be broadcast by ESPN.

The Hokies scored the largest margin of victory in the Beamer era by beating WMU 63-0.

Bud Foster

Roth said that while everyone expected that Coach Foster would be very happy with his defenseís performance against Western Michigan, he apparently wasnít very happy with their performance in practice Monday. Coach Foster confirmed that Monday was not a very good practice, indicating that the team may have started feeling good about themselves and didnít execute as well. After seeing a few missed assignments, half way through practice Coach Foster gathered the troops and started practice drills over from the top. Foster said that ďwe had a few letdowns last year, and we arenít going to let that happen this yearĒ.

Roth asked the Coach to talk about the defense's performance on Saturday against WMU. Roth commented that it looked like the team was playing at a different level. Foster said that some of the guys you see playing now played a little last year, too. The team is starting to see the benefit of the game slowing down for these older players. Roth pointed out Chris Ellis and Vince Hall as two young players who looked like veterans on Saturday. Foster said that Chris is a big fast player, who made a great play on a hidden screen. Foster commented that Chris played well against Southern Cal as well. Vince is a guy who this was his first college start, and he led the team in tackles. Foster did point out that he missed two tackles as well. Hall also had a forced fumble.

Roth asked about Coach Beamer's comments after the game on the post game show where Beamer stated that ďWhen I look at Jason Lallis, he just doesnít look like a football player, but he plays like one.Ē Lallis scored his third touchdown on Saturday (listeners are reminded that Jason plays defense). Roth pointed out that all three touchdowns have come in the home opener, to which Foster said that next week they are going to tell Jason itís the home opener again. Foster said that heís really settled into the defensive end spot right now, great fundamentals, and a nose for the football.

Roth asked Coach Foster to comment on the improvement from game one to game two of James Griffin. Foster said that heís made great strides, and James has taken a great step forward. Foster commented that James had a couple of busts in the USC game, but he really stepped it up and played much better against WMU.

Roth said that Saturday may have been Jimmy Williams' best game. Foster agreed that he had a great game, but pointed out that he had a couple little alignment problems. He really played very well, and that it was unfortunate that he had that penalty, because it shouldnít have been called.

Roth commented that after the big lead was established and WMU went to a four wide receiver set, that Foster still had his DBís up on the line of scrimmage. Roth asked Foster to comment on what appeared to be an aggressive defensive set, despite the lead and also having safety help deep. Foster said that we played a lot of young guys, but they played hard and preserved the shut out. Itís quite a achievement to shut out the same team three times.

Jonathan from Dublin in the audience wanted the coach to comment on the penalties against the defense which on two occasions extended drives. Jonathan wanted the coach to comment on what they are doing in practice to focus on eliminating these types of ďstupidĒ penalties. Foster said that the coaching staff shows every penalty on the tape to the entire team on Mondays. With personal fouls or unsportsmanlike conduct, for those penalties the coaches have ďremindersĒ that they use so that those donít happen in the future. Specifically Lallisí celebration penalty was really just un-called for, and there was another call where Jim Davis and another player jumped up and butted each other in the chest.

Foster said that these calls need to be consistent, because you see something like that in the Miami vs Fla State game and they donít call it. Foster said that Monday morning the coaches talked about penalties like this. Roth pointed out that last year when Tech committed a penalty that sustained an opponent's drive, the opposing team seemed to end up scoring. Roth commented that when that has happened in the last two games, the defense has been able to stop them. Foster said that some of those calls have been really close too. Coach said that one of their goals is to eliminate those penalties which can extend a drive. Foster said that also in college football the officials are making it a point to protect the quarterbacks.

Patrick from Richmond called in and asked if the coaching staff had reached a decision regarding red-shirting Mike Imoh. Foster said that heís not real sure of all the conversations with Mike, and this is his last game on suspension. On George Bell, he has been up and down on his consistency, and the coaches want to make sure heís ready to play. Roth asked about the progression of Mike Imoh, as he has been in practice. Foster said that heís really been impressive in practice and has been working hard. Foster said that heís quicker and stronger, and heís looking forward to him coming back.

Roth recalled that after the game WMUís Coach Darnell said that he was surprised at Randallís arm strength. Foster said that he has the utmost respect from Bryan Randall and that he has worked extremely hard. Foster also said that Coach Rogers has worked very hard on developing that arm strength. Foster said that you will probably see more of Randallís abilities as the season goes on.

After the break Roth pointed out that there are currently 10 players on either the defense or special teams that have scored a non-offensive touchdown. Roth asked Foster if they target certain players, like Roscoe Parish of Miami, who may be prone to fumbling. Foster said that is definitely part of their film study. Roth said that another thing that the coaches look for in films is tendencies by the other team which may reveal what type of play is coming up. After the game Jim Davis was talking about how the Western Michigan line may have been tipping off run or pass based upon where they were looking down field. Foster said that the coaches spend a lot of time in the film room, and they will notice those things. Sometimes a defensive line will have their head down on a run and head up on a pass. Other items might be line splits or how lineman are setting in their stance.

Kenny in Marion called in and wondered if the coaches have spent a lot of time watching film on the Duke team visiting Lane Stadium this Saturday. Foster said that Duke has a relatively new staff, and the coaches looked at couple of games from last year. The focus has been on the games they have played this year from a film perspective. Roth did point out that there is probably a learning curve with the majority of your opponents being new. Roth continued that Foster could probably develop a base defense for any team in the Big East. Foster said those question marks go both ways too.

Tommy from Blacksburg in the audience wanted to know how Vinnie Fuller was developing at the safety position. Foster said that Vinnie has really played well, getting good checks, and getting the defense in the right coverages. Vinnie has tackled really well too.

Jeff in Roanoke called in and asked about how the linebackers adjusted without Xavier Adibi, and if Foster had noticed anything that the Duke team does particularly well. Foster said that the linebackers played pretty solid on Saturday, and the coaches have moved Baaqee from the Mike position to the Backer position. Overall the backers played really well. Vince still needs to get a little better at a few things. Duke is about 50/50 run/pass, and they have a couple talented kids. Cedric Darden rushed for over 100 yards against Navy. They have a couple of receivers that can get things done as well. They are big on the offensive line. Foster believed you would see an offense similar to what WMU presented last Saturday. They are a solid, well coached football team.

Roth asked Foster to comment on what he wanted to see out of his defense in practice this week. Foster said that he really wanted to see his team come out with a chip on their shoulder. He felt like the team has the potential to be a good defense, they are athletic, thereís some experience and some young hungry kids as well. Roth closed out Fosterís interview by saying that the coach seemed to display a high degree of intensity, much like the Hotlineís next guest, Athletic Director Jim Weaver.

Jim Weaver

Roth commented on the condition of the field on Saturday, and said that Worsham Field may get a real test this Saturday with Hurricane Ivan threatening. Weaver said that his crew is already anticipating that possibility and are currently pumping water out of the soil so it can hold more if the rains do come. Weaver said at this point there are no changes in place based upon the hurricane track, however, they will continue to monitor the track and find out what types of dangers are present. At this point no game time changes have been discussed.

Roth brought up that suspended quarterback Marcus Vick pleaded no-contest to charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Roth continued that the judge combined the three charges into one mis-demeanor and fined Vick $100 and issued 24 hours of community service. Weaver said that heís glad itís over and glad we can all move forward. Roth commented that on Friday Mike Imoh will go to court, and that Weaver is a member of the jury pool for Imohís trial. Weaver commented on how ironic it was that he was called for this trial, and Roth said that itís very possible that he will be excused.

Gary in Blackstone called in and wanted to express a concern regarding the crowd at halftime on the west side (crowding because of the construction), and he also was concerned about the no-tent rule in the parking lots. Weaver said that as long as the tent does not exceed 17' behind your parking space and is between the white lines, a tent is permitted. Fans are also permitted to use tents on areas in front or behind your car that is not part of the traffic flow areas. On the West Side the concourse is as big as it always has been, but beyond the concourse the area is blocked off to keep the fans safe.

Philip in Newport News called in and asked about bringing food into the games, in particular a lady had been bringing in sugar cookies for a number of years, and this year she was not allowed and had to dump them out. Weaver said that the regulations do not allow fans to bring food into the stadium. He went on to say that when you have a staff as large as the one for Lane Stadium, different people are going to interpret the rules in different ways, but the school tries to institute uniformity in the application of the regulations.

Kevin in Raleigh, NC called in and asked about the ACC flags which flew on the East stands during Saturdayís game, and wanted to know if there was any reasoning as to which teams were selected and if the remainder of the teams would be added to the West side upon completion. Weaver said that the reason not all the teams are up is that we are alternating VT flags between the ACC teams. Without the west side flag poles there are not enough poles for all the ACC teams.

Drew from Blacksburg in the audience wanted to know if the field would bear the ACC logo on the 20 yard lines, and if the end zones would return to the old VT logo with "Hokies" underneath. Weaver said that there are no plans to return the end zones to the previous design, and the reason is that the University marketing firm said that the ďVirginia TechĒ spelled out plus the VT and Hokies on the end zone pads covered all the main names and nicknames of the university and were easier to identify with a quick span of the camera. Regarding the use of the ACC logos on the 20's, Weaver said that was the addition he spoke of last week, and this Saturday they would be on the field.

Roth said that the field looked and played as great as it ever has. Weaver agreed that the field is in excellent shape, and thanked all the people involved in the field and stadium maintenance and operation. Weaver also said that the security measures in place this year are greater and more pervasive than ever before, in order to make sure our team and fans have a safe environment in which to compete.

Dutch in Blacksburg called in and wanted to know if it would be possible to commemorate the sacrifice of two Hokies in Iraq this past week, by placing something on the helmets of the team. Weaver said that it was a good question, but he wasnít sure because the NCAA has regulations as to how a team can commemorate a fallen comrade. Weaver thought it was by a jersey number. Weaver said that he would look into it. Roth pointed out that Duke players would wear a heart with a number 55 on it, for former Duke player Micah Harris, who was killed this summer in an auto accident.

Fran in Montgomery called in and asked if there was a new way to configure the new stadium seats so the people behind them can sit facing straight, which apparently is not possible right now. Weaver said that he would address this with his staff this week, and that the sub-contractor said that the new seats were supposed to be less restrictive.

Frank Beamer

Roth commented on the victory on Saturday, and asked Beamer what a coach does when the score starts to get really lopsided like that. Coach said that you try not to let the score get that out of hand, but you also ask your kids to play hard. Beamer admitted that on the last blocked kick he didnít have the punt block on, but the player saw an opening and went after the kick. Overall the coach was pleased that the team was playing as hard and emotional in the fourth quarter as they were in the first quarter.

Roth asked if the coach saw the improvement that he was looking for. Coach said that he did, and that the wide receivers played well. Defensively there was only one long play, and if the team can make them snap the ball enough times, then good things are going to happen. Coach said that every practice every play you try to get better, and that's the team's focus right now.

Roth mentioned that this weekend the team will play its first ACC game. Beamer said that this is an important day for Virginia Tech and not just for the football team, but all the sports at Virginia Tech. The ACC, which is known for basketball, is also good in many sports. Beamer said that whatís important is showing that the Hokies belong and can help the ACC, and the challenge for us is to prove that we do belong. All that starts this Saturday.

Roth mentioned the impending hurricane which may strike on Saturday. Beamer said that not knowing where itís going to hit is the deal with that right now, but that itís a scary looking storm.

Bill in Lynchburg called in and mentioned that the team seemed to be getting along a lot better this year, and asked for a better looking flag to put on top of the crane on the west side. Roth pointed out that the flag on top of all cranes is an orange and white checkerboard, similar to the end zones in the University of Tennesseeís Stadium. Roth said that last year the crew put a VT flag on-top of the crane, but thatís illegal and it cannot be changed. Beamer did say that the chemistry on the football team is very good, and that Reverend Suggs, former Tech RB Lee Suggs' father, performed the chapel service on Saturday, and he made an interesting comment. He said that when you get along together itís easier to win, but when you lose itís easier too.

Bonnie from Christiansburg in the audience wanted to know Beamerís thoughts on Ernest Wilfordís game-winning touchdown for the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. Beamer said that he had the TV on last night and when he saw the catch he didnít know who it was, but commented to himself ďBoy that was a heck of a catch,Ē and returned to his work. Monday morning he realized who that player was when he read the paper.

After the break Roth pointed out that on-site at Beamers for the Hokie Hotline, there was a camera crew from ESPN filming for a ESPN special called "The Season - ACC Football," every Thursday night, Friday morning at 1am, and this week they are focusing on Virginia Tech football. Beamer said that the crew has been with them all day. Coach said that this is great exposure for the team and the conference. Beamer said that heís trying to make sure the team prepares the same way. Beamer said that the crew was up at UVA last week, and told them to ďwait till you have spent a week at Virginia Tech, thereís no-place like our placeĒ.

Mike in Roanoke called in and said that he noticed something during the Western Michigan game that there were two players wearing the same number. Beamer said that it is legal for them to have duplicate numbers, but they couldnít play in the game at the same time.

Brad in Fairlawn Virginia called in and wanted to know if the coach was going to practicing with a wet football in case of the pending weather. Beamer said that they wouldnít because the focus of practice is to execute the plays properly. Also the gloves and the steps taken to make sure the ball is dry help avoid problems with a wet ball. Plus, they arenít totally sure where the hurricane is going to end up. Roth pointed out that Thursday's Southern Miss game versus Cal has been postponed.

Greg from Dublin in the audience asked about the inconsistent application of the celebration rule and he wanted to know who on Beamerís staff was tasked with determining what exactly is the interpretation. Beamer stated that he is on the rules committee and he is in favor of not celebrating after a good play. Beamer said that it would help if they closed this activity down in the NFL also, because it would trickle down. Beamer said that they put out a list of 22 things they were going to call very closely this year. The one where the two kids celebrated together, was not on the list. Beamer said that he told that to the official, but he wasnít too communicative. Coach said that he had Billy Hite called the ACC offices Monday to see if that was something they were going to call, and they confirmed that it was. Beamer said that what he told the team Monday was that when you make a play, you take the ball to the official and then celebrate with your teammates in a way thatís not pre-meditated. Beamer expressed concern that the officials were calling stuff that wasn't on the list.

Kevin from Fairfax e-mailed in and asked why Jimmy Williams was lined up 25 yards deep on punt returns when Eddie Royal was already deep to return the ball. Beamer said that he charts kicks, and that this particular kicker hooked the ball. Beamer said that Jimmy was there in case he hooked the ball. The focus was to make sure someone was catching the ball.

Nick from Blacksburg in the audience commented that there was a trick play used this week with the flanker reverse. Beamer said that anytime you have counter action, it can lead to big plays. Roth commented on the play of Eddie Royal, and Beamer said that heís a good guy. Heís very matter-of-fact, doesnít get too excited out there. The coaches really like what heís all about and his play. Beamer said that overall for a group of freshmen, that was the best play you could expect from that group.

Barek from Blacksburg in the audience wanted to know what kind of scheme the Duke defense runs. Beamer said that determining exactly what defense they run has been difficult. The first game they played Navy, who runs a unique style of offense, so the tapes wouldnít probably show the preferred Duke scheme. Then they played against a lot of 50 looks against Uconn, so at this stage the coaches are not sure if itís going to be an even front or an odd front. Coach did say that they felt like there would be a lot of blitzing, but that at this point they are concerned about what exactly to expect. (Editor's note: Duke usually runs a 4-3 but surprised UConn with a 3-4 and a lot of blitzing in last Saturday's loss.)

Roth asked Beamer if he watched the end of the Clemson vs Ga Tech game. He said that he did, and that type of game will make you appreciate having a great snapper, like the Hokies' Travis Conway. Travis is very dependable and very important to the team.

After the break Beamer reminded everyone to be at The Walk at 10am on Saturday. The players will have giveaways for the fans, and we need everyone out there supporting the team as we go into our first ACC matchup. Also, the team will be unloading at the corner of Spring Road and the access road near the Will Call booth.

Jim called from Colorado and wanted the coach to comment on the differences in preparation for playing ACC teams versus Big East Teams. Beamer said that there really isnít a lot of difference, there are some good teams in the Big East, some were more running and some more passing. There are great coaches in both conferences. Itís a great challenge for our coaching staff, and one that they look forward to. Beamer said that he will always be very appreciative of the Big East, for the access and the opportunities that affiliation presented. The ACC is also a great conference and from now on we will always be in a conference which will always be in a national scene.

Bob in Mechanicsville called in and asked the coach to comment on how the defensive line graded out from the game. Beamer said that they graded out pretty well, and that a number of them graded out with double digit point totals. This has been a really good part of our football team. If we can stay fresh and stay healthy this is going to be a good part of our football team.

Roth asked Beamer to comment on the play of Chris Ellis. Beamer said that Chris is playing fast. He is making a lot of big plays, had a great summer, smart player. Daryl Tapp, Noland Burchette, Jim Davis, and the Lewis brothers, you notice them out there. Carlton Powell is a good young kid who the coaches are looking forward to developing. Kory Robertson is another kid who is very talented, and one of these days heís going to be playing real fast, too.

Seth in Roanoke called in and wanted the coach to comment on Techís newest commitment, Elan Lewis, and what about the quarterback Antonio Bass from Michigan. Beamer said that he isnít permitted to comment on recruits until the first Wednesday in February when they sign on the dotted line. Overall coach felt like recruiting was going exceptionally well right now.

Roth wanted to know about the depth of the recruiting in Virginia right now. Beamer said that itís a good year in the state and that between Tech and Virginia they have kept the best players in the state (click here for TSL's Top 30 in-state recruits, and be sure to scroll down to the table at the bottom). Roth asked Beamer what he says to fans about UVAís early recruiting commitments. Beamer said that when itís all said and done, then you look at it. Recruiting overall is a risky business, for example Lee Suggs was the 26th best player in the state (Editor's Note: the Roanoke Times ranked Suggs #8 in the state in 1998). John Engelberger is another example. Beamer said donít get to tied up in numbers right now. Roth said that you can only sign 25, and this last week many mid-major teams beat big name teams. Beamer said that you can only have a total of 85.

Roth asked if UAB would give Florida State a run for its money this weekend. Beamer said that he would be surprised if they beat them, but you never know.

Tom in the audience wanted to know about bringing his grandson to football practices, and now-a-days you canít get in to see the practices. Beamer said that practices are closed to the public, but if you know somebody you might be able to slip in to see one. Beamer said to give him a call.

David in Lynchburg called in and wanted the coach to comment on the passing game and the continued utilization of our freshman receivers. Beamer said that they feel good about the progress they made last week.

-- Phil


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