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Advance Auto Parts Hokie Hotline Notes
Monday, December 6, 2004
by Phil Noftsinger

Tonightís broadcast was live from Beamerís Restaurant in Christiansburg, VA. The guests included Hokies RB Coach Billy Hite and QB Coach Kevin Rogers. Head Coach Frank Beamer and Athletic Director Jim Weaver were in New York City with Bryan Randall, where he will receive an $18,000 post graduate scholarship from the National Football Foundation. Coach Beamer had a pre-recorded message to send out to the listeners tonight, and Coach Rogers claimed that ďhe has never in his 31 years of coaching seen a place where there is such a great love affair between the fans and their team and the team and their fans. It really is terrific.Ē

Billy Hite

Billy Hite, who won an ACC title as a player at North Carolina, with ACC Commissioner John Swofford as a teammate, was Bill Rothís first guest. Coach Hite said that this last weekend was the best feeling he has ever had at his time at Virginia Tech. Coach continued to say that this was the most fun year of coaching he has ever had, that this isnít the most talented team we have ever had a Virginia Tech, but itís the best team we have ever had. Coach Hite said that we learned a valuable lesson last year that team chemistry will win over talent any day. These guys fight for one another, playing side by side, and always finding a way to win a game. The wealth of this football team was spread around; it was a different guy every play who helped get the win. Coach said that there are a lot of MVPís on this team, and that Bryan Randall ought to be the ACC Player of the Year. This team didnít wait for someone else to make a play.

Bill Roth discussed the job that Coach Hite did with Cedric Humes, who started the year recovering from an injury. First he fumbled at Wake Forest and didnít have another carry during that game. Then at North Carolina he had an illegal motion penalty and missed a block on the next play that got Bryan Randall clobbered. Roth reminded listeners that Coach Hite made a comment after both rather disappointing performances, ďthat Cedric is going to win a ballgame for us once this yearĒ. By keeping his spirits up and keeping him motivated, Cedric was called on in three key games at the end of the season to help the Hokies get over the hump. Coach Hite reiterated thatís what this team does. One guy goes down or needs help, another guy steps in and takes on his load. Cedric Humes and Justin Hamilton both played well and helped save the running game.

Bonnie from Christiansburg asked Coach Hite how important was the win at Miami for Eric Green, a native of South Florida, and Jim Davis, who sat out a year with injury. Coach Hite said that Jim Davis won the defensive player of the game award and Eric Green won the Worsham Award, both voted on by the team. Both players played exceptionally well, and both had big reasons to want to win this game. Roth recalled the last three plays of the game and the blocked passes by Jim Davis and Daryl Tapp.

Brad from Auburn (the high schoolÖnot the University) asked Coach Hite to give an update on Mike Imohís status. Coach Hite said that Imoh would be ready to go for the Sugar Bowl. Coach said that Mike really wanted to play against Miami and he wouldnít let him after he didnít seem to be 100%. He told Mike that his role now was to pay attention to what was happening on the field and help Cedric and Justin find ways to make plays. Coach Hite said that it was a great job by the trainers to get the guys ready to play.

Roth asked how hard it was to play back to back physical emotional games and to play that second game away and after the other team had a week off. Burnop pointed out that Miami was coming off their best game of the season, and may have had their rhythm thrown off by the week break. Coach Hite said that when youíre in the rhythm you want to play week to week.

Mark in Smithville wrote in and asked if winning the ACC Championship had any immediate impact on recruiting. Coach Hite said that it has had a big time impact. The exposure the Hokies have gotten in November being on ESPN on Thursday and then on ABC the last two weeks in a row has really jump-started the recruiting. Coach Hite said that this is a big weekend as there are 10 players making their official visits this weekend.

Barek from Blacksburg who was in the audience asked about the redshirt freshmen backs and what their progression has been. Coach said both are progressing very well, and George Bell wants to be called ďJuiceĒ now, so if you see him on the streetÖcall him Juice. Coach said that Bell looks like someone who can be a real player for the Hokies. Hite said that he carried Bell for the first three games of the year in case something happened to Humes or Hamilton, he was ready to play Bell. Coach said that Branden Ore has great speed and the coaches come off the practice field every day talking about something he has done that day. Coach said that the competition we are going to have in that backfield is going make the whole running game better. Coach said that heís going to play the best one, and they will decide who is going to play on Saturday.

Mike Burnop asked if there was a player on the Tech team that has a better attitude than Justin Hamilton. Coach said that Hamilton is one of his all time favorites, heís a team player who wants to win, and he will play anything. Coach said that this is what makes coaching college ball special when you have a player like Justin.

Stu from Roanoke who was in the audience said that he had been listening to the ESPN Radio commentators talk about how Auburn is matched up against a nobody. Stu wanted to know how the Hokies match up against Auburn. Coach said that they will match up pretty good and that all 12 of their films will be in the offices tomorrow. Their real leader is their quarterback (Jason Campbell), just like Tech. Coach said that Tennessee ran on them pretty well. Coach said that Tech will have a great game plan and the players are really looking forward to playing Auburn.

Dan in Blacksburg called in and asked about centering the ball when other teams jump off-sides and that didnít seem to happen this year. Hite said that itís up to the center to do that, and they moved Will Montgomery to that position. Will may not feel totally comfortable doing that right now. You can always get into a situation where the defensive player gets back prior to the snap, so that can be pretty dangerous. It is still part of the game plan, and itís something they work on all the time.

Mike Burnop said thatís another success story for this year for Montgomery to have stepped into that position and to play as well as he has. Hite pointed to the play that sprung Cedric Humes for his touchdown run in the Virginia game where Will blocked the nose tackle Andrew Hoffman and linebacker Ahmad Brooks on the same play. Hite said thatís not something Stinespring coaches, but he did say that Coach Stinespring did a great job this season.

When the game ended on Saturday, the referee ran off the field, and Bryan didnít know what to do with the ball. Randall threw the ball as far as he could up into the stands and ex-Hokie tailback Tony Kennedy caught the ball. Tony was on the phone tonight and Bill said that Coach Hite was critical of Tonyís technique on the catch. Kennedy said that it works in threes, that Bryan Randall is #3, he was #33, and we are going to our third Sugar Bowl.

Bill asked Tony what itís like to sit in the stands and watch this team. Tony said that itís great and that the guys from the 80ís bleed orange and maroon. Coach Hite said that heís one of the guys who started the Stallions at Tech and that all those players are special. Tony said that Tech probably has the best staff in the country, and that Tech still doesnít get the respect that they deserve. He continued by saying that when Tech plays in the Rose Bowl next year for the National Championship, they will finally get the respect they deserve. Coach Hite said that he likes his style, but they have one more game to play.

Bill asked Tony what he planned to do with the ball. Tony said that he would like to donate the ball back to Tech and the Merriman center as a representation of all players who worked hard when the ACC didnít want us, and now that we are in it, we win it in our first year. Hite said that he would give Tony a sideline pass to a game and he can return the ball. Tony said that he really wanted to donate the ball back to Tech and provide a monetary opportunity for a walk-on player who really wants to play for Virginia Tech. Kennedy said that heís a teacher right now and he gives back every day, and that he loves Virginia Tech.

John in Harrisonburg called in and asked how you keep the momentum going between now and the bowl game. Coach Hite said that they turn the players over to Mike Gentry and they will lift on Tuesday and Thursday and they will have a team run. They will follow the same procedure the following week. The 18th will be the first week of practice until the 22nd and there will be a break for the players to go home. They will return on the 27th and the team will fly out on the 28th for New Orleans, and they will keep the same routine that they have used all season long.

Jamie from Blacksburg who was in the audience asked how much Tech would beat Auburn by in the Sugar Bowl. Hite said that he wasnít sure but that we would go down there and try to score a lot of points on them.

Hite closed his portion of the show by thanking all the fans and that the reception the team received on Saturday night at Cassell by 6,500 fans was one of the greatest things heís seen. Hite said that the players really appreciated it.

Kevin Rogers

Roth said that he was in Greensboro for the media day where all the talk was about Brock Berlin and Reggie Ball as ACC Player of the Year favorites, but that Kevin Rogers might have coached the ACC Player of the Year. Coach Rogers said that itís amazing what the guy has done, winning the fans over, and what the other coaches in the league have said.

Roth asked Kevin to talk about the way he felt in August compared to the way he might feel today. Coach said that itís not a story that ended on Saturday, that it was an ongoing saga, which really makes the year special. When you look at the way Tech ended last year, the off-field issues, and then starting off the season playing the defending national champions, itís just unbelievable.

There are little stories within the team, a guy like Brandon Manning who was removed from his starting position and played his butt off on special teams. You look at all the players who have moved positions for the good of the team, there are many things that made this team special. Coach said that he hasnít felt this good during a football season in his entire 31 years of coaching. Burnop said that when things looked darkest this season Bryan Randall would take the team on his back and get things done. Coach said that Randall has that ďrefuse to loseĒ attitude and that heís the head of the snake on our football team. He sets the tempo and heís a quality human being.

Roth said that coming out of the Spring game, he asked Coach who was the starting quarterback. Coach Rogers said that the plain facts were that Marcus Vick wasnít ready to supplant Randall as the starting quarterback, but that Marcus outplayed Bryan during spring ball. Coach said that Randall's leadership isnít just on the football field, heís reading to kindergarten kids, heís spending time at local prisons, heís spending time in LA with underprivileged kids, and heís never heard him curse either. Coach said that he actually feels guilty when he drops a bomb now and then.

Burnop asked coach if playing basketball last year helped Randall out at all. Coach said that he thought that wore him out, and that was one of the reasons he didnít have a good spring. Coach said that heís never a guy that will make an excuse.

Ryan from Richmond who was in the audience asked what the coaches did to change the chemistry this year, and with a leader like Bryan Randall leaving, does that chemistry change again next year. Coach said that he certainly hoped not, obviously Randall's a huge loss as far as chemistry is concerned. Coach said that they talk about accountability and team responsibility. That concept is reinforced day by day, and you donít know how gratifying it was to see the team buy into that idea. Coach said that when you have that team chemistry, this is going to be a tough team to beat on any day.

Burnop said that Randallís ability to throw the ball has really progressed as well. Coach said that Randall is an NFL prospect right now. When he got here the word was that he couldnít throw the ball. Now, if they execute and give him protection, heís going to burn you.

Gill from Richmond called in and asked if the band could play Tech Triumph more and if the Tech Cheer could be used more during the games. Coach Rogers said that heís been here three years so heís relatively new, and that he has never in his 31 years of coaching seen a place where there is such a great love affair between the fans and the team and the team and the fans. It really is terrific. If you were at the Georgia Tech or Miami game, our players ran over to the fans. Itís the players showing how important the fans are to this team. Coach Rogers said that the fans have single handedly won games for Tech. Itís really, really special and he hoped that people donít get spoiled and that feeling never changes.

Burnop said that he was in the locker room after the game and wanted Coach to tell the audience some of the comments by Commissioner Swofford after the game. Coach said that he thinks they are shocked, and that they had no idea what they were getting when they got us. Swofford said that he had never seen anything anywhere like our following.

Jim in Massepequea called in and asked if the Coach had reviewed any tape on Auburn yet. Coach said that the tapes come in tomorrow and that they will begin looking at those immediately.

Burnop said that after a successful season like this, Frank Beamer is probably thinking that ADís are going to be coming after his assistants. Rogers said that after you work for this program and this coach, you understand that this is a great place to be. The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence, this is a great place to work.

Roth asked Coach Rogers his perspective on the Notre Dame situation. Rogers said that getting fired at Notre Dame with two kids in school there was a tough thing. He actually feels a little vindicated now, and that maybe he isnít so stupid after all. Rogers said itís funny how things can change so quickly. Urban Meyer left the year before everyone got the boot at Notre Dame, and look where heís at now. Burnop asked Rogers who was going to get the job at Notre Dame, and Rogers responded by saying ďWho the hell wants it.Ē

Tom from Blacksburg who was in the audience said that backup QBs Cory Holt and Sean Glennon are two of the most enthusiastic players on the sidelines, who arenít really on the field. Rogers said that he loves those two guys, they are into Virginia Tech football and when the fans get to know those two guys the fans will love them too.

HJ from Blacksburg who was in the audience asked about the blitz pickups on Saturday, and that it looked like there were some missed blocks. Rogers said thatís a real good question, and it was #3ís fault. He was trying to get us into a protection, and three of those were directly due to Bryan. The line and backs can pick up six guys and that seventh guy is the responsibility of the quarterback. Coach said that he got a little talking to on the sideline that day about missing those guys.

Roth asked why Miami cornerback Antrel Rolle was almost a non-factor in this game. Coach said that he was a huge factor, because thatís who Eddie Royal beat for the touchdown. Even though the Hokies didnít have the production they wanted, Miami blitzed almost 75% of the time. Outside they still have great players, and we got four freshman out there most of the time.

Burnop said that field position was awful, but the team never lost their poise. Coach said that if we get the game into the fourth quarter and close, we are going to win it.

Alan in Blacksburg called in and asked about the playing surface in the Superdome and what thoughts he has on how it might affect the game. Coach Rogers said that they have the new all weather surface in the Superdome. Coach said that it is more like grass than you can imagine, and that practicing on regular grass is probably the best approach there.

Sandy Smith, Tech Assistant Athletic Director

Sandy said that there were people waiting in line and calling all day on Monday and that to date Virginia Tech has sold out of all Sugar Bowl Tickets. They sold about 2,000 tickets as soon as they won the game against Miami. Tech received 15,000 tickets and held a pre-sale to season ticket holders and Hokie club members, and through that process the ticket office sold 16,000 tickets, so not everyone in that group will receive tickets. Sandy said that he will notify those people who would not be getting tickets as soon as possible, but that he is trying to get more, so he doesnít want to jump the gun on notification at this point.

Dave in Atlanta wrote in and wanted an assessment on Hokie Club levels that would be getting tickets. Sandy said that at this stage they didnít have a real feeling of how low they were on the point system priority list, but that there is a limit of 4 tickets for BCS games. Sandy said that there is a lot of interest from young alumni who have joined the Hokie Club at higher levels and people need to be contributors and season ticket holders in order to reap the benefits.

Bill from Florida wrote in asking which side of the stadium the Hokies would be on. Sandy said that at this stage he didnít know, heís waiting to get the tickets before he makes that statement. That will be posted on the website as soon as he knows.

Bill asked what advice Sandy could give to a fan that doesnít have tickets at this point, but would like to get tickets. Sandy said that the Sugar Bowl does have some packages on their website, which include hotels. He said that will be the avenue that would get the best price. Sandy said that fans could call 888-299-1997 and thatís the same place if they donít have access to the website. (TSL Note: as of Tuesday morning, there were still travel packages Ė including game tickets Ė available from Premiere Sports Travel. Click to find out about air and land packages.)

Bill asked how many fans went to the Sugar Bowl in 1999 and what would he estimate as to the number of fans going to this game. Sandy said that we only had 15,000 tickets for that 1999 game but there were more than 15,000 fans at that game. He continued to say that this game might be more difficult than the national championship to get tickets to. He added that LSU had anticipated going to the Sugar Bowl, and that a lot of their fans bought tickets up front, and thatís what youíre seeing for sale on eBay right now.

Mike Burnop said that bowl games in New Orleans are the best games to go to because of the atmosphere. Tech sold 30,000 season tickets this year and there are only 15,000 tickets available for this game.

Frank Beamer (recorded earlier)

Coach Beamer was in New York so he couldnít be live on the Hotline tonight, but he wanted to tape a message to the Hokie Nation to broadcast on the Hotline.

Beamer said that heís really proud of this team. For the fans we really appreciate all of them, and the win at Miami was a win for all of us. Roth asked Beamer that he probably expected Miami to come out and try to strike early, and how fortunate did you feel you were to survive that initial strike. Beamer said that was critical and that we talked about that. Beamer said they were standing toe to toe with a great football team, there wasnít a lot of talking or pushing. To get through three turnovers and the field position and still come out with the win was special.

Eric Green after the game said that he knew they would be impatient and try to go for it all on the fourth and one play. Roth asked Beamer if he was thinking the same thing. Coach said that Bud told the players that they may try to take a shot here, and thatís what they did against Virginia. They were expecting man coverages. Thatís how they play with those great players, and they have won a lot of ball games doing that. Roth asked Beamer what was the key in stopping Gore, who had up to that point been on a roll. Beamer said that Jim Davis makes a difference up front for us, but that defensive line makes a huge difference for us. Watching the tape you just sit back and are amazed at how hard the guys are playing.

Roth mentioned that the Hokies have beaten Miami 7 times in the last 10 games Ė why does Virginia Tech have success against Miami when no one else does? Coach said that Miami brings out the best in Tech, they are very talented and our coaches get our players ready for this game every year. Itís a challenge and that brings out the best in this team.

Roth said that the team now faces the SEC Champs in Auburn. Beamer said that there are many people who think Auburn is the best football team in the country. When you watch them play and the teams and facilities they have played in, this is a great football team. They play great defense and have a balanced offense, so this is a great challenge.

Roth asked how important it was for the Hokies to win the ACC this year. Roth pointed out that many writers have said that Michael Vick is gone, as are the glory days of Virginia Tech football. Beamer said that he canít describe how proud he is right now, and that this team has made a statement. He hoped that the ACC is glad they are there now, and to start out unranked, havenít finished well, he canít describe how happy he is right now.

(end of recording)

Burnop said that it was a tough offseason for the coaches and players, and for those guys to regroup and get back to Virginia Tech football is a huge testament to this team and its coaches.

Roth mentioned a key play in the ball game, when the Hokies had third down and 12 and Randall threw the ball to the tight end, and Jeff King made a great catch. Burnop said that Randall said that when he threw the ball, he thought there was no way King was going to make that catch, and for him to make that catch was unbelievable.

Jeremy from Christiansburg asked what Bill and Mike were feeling after the game at Miami. Burnop said that that locker room was outstanding, the Orange Bowl has been there forever and itís the same locker room that the Steelers and the Jets used. Burnop said it was a sight to see. Roth said that this team reminds him of the 1995 team with the chemistry. Going down there to Miami, they felt good about the game.

Melody in Tazwell called in and congratulated the team and the coaches.

Jeff in Knoxville called in and said that Comcast Sports was really talking about the Hokies and were really complimentary. On that show they both predicted that Virginia Tech would beat Auburn and that Bryan Randall was the best leader of all the quarterbacks that they had seen. Jeff said that ABC, covering the game, really just loved Miami, and that they couldnít even pronounce some of the Tech players' names. Roth said that you can always turn the sound down on the TV and turn the radio up.

Burnop said that you gotta feel for Auburn, if you can run the table in the SEC you have a whale of a football team. Mike said that it reminded him of the 2000 season when Notre Dame got the Fiesta bid over Virginia Tech. Roth said that you keep hearing that they got left out of the big game, thatís gotta work on the players mentality and it must make it more difficult for them to get up for this game. Burnop said that itís gotta be a distraction. Roth said that Tuberville will turn that around real quick, and that Virginia Techís record against strong SEC teams speaks for itself.

Chris from Roanoke who was in the audience wanted to know what status of Marcus Vick would be. Roth said that everyone expects him to re-enroll in Tech shortly, and that when he does return to the team he will compete for a position. Burnop added that it will be a tough competition, as Cory Holt has a great arm with excellent speed, and Sean Glennon has contributed very well this year also. Roth said that the spring depth chart will have them all three right there. Burnop said that a lot of the ACC teams lost some great quarterbacks last year, and you canít underestimate the play of the quarterback position.

Roth asked about some of the quarterback troubles among ACC teams this year with Chris Rix and Brock Berlin. Burnop said that he felt like there were some chemistry problems with Rix, and that Berlin really stepped it up after it looked like he might get pulled also. Roth asked what happened to Berlin in the game against Tech. Burnop said that by getting pressure on Berlin and moving him out of the pocket, you get him out of his rhythm.

NFL Update:

  • 7 Hokies started yesterday in the NFL.
  • Michael Vick totaled 200 yards, but was shut out against Tampa Bay after committing four costly turnovers. DeAngelo Hall had two tackles in that game.
  • Willie Pile had six tackles for Kansas City.
  • Center Jake Grove started for Oakland against his former teammate as they faced off against the Chiefs.
  • John Engelberger (San Francisco) had two solo tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble.
  • Kevin Jones (Detroit) had his best day yet with 26 carries for 196 yards and a touchdown, also caught four passes for 24 yards.
  • Shayne Graham (Cincinnati) was perfect on three extra points, two for three on field goals, and hit the game winning field goal of 24 yards to upset the Baltimore Ravens.

Roth mentioned that Kevin Jones told coach Beamer that he wished he was still playing for the Hokies, that he misses the camaraderie.

Ten high school football players will make their official visits this week for the JMU basketball game (8 pm in Blacksburg on Comcast Sportsnet).

This will be Techís fourth BCS level bowl in ten years, and this is a great team. To finish it up as ACC Champions is the icing on the cake. Roth mentioned that some people had thought that the glory days of Tech football were over, but in reality they were just getting started.

Next week's show will feature Seth Greenberg and Frank Beamer. There will also be three shows from New Orleans coming up within the months of December and January.

Monday was day 10 of Virginia Techís continuous possession of the Commonwealth Cup and day 65 of Virginia Techís continuous possession of the Black Diamond Trophy.

-- Phil

          

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