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Monday, August 31st, 1998 Tonight's guests were Coach Frank Beamer and defensive coordinator Bud Foster.
The show began with Bill Roth acknowledging the death during the weekend of long-time Hokie trainer Eddie Ferrell, and saying that Hokies everywhere will be thinking of Eddie's family.
Coach Beamer was asked which players have stood out the most in fall practice. His initial answer included six players. Interestingly enough, they are all on defense.
At the top of his list was DE Corey Moore, whom he said is roving very effective against the run AND pass. He next mentioned DL Nat Williams, whom he said is better-stronger-quicker than a year ago. The other names in order were DL Carl Bradley, DE Chris Cyrus, whip Lorenzo Ferguson ("you notice him out there"), and safety Keion Carpenter. Coach said Carpenter is playing his best ever, and that they are counting on him as a senior.
Al Clark has looked very good and has shown the ability to throw, as well as to pull the ball down and run with it when necessary. Al's knee still has a little swelling at times, but Beamer said the doctors say that's to be expected.
He said that aside from several particular injuries -- OL Dave Kadela and Matt Lehr -- the team is as far along as expected. He mentioned the importance of having Chris Short available at center (missed spring to catch up on academics).
On the subject of freshmen: Beamer said the plan is to play WR Emmett Johnson. He said Johnson needs to develop consistency, but he has the height and speed to develop week by week and be able to make a difference by game five or so.
DB Ronyell Whitaker lost a week of practice to a shoulder injury at a critical time and now is considered a redshirt candidate unless there's injuries at the position. T.J. Jackson also will redshirt. Beamer said he is a very promising athlete with size.
He acknowledged that Michael Vick has received a lot of work at QB, is "very promising," and "quite a talent." However, the plan is to redshirt Vick, Beamer said. It was very clear that the coach didn't want to talk about "what if" regarding the possibility of Vick playing if Clark were to be injured. He gave the pointed answer that it will be addressed if and when necessary. "The plan is that Al isn't going to get hurt," he said.
Coach Foster said early in the show that Jake Houseright had his knee scoped today (8-31) and that there was NO LIGAMENT DAMAGE. The injury was a tear in the same spot where the knee was injured last year (and was repaired in the offseason). Foster said Houseright will be available in 3 weeks, but was non-committal about his status for the rest of the season. Foster said "we'll see how it goes" with the other young linebackers and Jake's rehab. He said Jake probably could have "sucked it up" and played this year at 75 percent, but surgery now was the better alternative.
Cullen Hawkins has emerged as the number one fullback. Beamer slipped and called him Nick Cullen (1990s receiver?), but caught himself and went on to say that Hawkins has the experience and is solid -- though undersized -- and a good runner. He noted that Hawkins and backup Jarrett Ferguson both were tailbacks in high school. Ferguson has progressed and is stronger. Beamer said he had earlier concerns about Ferguson's blocking and he has improved, yet "he's not as good as he will be in game five." J. Ferguson is a redshirt freshman.
Derek Carter is tops at tight end and had to fight through a fall ankle injury. Beamer said that backup Bob Slowikowski "could become a great tight end" due to his speed at the position and ability to get open down the middle as a receiver.
A caller asked about the breakdown in punt protection last season. Beamer said a lot of it had to do with Kibble kicking off of two steps in practice last year, but then taking three steps in the game. This affected the launch point and timing that are critical factors in the protection. The coach said Kibble has worked hard at being a 2-step kicker again. They have worked hard on punt protection and are putting the biggest cover people with speed on the field, but it really comes down to Kibble's execution. "Our operation time is fast," Beamer said.
Angelo Harrison and Ken Handy have been the most consistent receivers, Beamer said. Andre Davis has missed a lot of time due to a groin injury, but is the type of guy who eventually can hit a hot streak and make a difference.
Ricky Hall "has had his moments." Reggie Samuel has been inconsistent, but is working very hard.
Beamer said he feels good about the overall secondary situation.
At QB, Meyer is the backup and Randolph is third. True freshman Grant Noel has thrown the ball well in camp. Freshman Travis Turner was moved to LB early-on and will redshirt.
Beamer and Foster said they are preparing for a lot of possibilities out of East Carolina's attack. They've heard they could see a one-back look, two-back, option, etc. And ECU has not publicly named its starting quarterback out of three candidates. Two are speedy, the other is big, built sort of like Druckenmiller, Foster said, and VT may face 2 or 3 QB's in the game. The observation also was made that ECU coach Steve Logan likes trick plays.
The coaches said they've looked at what ECU did even as far back as 1993 in order to prepare for this game. Coach Beamer said the experience of our defensive coaching staff and the defensive talent is in our favor.
VT will have a balanced offense again, he said, and will mix up the option, sweep and isolation plays. One big rule change this year is that a fumble, say on the option, can be advanced by the defense. (He didn't really explain this???)
There was some discussion about how much improved our pass rush might be in non-blitz situations -- can a 4-man rush do it? Beamer said, of course, that he would like to think so. He said Corey Moore has developed into a player who makes a real difference with his speed coming from the outside.
Other points made by Beamer:
* The three games of ECU, Clemson and Miami may be the toughest 3-game opening Tech has had.
* A Jumbotron scoreboard is being looked at and he thinks it will eventually happen, as will adding to Lane Stadium, under the commitment to facilities by Jim Weaver.
* Michael Hawkes is much improved at LB. Beamer and Foster both talked about how he has worked to develop his body.
* OL is athletic, tough and will be good. The question is how soon.
* He is surprised Clemson game isn't televised. Bill Roth said there are a lot of good intersectional games early in the season to compete with.
* East Carolina ended last season by winning four of its last five games.
Coach Foster said the defense has a good mix of players who got experience last year, and good young players pushing them. The focus and intensity of the defense is much better.
Foster said Corey Moore is one of the most improved players on the team, extremely fast, and is "causing fits." Carl Bradley is ready for a break-through season and Nat Williams had a great summer of workouts. Prioleau is the leader.
The most improved player, Foster said, is Michael Hawkes. "He is the guy to look for."
Tech started 5 different players at whip last season, which Bill Roth said, is not a good sign. Ferguson has "come on" to be much better at this position, Foster said. Backup Phillip Summers had a great spring, but missed four days of practice with a turned ankle and stomach problems.
The secondary has talent, and consistency must become a priority, Foster said. Anthony Midget missed a week of practice with a hamstring injury but is back, pushed by Loren Johnson. Ike Charlton has size, speed, ability to play physically.
Nick Sorensen will probably play 25 snaps at free safety because he needs the experience, and because Carpenter is on several special teams and will need a break.
Foster said the deepest positions on the team are tailback and defensive line. He said the offensive line has improved this fall.
Four Hokie Hotline shows will originate from the Volume II bookstore this year. Dates to be announced.
Pre-game show Saturday is on the air at 3 p.m. Kickoff is at 4:05. Offensive coordinator Rickey Bustle is on the Hokie Hotline show next week.
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