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Monday, September 21, 1998

Offensive Coordinator Rickey Bustle and Head Coach Frank Beamer were the guests tonight. The show was broadcast from the Volume II Bookstore in Blacksburg.

The big topic of discussion was that three offensive starters are out as a result of injuries in the Miami game.

QB Al Clark is lost for the Pittsburgh game this week and backup Dave Meyer will start.

OL Josh Redding is gone for the year and FB Cullen Hawkins is probably out for the year. Redding underwent surgery today for cartilage damage in his knee. Hawkins has bone fragments in his foot.

Coach Beamer said Hawkins will be in a cast for 4-6 weeks, then faces two weeks of rehab. Hawkins could be a candidate for a medical redshirt unless, Beamer said, he turns out to be "a fast healer."

Clark has a ligament separation or tear in his foot and is having trouble walking. Bill Roth said all three players were on crutches Monday.

Beamer and offensive coordinator Rickey Bustle both said the staff had discussed the question of whether to play Michael Vick this week as a true freshman QB, but that they don't want to do that with his career at this point. "He's not quite ready yet," Bustle said.

It sounded like the decision came down to the expectation that Al is lost just for the Pittsburgh game (considering there is an open date between the Pitt and BC games). Hence the decision to go with Meyer, whom they expressed confidence in. Beamer said Meyer's attributes are his height, smarts and running ability.

If Al cannot return at QB, Beamer said, then "we will have to have some more discussion" re Vick playing. He was careful not to elaborate. Earlier, Bustle put it that if Al's injured for the year, "we would reconsider it." The decision for now is short-term, he said, and Meyer will start.

Bustle said that Nick Sorensen was moved from safety back to QB in practice Monday for the backup QB role. They did this because he has some game experience and started a game at QB in 1997 (Alabama-Birmingham).

Bustle said that in practice Monday, it was like Sorensen had never left. (He spent spring and fall practice on defense). He knew the checkoffs, etc., to call in various situations.

It was Kids' Night on the Hokie Hotline and umpteen kids called in questions...

--What did you tell the team at halftime at Miami? Bustle: That VT was down 13-10 at the half to Miami in 1997, that the team was in the same situation Saturday and hadn't played as well as it could. "One of these teams is going to wear out and it doesn't need to be us."

--Does anybody on the team have any superstitions? Bustle, speaking for himself, said he doesn't wear a lucky hat or socks or anything. He just follows the same routine of looking at film just before every game. He likes to look at 6-7 plays out of every set.

--What's your favorite trick play? Bustle: "One that works!" He went on to talk about the fake off the quick screen at Miami in which Angelo Harrison got by the safety downfield.

--What did he think about Shayne Graham when he "choked?" Bustle: Shayne is the best kicker I've been around in 20 years. I don't know anybody who's ever made them all.

This year's receivers as a GROUP "are the best we've had here, maybe ever," Bustle said.

Meyer is not as versatile as Al at what he can run on offense. Meyer's been running a package so far that's made for him. He's been waiting for his opportunity, and he and others have to step up, Bustle said.

VT's philosophy is that it likes to run the ball in order to be a physical offense, Bustle said. You can lose that edge if you pass too much.

When Coach Beamer came on, Bill Roth called the Miami game perhaps second only to the 1995 win over Virginia in its depth of drama. Beamer was especially pleased that the Hokies played their best in the final minutes and in the overtime. He said it says a lot about the players and coaching staff, knowing what adjustments to make and then executing in the final minutes.

He credited strength coaches Mike Gentry and Mike Goforth (sp?) for getting the team ready physically. "I felt like we were ready to play another quarter, if necessary." They said the strength coaches really worked at keeping the players hydrated throughout the week before the game and that it paid off. Only one IV was needed afterwards. Beamer said this was the best overall Miami team that VT has defeated.

Roth said the Hokies took Miami's best shot when Reggie Wayne scored the long TD and the Orange Bowl was "rocking like 1983." The next drive was critical for the Hokies and kept the defense off the field, Beamer said.

He and Roth talked about the disappointments that kept happening in the game -- near-misses on the FG and "safety," not converting the UM turnovers into enough points. Beamer talked about how the team just kept playing through the disappointments.

On the safety call, the ref said the running back got the ball across the goal line just as his knee went down. Beamer said the ref was right on top of it and it was the right call, although close. But he said the pass interference call against Loren Johnson was "a little suspect."

Shayne Graham gave it his best shot on the FG attempt near the end of 4th quarter, Beamer said. "He's going to win a lot of games at Virginia Tech." The Tech sideline was more surprised at the development than disappointed.

DE Corey Moore was named co-defensive player of the week in the Big East. Beamer called him an exceptional player who also is tough against the run and knows how to bend his body. It's like Moore has another gear to shift in to off the snap, he said.

On the fake punt, Beamer said he knew he wanted to go for it. One of the coaches said that with the time remaining and UM with a timeout left, the Canes can win the game. "I thought we could get a big play and WE could win," Beamer said. Engelberger was campaigning to go for it, saying "We came down here to win." Engelberger had been in motion twice earlier in the game on punt formations to see how the defense would react.

Redding's injury leaves VT thin on the offensive line. Beamer said to expect a three-way rotation at guard of Vick-Lehr-Marchant, "and maybe Campbell."

He said that OL Daniel Nihipali is not eligible this year, but is practicing. He didn't have enough transferable hours from junior college. They will seek permission for him to play two more years. Beamer said that OL Luke Owens is going to be a really good player, but will redshirt in 1998.

Sounded like Chris Steadley is next on the depth chart at fullback, after Ferguson. Andre Kendrick returned from two weeks of injury and practiced at fullback Monday.

What about using Houseright at fullback? Beamer said he questioned if that would be fair to Jake. So much is involved besides running the ball, like pass protection, and his development has been on defense. They will use him in the backfield in the goal line/short yardage situations. He practiced there Monday.

Caller asked about situation in the game when, tied 20-20, it appeared that Al checked off on second and third and goal. Beamer said they were trying to draw UM offside on one play. It looked like a checkoff, but wasn't.

What about Al taking VT's only timeout in OT? Beamer said they got the play in late, the play clock was running down and the offense lined up wrong. He credited Al as a veteran, knowing to take the timeout.

What goes into deciding whether to wear maroon or white pants on the road? Beamer said he really likes the maroon pants with the white tops. But he thought that because of the humid conditions at Clemson and UM that it made sense to wear all white. He likes both combinations. Beamer confided that he wasn't crazy about the new helmets initially, but they were what the seniors wanted. He said the new look is growing on him, though.

He told a caller that in a game like last week, it's easier to be involved with it than to try to watch it on television.

On the blocked punt, Kibble hit the ball at 1.96 seconds, which is good. The problem was in VT's blocking scheme.

The Tech defensive line is forcing a lot of the illegal procedure penalties by opponents who are trying to get a jump.

Beamer said "it's still early" and that "this weekend is another chapter in the book." Pitt likes its QB to check off a lot, so the bigger and louder the crowd in Lane Stadium, the better.

--GalaxHokie

          

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