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Monday, October 5, 1998

SORENSEN TO START VS. BC; PROMINENT MEDIA COVERAGE AHEAD

Al Clark is still not ready physically, and the Hokies will start Nick Sorensen at QB vs. Boston College.

Coach Beamer said "we think" Al will make the trip and be available to play as the number two QB, and Denny Randolph is third in depth. He said that Al is "slow moving right now," but getting better.

Coach Bustle put it that "we'll see where Al is when we get ready to play." And "Yes, there's a chance" he can play, "he's had some limited work."

Sorensen doesn't really throw as sharply as you would like, Bustle conceded, but he makes good decisions and has gotten most of the snaps in preparation for BC.

"Nick has been through this before...nothing fazes Nick. He said yesterday that he just feels so confident."

Bill Roth noted the highly unusual prospect of Tech starting three conference games in a row, all on national television, with three different quarterbacks.

Backup Dave Meyer will be out another week or so with the shoulder separation, Bustle said at one point, then later said it will be a couple of weeks yet. He said they tried to put Meyer in situations early against Pitt in which he could be successful and build confidence. Said that Meyer made good decisions about throwing and NOT throwing.

Bustle said BC is better than last year. Said the BC defensive scheme is unorthodox and that their noseguard gave Todd Washington fits last year.

Roth noted that the BC defensive coordinator is Tim Rose, who was coordinator at Cincinnati when the Bearcats shut out Tech in game two of the 1995 season.

Tech ran the ball 63 times and passed only 12 times in the meeting last year. Bustle said VT was in a different frame of mind then, after Coach Grimes had just been lost to the team, and the mindset was to just gut it out.

As to the 50+ points Louisville scored on BC in its last game, Bustle said U of L is a passing team that spread the defense out, and BC got three people hurt on defense in the game.

A caller told Bustle that he will be missed next year and to take it easy on the Hokies when he plays them in 1999. The reference is to speculation that Bustle could be a frontrunner for the Clemson job. Bustle focused on the caller's other comments and never acknowledged the point, nor did Bill Roth address it.

INJURIES ABOUND...

Fifteen players have been receiving treatment. Beamer said Shayne Graham has missed two days and had been "really hurting" but is feeling better. I didn't hear all he said at this point, but I don't think he elaborated about what the problem was. [Graham missed the 1996 UVa game due to problems with his lower back.] He said that Kibble has been "popping them through" as backup kicker to Shayne, and said he expects Shayne to be ready.

Stith is back at full speed. Prioleau's ankle has been causing some concern but he was back today. Reggie Samuel's hip is still giving him problems -- he missed the Pitt game with this condition. Other nagging injuries: Corey Moore, hamstring; Pegues, knees; Bradley, shoulder.

BC has five guys out for the season with injuries. Noseguard named Hogan was mentioned by both Tech coaches on the Hotline. He's 6-3, 285, and missed the U of L game. It is presumed he will play this week.

Roth mentioned the VT injury losses for the season at RG and FB (starters), the temporary loss of two QB's, moving a safety to QB -- wondering how deep VT can go. Beamer said one thing to keep in mind about injuries is that some guys are just waiting for their chance.

P-U-B-L-I-C-I-T-Y

USA Today will have a feature this Thursday on Tech's special teams and their kick-blocking prowess. Beamer praised Coach Foster for his work with the field goal blocking unit. He also said in response to a caller that Kibble practices regularly against Tech's punt blocking team, and he thinks both sides benefit.

Roth said that no sooner had Beamer hung up the phone with USA Today, than noted football writer Ivan Maisel called (today?).

Roth said that according to Sports Information Director Dave Smith, Sports Illustrated will have a writer and photographer at the BC game. A story is forthcoming next week "if we win the game."

And the New York Times staff has been talking with Tech coaches and also has a full feature planned.

Coach Beamer and deep snapper Shayne Beamer will be featured at 4 p.m. Tuesday on HTS.

LEADERSHIP

Beamer said leadership on the team has been good, and he cited Moore, Loren Johnson, Clark, Dwight Vick and Derek Smith in this regard. He said one thing the team does before a game is sit around in the meeting rooms and talk about how hard they are going to play for each other.

Roth told Beamer how he had been sent a 3-page list of proposed nicknames for the VT defense, and read off a few: Maroon Typhoon, Bud's Studs, Stone Cold Hokies, Legend of the Fall, Rack and Sack, etc.

Roth gave a copy of the list to the seniors Monday and asked them to come up with the name they liked best. In what speaks volumes about the mindset of the team, Roth said the seniors don't think there is anything special about the defense -- that they are playing the way they should be playing. They do not want a nickname because they don't want it to be a distraction. Loren Johnson reminded Roth that there was similar talk of nicknames the week Tech traveled to Syracuse in 1996, only to have VT give up 52 points. Beamer said later that this team has been good at focusing on what's important and not getting distracted.

OTHER STUFF

The coaches talked about keeping the pre-game preparations on the usual schedule, even with a Thursday night game. That is, the usual "Monday" practice was on Saturday, still five days before the game; "Tuesday" practice was Sunday, etc. They joked about not knowing what day of the week it is right now. Beamer says good players build up to a game and he believes in having a routine that helps that happen.

Caller asked about countering the possibility of BC stacking the line on defense against an inexperienced Tech QB. That would open up opportunities for the receivers one-on-one, Beamer said. "We're going to let Nick throw the ball." He talked about what a nice throw he made on the long ball against Pitt that was broken up at the goal line.

Another caller asked if VT would throw a halfback option pass to counter a stacked defense. Bustle said VT has such a play, although other teams are not stacking up on Tech like they did last year. "We've been able to get our wideouts down the field."

BC has the best offensive line as a group that VT has faced, Beamer said. QB Mutryn is a fifth year senior, and three of their top four receivers are seniors. The OL for BC has allowed only one sack in four games.

Caller asked about Corey Moore's options (returning for his last year or looking to the NFL) if he graduates in the spring. he coach said he expects Corey to apply for graduate school. Corey has exceptional talent, Beamer said, and can develop even further with another year of college ball. "He's not [yet] as good as he can be."

A conversation developed about the importance of stability to a coaching staff. Beamer said VT needs to keep the group together and to keep looking at things that can be done financially and in job security/contracts. Roth talked about the many years that some assistants have put in on the staffs at Nebraska and Penn State, for example, and that it isn't because of the money alone.

Caller asked about the likelihood of Miami and UCLA eventually rescheduling their game missed during the the hurricane. Beamer said he thought they would find a way, although he has no firsthand knowledge. Bill Roth asked what happens if UCLA finishes 10-0, while Ohio State and Nebraska are 11-0. How would it affect the rankings to determine who plays in the Fiesta Bowl national championship game? In other words, UCLA may really need to play the game in the end. Beamer said he likes Miami's chances in that matchup, due to UCLA's travel.

Recruiting: Bustle said the trend of early commitments seems to go in cycles. VT has two now, compared to perhaps a dozen at this point a year ago, Roth said. The coaching staff had a recruiting meeting last week and Bustle said he was excited to hear the coaches give their assessment of things. He is impressed with the caliber of programs that are competing with VT for some players. "We are in some high-cotton recruiting," he said.

Six national TV games this year can't hurt recruiting, Roth said. Bustle said one of the big questions he gets now is "who is your shoe contract with?" The answer being Nike, of course. "This Nike thing is unbelievable," Bustle said.

Jake Houseright is learning fast on his cram course at fullback. He has practiced every play that VT has and watches a lot of film. He has made only one "bust," as Bustle described a missed assignment, in each of the past two practices. Bustle called tremendous.

Caller asked if Andre Kendrick, an excellent high school quarterback, has been considered for QB role. Only during a brief conversation coming off the field one day, Bustle said -- there's just too much to learning the role.

(Correction: Someone pointed out last week that I mistakenly referred to Angelo Harrison as "Freeman" in my 9/28 report. For some reason, I call him that in conversation, too. Must be wishful thinking. Apologies for the error.)

--GalaxHokie

          

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