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Monday, October 19, 1998

QUARTERBACKS

Sorensen will start against Alabama-Birmingham. Backup Dave Meyer should be available. He threw better Monday after experiencing pain last week, Coach Bustle said. "Dave ought to be able to play."

Al Clark's foot is NOT going to be placed in a cast this week. Dr. Lagan told the staff that Al should completely rest his injured foot and not practice this week. Clark will make the trip to Birmingham.

If the first two QB's go down, Bill Roth asked Bustle, what happens. In such an emergency scenario, Bustle said, Al would be available.

Roth told Beamer that he hopes Clark didn't throw his last pass in the game at the Orange Bowl. "The doctors and I don't feel that's the case," Beamer said. "He will rest it and hope he can come back against West Virginia."

Roth asked how Al can stay sharp if he's out about six weeks altogether. Bustle said Al has practiced some during this time and that he thinks Al would be fine from the mental standpoint, making checkoffs at QB, etc.

In response to a caller who asked about redshirt QB Michael Vick, Beamer said he had no regrets about the decision not to play him this year. The decision was made based on what's best for the player and the program, he said. Beamer said Vick is quite talented, but there also is the concern about forcing a player into such a situation too quickly. He pointed to Ronald Curry's freshman problems at UNC this year.

Coach Beamer got a bit testy with the caller who asked about whether politics with Vick's high school coach was factoring into the decision. Beamer said he wasn't sure what that means. The caller implied that VT was avoiding crossing the coach -- who wants Vick to redshirt -- because of future recruiting considerations. Beamer told the caller "you are out of line a little bit there," and after speaking well of the high school coach, said "WE will make decisions that are best for the program."

INJURIES

Receivers Ken Handy and Andre Davis remain injured and there was no indication when they might return. Definitely not this week. Davis was having problems with a persistent deep thigh bruise and treating it himself before an x-ray found a calcium deposit in his leg. He can't play until they "get it down," whatever that means.

Bustle said the coaches had a personnel meeting planned Monday night to discuss moving Reggie Samuel to flanker, which would elevate Emmett Johnson into the rotation to play more at split end. Johnson is third in depth there right now.

Centers Short and Schnecker barely practiced Monday. Both are hobbled and Bustle said they could barely walk at the end of the game.

Someone remarked that the injuries and developments with the team resemble the 1997 season. Bustle said he has always thought that "we can handle it better this time" because of depth. Roth noted that last year a player like Johnson was being redshirted, but this year he's available to step up.

THE MOOD

Bustle and Beamer made references to how the team was taking things. Bustle said it was a "sad day" to watch the players in the weight room Sunday. He said the staff met with the team and showed them film of the game because "we wanted them to see it and get it over with."

Bustle volunteered that Derek Smith, one of the seniors, had come to see him and wanted to get the seniors together from a leadership standpoint. Smith told Bustle he didn't think the team bounced back last year after the Miami-Ohio loss.

Bill Roth said Beamer indicated on the Big East coaches' broadcast Monday that he had seen some signs of concern for the Temple game at last Thursday's practice. He said he wanted to ask Beamer about that when he came on later in the broadcast, but it never came up. Roth SEEMED to imply that the coach had seen hints of a lack of focus.

The prevailing message from Coach Beamer Monday night about the Temple loss was that what's done is done, it can't be changed, so get on with it.

He said it is a great compliment to the VT program that it has won five of six games with the experience situation it had coming back this season, and personnel that's been out of action.

The 1998 team has had "five great moments and one lousy moment," he said. And in looking back at 1995 when the team started out 0-1 in the conference and then lost to Cincinnati in week two only to bounce back and win the Sugar Bowl, Beamer said this team can still tie for the Big East Championship. But he said he didn't want to talk about that tonight because the UAB game should be the focus.

THE TEMPLE GAME

The Hokies had a season high 480 yards of offense. Pegues and Stith had career-best rushing days. Bustle said that Pegues is starting to break on into the secondary, but that the down-field blocking against Temple wasn't good enough in support of the running game.

Temple showed a different defensive front and coverage than it had used at any time this year and VT had to adjust to that at first. Temple used three down linemen instead of four.

Bustle praised Sorensen's performance in the 2-minute offense with the game on the line. VT started on the 12, then lost back to the 7, which means that Sorensen led the offense on a 90-yard drive in less than 2 minutes. He said the QB pretty much called the plays and freelanced on the way down the field. The shovel pass was one of the few plays Bustle called in before the goal line situation.

The third down pass play to Hall was well-executed but dropped. (They pointed out that Hall made a great catch in OT to win at Miami). The fourth down run play that failed was the exact same play that VT scored on (untouched?) in the previous drive, but there was a breakdown.

Beamer said the last drive says a lot about Nick Sorensen and that there is no question about him having heart.

The coach mentioned several times that the screen pass to Hall on the last drive was set up well, only to have the pass fall short. "It may go to the end zone" otherwise, he said.

The irony, he said, was that the screen was well executed but the pass was short. At the goal line the pass was there but the execution/catch wasn't.

Beamer said the loss was not due to lack of effort, but to fundamental breakdowns that showed a lack of focus. He talked about how VT failed to put Temple away after leading 17-0, then fumbling at the 1 and missing a field goal. He questioned the holding call against Kadela early in the second half and said that hurt by backing up the offense to the 10. But for these developments, the game was heading toward a 40-7 type game, he said.

Give Temple credit for the way it played after Tech allowed the Owls to stay in the game, he said.

"We played awful" on the screen pass play that went for the Owls' first touchdown, Beamer said.

OTHER STUFF

UAB game is at 7 p.m. Pregame show is at 6.

Kickoff for West Virginia game is at noon on Oct. 31. The game will be televised as one of two Big East games of the week, and not on CBS.

Kicker Shayne Graham is struggling, and "out of his groove a little bit," Beamer acknowledged. He said he advised Shayne not to listen to everybody who's trying to offer advice right now, and don't start aiming it. Shayne is a solid, competitive, fundamental kicker who just has to get his groove back, he said.

UAB is giving up an average of just 117 yards rushing per game, and the average includes a game with Nebraska. UAB played Nebraska close for a half. Billy Clay, a VT assistant under Charley Coffey, is defensive coordinator for UAB.

Coach Beamer was very appreciative of the letters and emails of support he has received for the coaches and team, including some that Roth handed him while on the air. Several callers, I think, talked about the players handling the situation Saturday with class.

A caller from Southwest Virginia talked about having to hear it from Tennessee fans about the Temple loss, but Roth reminded him of a UT loss to Memphis when Peyton Manning was at QB.

When a caller identified himself as being from Hillsville, Beamer laughed and said he hoped his hometown constituency wasn't going to start ripping him. Roth said that area of Virginia (Fancy Gap) offers the best view in the state, short of a scoreboard showing the score VT 38-UVA 13.

Beamer predicted a West Virginia win at home against Miami this weekend.

Big East rushing leaders include: 1. Cloud. 2. Zereoue. 3. PEGUES. 7. STITH. 10. Swope (sp?), WVU.

Coach Beamer said he told the team that as great as the five wins and the great moments have been, and as disappointing as Saturday was, still what determines the 1998 season is what's ahead.

"I'm aware we're not there yet," as far as being an elite program, Beamer said at another point, but he said that VT has a lot of things going in the right direction with its program.

--GalaxHokie

          

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