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Monday, October 26, 1998

AL CLARK TO START AT QB?

Al "did OK" in a light workout Monday, Coach Beamer said, and "we expect him to start" against West Virginia. The inflection of his voice in saying he "did OK" indicated that he meant that to be taken as a favorable OK.

Coach Foster said he watched Clark for about 10 minutes during passing drills, during which "he seemed to be doing well." Beamer also said Al threw the ball very well and noted that he has practiced some pretty much all along since his injury just over five weeks ago.

There was surprisingly little discussion of the quarterback situation, given the circumstances. No discussion of who's second and third on the depth chart. One caller asked if we might see all three QB's get some playing time and involve their individual strengths.

Said Beamer: "Well, we're just trying to get ONE quarterback some playing time right now." He said he's never been a believer in moving people in and out like that, nor making a QB start looking over his shoulder.

Coach Foster said that, as of now, he doesn't know if Sorensen will return to defense this year. "Right now he needs to stay at quarterback." He did say that Sorensen "could" return to safety in 1998, but sounded as if that decision isn't imminent.

He acknowledged that it has been a factor in depth at safety and on special teams by not having Sorensen. Meanwhile, Anthony Midget has been getting some work to back up Carpenter at safety. Midget is not the physical guy they'd necessarily prefer at the position play after play, Foster said, but he has good skills. Steven Hunt, a walk-on from Blacksburg, is third at the position.


INJURIES

Foster said the defense is healthy. But the receiving corps will be thin again this week. Andre Davis is still out. Ken Handy is being evaluated but was getting around "fairly well" in Monday's practice, Beamer said. Reggie Samuel was injured again (ankle) at UAB and they aren't certain about his return. Ricky Hall has a bad shoulder but is expected to be OK for WVU.


THE MOUNTAINEERS

The coaches spent a lot of time talking about how good West Virginia is, especially on offense. One WVU fan calling in from Morgantown even told Beamer the coaches were laying it on thick with their "coachspeak" about WVU!

"West Virginia was picked number one in the preseason [in the Big East] for a reason," Foster said, and that's talent.

He said WVU is the best prepared team that Tech faces year in and year out.

Bill Roth said, and the two coaches agreed, that this WVU team rates with the great offensive teams that have visited Blacksburg through the years. Roth said it's the best offense since Florida State visited with Peter Tom Willis at quarterback (1989?).

Foster said that while Tech respects that talent, the VT defense isn't going to shy away. Miami didn't really stop WVU, Foster said -- West Virginia stopped itself.

WVU quarterback Marc Bulger has completed 68 percent of his passes and thrown 15 touchdowns. Foster said he's a better QB at this point than was WVU's Major Harris.

Beamer twice mentioned the height of the WVU receivers. Foster said they have excellent receivers that go four deep and that "they catch everything in the vicinity." Not a lot was said of RB Amos Zereoue, beyond the obvious that he is good, physical and you hope you can contain him.

A caller asked about the Statue of Liberty play that WVU ran against Miami. Foster said the defense has to prepare for it, because WVU has great success with it. VT had it defended last year, Foster said, but missed a tackle on a key play.

WVU starts four seniors on the OL, has maturity on the team overall and a very good kicker, Beamer said. VT leads the conference in pass defense categories, while WVU has the best pass offense.


THE UAB GAME

A number of callers congratulated the team for bouncing back with a good game at UAB.

The Blazers failed to cross midfield in the game. Roth brought up that Watson Brown's teams have failed to score on Tech in three straight games -- once when he was at Vanderbilt and twice at UAB. Coach Foster said the Hokies were able adjust well to the wrinkles that UAB came up with ("sandlot formations," Roth called 'em), and keep putting the pressure on.


CHARACTER PRAISED

Must have been about five callers who made it a point to talk about the players and Coach Beamer for their character, integrity and accessibility to the public. One saluted the fact that the team is doing the job on the field and not in the newspapers. Another said he and his wife ran into Shyrone Stith and Cory Bird in a store and that they took time out to talk to this couple. Even a chaplain from the Virginia Boys Home in Richmond called to say that Beamer sets a fine example of integrity.

Beamer said that former Tech tight end Steve Johnson, who went on to the pros, accompanied the team down to Birmingham. Johnson made a point of telling the coach about noticing how the team was well-behaved and courteous on the flight, hotel, etc.

Beamer said that "all your actions, every day" go into instilling the discipline and behavior you expect. The team's leaders have to be the same way and influence others, he said.

It was interesting that so many calls touched on this theme. Think about how far things have come since October 1996.


OTHER STUFF

Beamer commented briefly on the Terry Bowden situation at Auburn. He said there's probably more to it than the wins and losses, but from the standpoint of wins and losses and what Bowden did with the program, it all goes to show "how out of whack things can get" with people and a program.

There was some discussion about how WVU dropped eight spots in one of the polls after a tough loss to Miami, but Missouri went up one spot after losing to Nebraska. Beamer said he thinks that's pretty much the way it should be -- that who you play should factor into your poll position.

In Big East games this week, Beamer picked: Temple over Rutgers, SU over Pitt and Miami over BC.

A caller asked about all the attrition at fullback and mentioned the hopes once held for Shelly Ellison at FB. Beamer said that, yes, he'd like to have a 240-pound fullback who's nifty and that VT is recruiting a couple of bigger guys for the position. He talked about the solid play of Jarrett Ferguson at fullback; and mentioned the backups, Houseright and Wolfe; and two guys in the program with a chance to help at FB -- Briggs (235 pounds?) and Piniella.

A caller from West Virginia said he noticed Tech's roster is 65 to 70 percent Virginia players and asked about Tech's recruiting area. Beamer talked about the emphasis on Virginia, then "the surrounding areas," parts of Pennsylvania and Florida from Orlando to the south.

The caller asked if Tech still uses a partially deflated ball to practice punt blocks. Beamer said yes. He said WVU has had success with its technique this year also -- the Mountaineers blocked punts against Miami and Navy.

The same guy asked about Tech's conference hopes. Beamer said the hope if for full Big East affiliation, but that it is hoped that as VT becomes even more competitive, some conference will want a team like VT for all sports.

Another caller asked why Ike Charlton is not used as the field corner on defense, where the corner is "on an island" and Charlton could use his superior speed. Bud Foster said the player at the boundary corner has to be strong at playing against the run, and that Charlton is the most physical guy to put there, rather than at field corner.

A caller asked if they work in practice on blocking during interception returns. VT was flagged during an interception for an apparent touchdown Saturday for the third (?) time this season, which prompted the question. Foster said they do work on it in practice. At UAB, Corey Moore gave good effort but a man turned and Corey blocked him in the back. Foster called them "effort penalties," but agreed that "we need to use better sense."

A question came up about credit for sacks. The official sacks on VT statistics are those that are credited by the coaches when they break down the game film. Because of this, the VT totals may not agree with the Big East's. Sacks are not an official NCAA statistic, Roth said.

Roth told a caller that he thinks the Big East team in the BCS will play in the Orange Bowl against the Florida State-Virginia winner.

Yours in Hokiedom,

--GalaxHokie

          

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