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Monday, November 2, 1998

WEAVER COMMENTS ON BOWLS, STADIUM, CONFERENCE; BUSTLE AND HITE ALSO HAD SEGMENTS ON THE SHOW

With the Hokies enjoying an off week, the guest format was different for Monday night's show. Coach Beamer was in Danville Monday night to speak to the Danville Touchdown Club. He called in for some brief comments, but the show mainly featured AD Jim Weaver, offensive coordinator Rickey Bustle and assistant head coach Billy Hite.

JIM WEAVER'S COMMENTS...

Weaver said he had dinner with the bowl reps Saturday night, but that the shift in the BCS ratings Monday had rendered moot a lot of the scenarios that were discussed. Or at least that was a way to avoid giving any real details.

VT wins over Syracuse and Rutgers should propel VT into one of the Alliance games, regardless of what happens with the other Big East teams.

Weaver was asked about the Notre Dame effect on the major bowls and Big East bowl slots. He said: if ND finishes 8-3, it can be considered for an alliance bowl. If ND finishes 9-2 or better, it AUTOMATICALLY will receive an alliance bid. Weaver said it "appears" from the ND schedule that it will be able to do it this season.

He clarified for a caller that ND cannot take away the alliance spot won by the Big East champion.

If ND does not earn an alliance bowl bid, it may be selected in place of a second Big East team for the Gator Bowl in 2 out of 4 years, or in place of a third BE team for the insight.com Bowl in Tucson in 1 out of 3 years.

Weaver was asked how the Gator would view selecting VT for a second consecutive year. He spoke of the excellent relationship that VT has built with the Gator folks and said VT "would be highly considered" for the Gator. He said the likely ACC selection for the Gator will be Georgia Tech. Weaver called GT a "natural rivalry" for VT and mentioned that GT's athletic director and president were previously at Virginia Tech. He and Roth said the Gator would not have a VT-UVa rematch, and preferably not a WVU-Georgia Tech matchup because those teams played last year in the Carquest Bowl.

Bowl games take care of themselves, Weaver said, and won't be firmed up officially until Dec. 6, the day after conference championship games.

"Let the team and staff take care of first things first," Weaver said, in obvious reference to focusing on one game at a time.

Regarding STADIUM IMPROVEMENTS, Weaver said the planning committee is underway and will meet again on Rutgers game weekend. By June the committee will have developed a "long-range, short-range plan for 25 years." It will address press box improvements, luxury boxes, and stadium enlargement of 12,000-14,000 seats in the South end zone.

He spoke of the need to "do something" in the North end zone, but it wasn't clear what this meant. Weaver said it doesn't make sense to pay $45,000 a year to rent temporary bleachers for two home games. VT's average attendance in 1998 is 49,652 in a stadium that officially seats 50,000.

Weaver was asked about conference rumors. He said he stays in touch with other AD's both in and out of the conference and that Notre Dame to the Big 10 is the only thing of substance. "Other than that, there is nothing out there that is concrete." He said the various rumors of teams jumping conferences are merely "speculative in nature."

The Big East's long-range planning process was to have been finished last spring but the AD's got into "substantive issues" that lengthened the process another year because there is much to study. He said, for example, that you don't just admit a team and then figure out later how to structure the conference basketball tournament around it.

Will VT know something from the Big East by the end of basketball season? Roth asked. "Bill, I can't really say," Weaver said, implying that he didn't know.

Weaver did say that Virginia Tech is too good academically and in athletics to not be in one full-fledged conference.

Weaver made a point to praise Hokie fans for their performance in Lane Stadium at the WVU game, saying they "truly were the 12th man" for the Hokies. He said that he stood on the sidelines with Larry Killough, faculty chairman for athletics, who told Weaver he had never heard Tech fans make so much noise.

Coach Beamer had time to call in only briefly while in the midst of a dinner before a full house in Danville. But he said he wanted to call and thank the fans for giving the Hokies such a home field advantage last Saturday. He said, as he has so often before, that "we're all in this together."

 

COACH BUSTLE'S SEGMENT...

Bustle said the team had its usual film review and group meetings Monday, then will take Tuesday off before hitting regular practices Wednesday and Thursday in advance of the open date.

A caller asked about the many non-calls for holding in the West Virginia game and wanted to know about the grading of officials. Bustle said that coach Hite normally sends in about four or five plays in question from a game for the BE supervisor of officials to review. This week, according to Bustle, Hite sent "the highest number of disputed calls we've had." He didn't specify what they were, but said they sent in around a dozen plays for review.

Roth joked about how Corey Moore probably went from a size XL to 4XL jersey because of all the holding that went on against him.

Bustle said Beamer asked him Saturday morning how far he thought Al Clark could go in the game. Bustle said he didn't know himself, going in, if Al would be able to finish. Al had told him on Thursday that "I'm going to play and stay in there."

Hite and Bustle spoke about how much effect the presence of Clark had on the team. Bustle said that while Al was not at full speed, he looked like his old self.

He noted that Clark was sacked on a play just before throwing one of the long touchdowns. He said that was an example of a senior QB knowing what to do and that it's better to take the sack than to force a throw. He also praised Clark for recognizing the coverage by WVU's defensive backs on both TD pass plays, and how he saw the side that they rolled away from and attacked it.

The play in which WVU intercepted at the 7 happened because Al got hit just as he threw and the ball didn't go where it was supposed to. He said they had a good play called there otherwise. It was also said that our receiver was held.

On the very early fumble lost in the backfield, the film showed that Jarrett Ferguson's elbow was sticking out and knocked the ball out as it was being handed off to Pegues.

Bustle said he was disappointed by the overall yardage gained by Tech. There were a number of times when the offense did well on first down but then bogged down and didn't get anything on second down. In the second half, VT got all five of its first downs on one scoring drive, Roth said.

Roth wondered about WVU's offensive strategy. He added that the team that has rolled up the most yards on VT in the past four years is Miami, and the Canes have done it by maximum protecting, running right at you and taking some shots with long throws.

A caller asked about the "deep draw play" handoff. Bustle acknowledged that it gives the appearance of being slow in developing, but that it sets up the sprint draw pass. While VT hasn't gotten the mileage out of the play that they would have liked, it does open up other things, Bustle said, and WVU was hurt by these plays in earlier games.

Did they try to restrict what they ran with Al in his first game back? Not much, Bustle said. They showed four wideouts early, went back to it, took some deep shots.

Roth said he asked Coach Lou West Monday about the goal line play in question as to whether Zereoue scored. West said it was close and could have gone either way.

A caller wanted to know if there's any chance that Cullen Hawkins and Josh Redding will be back this year from injuries. Bustle said that Redding has already taken his redshirt year and that there is "some optimism" that he could return by the Rutgers or Virginia games. He thought that a redshirt for Hawkins "will be forthcoming." Later, Billy Hite said there's no chance Hawkins will return this season. Hawkins has told Hite he wants to use his redshirt year and return for two more seasons. He said Hawkins has been a factor in helping Jarrett Ferguson with his development.

There were no other details about injuries. Syracuse has a new defensive coordinator, but he's a former member of the staff who runs the typical SU defense, Bustle said. He volunteered that the Hokies may match up better in some areas against the SU defense than against WVU's. He said the Hokies "may match up better in the trenches."

Bustle said the receivers ran their routes about 1 1/2 yards too short on two key plays where they were stopped just short of first downs.

Dave Meyer is close to 100 percent and may be 100 percent by Wednesday. Sorensen will remain second on the depth chart, followed by Meyer.

 

COACH HITE'S COMMENTS...

Billy said the assistant coaches all know they are lucky to work for Frank Beamer, that he lets you work and teach the players.

He talked about the return of Al Clark and the confidence that is felt by all around him. He said Nick Sorensen "is a real winner in my book" for stepping in and coming through in demanding circumstances this season.

A caller wanted to know why VT doesn't throw to its running backs more often, and why the no huddle has not been used much. Hite said the problem last year was that FB Marcus Parker was the team's leading receiver due to all the injuries at WR.

Bill Roth gave these statistics for receptions so far: 61 by wide receivers, 17 by running backs, 4 by tight ends, and one by a defensive end (Engelberger caught the fake punt pass vs. ECU).

Hite said the coaches felt VT had lost its edge with the no huddle. Other teams came to understand the codes and signals and knew what VT was doing. Once the team went against the same defensive coordinator for three seasons, it was time to change. VT still shows the no huddle on occasion.

Hite said he has never had this much depth at tailback. Suggs and Burnell are good enough to play now, but he's glad they redshirted. He said he feels bad that Andre Kendrick doesn't get to play more behind Pegues and Stith, and that he tells him to hang in there because you never know. He also mentioned Wayne Ward as having promise.

They may not keep them all at tailback. The battle will come in the spring. Hite said these are unselfish players and that some could move to other positions if needed. This year's team has been fun because so many people have stepped up to make the plays week after week, and the offensive line has developed so much since spring practice, Hite said.

He said that offensive line coach Bryan Stinespring gets his vote for assistant coach of the year.

Recruiting: every year is different regarding timing of commitments. It's early yet, he said. VT is in with a lot of good players. The past two recruiting classes at Tech, especially 1998's, are the best Hite's been around.

 

OTHER STUFF...

Ike Charlton is the Big East's defensive player of the week.

Whip Lorenzo Ferguson had 18 tackles against WVU. Roth says: VT is 21-4 in past 25 conference games, 8-4 in games against ranked teams and 7-3 in the past decade against WVU.

Billy Hite and equipment manager Lester Karlin are the only two people with the program who were on the sideline when Tech last won in the Carrier Dome during Bill Dooley's last season, 1986.

In the event of a three-way tie for first place in the Big East, the highest ranked team goes to the Alliance Bowl. The other BE bowls do not have to follow the standings in picking for Gator and insight.com Bowl slots -- they pick second and third teams, not necessarily the second and third PLACE teams.

Roth said that VT is now posting real time stats on the VT sports website every 15 seconds during home games and it's the same screen that people in the pressbox see.

He told a caller that the VT-Virginia game on Nov. 28 (ESPN) could have a kickoff time of noon, 6:30, 7, 7:30 or 8. Come early and stay late! The Hokie Hotline shows of Nov. 9 and 16 will be broadcast from the Volume II Bookstore.

And we close tonight with these words from Jim Weaver: The AD said that Virginia Tech's best days are ahead in football, and that he means that "enthusiastically," with no slight intended to the five recent bowl teams that were building blocks for the program.

These past years give Tech something to build on to win the national championship, he said.

"It took Nebraska a lot of years to get there, Penn State a lot of years to get there, Florida a lot of years to get there. We will get there some day."

Yours in Hokiedom,

--GalaxHokie

          

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