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Monday, November 9, 1998
HOKIES ARE HEALTHY...
Coaches Beamer and Foster indicated the Hokies are in good shape injury wise for the Syracuse game. Bill Roth commented that it is the healthiest the team has been since the Miami game. Bud Foster said no defensive starter has missed a game this year.
Receiver Andre Davis ran Monday in practice and thinks he will be able to play after many weeks off. Al Clark practiced the two regular days last week and again Monday, and "moved around pretty well," Foster said. Four players have been practicing on a limited basis (no contact): Hall, Carpenter, Charlton and L. Ferguson.
OL Redding will be evaluated again on Tuesday, but is not expected back anytime soon, Beamer said. Meyer's shoulder is in good shape. Beamer said Sorensen will remain #2 at QB and Meyer #3 for the next three games.
Coach Foster said he sees QB Donovan McNabb in his sleep and wishes the guy had graduated three years ago. His ability presents a different set of defensive challenges, Foster said, and makes Syracuse the biggest test the Hokies have had this year.
Beamer said it's his observation that as McNabb goes, so goes Syracuse -- from a momentum standpoint. WVU did a good job of controlling him.
Roth noted that the VT defense leads the conference in sacks, interceptions and virtually every category. Foster said the defense hasn't played its best game yet and will have to have that kind of effort.
Interestingly enough, Foster said he thinks the artificial turf at the Carrier Dome will be to "our" advantage, perhaps a reference to the VT defense? The Hokies are spending half of every practice in the Rector Fieldhouse this week in order to work out on the same type of artificial turf that SU has.
Roth and Foster contrasted the past two meetings with Syracuse. In 1996 in the dome, VT gave up 45 points on defense and 7 more by special teams. The Hokies weren't very good fundamentally in that game and did things they don't normally do, Foster said. Last year, the defense contained the option and played well fundamentally.
Foster talked about the success of putting pressure on WVU's Bulger from the DL without having to blitz as much. He said that when teams keep two backs in for maximum protection, the Hokies aren't going to blitz as much and will let the front guys bring the pressure.
It's important with Syracuse to control the run and VT wants to hold the Orange to about half its 230 yards per game average on the ground, Foster said. That's what WVU did. It's important to keep McNabb contained and to be able to force him inside where there's help. Beamer said it's important to get to McNabb quickly when he's forced to run because he has excellent vision and ability to find receivers downfield while he's on the run.
Beamer brought up WVU Coach Nehlen's comment that SU is the best team in the conference, and said "they probably are."
Roth noted that VT has played well at some tough places this year, and Beamer has a good career record on the road in the Big East: 3 for last 3 at BC, 2 for 2 at Miami, 2 of last 4 at WVU, plus 2 of last 3 at UVa. But he hasn't won yet at the Dome. The closest call was in 1994 when the Hokies lost a fourth quarter lead on two long TD runs and fell 28-20.
Beamer says he likes the atmosphere of the Carrier Dome and that the Syracuse series is strange in that the home team is on a winning string.
He predicted that Syracuse will play its best game of the year against Tech. SU proved it is capable, he said, by winning at Michigan and coming within one play of beating Tennessee.
Beamer said he told the coaches they need to challenge the players, that it's going to come down to execution wherever the game is played.
There were questions about how to prepare for the noise in the dome. Some wanted to know if the team will blare noise into the fieldhouse during practice this week. Beamer said the problems with that are two-fold: it's hard to turn the noise up and down when you are trying to coach and teach. There's also the danger of yelling and calling signals over the noise and losing your voice before the game is even played. It's possible they would consider using some noise at practice on Thursday, when less coaching is involved, he said. "I'm not sure how much [practicing against] noise helps."
He said the Hokies go to the no huddle and use hand signals quite a bit, which could come into play at the dome. Beamer's biggest noise worry, based on 1996, is how the OL comes off the snap count.
Beamer talked about the tough practices they are having this week and said he thinks that's important in the preparation.
He said he has moved toward more challenging workouts, rather than just let the starters bang against the scout team for 40 minutes and not accomplishing a lot other than checking assignments. Now they alternate going against the scout team, then some head to head work. He said having Engelberger go against Derek Smith, or Prioleau chasing down Pegues, helps both players get better fundamentally by the end of the season.
Bill Roth said he thinks VT could have "something permanent" in the way of seating expansion in the north end zone by next year. He said that after seeing the overhaul of Legion Field in Birmingham and some improvements elsewhere, it is apparent that you don't have to spend millions of dollars pouring concrete to expand seating. He didn't elaborate.
(Note from Will: look for about 5,000 permanent aluminum bleachers to be installed in the North, or non-scoreboard, end zone, starting at the ground and going up. You can build some substantial, relatively inexpensive seats and add those 5k seats easily. With Clemson, Miami, Syracuse, Boston College, and JMU visiting next year, along with UAB, the Hokies can definitely use the additional seats. At a conservative $25 per seat, that's an additional $125,000 in gate revenue for each game that we can fill those extra seats. But one question - where are the extra rest rooms and concessions going to come from for those seats?)
Roth pointed out how close VT is to averaging 50,000 fans at home for the first time ever. If the UVa game draws the same as WVU, Tech needs to draw 48,600 for Rutgers to reach the 300,000 home attendance for six games. This, coupled with the fact that students couldn't get enough tickets for WVU, is a sign that it's time to expand the stadium, Beamer and Roth said. Beamer said he thinks improvements such as dressing rooms will come eventually to the south end zone.
If the Tech program continues to grow and the stadium is expanded to the largest in the state, Beamer said you raise the chances of becoming a school that an all-sports conference "can't do without," be it the Big East and otherwise. The way that recruiting is going, "we'll be there..." "If not the Big East, then somebody is going to want Virginia Tech."
Someone asked Coach Foster if the coaches talk about how many points they need to hold a team to, etc., or do they just worry about the fundamentals. Foster said the defense's goal is to hold teams to under 13 points, to bend but not break.
A live audience format was used for the Hotline show tonight at Volume II bookstore. Same format and place on Nov. 16.
This is the fourth year in a row in which VT has entered November with a chance to win the conference. In six seasons since 1993, Penn State is the only team in the east (northeast?) to have won more football games than Virginia Tech, Roth said. Tech is 51-18 in regular season games during that span. Syracuse ranks third behind PSU and VT. As someone noted on Hokie Central Message Board in recent days, the Hokies are in the running again to capture the Lambert Trophy for eastern football supremacy.
TRIVIA: Bill Roth asked how many teams have ever won the following combination (I think this is right. Somebody post if it isn't): 1. an Alliance football game, 2. men's NCAA basketball tournament field game, 3. women's NCAA tourney game. 4. an NCAA baseball tournament game? Only one: Virginia Tech.
(Note from Will: I think he meant in the last four years.)
One of the Hotline callers Monday night was from Maui. He lives there and listens to Tech broadcasts over the Internet.
Caller again brought up the blatant holding that teams are getting away with against the Tech defense. Foster said he wasn't at liberty to get into criticism of the officials. But he said there were four instances in which WVU grabbed the facemask of Corey Moore and it wasn't called. Foster said he was worried about Moore's safety. Said he talked to the side judge about the holding.
Syracuse's top receiver, Kevin Johnson, was recruited by Tech as a quarterback and Beamer made a home visit. He says Johnson will play in the NFL and is an example of SU always placing a recruiting emphasis on speed. Beamer said he spent the open weekend by watching the Tech jayvee game on Friday, then built a fire at home and watched games on television Saturday. He said the WVU-SU outcome didn't surprise him. He talked to Nehlen on Friday and Nehlen sensed that his team was ready to bounce back.
Roth said Nehlen has complained about the schedule that WVU drew of playing Miami-VT-SU in succession. Beamer said that when you are on a streak, however, you just want to keep playing.
Basketball broadcast for Tech's basketball opener will begin at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Game vs. William and Mary is at 2. Pre-game football show is at 7, game at 8 on ESPN2. (Note from Will: the bad news is, according to Roth, Charlie Steiner and Tood Christansen will be doing the announcing again. AAARRGH!)
Yours in Hokiedom,
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