The Hokie Hotline (football and basketball season)
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Tech Sports Tonight (football season only)
Monday, November 11, 2002
About halfway through Monday nightís show, a kid named Ethan wants to ask Frank Beamer a question from the audience. The coach recognizes the kid and says, "Thatís my buddy, Ethan!" And then the kid kind of gets to the heart of the matter when he stands up and asks the zinger question of the evening about the loss to Syracuse: "When did you think everything started to go downhill?"
After a roar of laughter, the coach talked his way around it and said the team hung in there and battled from behind and even had the advantage through two overtimes.
And then there was the woman who made it known that she was a Platinum Hokie, which apparently qualified her to tell Bud Foster that she didnít think there was any defensive game plan at all against the Orangemen.
Later, Foster said his review of the two losses showed that VT had good game plans and "thereís not one call Iíd like to have back. We just have to execute."
Bill Roth noted early in the segment with Bud Foster that the Hokies gave up more rushing yards in games 9-10 than they did in games 1-8 combined.
Foster acknowledged the defense hasnít played well for two weeks after playing "lights out" the first eight games. He said the execution of fundamentals has been missing. Coach Beamer asked him if he thought the squad needed a "fundamentals practice," but Foster said he thinks they really work on that sort of thing every day and that it was more important to give the team a few days off, which they are doing. The defense is mentally and physically fatigued, he said.
Foster said he was proud of the defensive effort and attributed much of the recent problems to the absence of injured linebacker Vegas Robinson. The Hokies have missed his 240 pounds of size, his experience and his ability to fill holes, he said. Youth and concentration have created weaknesses in the absence of some starters. On the other hand, the defensive coordinator praised Adibi, Colas and Baaqee for their play against SU.
A caller said it appeared the defense has been playing on its heels. Foster agreed that they played not to lose against Pitt. With Vegas out, the fact that Syracuse has so many wrinkles with its offense became a factor that VTís young players didnít always adjust or react to.
LB James Anderson played tentatively and needs to play better at the point of attack. His backup, Blake Warren, has been hurt a lot and took only six snaps in two games. While Vegas has been cleared to practice for WVU, Foster said if he canít play then, they would probably start Warren, because they want to get him in there.
Foster made some candid comments. When asked how the defense can get its confidence back, he acknowledged that "They may have lost it." Sometimes VT had perfect coverages called and they just werenít executed. At another point, when the contrast was made to the early season performance, Foster said "To be honest, I donít know that we were the third best team in America at the time."
A fan remarked that #1 teams canít be #1 all the time. Teams evolve Ė youth to experience, and their followers need to have patience as they develop.
VT has been playing a lot of 18- and 19-year-olds in big games for the first time, Foster noted, and with just five seniors on defense, the program has better days to look to. Speaking of which, a caller asked if VT has what it needs in place to get to the top in the next few years. Foster said VT has an excellent fan base and facilities, and is still a couple of recruiting classes away. The team is still rebuilding in some areas, he said.
A caller wondered if the familiarity with Techís defense by conference opponents Pittsburgh and Syracuse may be a factor in solving it, as opposed to the early out-of-conference opponents who saw the defense for the first time. Foster said the familiarity with personnel and schemes may have something to do with it. He pointed to Texas A&Mís win against conference opponent Oklahoma as an example of that.
Foster was asked for his assessment of how the package of rush-three, drop-eight into coverage is working. He said many teams are keeping people in to maximum protect against Techís pressure, which puts the pressure back on the secondary. He likes to work against that by showing the rush-three package. ("Itís a chess match.") If the offense uses six or seven in protection, then he likes to bring pressure. Bill Roth commented that some of Techís biggest interceptions in recent years (Keion Carpenter at Miami, among others he mentioned) were not in blitz situations, but just good coverage.
In the segment with Coach Beamer, Roth said his e-mail during the broadcast was running over, with mail coming in at about five per minute. He and Beamer mused that under the circumstances, there was no shortage of suggestions from the public!
The coach talked up Bryan Randall and Ernest Wilford for their play at Syracuse. Wilford has developed, is confident and has a height advantage on most defensive backs.
His assessment of the kicking game wasnít positive. He said there was a lack of focus. He lamented the field position given up on kickoffs at the 32, 36, and 35. Heís not happy with VTís own kickoff returns. There was no reason for the punt to be blocked after an emphasis in practice. He said the punting team became concerned with a corner man who left the headhunter to join the rush and then lost focus and didnít block Tyree, who blocked his third Tech punt in three years. "Weíve done it well for so long that sometimes you assume youíll get it done," and that was the Hokiesí undoing, Beamer said.
Carter Warley appears to retain the edge on field goal kicks. "I still think it will be Warley." But Beamer intends to keep the competition going and will also involve Nic Schmitt in competing for kickoffs.
The penalty on Hardee for hitting the quarterback in the helmet after a pitch was the right call upon further review, the coach said. Hardee should have pulled off if he could. The QB had pitched the ball and Hardee should have turned to the pitch guy, Beamer said. Instead, a little time elapsed and he hit the QB. Beamer said it "probably should be called." But he was concerned that two "obvious" helmet to helmet hits by SU against Randall and Easlick were not called. Against Pitt, two holding calls by Tech were "just barely holding" and the Big East agreed, Beamer said, in calling for consistency in whatever gets called.
A caller wanted to know about the lack of a balanced offensive attack last weekend. Beamer acknowledged that a couple of long, quick scores put the defense back on the field, but said he still wouldnít trade "a couple of 90-yard plays."
A caller wondered if the offensive lineís development gets neglected because Bryan Stinespring also is offensive coordinator. Beamer said thatís not a concern, that tight ends coach Danny Pearman helps with the OL and that other teams have coordinators who coach the offensive line (including Syracuse).
--GalaxHokie (subbing for JKHokie, whoís on the road)