Tech Talk Live Notes for October 29, 2012

Chris Coleman, TechSideline.com, on October 30, 2012
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Jim Weaver

This storm is like no other that we’ve ever had. The Hokies are expected to be able to fly out of Roanoke on Wednesday night. If for some reason they can’t, they will bus to Greensboro and fly from there. It’s very important for Tech to make sure all their teams can travel safely this week.

Weaver is very proud of the men’s cross country team winning the ACC Championship. It’s Tech’s first ACC Championship in that sport.

Tech’s graduation rate across the athletics department is much higher than the national average. The Hokies are recruiting the right kind of people across all sports. Tech even had a 100% graduation rate in some sports.

Georgia Tech AD Dan Radakovich has moved to Clemson. It’s rare that AD’s move from one school to another in the same league. It surprised Weaver a bit, but when you think about it, Clemson has the ability to generate a lot more money than Georgia Tech, so the move makes sense. When you are an urban AD, you often compete against urban attractions such as pro sports teams, or other big city attractions. Being the AD at Clemson is much different than being the AD at Georgia Tech.

There is a lot to play for on Thursday night. Weaver hopes the Hokies can come out fast on offense, defense and special teams. He hopes the Hokies can play the enthusiastic football that they are used to playing.

Jim Cavanaugh

The biggest thing Jim Cavanaugh does during the season is keep the recruiting paperwork off the desk of the coaches. All the film these days is through email. He’ll only send the film on to the coaches if he thinks the prospect is good enough. He doesn’t want to waste their time.

Tech is pretty much done with the 2013 class. Now they are focusing on the 2014 class.

Cavanaugh has been turned in twice by opposing coaches. High school coaches will call, and he’s not supposed to do certain things, but opposing coaches will accuse him of doing so. Such as last year when they got some kids from Richmond, “that bunch up in Charlottesville, they had something to say”.

Cavanaugh does a lot of eligibility clinics around the state. He has to be careful because people will want to come up and talk football, and he can’t specifically do that.

A big issue in recruiting these days is playing time. Most of these kids don’t necessarily care who wins a game between NC State and UNC, or between VT and UVA. They just want to see the depth chart at their position.

Tech does a good job of recruiting good kids with good parents, and they rarely change their minds late in the recruiting process. Sometimes there are academic issues, and occasionally a recruit will decommit and go somewhere else, but it doesn’t happen too often.

The hardest thing about recruiting these days is trying to make decisions watching sophomore film. That’s hard, but the recruiting process starts earlier these days. Some guys jump out at you immediately, and some guys don’t. It’s particularly tough with linemen. That’s why Cavanaugh likes to recruit a lot of tight ends. They are tall guys and they could end up playing offensive line.

Cavanaugh found John Graves by scouting a big lineman from Petersburg. Graves kicked his butt all night long, and Cav gave Graves a verbal offer at the end of the game.

Tech is pretty young at certain positions. You can practice and scrimmage all you want, but getting into a game is totally different. It took some guys awhile to adjust. Stuff happens in a game that doesn’t happen in practice.

Duke is a “pretty darn good team. They beat Carolina.”

The score of the Clemson game doesn’t show how close that game was. Cav has to be careful about what he says on the air, but he knows that all the Tech fans saw the game, and he referred to the questionable calls by the officials.

Cav remembers the end of 2003, when everybody had a “woe is me” attitude. The Hokies turned that around. Tech is 4-4, but they can still end up in Charlotte for the ACC Championship.

Lester Karlin

As soon as the Hokies unpack from one trip, they start to repack for the next trip. They get all the uniforms washed on Monday, or immediately after a home game. They never really stop in the equipment room.

Karlin will wash uniforms over and over again, and use different types of spray. That generally gets Tech’s white uniforms back in good shape, eventually.

The Hokies are working on some kind of an all-maroon combo. He can’t go into any details.

Karlin’s favorite uniform combo is all-maroon. The grass stains don’t show as badly, so they are easier to clean.

The VT athletics department has announced that they are sponsoring an auction to endow a scholarship in Karlin’s name. It’s a great feeling. He was shocked when it was announced.

To outfit a player from head to toe, it costs around $1500-2000. That includes all the warmup suits for Friday workouts.

The Nike relationship is fantastic. Tech tests new football equipment for Nike, and they get feedback from the players and send it back to Nike. Karlin generally gives the scout team players the new equipment to use during practice. They are basically like a Nike lab. They usually test new shoes and gloves.

James Johnson

The team is doing well. They are working hard and are in great spirits.

Cadarian Raines and Robert Brown are healthy. Brown is 100% healthy, but he is a little rusty from missing so much time over the summer due to his foot surgery. His timing is a little off, but he’s doing well overall. Raines is in great condition and looking really good.

Tech plans on signing four players during November’s signing period. They have commitments from two guards and two post players. They’ve added some big guards who can score. Johnson is excited about the class. They still have one scholarship to give, and they are probably going to wait until the spring.

Johnson wants to build the program up with freshmen who can come in and learn the system from day one. He did take Adam Smith as a transfer this year, but the Hokies will have him on the court for three full seasons after he sits out this year.

Johnson is going to hold on to that extra scholarship just to see what happens with the team he has this year. He wants to see how his players play before he decides what to do with that final scholarship.

Offensively, the players have bought in. The Hokies are going to be able to play fast this year. In the future, Johnson would like to be able to go with a lot of full court press and a lot of traps, but they won’t be able to do that as much this year because of the lack of depth. However, they will definitely trap in certain situations. He’s not going to let the depth change what he wants to do on the offensive end.

Tech will try to run a little more. They have fewer set plays in right now. He wants his players to think about running on both makes and misses. He’s held back on the set plays for now. He wants to make them hurry and find easy scoring opportunities.

Defensively, Tech will be a solid man-to-man team. They are going to sprinkle in a little zone here and there to try and keep certain personnel out of foul trouble. In spots they will get out and trap some in the full court, but they won’t be able to do it as much as Johnson would like this year.

Johnson has seen better leadership from Erick Green in spots. Being a leader is tough. Green never realized how tough it is. Johnson is expecting a lot from him this year. It’s something he has to do constantly, every day, on the court, in the locker room, downtown, etc.

Johnson was happy with the Orange-Maroon scrimmage. Both teams played fast, the way he wants them to play. He was excited to see that. Marshall Wood was very good. He shot the ball well, and he rebounded it well. C.J. Barksdale is in the best condition of his career, and he looked good. Robert Brown look very good despite missing some practice time.

Joey van Zegeren gives the Hokies some rebounding, shot blocking and size. Tech isn’t going to be running any set plays for him offensively, but Johnson believes he can develop into somebody who can do some scoring.

Tech probably needs to update their online roster. Marshall Wood is listed at 210, but he’s gained about 14 pounds since he enrolled in July.

Tech will have a closed scrimmage against the South Carolina Gamecocks this week. This past week, they had a closed scrimmage with Ohio University. Ohio went to the Sweet 16 last year. Tech hosted Ohio, and they will travel to South Carolina. Against Ohio, Tech played a 40-minute scrimmage game. Against South Carolina, it’s going to be a possession game. Each team will get five possessions on offense, and then switch it up. Then they’ll do 10 possessions, and then work on some other situational things as well. They will play zone and man, maybe five possessions vs. zone and five possessions vs. man.

Johnson can’t talk much about the closed scrimmage with Ohio, but he was pretty pleased. They had a couple of guys who didn’t play in the scrimmage, but they are going to be significant contributors this year. C.J. Barksdale and Marquis Rankin were held out. If it were a real game, both guys would have played. Tech played well against a Sweet 16 team that returned 96% of their scoring. The Hokies executed well. They’ve got plenty of things to work on, however.

When he went out onto the court for the first practice, it really hit Johnson that it’s his team. It’s his time, it’s here. He gets about twice as many emails now that he’s the head coach, and he tries to respond to as many as he can.

Bobby Cremins will be speaking at Virginia Tech’s tip-off banquet.

Antone Exum

Practice went well on Monday. The bye week went well. They understand the importance of the Miami game. The Hokies had Tuesday and Wednesday off last week, and started practicing again last Thursday.

Regardless of what Miami’s record is, they are a talented team. They have good players on both sides of the ball. Winning this game could mean a trip to Charlotte, so they know what is stake.

It’s very important to win the Coastal Division. They are 4-4 right now, but their goals are still in front of them. Nobody is hanging their heads. What’s happened in the past is in the past. They are looking forward to the Miami game.

At the beginning of the season, everybody knew this was going to be the key stretch. It’s the key stretch for a lot of teams. They don’t have any margin for error, but they are still in position.

Stephen Morris is a really good quarterback. He has a few years of experience. He’s mobile, and he really likes to get the ball to his receivers down the field so they can make plays. He’s more of a conservative quarterback than Jacory Harris. Harris was great at times, but sometimes he would play for the other team.

Exum feels like the secondary – and defense in general – played very well against Clemson. Clemson had a lot of short fields. The defense needs to get better in the red zone and hold teams to field goals. If the defense comes out with the same effort and focus against Miami, they’ll be fine.

Other teams are definitely going after Exum because he is a first year corner. But also, they are going after Tech’s corners just because of the scheme this year. Tech’s corners have had to play a lot of man coverage with no safety help this season.

Exum knew cornerback would be hard. He knew he would be challenged. Tech has been in so much man coverage with no safety help this year, which is something that the defense hasn’t had to do very much in the past.

Marcus Davis

Davis couldn’t imagine playing in a game that featured Monday’s weather. He thought the UNC game last year was horrible, but he couldn’t imagine playing in Monday’s weather.

Practice has been good this week. They had a few extra days, which helped. The defense really brought some intensity, which made the offense pick it up a little more.

Davis thinks the open date came at a good time. It game them time to refocus. Everything is still in front of them. They just have to go out and play.

Coach Beamer has been saying since last week that there is no reason to look back on what has already happened. They just have to move on and play Miami.

There are a lot of little things that have gone wrong offensively that have affected the offense as a whole. That has really affected the big picture. It has led to a lack of consistency.

Miami is pretty good in the secondary. They are familiar with several defensive backs who played last year. Overall, Miami is very young on defense.

The Miami game is a rivalry game. That’s how Virginia Tech approaches it. They consider it to be the most important game they have played thus far.

It’s very important to get to Charlotte. The ACC Championship runs through Blacksburg. Tech can still go to the Orange Bowl.

Going up against Antone Exum in practice makes for an easier Saturday for Davis. Exum is bigger and more physical than anyone Davis faces during actual games.

Frank Beamer

At this point of the year, Tech is still playing for the Coastal Division. This Miami game is a big game. The Giants were 6-6 at one point last year, and they went on to win the Super Bowl. After they beat Dallas, things fell into place for them.

Hopefully Tech can get all the pieces to fit against Miami. They have good players and they play hard. It’s going to be a challenge.

The whole team took three days off together. It’s been a long season with a lot of travel. Beamer wanted everyone to be mentally and physically ready for the stretch. All the preparation has been towards Miami, and Beamer thinks they’ve had good preparation.

There’s a real thin line in football between being okay and not being okay. They haven’t been okay in a couple of situations. They gave up a long touchdown against Cincinnati, and they’ve just been in some situations where they didn’t come through for whatever reason. Everybody is working hard. The players have stayed together.

Billy Hite listens in on the game each week with his headset. Beamer values his opinion on what took place in the game, and how the Hokies do things. He’s still involved in that part. He’s not allowed to talk during the games. He just listens.

Beamer doesn’t pay any attention to criticism during the season. He looks at the team, and instead of trying to find criticism, he tries to find reasons that they weren’t successful. Then he tries to correct those things, and hopefully they are successful the next time they play.

Beamer doesn’t like it when his staff is criticized, but he also realizes that people have a right to say what they think. That’s just part of the game. Beamer feels like he’s had a very consistent staff over the years.

Caleb Farris is practicing. He’s fighting, but he’s not quite 100% yet.

Miami is in the same boat as Virginia Tech. They are 4-4, but they can still win the Coastal Division. Both teams have played some young players. Anytime you are playing young guys, there are certain inconsistencies they have to get through.

Beamer is impressed with Miami’s talent level. Al Golden is doing a good job. They play really hard week after week.

Monday was Day 2,894 of Virginia Tech’s continuous possession of the Commonwealth Cup.

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