Tech Talk Live Notes for December 3, 2012

Chris Coleman, TechSideline.com, on December 4, 2012
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Jim Weaver

Quarterback Brian Rody and linebacker Josh Trimble are both currently suspended from the team thanks to their felony charge of detonating an explosive device. It was a big mistake. Their lawyer says they were playing a prank on a friend. They will have a hearing in January. Weaver will see what happens with the case. He left the door open for them to be reinstated to the team.

Weaver doesn’t know how Tech’s selection to the Russell Athletic Bowl came about. He thinks they really wanted Tech because the Hokies had never been there before. Tech has never been available to the Russell Athletic Bowl in the past.

Weaver doesn’t know if Tom O’Brien’s dismissal had anything to do with the Russell Athletic Bowl bypassing NC State for Virginia Tech. If it did, then Weaver is glad, because he’s happy to be going to Orlando.

Tech is responsible for 13,500 tickets to the Russell Athletic Bowl. Weaver is hoping they can sell in the neighborhood of 8,000 tickets, but he’s not sure if they’ll be able to do that.

This is Tech’s 20th straight bowl, and Weaver knows that this group of players didn’t want to be the group that broke the streak.

Nebraska and Georgia fans will also be in Orlando, because those teams will be playing in the Capital One Bowl. That will make it a unique experience.

Weaver isn’t too happy with the way the BCS went down this year. He thinks the new bowl system that will begin in a couple of years will be much better. It will eliminate a lot of the problems.

Weaver wouldn’t have a problem with putting four teams from the same conference in the playoff, if those four teams are the best in the country. However, he doesn’t see that happening.

Tech worked diligently to get as many students as possible into the Oklahoma State basketball game. They had a terrific crowd. The students did a wonderful job.

December 31 is Tech’s priority point deadline.

Weaver said the school presidents handle conference expansion, not the athletic directions. He doesn’t have any input on which schools the ACC adds. He happens to think that Louisville was the best choice (in response to an emailer who thought Navy or UConn would have been a better choice).

Weaver believes that the ACC is very solid. He has talked to people in other conferences, people he’s trusted for a long time, and he thinks things are going to settle down for a period of time.

Weaver said Virginia Tech doesn’t have $50 million to leave the ACC, and they have no intention of doing so. Weaver hopes Maryland has to pay every penny. If they don’t, it could potentially be a problematic issue for the conference down the line.

The basketball team is really responded to James Johnson and the new staff. They appear to be having fun. There is no quit in them.

Kevin Sherman

You can’t take 20 bowl games in a row for granted. The players are excited to go to Orlando and try to get the win.

The receivers have had an up and down season. Losing D.J. Coles early in the season really hurt. Guys have played well here and there, but there hasn’t been as much consistency as they needed. Corey Fuller has been the most consistent player.

Both Sherman and Marcus Davis took the video incident as a learning experience. There is a certain standard to uphold when you put on that Virginia Tech uniform each week. He thinks Davis and the younger guys in the room have seen that, and they’ve learned from it. They are moving on and trying to finish this thing off strong.

Josh Morgan and Eddie Royal really stand out to Kevin Sherman as athletes, particularly Morgan. He had great size, he could run, and he could do the little things as a receiver. He was a complete player.

Sherman hopes Marcus Davis gets invited to the NFL Combine. He’ll have an opportunity. But he and the other senior receivers have one more opportunity to show it on the field. They have to do what they can control, and that’s play hard.

Sherman is very pleased with Demitri Knowles . He didn’t play a lot of football until later in his high school career, but he’s a guy who has stepped up from the very first game. He has gotten better each week. Sherman is very proud of Kevin Asante as well. He is progressing well.

Joel Caleb is hungry, and he’s competitive. He will help the team next year. Sherman likes what he’s all about as a football player.

The coaches really pushed Joshua Stanford in August to try and get him ready to play. He played a few snaps against Austin Peay. He injured his knee, so Tech shut him down. He’s another guy who can really be a difference maker for the offense. He’s a guy who really wants to excel.

This is a production business, and the coaches are going to put the guys on the field who are going to be productive. At the same time, they have to play the guys who play hard, give great effort, and give the team an opportunity to win the ball game. Right now, the two best options are Demitri Knowles and Corey Fuller. They will keep the competition open heading into the bowl game.

It’s really valuable to get the younger players more practice before the bowl game. It’s spring practice before spring practice.

It’s very important for Tech to sign a very good receiver in February. They always want to get the best athletes on the field. That’s something they are trying to address right now in recruiting.

Kurt Kanaskie (assistant basketball coach)

The coaches don’t talk to their players about winning and losing. They talk to them about having a great practice and getting better each day. If the Hokies do what they are supposed to do during practice, then the wins and losses will take care of themselves. It’s been a great group to work with.

Eveybody talks about Tech’s players who are scoring a lot of points, but the Hokies would be lost without their walk-ons. There are six walk-ons on this team, and they’ve worked their butts off. Tech wouldn’t be able to practice without them. They have really bought into being the scout team.

Tech has done a very good job in the last four minutes of the games, particularly against Iowa and Oklahoma State. What they are trying to figure out is why they’ve allowed some teams to come back on them. Sometimes it has been turnovers, sometimes it has been breakdowns defensively. But so far, when the game has been on the line, Tech has been able to execute and come out on top.

Oklahoma State is really good. They have talented athletes. Kanaskie was really impressed with the Hokie Nation. The students were unbelievable. That was Oklahoma State’s first road game, so the crowd really made a difference. If Tech keeps having that type of turnout, other teams are going to have to play very well to win.

Tech was fortunate to win with Erick Green in foul trouble in the first half. They tried to keep him in the game on offense, and they would take him out on defense. They also played some zone when he was in the game to protect him. Marquis Rankin came in and did a nice job. Once Green got in foul trouble, the Hokies were just playing to get to the second half.

Kanaskie doesn’t know if there is a better shooter in college basketball than Jarell Eddie . His shots weren’t falling against Oklahoma State, but he took it to the basket instead and came up with some big drives and some big free throws. He has been an excellent rebounder as well, which is very important.

Kanaskie said he jokingly told James Johnson that he should go ahead and retire with a 100% winning percentage. He’s done a very good job. When they were both on the staff at Penn State, it was clear that Johnson would be extremely successful if he ever had a chance to be a head coach. He’s that type of person. He cares about his players. A lot of people think the coaches are really buddy-buddy with the players, but that is not the case. James Johnson is very hard on the players. He expects them to work hard every day. There is really a lot of trust between the players and the staff, and that’s helped them progress so far. Johnson has been very good. Winning all your games certainly helps. He’s grounded, and he really appreciates all the support that he’s been given.

Tech and Penn State (where Kanaskie and Johnson used to coach together) are both similar schools. They are both land grant institutions, they are both fairly rural. They both have terrific football programs and they play in great leagues. Virginia Tech has a much better home court for basketball. The Bryce-Jordan Center at Penn State seats 16,000, but it’s tough to get fans there. The closest city is 90 miles away. The students at Virginia Tech are very good about supporting the program. There are a lot of similarities, but Tech has more going for them in basketball.

The ACC is hot in basketball. With Pitt, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Louisville coming in, this is a very strong league. People want to play in the ACC right now. Tech had a solid signing class in November.

James Johnson is out on the road recruiting right now. Kanaskie joked that with the 7-0 start, they have tried to call every recruit they could think of over the past two days. Things are going well. Now is the time to try and make hay.

There is a lot of experience on Tech’s coaching staff, and there are no egos. They all share in recruiting responsibilities, coaching responsibilities on the floor, and academic responsibilities. It’s really going well.

Tech’s post players need to demand the ball a little more. C.J. Barksdale has been injured, and most people don’t realize that. He’s been battling a knee injury and he’s not 100%. They are trying to get his knee as close to 100% as possible.

Joey van Zegeren had the best defensive game of any of Tech’s post players against Oklahoma State. He was in the right position, he had a blocked shot, and he walled up and caused a couple of turnovers. He has come a long way. When this staff first arrived in June, they weren’t sure that he would be a major factor in what they were going to do. He has worked really hard. He’s only a r-freshman. The staff thinks he has a big upside.

Iowa and Oklahoma State were both killing their opponents on the boards, so rebounding was a major emphasis for the Hokies leading up to those games. (Editor’s Note: the Hokies outrebounded Iowa 36-30 and OK State 41-31.) The players were a lot more committed to going after rebounds in those games. It’s very important that Tech limit opposing teams to one shot.

If you risk going after offensive rebounds against Tech, then you risk giving up easy baskets in transition. However, Kanaskie isn’t going to give a self-scouting report of the Hokies on the air, because West Virginia might be listening in to the radio show.

WVU is going to be very tough, no matter their record. There is obviously a “lovely” relationship between the two schools. It’s going to be a very tough place to play. It helped the Hokies to scrimmage South Carolina in the preseason, because they have the same mentality defensively as West Virginia. They really like to pressure the ball. It will be a tough environment when they step on the floor in Morgantown.

Robert Brown had a great week against Iowa and Oklahoma State. He really comes off ball screens well. He comes off those screens hard and he can read the defense well. He had a great second half against Oklahoma State. When Brown, Green and Eddie are all playing well, that’s really a formidable perimeter. They can all shoot, they can all put the ball on the floor, and they can all pass.

Marshall Wood keeps getting better every day. He shoots it well, he’s very athletic, and he’s got a great attitude. He’s an important part of the team. When he starts hitting that three-pointer, he’s going to be really good. He’s making them in practice, and he’s going to end up making a lot of those shots in games.

Tech needs to get better defensively. They have given up too many easy baskets. Too many teams have driven the ball from the three-point line and gotten layups, and Tech has to do a better job stopping those plays.

Tech had a good shooting practice on Monday. They are taking Tuesday off, except for individual shooting. They will get back at it on Wednesday. They don’t have a lot of guys in the rotation, and the coaches don’t want to wear them out. They’ve shortened up practice a bit as well.

Martin Scales

When Tech was 4-6, they managed to keep it together. That’s something the coaches always preach, and the team leaders did a good job keeping them together. Scales doesn’t remember a game where anybody gave up. They have fighters on this team.

Scales grew up around Tech football. He knew Tech football before he knew NFL football. He and his cousins Cam and Orion Martin grew up watching Tech. They all used to run around and pretend they were running out of the tunnel.

At a very young age, they all knew they wanted to play football for Tech. They would run around tackling each other, hitting their heads on rocks, they would block each other’s punts, etc.

He doesn’t remember the entire first game he attended at Tech, but he remembers the ride up to Tech. It was the 1995 season. He remembers looking at the game program. He was only in kindergarten, and he didn’t know exactly what was going on on the field.

Scales originally walked on at Tech, but he had to leave because his transcripts got messed up and he didn’t get through the NCAA Clearinghouse. That was very hard, to have to leave. He had grown up dreaming of playing for Tech, and to get to campus and then have to leave was difficult. That was the low point in his life.

At that point, all his hope in life was put into football. Since then, he’s learned that isn’t right. Going home made him a better man. It made him grow up because he realized there is more to life than football. It was no time to be depressed. If he wanted to get back to Tech, he had to work. He had to get to work in the classroom and the weight room. He got in transcripts in order and eventually made it back to Tech.

It was a joy to play tailback this year. He always played tailback in middle school and high school. He would always get reps in practice at Tech at tailback, but never got to play it in a game. The Hokies had Ryan Williams, Darren Evans, Davis Wilson and Josh Oglesby, so it was tough to get carries. However, in practice Billy Hite would always let him get reps at tailback. He told Scales that he might get the opportunity to do it during a game one day.

Scales thinks the team will be very focused for the bowl game. The players are showing up in the morning and running in the field house for conditioning, and that’s something they didn’t do in the past before bowl games. They ran, and then they played 7-on-7 football. In the weight room, Mike Gentry is working them hard.

Scales doesn’t want to end the season with a losing record. That’s not Tech football. This whole year, 6-6, it’s not Tech football. They want to come out with a winning record. He thinks everyone will be focused, and that they’ll come out with a victory.

Scales still isn’t quite sure what he’s going to do when his career is over, but if he got an opportunity to coach he would be willing.

Scales never really liked school, but he always enjoyed History. That was something that he just always picked up. In high school, he loved history, lunch, PE and football, so he decided to major in History. In particularly, he likes Military History. There are so many different personalities involved in war. Anything that has to do with battles, he likes to study.

Ronny Vandyke

If Vandyke was back at home, he would be sitting around and getting ready for Monday night’s Redskins game. In Blacksburg he lives with Demitri Knowles . Knowles likes the Cardinals because of Larry Fitzgerald. Vandyke is very impressed with RG3. He’s the leader of the team.

Tech did a better job of paying attention to detail later on the season, as a defense. They got the defense turned around in the middle of the season, and they can now go to another bowl game.

Kyshoen Jarrett had a big punt return against Pitt this year, and Vandyke threw a huge block. Actually, Vandyke meant to block the punter on that play, but he missed him. He heard the crowd screaming, he turned around, and he saw two defenders in exactly the right spot. He took them both out.

This game with Rutgers is huge. If they can win three in a row, they can have a winning record. That would give them confidence in the offseason. They would know that they learned from their mistakes, got better, and they would feel good about the future.

Vandyke understands that he has to have a feel for the entire defense to be successful. He has to realize where his teammates are, he has to understand where his help will be, and that has helped him to play faster as the season has gone along.

Obviously this season didn’t go as they wanted it to go, but everything happens for a reason. They want to send the seniors off with a win. Vandyke thinks they have a chance to grow as an organization for the future.

Ronny’s brother, Devin, is redshirting at Virginia Tech this season. Ronny is excited to have a chance to play with him for the next few years.

Vandyke picked Virginia Tech because when he was watching them growing up, he saw that they had a very good defense. They are very aggressive on defense. Vandyke always liked defense better, and he could tell that the Hokies took pride in their defense. He wanted to be a part of that.

Frank Beamer

Beamer is happy to go to a 20th straight bowl game. Tech was the third team taken out of the ACC. The Russell Athletic Bowl is a good bowl, and Rutgers has had a great year. They are a different program these days. They have really moved up and they have an excellent team.

Beamer has never been to a bad bowl. He’s glad Tech is able to go to a bowl, because it has been a tough year. Some of the moments were tough to get through. He’s very proud of how the team stuck together and managed to win their last two games.

It’s important for the seniors to end up with a winning record. It’s also important for the program, and it’s important for the league to have success against other conferences. The Hokies are going to put a great effort into winning this game. He wants their practices to be fast, and he wants Tech to get better.

Tech will be back out on the road recruiting next week. They’ll return on Wednesday, and then practice on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Then they’ll head down to Orlando on December 23.

Tech has a recruiting weekend this weekend. There will be committed and uncommitted players on campus.

Beamer thinks people don’t truly understand how difficult it is to win week after week. To win a bunch of games year after year is tough. Everybody has 85 scholarships. With so much money involved in paying coaches, people expect results sooner. It just doesn’t always work that way.

Notre Dame and Alabama are similar. They both play good defense and they like to run the ball. It has the makings to be a great football game.

Beamer told the fans to keep getting out and supporting the basketball team. He saw them play for the first time on Saturday. They are playing really hard and aggressive. He was very impressed. They were very tough. JJ and his staff have done a great job.

Everything is tied in in football. You have to be hitting on all cylinders to be efficient on offense. Tech hasn’t been hitting on all cylinders offensively, and that has hurt their running game. Passing helps running, and running helps passing.

Beamer thinks offensive line is the hardest position to play. You have to work with other linemen, and the defensive linemen move right before the snap. Experience really matters on the offensive line. It’s the hardest position to play. You’ve got to be very smart as well.

Monday was Day 2,929 of Virginia Tech’s continuous possession of the Commonwealth Cup.

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