Tech Talk Live Notes for 1/2/11

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Tech Talk Live (football and basketball season)

When: Every Monday from 7:00-9:00 during football season, 7:00-8:00 during basketball season.

Where: Click here for a list of radio stations, and to find the link for listening to the show on the Internet (look to the right on the page that loads when you click the link). You can see the show in person Bull & Bones Brewhaus & Grill in Blacksburg.

In the final Tech Talk Live of the weekend, Bill Roth and Mike Burnop were joined by wide receivers coach Kevin Sherman and running backs coach Billy Hite at the Rivals Waterfront Grille.

Roth and Burnop noted that the playing surface at Sun Life Stadium is as good as it gets. Everything is setting up for a great football game. The Hokies have had great senior leadership and a great week or practice. Going out with a win would be a great feather in the cap for Tyrod Taylor and the seniors.

Sherman said the receivers know what type of challenge they’ll have against Stanford. They’ve had a very good week of preparation on the practice field and in film study. They are ready to play. The Stanford defensive backs are very good, and they don’t give up big plays. Sherman is challenging his players to create big plays.

Taking a month off is always a concern. It could affect the timing of the passing game. Sherman said the wide receivers and quarterbacks were all together during the month of December, and the team focused on keeping the passing game sharp.

Sherman said that Dyrell Roberts is in Miami, but he’s not practicing. He is still rehabbing, and he is getting more flexibility in his leg. He should hopefully be ready to go again by spring practice.

Behind Dyrell Roberts, Danny Coale and Jarrett Boykin, the Hokies do have some guys who will have to shoulder the load in 2012. That includes Xavier Boyce, Marcus Davis, D.J. Coles and Austin Fuller. E.L. Smiling, a freshman who is redshirting, shouldn’t be counted out of the mix as well.

Sherman said that Jarrett Boykin has had a great year. He got banged up against UNC and he’s worked hard in the training room to keep himself on the field. He is going to get challenged by the Stanford defensive back. He will probably be matched up against Richard Sherman, Stanford’s best corner. Bill Roth noted that Boykin needs just nine catches to set the school record for career receptions.

Sherman agreed that the turf at Sun Life Stadium is as good as it gets. The Hokies are familiar with it, as they played the Miami Hurricanes in that stadium in late November. Burnop noted that it’s tough to find a field like that on January 2.

Danny Coale and Tyrod Taylor have great timing together, Sherman said. Both players have great trust in the other. Sherman can’t say enough about Coale. He is a very good player with a great work ethic.

The coaching staff has been watching Stanford film for a month now. They have a very good defense. The Hokies are going to run the football and try to make plays in the passing game. Sherman has challenged his guys to make big plays, but at the same time they have to be patient and let the game come to them. Stanford is very well-disciplined and well-coached. They are physical. They remind the Tech coaching staff of the Boston College defense.

Sherman can’t speak for Stanford, but he likes the fact that this isn’t Tech’s first game in Miami or Sun Life Stadium. The Hokies already played Miami in that stadium, and they also played there twice in 2008 and once in 2007. Going to Miami isn’t new for Virginia Tech.

Roth brought up the point that Tech can’t take Orange Bowl trips for granted. In 1980, Clemson won the National Championship in the Orange Bowl, but haven’t played in the game since. Tech is playing in the game for the third time in the last four years. Sherman said the coaching staff does their best to keep the players humble and hungry. It doesn’t get any better than the Orange Bowl. Coach Beamer keeps the coaches even keeled, and they do the same for the players. It all starts at the top.

Burnop noted that Virginia Tech was amazing on third down against Florida State. Sherman said that was an area of focus for the Hokies going into that game, and it worked out. They have to be good on third down again against Stanford. This game is all about the quarterbacks, and it should be a great game.

Billy Hite said that Ryan Williams tweaked his hamstring the day before the team left for Christmas break. He has gotten better each day since the team arrived in Miami. He got faster each day. Hite is going to start Darren Evans, but he plans to play Williams early in the game to see what he can do.

Hite is disappointed to see David Wilson get suspended for the first quarter. He’s one of the greatest kids Hite has ever coached. Wilson has never done anything wrong, and that’s why he’s still in Miami: he’s never been a problem before. He seems very humbled and sorry, and he learned a valuable lesson. Rashad Carmichael will return kicks in place of Wilson in the first quarter. Hite feels very comfortable with him back there.

Hite doesn’t know what Darren Evans and Ryan Williams will do. They are very much focused on Stanford right now. It’s a decision they will have to make based on what is best for themselves and their families.

Roth noted that UConn coach Randy Edsall looks like he is going to take over the Maryland program. Hite said he didn’t care for the way the Maryland people handled the firing of Ralph Friedgen. They were about a play away from playing for the ACC Championship Game. Randy Edsall does a great job at UConn, according to Hite.

Hite said the team has been moved to their new hotel for the night before the game. The coaching staff will eat breakfast with the team on Monday morning, and then go over their teach tape. They will spend about three hours with them on Monday, and the coordinators and Frank Beamer are working with the players on Sunday night as well. They are keeping their minds occupied to help prevent distractions.

Hite said that Tech and the coaching staff are very lucky. Their leadership starts at the top. From the school presidents, to the athletics director, to coach Beamer … all of those guys have been critical to Virginia Tech’s success. The assistant coaches at Tech are the luckiest coaches in America to play for Frank Beamer. Hite has heard plenty of horror stories from other coaches about working at other schools, and he doesn’t want any part of it. No matter what happens, Coach Beamer is even keeled. There are no peaks and valleys with him.

Hite addressed a question about throwing the ball to the tailbacks. Many times, defenses will blitz the running backs, not the quarterback. Whatever side the tailback lines up on, defenses will blitz on that side to try to keep the tailback in to help pass block. That takes away a threat in the passing game, even if the blitzer doesn’t get the sack.

Stanford is just like Virginia Tech. They got better every week, just like the Hokies. They are very well-coached, according to Billy Hite. Bill Roth noted that they only allowed nine points per game over the last five games. The big key for Stanford this year was the improvement of their defense. The Hokies have their work cut out for them offensively. However, Hite feels very good about the preparation Virginia Tech has put into the Orange Bowl.

This is the same situation Virginia Tech has faced all year long. To win, they have to run the football and throw the football down the field. They have to protect the ball and not turn it over. That’s the best thing the Hokies have done this year … they haven’t turned it over. They also have to keep the chains moving and make plays on third down. Special teams will be key, because they can affect field position.

Tech has been playing football since the beginning of August, and the Orange Bowl is the culmination. If the Hokies can win the Orange Bowl, this group could become the most special group to ever play at Virginia Tech, in Hite’s view. To win 12 games in a year after losing your first two games is absolutely unbelievable.

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