Friday Discussion: Toughness, Recruiting and Stiney

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Back at the beginning of the Beamer Bowl Era, Virginia Tech was always the
toughest team on the field, even when they lost. When they lost a game, it was
because they were out-talented, not out-toughed. Lately, it seems like the
Hokies have lost that edge they had throughout the mid-to-late 1990’s, and even
through most of this decade. Tech just doesn’t seem as tough as they once were.

Someone called in to Tech Talk Live early in the 2010 season, after the
Hokies had lost games to Boise State and JMU, and suggested that Tech wasn’t as
tough these days. I could practically see Frank Beamer cringing at the question.
Question Beamer and the Hokies all you want, but don’t question their toughness,
and don’t question his coaches.

That said, today we’re going to question Tech’s toughness. The Hokies are
recruiting better athletes these days, but the days of the Jake Groves, Corey
Moores, George DelRiccos and William Yarboroughs seem to be long gone. Tech
hasn’t had anyone that was really, really nasty in quite some time.

Nastiness is generally a natural trait, but it can be acquired as well, to a
certain extent. What Virginia Tech has been doing for years to develop toughness
is the middle drill, which features both lines, linebackers, tight ends, running
backs and a scout team quarterback. There are no passing plays at all. The
defense knows what’s coming, and this drill is all about knocking heads in the

But I’ve not even sure middle drill is as physical as it used to be. In some
of the videos I’ve watched of it on, sometimes they aren’t even
tackling to the ground. The blocking is full speed, but sometimes the tackling

There’s a lot more to it than middle drill, however. The Hokies stopped doing
two-a-days a few years back, and perhaps that’s something Frank Beamer should
look at doing again. The NCAA limits practice time, so doing two-a-days every
day isn’t an option, but mixing in a few boot camp type days would not be a bad