Friday Q&A: November 30, 2012

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1: Do you really feel our weight program is up to snuff? I’ve seen us pushed all over the field at times.

Chris Coleman: Virginia Tech developed a reputation in the 1990s of taking lightly-recruited players and making them bigger, faster and stronger, and then those players would go on and beat Miami, Texas, Syracuse, and other program who had more overall talent. Even when the Hokies did get beat, such as the Orange Bowl against Nebraska, Tech’s starting lineup matched the Huskers from a physical standpoint.

That hasn’t been the case as much recently. We’ve seen Tech get stopped cold up front by teams like Austin Peay, Furman, Boston College, etc. The Hokies don’t seem as tough or as physical up front on the offensive line anymore, and even though Tech still has a very good defense, they don’t seem quite as physically dominating, though their modern scheme compensates for that.

Some fans point to the strength and conditioning program as a reason. I agree with that, though it’s not the fault of Mike Gentry and his staff. Gentry was on Tech Talk Live earlier this season, and he was asked if strength and conditioning programs are still given the same offseason freedom that they were back in the 1990s. Here is how we phrased it in our Tech Talk Live Notes from November 5. It’s not an exact transcription; instead, it’s a general synopsis of what Gentry said.

Tech has had to back off their summer workouts a bit because of NCAA regulations. They aren’t quite as tough as they used to be. However, they are still plenty tough. They have had to make a few changes to play within the rules. They have to take more time off than they are used to. That makes it more difficult to get an edge. It’s tougher to outwork people. There has been some de-emphasis of strength and conditioning by the NCAA. They are afraid from a liability standpoint. That makes it tough, because the further you get away from hard work, the tougher things are going to get.

There you have it, right from the horse’s mouth. It’s harder to outwork people these days. Outworking people was the philosophy upon which the Virginia Tech program was built, and it’s not allowed to operate in the same style today. The NCAA, in all their wisdom, took one of Tech’s best weapons (Mike Gentry) and neutralized him.

This has happened to Virginia Tech before. Former Tech basketball coach Charlie Moir recruited well