Go Tech Go, Part 27: A Tough Start to the Beamer Era

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Contributing to Coach Frank Beamer’s rookie-season woes were the struggles of placekicker Chris Kinzer, who led the nation in field goals and earned second-team All-America honors in 1986 as a sophomore. He entered 1987 as a consensus preseason All-American selection, and his success might have gone to his head a little bit. According to backup placekicker Scott Freund, “Chris made the Playboy All-American team, and he carried that issue of Playboy in car and had it with him everywhere he went.”

For whatever reason, Kinzer struggled all year. He made just eight of 17 field goals in 1987, and never made more than two in a row.

He also had to make some adjustments to his practice routine. Under Coach Bill Dooley, the Hokies worked on special teams during the first two periods; after the first 20 minutes, Kinzer and the other specialists were done for the day.

“Chris would kick 15-20 balls, then we’d go in Lane Stadium and play three-on-three games of two-hand touch,” long snapper Steve Hale said. “When it was hot out, we’d take off our shirts and lay down on the bleachers. Those aluminum bleachers made great tanning beds. Then we would hear the final horn would sound, we’d walk through the tunnel and met the rest of the team. They’d all be bleeding and bruised, and we’d have these nice tans.”

And, in 1986, the routine worked. Coach Beamer, however, arrived with a different plan, scheduling special teams work later during practice. “If the practice had 10 periods, special teams was period seven or eight,” Hale recalled.

That didn’t sit well with Kinzer, who approached Coach Beamer early in the season. “Coach,” he said, “I kind of like to do my kicking early in practice, if you don’t mind.”

Being a Playboy All-American, Beamer didn’t want to mess with a good thing. He understood the delicate psyches kickers possessed, so he agreed, moving special teams to the first two periods.

But as the season wore on and Kinzer continued to struggle, Beamer stepped in. “Chris,” he said, “From now on, we’re going to practice special teams when I want to do them.”

Instead of allowing the specialists to