Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer talks with reporters on the ACC Football Coaches Teleconference on Wednesday.
FRANK BEAMER: Well, we’re getting ready to play a team that’s in the same grouping as Ohio State, extremely talented, very well-coached, look as hard as you can, you can’t find a weakness. They do everything extremely well, and you know, very impressed with this football team. Got to play a great football game to have a shot of winning this game.
Q. I wanted to ask you about Corey Marshall. What’s your relationship been like with Corey in the time he’s been at Virginia Tech? FRANK BEAMER: Good. You know, Corey is a guy that’s a deep thinker, stays to himself quite a bit, but I’m impressed with him as a person. I’m impressed with him as a football player. He’s got a lot of ability and plays extremely hard on Saturdays. You know, I’m very, very impressed with the guy.
Q. Growing up without a dad, he’s mentioned you as having a really big influence on his career. That time when he left the team for a few weeks, what was your relationship with him then, and how did you help him through that? FRANK BEAMER: Well, I think guys at that age do things on the spur of the moment sometimes, and I’ve always been a guy or been a coach that wanted to guys to leave here better than they came. I know some people on the staff didn’t think we should take him back, but I felt like that was the right thing to do for us and for him. I think he realized that he needed football and needed these players and needed the friendship of the guys in that locker room, so that’s how we made the decision, and I’m glad we did. I mean, I really — I wanted to help the guy and do what’s right for him and make the right decision for him, and like I said, I’ve always been impressed with him.
Q. I’m working on a story on the Iron Bowl and the history of the kick six, the missed field goal, return touchdown. I wanted the perspective of a coach who’s had a long and storied return, whether you felt that that play was the greatest play in college football history, and if so, why, and if not what you did feel the greatest play in college football history was? FRANK BEAMER: Well, that made an impression on us. A couple weeks ago we had a chance right before the half to kick a long field goal and I thought it was out of the range of our field goal kicker Joey Slye, but as I told the media here, Joey has never seen a long field goal that he didn’t like. He thought he might have a shot to make it, but so we ended up, and Coach Charlie Wiles, my defensive line coach, right before we’re getting ready to kick it, he said, you know, we ought to just kneel down and go to halftime. We’re going to kick it down there and we’ve got a bunch of slow linemen protecting. We don’t have a fast athlete on the field. They’re going to catch it and take this thing back like what happened a few years back with Alabama and Auburn. So it certainly made an impression on us. And then I was trying to call the thing off because I thought Charlie was probably right, and sure enough, they did bring it back, and we had one guy that was a fairly good athlete, our holder, that I think made the tackle. Or actually it was our slot that is a decent athlete. You know, I think it’s one of the great plays. We’ve had a couple of plays here — the last play of the game here lately, the kickoff return and so forth. But I think when you start talking about the greatest plays, you’ve got to get it down to about five, and certainly that would be well within the five probably. Miami’s kickoff return, you’ve got to put that in there somewhere.
Q. As a coach who’s obviously had special teams so important over your history at Virginia Tech in particular, how much more appreciation do you have for a play like that where, again, you’re kind of built on special teams over your career, so how much more appreciation did you have for that play? FRANK BEAMER: Yeah, you know, I think it gets down to details on special teams. The ones that take care of the details — everybody has got to kick and everybody has got to — that’s part of it. But the details of a kicking situation and what all can happen and taking care of that, I think those — that’s the real good special teams. But I think a lot of people do that anymore. I think that is the one area that has improved tremendously in the last 10 years. You don’t play many teams anymore that’s not good in their special team area.
Q. You’ve been a coach for a lot of years, but Cheryl has been a coach’s wife for a lot of years. How has she pulled off her role all these years and how much has that been a help to you over the years? FRANK BEAMER: Well, she’s the best. I’ll tell you, when you get into this business, the first thing you need to check is what kind of wife you’ve got, because I think it’s a hard business, a lot of hours, a lot of time away from kids and home, and then you need someone to talk to after a game, whether it’s a win or more importantly after a loss. You know, she’s been that person in my life, and she knows the game. She likes the game. She likes football, and to me she’s been the perfect coach’s wife. But I wouldn’t have wanted to have stayed in this thing 29 years without her, that’s for sure.
Q. Did she know what she was getting into, what she signed up for? FRANK BEAMER: I think so. I think her sister married a teammate of mine, and she loved — she liked coming to football games. I think the foundation was pretty solid for her to be a coach’s wife.
Q. How have you been able to sort of manage your emotions before this particular game being your last game at Lane Stadium, and you’ve got a terrific team to prepare for, but how much does this other stuff creep in? FRANK BEAMER: Well, actually I turned on the video, and it was my last thought about retirement. When you see a team like North Carolina, it gets your attention right away, and ever since we turned that on, we’ve been working as hard as we possibly could to try to get ready for, like I said, a team in the same category as Ohio State. I mean, they’re right in there. You know, the bottom line is more than thinking about the end, I think about how thankful I am to have been able to stay here 29 years and to stay in a place that I love with people that mean a lot to me and have as many good players and coaches come through here. To do that and stay in one place for 29 years, that doesn’t happen much. I’m a lucky guy for sure.
Q. I was just curious if you could share one or two of your fond he’s memories from your long career at Lane Stadium. FRANK BEAMER: Oh, man. There are a lot of them. You know, our win over Nebraska. At the very end we had two tremendous plays at the very end. That’s got to be in there. I’m going to turn to my SID here. He always helps me a little bit. Oh, yeah, you know, I was fortunate to run out of that tunnel as a player and now to run out of there as a coach. Coming out of that tunnel is special in every game, and to think you did it as a player and a coach, you know, that’s pretty special there for Lane Stadium. I never mention Lane Stadium without talking about our fans. I think they’ve been very much a part of the whole — the way we play, and so I’ll mention them. And then I’ll tell you this: Our win to get to our first bowl game, the Independence Bowl, and we had to beat Syracuse I believe it was, and to get that win and the moments after it and talking about going to a bowl game, that was such an important game, not a particular play but a game in Lane Stadium.
Q. I just wanted to ask you about Travon McMillian’s emergence as a consistent running threat as a freshman. Can you talk about how he’s developed and what he’s given you? FRANK BEAMER: Well, you know, it’s natural to him. I think he’s a back that runs very naturally, finds holes, delays a little bit for a hole or hits it and goes. You know, and the great running backs, I don’t think you have to coach them much, you just make sure that they’re there to catch the bus and line up right and then let them go, because they’re natural. It’s natural to them. And I think that’s the way it is with Travon, a guy that we’re fortunate — we’ve got a lot of really good tailbacks here at Virginia Tech, and he’s kind of come out there and been the guy that we give the ball to quite a bit here lately. But he’s a guy you don’t see him end up east-west. He’s usually going north, going towards the other team’s goal line, and ends up that way. That’s the way you like it.
Q. You had some problems in the past couple years with the offensive line, right? FRANK BEAMER: Yeah.
Q. It must have come along a little bit this year to help him out like that? FRANK BEAMER: Oh, no question. I mean, we’ve got some athletic guys on our offensive line. I mean, we’ve got that — at times you’d like for them to be a little more experienced because experience means so much. But yeah, we’ve really worked to improve our offensive line, and we are. I think we’re much better. I know we’re much more athletic, and you see them getting a little bit better all the time because experience does matter. You know, I’m proud of the way we’ve come along in there.