Press Conference: Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer
Q. I talked to some of your players yesterday about going from good to great and getting back to the big-time bowl games like Virginia Tech was used to. Can you talk about the process, how you go about doing that?
FRANK BEAMER: Well, I think we’re well on our way. We dropped off the last couple years, had a bunch of years, we won at least 10 games in a row. I think it goes back to being able to run the ball more consistently, and we dropped off there a little bit. I think we’re well on our way back. I think our offensive line is more experienced, got some excellent young guys behind them. I think our receivers are going to be more explosive as a group. I think we’ve got about three tight ends that can block in there but can move out and get messed up maybe on a safety. I think our running backs are going to be better, Trey Edmunds is doing a great job before he got hurt, and we expect him back full tilt. And then we’ve got to find a quarterback, and not knowing that guy right now, we’d rather know who the guy is, but the good part is I think we’ve got some really talented guys at the quarterback position. We’ve got to nail it down there and get a couple guys and work with them, but I think the good part is we’ve got some very talented guys to pick from. I think getting that running back game in shape and certainly that’s the best friend of a quarterback, too, is having the pieces around him that he can count on. I think we’re going in the right direction there.
Q. A little uncharted waters for you to not have a quarterback picked out. Could you elaborate on that more knowing that for the last almost decade you’ve had Tyrod and Logan and now you’ve got a pool to choose from?
FRANK BEAMER: Yeah, you know, and Mark Leal has been there. He’s been the backup for a couple years, and he certainly knows a lot about the position. We want him to play better. Brenden Motley, local guy, really played well during spring practice and could very easily be the guy. And, of course, got a couple freshmen coming in there, and then a transfer coming in there. You know, again, we want to get that position settled. We know how important it is to the offense, to the whole team, so we’re going to work like heck to get it nailed down.
Q. No Clemson, no Florida State this year, which sets you up nicely for the conference race, but you do have ohio state in Columbus the second week of the season. Talk about both of those things.
FRANK BEAMER: Yeah, that’s a great trip, Ohio State, great program, nationally known. Our fans I know are looking forward to it. Our players are looking forward to it. They come back to Blacksburg the year after. Personally we’ve played those type of games a bunch at Virginia Tech. I think you gain a lot from it. I think you find out a lot about what your football team is all about, where they are when you play a good, good team like that. I think you try to mix in there a couple teams that hopefully you can beat and get your backups in there, and to me that’s the way you prepare for your conference schedule is try to develop your backups and find out exactly where your team is. That’s the way we like to do it at Virginia Tech.
Q. Seems like half the league is now playing Beamer ball, a phenomenal 16 kicks returned for touchdowns last year, and I have to say most of them have been in your coastal division. What’s it like kind of looking at your strategy coming back to you, and how careful do you have to be when you kick the football?
FRANK BEAMER: I think kicking has really become better in most programs in the last 10 years, five years. I think all of us realize how important it is, how it can turn a game so quickly. You see more and more starters, best players that can do the job on special teams, and as a result, I think it’s just a very valuable part of it, and a lot of people are teaching it better, coaching it better, using better personnel.
FRANK BEAMER: Well, hopefully defensively we can be strong. The thing I like is we really run well on defense. We have to replace a couple of linebackers, and the guys we’re replacing them with actually are probably faster. In the defensive line we run very well. In the back end secondary, we’ve got some guys that run well. I think that’s a good part of it. I think we’ve got talent, we’ve got Bud Foster and his coaching staff there on defense. I think they’ll get the best out of them. I’m hopeful that we can play good, solid defense and believe we will, and I like the fact that we run so well.
Q. You guys have played Pittsburgh now two years in a row. Your thoughts on that series dating back over time, and also the Pitt program in general?
FRANK BEAMER: Well, I think Pittsburgh is a great addition to the league. I think — I like their staff. I enjoy playing up there. It’s not so far from Blacksburg, and to me they really add to our league. You’d better be ready to play when you go there or when you play them because they’re going to be — they’ve got good players, and they’re well coached.
Q. You talked about needing to figure out who that quarterback is going to be, huge leadership role on your team. Who are the leaders right now in your locker room moving forward to kind of pick up, especially right now when you’re looking for that leader?
FRANK BEAMER: Well, I think the guys we had here yesterday, Willie Byrn and Luther Maddy, are certainly two outstanding leaders. I think Sam Rogers by his example at our fullback position is an outstanding leader. Certainly the guys there in the secondary, Bonner and Jarrett, they’ve been around a while and can, I think, be good leaders. You know, I think there’s different ways to be a good leader, but the one is how does the team respond to you. I think the team would respond very well to the guys I just mentioned.
Q. I know Logan had a really specific set of skills and it’s not probably fair to think that anybody coming in would do that. How much does Coach Loeffler’s kind of template or idea plan have to change based upon who you choose?
FRANK BEAMER: Yeah, well, I think the plays that you run and the number of times that you run them might could change a little bit. But basically our offense will be the offense, and I think all these guys can fit into that offense, how much you run a particular play. That’s probably what would change.
Q. You host ECU, you visit UNC, visit Duke, visit Wake Forest, a lot of Carolina flavor on that roster, a lot of regional rivalries, and the travel obviously won’t wear you out?
FRANK BEAMER: Yeah, I’ve always said the ACC is where we belong, and we’re close to a lot of programs. That’s a good example of it right now. I grew up looking at those schools and seeing those schools play and the whole deal, so for me, it’s very exciting, and I know for our fans, traveling, because we’ve got great fans that do travel, it’s good for them. Nothing but good in that deal right there.
Q. Just wanted to get your thoughts, since I guess you are the dean of this conference, on the College Football Playoff now and how that has all changed since you got into this.
FRANK BEAMER: Yeah, the playoff? I think that’s great. I think financially certainly it’s outstanding, but I think the excitement, the talk, the finding the teams, to me it’s everything good about it. I think it’s the way we should go. The only thing I’d like better is if it was eight teams. But I do think within the four teams you’ve probably got a good shot at getting the best team in the country, and it’ll come forward. I think for sure you’d have that with an eight-team deal. But I’m excited and think it’s exactly the right way we need to go.
Q. I want to get your opinion on the East Carolina mini-rivalry. I wonder your thoughts on that and how it’s been for you over the past few years.
FRANK BEAMER: Well, it’s always been a good game for us. I mean, two schools that’s fairly close, two very passionate fan bases. It’s one of those games that you like to play it, but it’s always going to be a challenge. You’ve got to play — you’ve got to be well prepared to beat those guys. You know, it’s one of those that you’d better be ready to play again because they’ve got good players and they’ll get after you.