Virginia Tech Postcard (cont.)
Posted: Thursday August 9, 2007 12:26PM; Updated: Tuesday August 21, 2007 6:53PM
1. Beamer has learned a thing or two about expectations. When I pointed out to the coach that one preseason magazine has declared his 2007 squad, "[Tech's] most talented team since the Michael Vick era," he winced just a bit. He's heard that one before. The Hokies' 2003 club -- which featured future NFLers Kevin Jones and DeAngelo Hall, was a trendy national-title choice and rose as high as No. 3 in the rankings before sinking to an 8-5 finish. Two years later, a Marcus Vick/Jimmy Williams-led Tech squad seemed destined for the BCS before getting stunned by unranked Florida State in the first ACC title game. But Beamer also has had teams that far superseded expectations -- most notably the 1999 national runner-ups, but also the 2004 team that won the ACC.
It's no coincidence that the two aforementioned disappointments happened to include some particularly notorious characters (i.e. potential locker-room cancers). Which is why it's also no coincidence that on the tower that sits right in the center of Tech's two practice fields, there's a huge banner that reads, "None of Us Are As Good as All Of Us."
"In the big picture, it's really the chemistry of the football team that's the most important issue," said Beamer. "We've had very talented teams that didn't win as many games as they should, and we've had teams not as talented that won the ACC championship. Whether this team is the most talented since the Michael Vick era? ... That doesn't really matter. Chemistry is the real issue."
2. Branden Ore is in the coaches' doghouse... Well, not really. When the players took their pre-camp conditioning tests, the star tailback's results were not up to snuff. He missed much of the team's summer workouts, he said, to help a hometown friend in Chesapeake, Va., who lost his grandmother. As a result, Ore, despite rushing for 1,137 yards and 16 touchdowns last season, is currently the Hokies' third-team tailback -- both on paper and on the field. He barely got to don his helmet Wednesday, with first-team tailback Kenny Lewis and second-teamer Dustin Pickle getting the majority of the work.
Beamer, however, cautioned not to read too much into the designation. "It's more a reward for guys like Kenny Lewis and Dustin Pickle, that they put in the work so they should get the same opportunity [for carries]," said the coach. "[Ore] will get his opportunity to work his way back." Ore himself insists he is unfazed by the slight ("I don't pay attention to that," he said), though Glennon said the subject has come up. "He doesn't seem angry -- I think he's accepted the coaches' decision," said Glennon. "He's told me, 'Don't worry, Sean, I'll be back behind you on Sept. 1.' "
3. Beamer has far more confidence in Glennon than does much of his fan base. The Hokies' 2006 offense ranked a dreadful 99th nationally (as opposed to its defense, which finished No. 1 for a second consecutive season). In his first season starting, Glennon (2,191 yards, 11 TDs, 11 INTs) took the brunt of the criticism, particularly when he appeared to melt down in the second half of Virginia Tech's Chick-fil-A Bowl loss to Georgia, turning it over four times to blow a 21-3 halftime lead. But the coach is quick to defend both his QB and the offense, pointing out the bowl collapse began when two senior offensive linemen, Danny McGrath and Brandon Frye, went out with injuries. "In the overall picture," said Beamer, "our coaches and players on offense did a very good job considering the inexperience we had and the injuries."
After the bowl game, many Tech fans were hoping one of the other returning quarterbacks, Ike Whitaker or Cory Holt, would overtake Glennon, but the exact opposite has happened. Following a strong offseason in which he wowed the staff both on the field and in the weight room, Glennon is a solid No. 1 QB. "I definitely feel like everyone's got more confidence in me, and I've got more confidence in myself," he said. Though hardly the most impressive athlete in the bunch, Glennon clearly looked like the sharpest and most comfortable passer in practice. "I think Sean will be fine," said Beamer. "We've just got to make sure we keep good people around Sean."