Hokies' Beamer has made trademark in kicking games
Posted: Wednesday December 29, 1999 06:52 PM
Corey Moore can expect to spend almost as much time practicing on special teams as on defense before Tuesday's Sugar Bowl. AP
By Paul Crane, CNN/SI
BLACKSBURG, Va. -- a typical Virginia tech practice is anything but typical by college football standards. While the Hokies go through their various stations like any other team, each practice is interrupted for special teams drills, presided over by none other than the head coach himself.
Get ready for Beamerball!
"Not many places will just stop right in the middle of practice and kick three field goals, three punts, and three kickoffs and go right to practice right after that," said kicker Shayne Graham.
"You know how some people want their special team guys there before practice or after practice?" said Beamer. "That would never happen here because it is almost like being punished."
In Blacksburg, special teams are very special. No less than seven starters take part, including All-American defensive ends Corey Moore, who has blocked four kicks in his career, and John Engleberger, who's blocked five.
"The whole team plays the game," said Beamer, "getting dirty, bleeding and sweating, and the game comes down to the cleanest player on the team coming in to make the play and make or break the outcome of the game. You got to be ready, that can be your only chance. That is what we get ready for in practice."
Virginia Tech certainly proved that in its come-from-behind win at West Virginia. It was a last-second 44-yard field goal that kept the perfect season alive.
"It is a little tough sometimes," said Hokies receiver Andre Davis, "especially on the beginning of a long series when you are out there and stuff, but it is all part of the job. You gotta get ready on what you need to do and focus on that."
At Virginia Tech, special teams are so big they get their own press conferences, which are warranted. Since Frank Beamer took the helm in 1987, 16 different players have scored touchdowns on special teams. No school has blocked more kicks, 63 in the 1990s, but plenty have taken notice -- the Hokies only managed two this season.
"They just do a phenomenal job of creating a game plan to try and give themselves big plays," said Miami coach Butch Davis. "They are one of the nation's best punt-block teams, they are outstanding at returning kickoffs and punts, and I think that is something that FSU will really have to prepare for."
Florida State's special teams should not be overlooked either. The Seminoles blocked six kicks this season, and haven't had one blocked since early last year. And as good as Graham is, Sebastian Janikowski has the biggest leg in college football.
But that won't change Beamer's strategy come Jan. 4.
"Offense, defense, special teams -- you have to attack," he said. "You gotta go after them and set the tempo, and we try to do that by the way we play it."
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