After pulling away from William & Mary in the season-opener for a 34-9 win, Virginia Tech now faces one of its stiffest tests this season in Ohio State. The two will face off at 8 pm Friday on national television.
Coach Frank Beamer talked about the Buckeyes, plus injury and status updates on this week's ACC Media Teleconference. Below is the transcript, followed by the audio link.
Beamer: Quite a challenge going up to Ohio State and playing an extremely talented football team, an extremely well-coached football team. Very good up front defensively, very, very good. Got some real play makers on offense. Just I think a very complete football team. So we understand the challenge in front of us, but we need to have a great week of practice and get ready to play our best football if we possibly can.
Little bit off topic, but I wanted to ask you. Mark Shuman had worked so hard to get himself back atop the depth chart and try to end his career kind of on a good note there at Tech. What was your reaction to his injury and what did you see out of Mark before he got hurt this preseason?
Beamer: Yeah, I was very disappointed and I know Mark was too. I thought he worked hard. I thought he was getting ready to have a great year. The reality of being his final year, I thought he really made a great preparation and was getting ready to be a real positive guy for our football team. So big guy and sorry he's not there.
When you look at Ohio State defensively, particularly at the linebacker spot and Curtis Grant, what do you see from them?
Beamer: Oh, about what we saw when we saw him play here at State, 6'3", 238, experienced guy now, playing really well, strong, tough, can run. What you think of is the middle linebacker.
I was wondering if you noticed a drop off or teams playing a slower pace maybe, maybe being a step slow in the weeks after they face teams like Navy especially with that triple option? It seems that the numbers indicate a lot of teams have been prone to upsets the week following playing the Midshipmen. Do you notice that and what do you think are some of the factors for that?
Beamer: Well, it's different because you're down there protecting your knees. It's a different kind of game you play. But, no, I think these guys are deep enough. I think they got enough guys to play that I don't see any drop off.
You mentioned the defensive front. I was curious with Michael Bennett, No. 63 at nose guard, how do you have to account for him and how disruptive he might be?
Beamer: Yeah, up front I think the whole group is so good. If it's just one guy you can kind of figure it out a little bit, but I think you've just got to block your schemes and get those guys on them, you better work like heck to get them blocked. Instead of 100% effort, you better give about 110%, I believe. These guys are good.
Obviously, the high school talent in Virginia has been great for a really long time and been a place where you guys have gotten the backbone of your program. But the landscape over the past five years has kind of changed with teams like Ohio State trying to make a home there. How's that changed your approach and trying to keep those top Virginia talents at home?
Beamer: I don't know if it's changed. You've got to recruit your own state hard. They certainly in Ohio there are a lot of good players there too, but I think just working hard and working the high school coaches. We try to get around and visit with them each and every year whether they've got a prospect or not. Build those relationships, and hopefully that holds up during recruiting. I think it's all normal. You can't predict who is going to come into your state and recruit. I think it's your relationship with that prospect and what you've done with that school and that coach in the past. If you've done a good job in the past, you've maybe got a shot at the kid now.
Have you noticed a change in the landscape of who is recruiting your state? I know programs have come in for years, but with Urban at Ohio State and Penn State and Michigan, have you noticed a change or maybe is it more of a challenge now to try to keep guys at home with a lot of premier programs coming in there and trying to get guys from that 757 area?
Beamer: I haven't noticed a difference. I think forever, Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State, whoever, if there is a great player in our state, they're going to be here. I'm not even sure they're here anymore than -- I think they get after the best players in your state and to me that hasn't changed. It's always been kind of about the same.
I have a question about the amount of no-huddle you showed in the William & Mary game. I know you've done it a little some last year too. But I wondered how much of that was having Michael Brewer come from Texas Tech and that being something he was sort of comfortable with, and how much of it is maybe a philosophy switch for you in terms of how you run an offense?
Beamer: Yeah, it's a little bit of everything, and how much you do it each and every week kind of depends on the game. I think there are other factors to consider in there. Who the opponent is, what are their strengths? The one thing that you do when you no-huddle, you don't get to first and your defense is right back on the field in a short period of time. So I think you've got to always think about who you're playing and how you want to play them. So there is more to it than just saying okay, we're going to no-huddle, in my opinion. In my opinion.
Have you been more open to it in recent years? It's obviously kind of trendy in college football. Are you more open to it now than you were in years past?
Beamer: I've always liked it. I've always thought there were a lot of plusses out of it. I think setting the tempo and sometimes predicting what the defense is going to do and being able to see what they might do. I think there are a lot of plusses out of it. I've always liked it.
I was wondering if you could take us back a few years to the 2007 spring game with when Ohio State wore the decals on their helmets after the campus shooting. How did that come about, and what do you recall at that time given what the school had gone through before that?
Beamer: Yeah, someone brought that to my attention earlier in the week. What a tremendous gesture. What a tremendous -- I think the whole country was sharing in the sadness around here at Virginia Tech, and certainly for them to wear Virginia Tech on their helmet in the spring game, you know, that was going beyond what you would think about. So very much appreciated. Very much appreciated all of the Ohio State people, but all of the people that were thinking about us back there in that terrible time.
Coach, I'm curious, a lot of talk in the preseason about the Buckeyes losing Braxton Miller. But what did you see on tape from J.T. in that first game?
Beamer: I think he's about the same guy. I mean, athletic, physical, what was he? 12 of 14 for 228 yards, and I think he ran nine times for about 50. To me it's kind of the same player without the experience. Experience is a great thing, but I was impressed with how the Barrett kid played in the opening game, for sure.
Last week I know was kind of a late last second decision to have Joey Slye as your kicker over (Michael Santamaria. Has he nailed down that spot more or is he someone that may go back and forth as the season kind of progresses?
Beamer: No, we're going to continue to have competition in practice. Joey missed yesterday with a little bit of a strep throat, but I think he's going to be able to get back out there today. But I think competition, and we really probably never had as many good kickers as we've got right now. We went out there yesterday and got kicking, and there were a lot of kicks made and Slye wasn't out there. So I think we've got good kids, and I want to keep the competition. But certainly Slye being in the ballgame and coming through in the fashion he is, and he's been a very consistent guy throughout preseason. You know, he's certainly got the edge right now, that's for sure.
Coach, I wanted to look at going into this game a little different from game one. But Michael Brewer and Shai McKenzie, how you saw the balance from passing and running as well as the leadership from those two guys as you head into Ohio State this week?
Beamer: Yeah, it was really probably about as good an opening ballgame as we could have had. Brewer, I thought handled things well. We got good production out of a couple of our tailbacks and we needed that. We needed to be able to run the ball better and that helps your passing game. That was good. I think the first game went as well as you could ever hope. The problem is when you lineup against Ohio State, it's a totally different situation than the guys they've got up front. I mean, it's going to be a challenge to be able to do the things we were able to do last week. We want to try to do them, but it's going to be a heck of a challenge for us.
CLICK HERE to listen to Beamer on the ACC teleconference: COACH FRANK BEAMER ACC TELECONFERENCE WEEK 2