Hokies conclude preparations for Sugar Bowl
By Jimmy Robertson
January 2, 2005

NEW ORLEANS - The Virginia Tech football team went through its final walkthrough of the season, spending more than an hour at the Louisiana Superdome on Sunday afternoon and working on the final details for the Hokies' Sugar Bowl date with Auburn on Monday night.

"This is our third time here and this place [the Superdome] has some good memories for us," Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. "We beat Texas in 1995, and against Florida State [in 2000], we had a chance. We led them going into the fourth quarter before we lost. That was tough to take, but Michael Vick put on a great performance. So we've had some good memories in this place."

The Hokies hope to add one more Monday night and improve on their 6-11 record in bowl games. But it won't come easy as Auburn comes into the game ranked No. 3 in the country with a perfect 12-0 record.

The Tigers feature maybe the best tandem of running backs in the country in Carnell "Cadillac" Williams and Ronnie Brown. Williams provides the speed, while Brown provides the power. Tech knows there is one thing it cannot do.

"We can't let them run the ball on us," defensive tackle Jim Davis said.

"We can't let them run on us," cornerback Eric Green said.

"That's going to be the key," defensive coordinator Bud Foster admitted. "We've got to stop the run or control the run to where they can't get us into some short-yardage situations. "

The game figures to be a low-scoring one. Auburn comes into the game ranked No. 1 in scoring defense and No. 5 in total defense. Tech ranks No. 3 in scoring defense and No. 4 in total defense.

Offensively, the Hokies plan on continuing what they do best - running the ball, putting the game in the hands of quarterback Bryan Randall and trusting him to make the right calls. The Hokies get a bit of an added boost offensively going into this game. For the first time this season, both tailbacks Mike Imoh and Cedric Humes go into a game 100 percent healthy.

"This was the situation we hoped for back in the spring," offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring said. "Having that 1-2 punch is great to have. Now we're always going to have a fresh back in the game."

On Sunday, Beamer met with the media for the final time before the Hokies' game with the Tigers, attending a press conference at the Hyatt hotel. After that press conference, he met the team at the Superdome for the walkthrough.

After the Hokies' walkthrough, the players came back to the hotel for a little down time before being taken to Jackson Square, an area along the Mississippi River, for the traditional bowl pep rally. Thousands of Tech fans crowded into Jackson Square for a raucous 15-minute pep rally.

Tech's players returned to the hotel after the pep rally and immediately went to a team dinner. All players were to be in their rooms by 9 p.m. to watch a movie, with curfew set at 11 p.m.