Beamer, Tedford meet the press for final time
Bowl Insights
December 24, 2003

Tech head coach Frank Beamer and Cal head coach Jeff Tedford conducted their final session with the media at a press conference Wednesday morning as the Hokies and the Bears start to put the finishing touches on their preparations for the Insight Bowl game on Friday night.

Tedford, Cal's second-year coach, delivered the biggest news of the day, informing the media that All-American wide receiver Geoff McArthur would probably not play in the game. McArthur suffered a freak injury during Cal's Sunday practice, breaking his arm while trying to catch a pass.

"He was running and he reached down to catch a low pass and his knee came up and hit his arm," Tedford said. "It's obviously unfortunate. We've put a cast on it, but it's not looking good that he'll play."

McArthur finished second to Pittsburgh's Larry Fitzgerald in most receiving categories this season. He caught 85 passes for 1,504 yards, with 10 touchdowns. If McArthur doesn't play, Tedford said he planned to start Chase Lyman, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound junior from Los Altos Hills, Calif., and rotate Vincent Strang, a 5-8, 140-pound senior, in that spot.

As for the Hokies, they're relatively healthy heading into the bowl game. Beamer mentioned two players who concerned him. Chris Clifton injured his left hand after being shoved out of bounds while trying to make a catch and landing on the asphalt track that circles the field. Eric Green also has a sprained right hand and needs to wear a soft cast. But both should be able to play.

Beamer received a variety of questions, with a lot of them centering on Tech's defensive lapses the latter half of the season. And so far this season, bowl games have resembled shootouts, with teams combining for 60 and 70 points. So many expect the same in this game, though Beamer hopes this game doesn't follow suit.

"Absolutely not," he said when asked if he liked the possibility of playing in a shootout. "We've played defense around here too great for too long of time for the game to be decided on who scores last. Hopefully, we can come out and play better than we did down the stretch."

As for the Bears, they come in on a hot streak, having won four for their past five games. But Tedford doesn't feel that gives his team the advantage over the Hokies, who have dropped four of six.

"It doesn't matter what we've done or what they've done," he said. "It's a whole new game with two teams battling it out. You can throw the past out. Both teams have had a lot of time to prepare for the game, so it's going to be a whole new game now."

Tech went through its final practice at Desert Mountain High School on Wednesday. The Hokies go to Bank One Ballpark on Thursday for a team photo before heading to Desert Mountain High for a final walkthrough before the game on Friday.

Personnel matters

Even though the Hokies lost four of their final six regular-season games, Beamer doesn't plan on making any personnel changes for the bowl game. However, he mentioned giving a couple of guys more playing time than what they received in the past few games.

"We're going to try and get [whip linebacker] Aaron Rouse in the game more," Beamer said. "And we're going to try and get Richard Johnson in there at receiver. Richard got hurt earlier in the year, but he had a great, great practice yesterday [Tuesday]."

Chris Shreve also will get more time. Shreve, a senior from Mouth of Wilson, Va., missed four games for an assortment of injuries, including a strained hamstring. He may even start opposite of Earnest Wilford.

Fun coming to an end for players

Tech and Cal players participated in a bowl-sponsored event held Tuesday night at Jillian's, a restaurant/sports bar/arcade similar to a Dave & Buster's. The players spent a couple of hours there eating and playing video games before heading back to their respective hotels.

Tuesday night marked the end of the nightlife for Tech's players as the coaching staff imposed an 11 p.m. curfew for Wednesday and Thursday nights. On Wednesday night - Christmas Eve - Tech's players will be attending the Hokies' annual football banquet in which Beamer and his staff hand out the 2003 team awards. The team hotel serves as the site for this event.

Away from home for Christmas

Tech's weeklong itinerary has a list of churches in the area near the hotel and the Insight Bowl folks provide transportation to anyone wanting to attend Christmas Eve or Christmas Day services. For nearly all of Tech's players, this marks their first time away from home for the holidays. In the past, the Hokies' traveling party left the day after Christmas - the Gator and San Francisco Bowls are later in December - so players at least got to spend part of their Christmas with their families before returning to Blacksburg the night before their departure.

"It's definitely different," said quarterback Bryan Randall, whose family is not making the trip to Phoenix for the bowl game. "Part of you doesn't want to be here because you want to be with your family over Christmas, but at the same time, you're happy to be here, happy to be in a bowl game. You get to celebrate with the guys you see all years, and other than my family, there's not anyone I'd rather spend Christmas with than those guys."