Stinespring To Call Plays In Gator Bowl
Gator Bites
December 27, 2001

JACKSONVILLE - Tech head coach Frank Beamer announced Thursday morning at Tech's first practice for the Gator Bowl that new offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring will call the plays for the Hokies during their Gator Bowl game against Florida State.

Stinespring will be in the coaches' booth beside Rickey Bustle, who recently took the head coaching job at Louisiana Lafayette but stayed onboard at Tech to coach the Hokies in the bowl before moving to Lafayette. Danny Pearman, Tech's tight ends coach, will move from the press box to the field for the bowl game.

"We plan to do all this next year," Beamer said. "Rickey's had a lot going on and has been gone a lot, so Bryan and the rest of the guys have put the game plan together. Rickey will be in the press box helping Bryan out and offering his input. We feel this gives us the best chance to win."

In other news:

Wilford addresses media: Tech receiver Ernest Wilford talked to the media for the first time since dropping a game-tying two-point conversion late in the fourth quarter of the Hokies' 26-24 loss to Miami on Dec. 1. An upset Wilford declined to come to the postgame media session after the game and hadn't done any interviews since the drop.

"Things like that happen," Wilford said. "Even guys in the NFL drop passes. You just have to put it behind you and go on to the next game and learn from it. I'm anxious to get back out there. This is kind of my redemption game."

Witten, Davis probable for bowl: Tech trainer Mike Goforth listed receiver Shawn Witten and Jim Davis as probable for the Gator Bowl. Witten, who broke his leg in the Pittsburgh loss, practiced Thursday in a blue jersey, signifying limited contact, while Davis, who tore a pectoral muscle in the loss to Miami, was full speed.

Freshman Kevin Jones, who suffered a slight shoulder separation in the Miami game, practiced Thursday at full speed for the first time since the injury. The BIG EAST's Rookie of the Year went through full contact, including a spirited middle drill session and is probable to play.

He also listed receiver Emmett Johnson as probable after Johnson dislocated the ring finger on his left hand during the morning practice. After getting bandaged, Johnson returned to practice. The injury is the exact same one Johnson suffered in preparation for the 2000 Sugar Bowl against Florida State.

"This injury is less severe," Goforth said. "The injury he suffered before the Sugar Bowl had to be sutured together, and he played in that game. This one's in the same spot, just less severe so I fully expect him to play."

The news, however, is not as good for offensive lineman Jacob Gibson. Gibson did not practice because of an injured back and is doubtful for the game.

On deck: Tech's linemen, linebackers and tight ends will lift Thursday afternoon, with the skill players lifting Friday. The rest of the team has the afternoon off before leaving at 7 p.m. to go to the Orange Park Kennel Club to watch the dog races. Friday's practice, to once again be held at UNF, will begin at 9:45 a.m.