Tech conducts first practice in Crescent City
By Jimmy Robertson
December 29, 2004

NEW ORLEANS - The Virginia Tech football team hit the practice fields at Tulane University for its first official practice in preparation for the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 3rd. The Hokies, who went through some conditioning drills Tuesday at Tulane, put on the pads for the first time and went through a relatively short practice early Wednesday afternoon. The practice constituted the Hokies' normal "Monday" practice as the team keeps its regular game-week routine before playing on the 3rd.

Earlier Wednesday morning, Tech head coach Frank Beamer met with the media at the Hyatt near the Louisiana Superdome. Beamer spent approximately 20 minutes fielding an array of questions from the throng of media in attendance.

Beamer got asked everything under the sun - questions about the polls, about Auburn being left out of the Orange Bowl, about keeping the players reigned in while staying in the French Quarter, about his history of great special teams and about how he and Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville resemble each other as coaches.

"We stress the same things," Beamer said in response to that question. "You better be able to play good defense. If you do that, you've got a chance. Special teams is the quickest way to win a football game and they would say the same thing. They work on it and you can tell. Offensively, you need to be balanced. You have to be able to run it and pass and they're a great example of that. I'd say we're pretty much alike."

Then he added a couple of seconds later,

"Except our salaries," Beamer said with a smile. "Our salaries are different. I noticed that his just jumped [a reference to Tuberville's contract extension]."

After the press conference, Beamer headed to practice, and Tech's practice went smoothly. The Hokies began working in more detail against Auburn's schemes, as both the offensive and defensive scout teams displayed fronts and plays that the Tigers like to use.

"We did most of our planning in Blacksburg," Beamer said. "We'll practice more against Auburn's stuff this week. We did some of that in Blacksburg, but we'll do more here.

"Today starts our regular Monday and it starts our true preparation for Auburn. But as far as the planning and what plays we're going to run and what we're going to do in certain situations, we did that in Blacksburg."

After practice, the Hokies returned to the team hotel for lunch and some down time. Later Wednesday evening, the players left for a player party at Zeke's in New Orleans and returned about 9 p.m. Once they returned, the players were free until 2 a.m. to do as they wished.

Tech holds its second practice in New Orleans on Thursday at Tulane at the exact same time.

More Crescent City clips

  • The Hokies figure to go into their game against Auburn in relatively good health. Tailback Mike Imoh, bothered with a pulled hamstring the final two games of the season, practiced at full speed Wednesday, and Jimmy Martin also went full speed. Martin suffered a high ankle sprain in the Hokies' win over Virginia.

    "Imoh feels good. He just needed some rest," Beamer said. "Jimmy Martin is going full speed and hopefully he'll be OK. That's a big, big position for us right there. The Lewis brothers [hand injuries] are going to be OK.

    "We've got to get through practice this week. Tomorrow, we get into some full-contact work, and if we get through that, we should go into the game pretty healthy."

  • All players were in by the mandated 2 a.m. curfew on the first night in New Orleans. The vast majority of players visited Bourbon Street, while some went down to Harrah's Casino not so much to gamble, but just to see what the place was like. All told, Tech's first night in New Orleans went smoothly.

    "With this group, you want to reward them for sure because it's been a great year," Beamer said. "They've been responsible all year. So we give them a 2 a.m. curfew the first couple of nights and I think that's the way to do it.

    "We talk a lot about enjoying ourselves, but also about remembering what we're down here for. You can come down here and have a great week of partying, but if you don't win the football game, you're going to remember that for a long time. You're just not going walk out there and do a so-so job of preparing to beat this Auburn team and win. You better be ready to go with all cylinders."