July 21, 2015
Beamer touches on array of topics at #ACCKickoff
Hokies' head coach talks about Ohio State, certain positions on his team

PINEHURST, N.C. – On the final day of the 2015 #ACCKickoff, Tech head coach Frank Beamer and other league head coaches met with the media, answering an array of questions about their respective teams.

Beamer and the Hokies were picked to finish second in the Coastal Division among a poll conducted among the media members who cover the ACC. The Hokies were picked to finish third a year ago and finished fifth, going 7-6 and closing the season with a win in the Military Bowl.

“The last few years, we haven’t gotten as many wins as we wanted for our players, coaches, fans, students, the whole deal,” Beamer said. “We need to get back to where we have been. We’ve got a shot to do that, but we’ve got a tough schedule. We’ve got the capabilities of a good team. Putting that together is what challenges me. The capabilities are there, but getting it to be efficient, getting it to be consistent and getting the chemistry right … that’s what challenges me.”

Tech’s schedule is much tougher this season. The Hokies open with Ohio State and also travel to East Carolina, Georgia Tech, BC and Miami – all which beat Tech at Lane Stadium a year ago.

But the Hokies return a lot of piece and optimism is high after three straight slightly better than average seasons. Tech went 7-6 in 2012 and 8-5 in 2013.

“I understand where we are and where we’ve been and what we need to get back to,” Beamer said. “ But we’ve got capabilities, and so it’s up to myself and our football team to get back there.

“If you don’t feel pressure in this business, you’re misguided. So much changes in a year, so much changes week to week. After Ohio State last year, we were feeling pretty good. What happens week to week, what happens year to year … you just grind. You treat people right and you make decisions that you think are right for your program, and then you go hard. That’s what I’ve always tried to do.”

Here are some other nuggets from Beamer during his session with the print media:

• There has been a lot of speculation about Beamer’s health after he missed the bowl game. He underwent minor throat surgery in early December and wasn’t heavily involved in the Hokies’ bowl preparations – he coached from the press box.

But the head man told reporters that he is feeling fine as he heads into his 29th season as the head coach at Tech.

“People talk about how long you’re going to coach, but as long as you’re excited going into the season and you’re physically capable … my health is good and I feel good,” he said. “I’m excited going into the season. I’m excited about the players we’ve got and my coaching staff. I look forward to the year and trying to put the team together. That’s the challenge right now.”

• Beamer has always liked the idea of playing a quality opponent in the season opener – the Hokies have opened with the likes of Southern Cal, Alabama (twice) and Boise State since joining the ACC. Beamer’s team, though, faces the ultimate challenge this season when the Hokies serve as the hosts for the defending national champion Buckeyes on Labor Day night.

Beamer expects to find out a lot about his team after this game.

“I think these games are good for your football team,” he said. “No. 1, your preparation for these games going into the season is probably better. You’ve got better summer workouts and preseason workouts and even spring practice because there is something big to look forward to. It’s the only game on that Monday night against the best team in the country.

“The other thing is you find out a lot more about your team. You can hammer someone 50-0 and not know a lot more about your team come Monday than you did Friday before you played. When you play an Ohio State, if you’re deficient in an area, it’s going to show up pretty quick. If you need to work on something more, it’s going to show up. The end result is you start out in a better position and you know quicker what you need to do to get better. In the big picture, it’s good for your team.”

Beamer has said many times that this Ohio State game will be the most anticipated game in the history of Lane Stadium.

“How many times do you play the No. 1 team in the country?” he said. “And I mean, by far, the No. 1 team in the country, and you’ve got them at your place, it just doesn’t happen very often. It’s a great way to start the season.”

• There has been a lot of discussion among coaches and athletics directors about the transferring taking place within college athletics, particularly in the sport of basketball. Some coaches want to eliminate the graduate transfer rule, which enables a player to play right away at another school provided he or she has graduated from his/her previous school.

But Beamer is an advocate of the rule.

“I think that should stay in place,” he said. “If you’ve got your degree, which is a major goal, and you’re not satisfied with the position in your in, and not every situation is going to end up perfect, then you ought to have some options to go somewhere else. I think you’ve earned the right to change your situation.”

• Beamer was very complimentary of Tech tailback J.C. Coleman, who rushed for 157 yards and was the MVP of the Military Bowl. Coleman took over the tailback duties after a rash of injuries for the final four games and rushed for at least 90 yards in each of those four games.

“I apologized to him because I didn’t know he could be that guy,” Beamer said. “He’s a short guy, but he’s got strength. He’s a smart guy, and he played great. The more he played, the better he got.”

Beamer wants to settle on a couple of tailbacks early in the preseason and he expects Coleman to be one of those backs.

“We’ve got to make sure we’ve got a system where those guys aren’t in and out,” he said. “At tailback, you need to get back there and get in a flow and don’t be in one play and out the next. We’ve got to make sure of that going into the season. In my mind, he [Coleman] showed all of us something. I don’t think there’s any question that he can be an every-down back – and be a good one.”

• Beamer echoed quarterback Michael Brewer’s comments when Brewer said Monday that the Hokies needed to find their third and fourth receivers behind starters Isaiah Ford and Cam Phillips. Depth appears to be a concern, though talent isn’t.

“How well we develop the wide receiver position will be a key part of our football team,” Beamer agreed. “We do need a third. Are there a couple of freshmen with great speed who could move to wide receiver? I think the jury is out.

“But the real key for us is those three tight ends [Bucky Hodges, Ryan Malleck, Kalvin Cline]. Those guys give you flexibility and affect the receiver position a little bit. When you’ve got guys that are tough enough to be inside and athletic enough to be outside, you’ve got something pretty good. That’s what I like.”

• Beamer had similar comments about Tech’s offensive line. He likes the projected starting five, but he wants to see some depth emerge.

The offensive line has been problematic for the Hokies over the past several years. Tech usually possesses two or three good ones, but the unit, as a whole, hasn’t been as consistent as the coaches would like, but the coaching staff remains optimistic about this year’s group.

“We got behind in our recruiting,” he said. “We’ve had some good offensive linemen, but just not as a group. When you have problems there, you’re throwing before you want to throw or taking sacks or what should be a 5-yard run turns into a 1-yard run, so it affects everything. It affects how quickly your defense is getting back on the field. Putting that all together … I think we’ve got a shot.”

• One player worthy of keeping an eye on once practice starts in August is Brandon Facyson, a cornerback who missed nearly all of last season with a leg injury. Facyson, who played great as a true freshman two years ago, received a medical hardship waiver, and defensive backs coach Torrian Gray wants to see Facyson return to that corner spot opposite Kendall Fuller.

“I hope,” Beamer said when asked if he expected Facyson to return to full speed. “To me, he’s quite a player. You put him and Fuller in the game together, and you’ve got some good corners working. He’s a smart guy. He and Kendall, it doesn’t get much better than that right there.”

• C.J. Reavis’ status with the program remains up in the air, thus leaving a void at the rover spot. A healthy Facyson would allow the coaching staff to move Chuck Clark – arguably the best player on defense this spring – to free safety or rover. The coaches haven’t made a decision yet, but count Beamer among the man fans of Clark.

“Chuck Clark is a guy that can do a lot of things back there,” he said. “He’s capable of playing corner, but now I’m not sure he’ll be at free safety. We’re going to do some talking about that. He’s the one who gives you some flexibility right now. He’s got size, and he can do a lot of things. Plus, he’s a smart guy.”

• Finally, Beamer said his first order of business once practice starts in early August is to make sure the chemistry of the team is right. He likes close-knit groups and feels that correlates to on-field success.

“I’m big in the chemistry of your football team,” he said. “I think the chemistry is what determines it [your success].

“We’ve had some great talent, and we couldn’t win a football game at the end. Then we’ve had some teams with a great players and a lot of good players and we’ve won a bunch. I’m big on how the team fits together and how they like each other and how much they hang out with each other off the field and all those things.”

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