Frank Beamer, the longest-tenured head coach in America, enters his 29th season at Virginia Tech and has no plans of slowing down anytime soon – not even at 68.
“No, it’s as good as ever,” Beamer said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I’m really excited about opening up our season. I think we got a good football team. We got to see if we get chemistry right and all those other things that go into it. Tough schedule, but a good football team so we got some work ahead.”
Tough schedule, indeed. The Hokies open against defending national champion Ohio State. Virginia Tech beat the Hokies in Columbus last year, but Beamer knows this game will be even more difficult, especially since the young Buckeyes have grown up in the last year and are seeking revenge.
What will be the key to the game?
“We got some big plays last year,” Beamer said. “We were young, too. All those guys we were playing were fairly new, too. We just happened to get some big plays on them and that was really the difference. But usually, I think the long play – us preventing it defensively and trying to get a couple offensively – to me, that’s kind of the key to it, whether they come in the kicking game or the offense, defense, however it comes. I think when you look at Ohio State and their talent and how they’re coached, you’re probably not going to grind it out and have success. You got to have an explosive play in there somewhere. Hopefully we got the kind of people that can do it and maybe get one or two during the game.”
Virgina Tech quarterback Michael Brewer was solid against Ohio State last season, going 23-of-36 for 199 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He cooled off as the season progressed, however, throwing five touchdowns and four interceptions in his last four games.
“I think Michael was really in a tough situation,” Beamer said. “He came in here and he’d only been here about a month, and all of a sudden, he’s starting against Ohio State and so forth, but he did a good job. I’ll tell you what happened to us: we got so many injuries last year. I think Michael’s going to be fine. He manages the game well, he throws the ball well – he’s going to do what he needs to do for you to win.”
Beamer certainly hopes that holds true against Ohio State, but he doesn’t need Brewer to be otherworldly against the Buckeyes. Virginia Tech boasts arguably the best cornerbacks in America and, as usual, one of the nation’s top special-teams units.
Why are the Hokies always so solid in that department?
“The fact is that most of these guys that are going to make it to the next level, a lot of them will be whether they’re good on special teams,” Beamer said. “So I tell them I’m trying to help their NFL future. Get in here and learn how to play special teams and be good at it – and it could be the difference between enjoying a paycheck in the NFL or not. It’s just a fact.”