Dec. 3, 2010
By Bill Hass
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Football coaches always look for an edge and Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer can think of one when his Hokies meet Florida State Saturday in the Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game.
For the first time, the game will be played outside the state of Florida so it was a much longer trip for the Seminoles. More important, Virginia Tech fans had extra time to snap up tickets because their team clinched the Coastal Division title a week before FSU became the Atlantic Division champion.
“I just think the location of Charlotte and what you have here it's the perfect place,” Beamer said at Friday’s press conference at Bank of America Stadium. “The only thing that is iffy is the weather. You know, cold doesn't affect a game anymore. Rain affects a game a little bit, wind I think affects a game a little bit, but hopefully the weather is going to be okay, and if not, both teams have to play in it.
“But I do think this is the right place for our Conference Championship. And I think how it's supported and I know in Jacksonville and Tampa those people worked hard to support it, too -- but I really feel like there's a great support going in and trying to make this thing work here in Charlotte.”
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, not unexpectedly, downplayed the effect moving the game out of the Seminoles’ home state might have.
“That doesn't bother me,” he said. “Like I said, Charlotte is the hub of the ACC. You're right here in the middle of ACC territory. It's a great a stadium, great venue. If they can give us good weather like this every year, I'll be happy as heck. It's a great city, great venue, and it's right in the middle of ACC territory. We have to play it somewhere.”
Other news and notes from the press conference:
- This is the sixth championship game for the league and matches the schools that played in the inaugural one in 2005. The Seminoles, coached by Bobby Bowden, got the best of the Hokies that day, 27-22. The ‘Noles piled up a 27-3 lead after three quarters, then survived a furious Hokies rally led by Marcus Vick, who threw for a TD and ran for two more in the fourth quarter.
- Beamer’s teams have won 10 games for seven straight years, the longest such streak in the country. And it matters to him.
“Oh, I care about it, yeah,” he said. “I think it's a gradual process, and you know what, right now we're the only team. After Texas dropped out (going 5-7 this season) we're the only team that's won 10 games for seven great years, and I think if you just keep on doing that, it all (recognition) comes.”
- In contrast, some observers called this a season in which Florida State came “back,” an assessment Fisher doesn’t fully agree with.
“Back where?” he asked with a smile. “I don't know -- that's up to (fans and commentators). Being "back" to us is trying to get back to a level of consistency and playing great football and doing things that you have to do to have a successful program.
“Like I say, the object here is to build a program, not a team. You have to have a certain number of teams to get to a program, but you have the consistency level of how you play, and I think that's hopefully what we're talking about, being able to play championship caliber football and doing it consistently.”
- Virginia Tech took itself out of the national picture with an opening loss to Boise State followed by an unexpected loss to FCS opponent James Madison. So how did the coaches and players convince themselves there was still plenty to play for?
“In reality we didn't quite have the team that could contend for a National Championship,” Beamer said. “You know, we had the quarterback (Tyrod Taylor), and there are only so many times I think you enter a season with a quarterback with experience (and think you can contend).
“Defensively I think we had to replace too many people. We replaced both kickers, and you always worry about that in a big ball game, and we missed a field goal in that game and haven't missed one since I don't believe. Offensively we replaced two offensive linemen, and that gets you quicker than anything.
“You know, I try to deal in reality. We still had a good football team, and we still could win the ACC, and we still could come back, and if we could win 10 in a row, what a great statement that would be about people and coming back.”
- The key to the Seminole defense in containing Taylor is for everyone to stay in their lanes and take care of their business. So how do you get defenders to play that disciplined?
“You have to be unselfish,” Fisher said, “because sometimes wanting a sack is the worst thing you can do against a guy like Tyrod because as you go to beat that guy and create that hole and he steps up and make a play or gets a throwing lane, it takes discipline. We've just got to contain those plays and hope they don't happen at those critical times in the game. But discipline is going to be the key because they're going to have to believe in how they're coached and what they're supposed to do and remember that the guy beside them is counting on them to do their job.”
Bill Hass is a long-time observer of ACC sports. His career at the Greensboro News & Record spanned 36 years, from 1969 until his retirement in March 2006. He is now writing "Bill Hass on the ACC" for theACC.com. His weekly columns will keep fans plugged in to the Atlantic Coast Conference.
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