In and out of costume, Hokies' Beamer upbeat at ACC Kickoff

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Frank Beamer "can't talk about it." Not about receiver Kevin Asante's abrupt removal from Virginia Tech's roster or the chances of his return. Not about tailback Michael Holmes' banishment from school after his conviction for assault and battery.

Whether Beamer's "can't talk about it" mantra Monday at the ACC's preseason media gathering actually means "don't feel like talking about it" is open to interpretation.

What's not open to debate is that the Asante and Holmes matters add to a turbulent offseason for a program hoping to rebound from its worst record in 20 years.

"We know what it's like to be on the bottom," senior linebacker Jack Tyler said. "It's not a good feeling. When you've been there, you know you never want to go back there, and you'll do whatever it takes (to avoid it)."

"Bottom" is a relative term in Blacksburg. After all, the Hokies were 7-6 last season, did close on a three-game winning streak and did qualify for a 20th consecutive bowl.

But after eight straight seasons with at least 10 victories, 7-6 jarred coaches, players and fans. Most important, it prompted Beamer to overhaul his offensive staff with three new coaches headlined by coordinator Scot Loeffler.

"We needed the culture shock," Tyler said of the coaching changes. "I think we needed to get some energy and excitement back in the program. It wasn't really getting stale, but when you hear the same thing over and over from the same coaches, it does kind of get a little stale."

While praising departed coaches Mike O'Cain, Kevin Sherman and Curt Newsome, Beamer used a similar word. "Monotonous."

"I felt like we needed something different," Beamer said. "We needed to change. We needed a different feeling."

A team captain this season, Tyler said last year's squad lacked leadership, especially since senior linebacker Bruce Taylor was injured early and not full speed until late.

"I don't want to bash anybody," Tyler said, "but that was probably our biggest downfall last year. We didn't have anybody we could rely on."

Beamer's not convinced.

"You can say a lot of different things, and when things aren't going well, that's an easy way to go," he said. "I'm not sure that was a big part of it. …

"We talk a lot about leading from the inside. When the guys on your team are taking charge, then you've got something going. I think if the coaches are talking, maybe. But if it's from inside, you've got something going, and I like the way I see things going right now."

Indeed, Beamer was upbeat Monday even as he dodged the Asante and Holmes issues. Ducking into the ACC Digital Network's photo booth, he playfully donned first a Viking helmet and then shades and a Hawaiian leis for pictures that went viral on Twitter.

Moreover, rather than focus on Tech's six defeats, Beamer stressed the positives of season-ending victories over Boston College, Virginia and Rutgers, games the Hokies won by a combined 13 points.

"Sitting there at 4-6 was disappointing, and it happened for a lot of reasons," Beamer said, citing late defensive breakdowns against Cincinnati and Florida State, injuries and new personnel around quarterback Logan Thomas. "That team could have folded its tent, but they didn't. There are some things to draw from that. Life lessons. I'm excited about trying to get back."

With Tyler headlining nine defensive starters, and kicker Cody Journell proven in the clutch, Tech should "get back." The question is, how far?

After Alabama, the schedule is manageable as the Hokies avoid Clemson and Florida State, two of last season's conquerors. But winning 10 or more games will demand exponential improvement on offense.

"We've got a good quarterback," Beamer said, "and we've got good talent (elsewhere). We've just got to get it playing well … and playing maybe early better than they probably should play. … That's what makes it exciting. That's what kind of drives me."

Tyler: "Our expectations are always the same. They're always to win the ACC, always to be the best defense in the ACC. We expect to win every game. We expect to beat Alabama. Some teams might go into that game thinking, 'Well if we don't win this one, there's always next week.' Well, no. We expect to beat Alabama."

Good luck with that.

But no matter the result Aug. 31 against the two-time defending national champion Crimson Tide, this will be a fascinating season as the Hokies transition to a new offense.

"They're different from some of the guys last year," Beamer said of his new assistants. "I'm not saying that's right or wrong. The real issue is how we play this fall. We'll wait and see how that turns out."

David Teel can be reached at 757-247-4636 or by email at For more from Teel, read his blog at teeltime and follow him at

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