A few years ago we got to know Gobbler Country, the excellent Virginia Tech SB Nation blog, when Purdue played in Blacksburg for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. This time we have football on the line, and Roy Hatfield was kind enough to answer my questions about the Hokies:
T-Mill: What was with the schizophrenia from last year? How does a team win at Ohio State but basically lose on penalty kicks to Wake Forest?
Roy: I think if you asked the coaches the same question they might be stumped. I think if you asked Urban Meyer if that was the same team in September as January, he would laugh. Our coaches are great. If you give them enough time to gameplan anybody, we generally are pretty happy. Just like any other program we dealt with injuries and off the field issues. If you go back and look at that particular game, our defense was lights out. Tip your hat to Bud Foster. I think Virginia Tech had that game circled when we announced it. There is no scarier defense in the nation when we make you one dimensional, which is what the Hokies did.
T-Mill: A lot of Purdue fans don't know much about Beamerball. Can you describe the experience for us?
Roy: Beamerball is pretty simple. We put a special emphasis on special teams. Frank coaches them personally. We understand the value of blocked kicks, and returns. Beamer not only looks at these as scoring opportunities, but big momentum changers in any given game. The other piece of Beamerball is simply an aggressive defense with a conservative offense. I would compare him to Chuck Knoll in that regard. If you look at our record of drafted defensive lineman and secondary, you will see what I'm getting at.
T-Mill: Is this game somewhat overlooked with a second Ohio State game coming to start the season?
Roy: I don't speak for all Hokie Nation, but the matchup is definitely intriguing. Any time we get to step out of conference and play a "Power 5" team we get excited. If you look back on the last 10 years at our non-conference schedule, you will be impressed with our resume. U.S.C., Alabama, Boise State, Ohio State, etc.. I can promise you Virginia Tech is not looking ahead against the Boilermakers. I think we will try to make a statement against the Big 10, especially if the Buckeyes game goes south.
T-Mill: VaTech finished strong last year despite the Wake Forest loss. What are your preseason expectations?
Roy: We are great when it comes to the 1's. Our depth concerns me a great deal. We have the preseason All-A.C.C. defensive end combination, so we should be able to pressure without blitzing, but if one of those guys goes down I'm not so sure. Our backfield is a concern, and Michael Brewer didn't make a lot of friends in Blacksburg last year. I will say this: it would be foolish to bet against Frank Beamer and Bud Foster this season. They both have everything on the line.
T-Mill: Is there anything about Purdue that gives you concern despite our 4-20 record the last two years?
Roy: Anytime you go on the road there are issues. The hotel sucks. The food is different. The flights got delayed etc.,. I would expect the Hokies to try and start fast and go jugular as soon as possible. There is nothing more scary than an underdog that is "hanging around" late.
T-Mill: Finally, are there any tips you would like for readers traveling to
Roy: I would love some inside scoop on the best bars/restaurants. I can guarantee that the Hokie Nation will be well represented in West Lafayette.