GREENSBORO, N.C. — As ACC Kickoff interviews wrapped up at the Grandover Resort on Monday, the league circulated a few off-the-wall pictures coaches had taken in a photo booth in the lobby before making the media rounds.
There was Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, flashing a goofy grin as he donned a Viking helmet in one shot and wearing a multi-colored lei with sun glasses and a glazed-over expression in another.
Beamer was less flamboyant — expectedly — when meeting with reporters, setting the stage for what he hopes will be a rebound season but not saying anything definitive.
Nearly six months after finalizing the overhaul to his offensive coaching staff, Beamer didn’t talk about many specifics about the offense’s progress on the eve of August, repeatedly referencing future sitdowns with offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler and other assistants that will shape the course of the scheme.
Beamer spoke vaguely about how much of Loeffler’s offense the Hokies will install for Alabama.
“The bottom line is, you can execute what you got,” Beamer said. “You better make sure you can execute it against Alabama. Alabama can make you look bad in a hurry if you don’t know what you’re doing.”
The Crimson Tide, which has won two straight BCS titles and three of the last four, remains prominent in everyone’s mind in Blacksburg. Tech and Alabama will meet in the Georgia Dome on Aug. 31 to start the season, something that’s spurred on the Hokies’ offseason preparation.
Tech knows it won’t be able to dip a foot in to test the waters this season.
“I think what happens with Alabama, I think your football program is better,” Beamer said. “I think your summer workouts are better. Preseason practices are better. And regardless of how that game turns out, I think your program’s better.
“Now, to me, it’s a tremendous opportunity. You’re playing the best team in college football and I think that’s the way that you approach this thing.”
Beamer was less forthcoming about other topics. Pressed about the dismissal earlier this month of running back Michael Holmes by a student conduct committee and recent news that receiver Kevin Asante will not be on the team this year, he said nothing.
“I really can’t talk about those guys,” he said several times, pushing the conversation elsewhere.
Even subjects like whether or not long-time aides Billy Hite and Jim Cavanaugh will be on the sideline during games this season didn’t get a straight response. Beamer didn’t explicitly say the two wouldn’t. But in mentioning their new responsibilities in the Monogram Club, tending to alumni back in Blacksburg to watch games, he intimated that they wouldn’t.
For some questions Beamer didn’t have clear answers. He’s been told by trainers that cornerback Antone Exum has “a ways to go” in his recovery from offseason knee surgery, but he didn’t rule the senior out for the opener.
“He’s working extremely hard and he wants to be there,” Beamer said. “The other side of it is, you’ve got to make sure he’s absolutely full go. You don’t want to get into a game like that if it’s not full tilt. And he’s got a future. You want to make sure he’s completely healthy before you get him back in there.”
As he usually does, Beamer gave an overview of what he likes about this year’s team, which after last year’s struggles was picked to finish second in the ACC’s Coastal Division, only the second time since 2005 the Hokies haven’t been tabbed as the favorites..
“I think we’re going to have a chance to be good defensively,” he said. “We’re going to have a lot of people good up front that are fighting for playing time, and that’s a good thing. We’ve got a good quarterback, and we’ve got to be better around him. …
“We’ve got to build on our special teams play. And then we’ve got to be consistent in taking care of the ball and being efficient on offense. And being efficient means don’t get in so many long-yardage situations.”
No mention of Viking helmets or rainbow leis.