Beamer Praises Alabama Football

Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer is no stranger to big games and tough games and he's come out ahead more often than not. He will take his team to Atlanta Saturday to play the nation's number one team, and he said Monday that he has an appreciation for the difficulty.

Alabama and Virginia Tech will meet in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta in the season-opener Saturday. Kickoff will be at 5:30 p.m. EDT (4:30 central time) with ESPN televising the game.

On Monday, Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer, who will begin his 27th year as head man for the Hokies, discussed the challenge with glowing praise for all things Bama. He even joked that a traffic jam might be a help -- "to make them late."

The Beamer theme was that the game gives him an opportunity "to find out where we are. It's time to play a ball game...and get a starting point and see where we are as a football team.

"You kind of get a reading of where you are. You see if people can handle the biggest of big situations and how they handle it and how they react to it. So in college football I will say this, the first time you play for real you're playing another opponent during your regular season. It's not preseason scrimmages or preseason games or whatever. So that first ball game you get a great evaluation and see how kids respond to those type situations. Then you put Alabama in there and now you've got a tremendous team that you're seeing how they respond. We'll learn a lot here Saturday."

Beamer called Alabama "a football team that I think is just extremely talented, extremely tough. You look at them defensively, they're strong; they've got very efficient offensive players. The Yeldon kid (tailback T.J. Yeldon) for them went 1,000 yards last year; what a back he is. A.J. McCarron has won two national titles. Great receiver in the Cooper guy (Amari Cooper); very explosive. Then you look at kicking and the punter (Cody Mandell), 44.3 average last year. This is the fourth year he's done that.

"They've just got it all. They do everything well. They're awfully talented guys, but extremely well coached guys. Do it all. You play a team like this, the best football team in the country.

"When you're getting evaluated against the best team in the country and really particularly good in all aspects that you do get a great evaluation of where you are as a football team and know what you need to improve on. Sometimes when you have runaway wins to start the season, you don't really find what you need to work on or sometimes that's not as clear. I think playing a team like Alabama, you become a better football team. We understand what a task it is to go in there and beat Alabama. But it's not often that you get a chance to play the best team in the country, the number one team in the country. I think there're plusses, it's certainly a challenge and we know what kind of game we have to play to have a chance. I think there's some things you get out of it too."

Beamer was asked about the 2009 game in which Alabama, ranked fifth in the nation, defeated the Hokies, ranked seventh, 34-14, in the Atlanta kickoff game. "It was a good football game," he said. "I thought we played well. They played well and went on to win the national championship. It was a good, tough, physical football game."

Beamer discounted the value of having two coaches who had been at Auburn last year and are familiar with the Tide (Bama defeated Auburn 49-0). "They're certainly familiar with Alabama," he said, "but it still goes back to players. That's a concern you have - the quality of players they have. And like I said earlier, they're coached up. You're really impressed with their program."

Beamer said he recognizes that his team is an underdog. "I think facts are facts," he said. "We are. I don't think you'll see many people, if any, picking us. Facts are facts.

"Haven't found [an Alabama weakness] yet. When you're kickers are good, offensive personnel is excellent...they're like us, they've got a couple of new guys in the offensive line, but a couple of those guys are preseason All-Americans. I don't think they have a weakness. They're just as solid as the day is long. Really good.

"It's a challenge, but you've got to play the ball game and that's what we're going to do."

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