Shane Beamer: It's been exciting. We just got back from Mexico (honeymoon). We dated for two years so she knows about the hours it takes in this field. I'm very fortunate to find her and it's been great.
Q: Talk about changing from defensive back coach to running backs coach.
Beamer: I started thinking about it after Freddie (Kitchens) left and I approached Coach Croom with the idea that I would like to coach running backs if he was open to it. My heart is with defense and I love those guys over there. but it's been a good early career move for me because I needed to get experience on offense. Plus, it let (defensive coach) Melvin Smith be able to coach what he has always coached before. It was a great move all around.
Q: With no Jerious Norwood around this spring, what was it like?
Beamer: When you look at replacing a guy like Jerious Norwood, you know it would be tough at first. But we saw some guys that were eager and hungry and pushing for playing time. At fullback, we are solid with Bryson Davis and Casey Rogers, two guys that have played a lot of snaps in this offense. At halfback, we were limited with injuries to Brandon Thornton and Derek Ambrose, and them not being at full speed. But when they were able to practice, they worked hard. Then you have a guy like Brandon Hart who played as a true freshman. He will work at halfback and fullback and we plan to use him in a major way in short-yardage situations.
Q: Do you think this year's running backs will be more tailback-by-committee or do you see someone emerging?
Beamer: We were watching film and seeing how Jerious would make plays even on broken plays. We need to find a guy to do that. We need them going north and south, getting us three or four yards. If we can do that, run physical and control the clock, then that's what we want.
You definitely hope somebody emerges and you want to see a couple of guys separate themselves from the pack. In this league, you better have more than one guy out there taking 60 snaps a game without much rest.
I feel good about the guys we have and again, they are hungry. I have seen that this summer and they are wanting to be 'that guy'. And then the freshmen we signed have a chance to compete right away for playing time and we knew that when they signed. You want to have a good top 4 at that spot.
Q: With the offensive line possibly the most stable in the last three or four years, what does that do for you and your backs?
Beamer: There's no question about (the offensive line improvement). And I don't think people realize how much of a factor that will be this year. They are still young but they have played in this league. I think something like three or four true freshmen played on the offensive line last year and Coach Grimes did an amazing job of bringing those guys along. He has really progressed them and has them playing with so much more cohesiveness. You have to have five guys playing as one because if one guy screws up, then the whole play get messed up.
Q: Speaking of your freshmen, is it realistic that one could have an impact?
Beamer: We signed (Dixon and Jones) and they already have size and so does Stallworth. They certainly have a lot of ability but it is very tough on freshmen at that position because they have so much to learn. There's protection and routes and all that stuff combined into one. They have to know the exact footwork on every play. The big thing is pass protection. In high school, you usually had one guy to pick up and that was who to block. But now, you might have five different guys on each play that you have to scan. But we will throw them out there in August and see what sticks. We signed some smart guys and I think they will learn it and pick it up.
We need them to pick all those things up because we are going to need them. We will redshirt a guy if we think he's not going to get enough playing time at tailback or special teams. If they can help at tailback or special teams, then they won't redshirt. We don't want to waste a year on somebody either. But we will go into the season getting all of them ready to play.
Q: How much football do you discuss with your dad, Frank Beamer, the head coach at Virginia Tech)?
Beamer: We talked about football a little bit but it's more about personal stuff and our golf games. When we do, it's not so much about X's and O's but more about philosophy. There's no doubt he is a guy I can turn to but our discussions are more about our personal lives.
Q: In your opinion, how did Derek Ambrose look in the spring coming off his knee surgery to repair his torn ACL which occurred against Tulane last year?
Beamer: I know he can be a good running back for this team. Really, when you are coming off an injury like Derek suffered, the biggest hurdle is the mental aspect. You know, he has to be in a game and make that cut for the first time, then get hit for the first time or get twisted up in a pile for the first time. Until you go through it, the mental part is the hurdle and it took time for Derek early in the spring with that part of it. The knee is stronger than it was before the injury. He just needed to trust it. But this summer, he looks great and the knee is not an issue. I am looking for a big year from him. He's got the size, the quickness and the total package at tailback.
Paul Jones is a writer for the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website. Paul, also a sports writer for the Columbus Commercial Dispatch, can be reached by email at email@example.com.