FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA.—After a week of on-site preparation for tonight's Orange Bowl against No. 12 Cincinnati, Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer offered a sober review of right guard Jaymes Brooks' impending first start.
"He's done OK," Beamer said Wednesday of the redshirt freshman from Denbigh High. "He's very athletic, good size, good pop. He just hasn't played very much. … I think he's practiced well, and hopefully he's going to play well."
Brooks is replacing fifth-year senior Nick Marshman, who was academically ineligible last month. If Brooks struggles, Beamer said he will consider sliding center Ryan Shuman to guard and using backup center Beau Warren.
KEEPING UP WITH THE KEYDETSThough it has been seven years since Cincinnati defensive coordinator Joe Tresey has worked in Lexington, he still has close connections to Virginia Military Institute and the central Virginia area.
Tresey was the defensive coordinator at VMI from 1999-2001 under Cal McCombs, who coached the Keydets through the '05 season. A part of Tresey wishes his Cincinnati players could get a little taste of VMI.
"I'll tell you, these guys, we'd love to take them on a tour there, wouldn't we?" Tresey said. "They'd be like 'Wow.' Sleeping on wooden beds that you've got to put up against the wall, got to roll the mattress up everyday. They'd be like, 'What? You're kidding me.' "
Tresey said he still keeps in touch with McCombs, who is now a scout for the Denver Broncos. Current VMI offensive coordinator Brent Davis is also a friend of Tresey's from their days working together on staff at Georgia Southern. Tresey also said his son, Patrick, went to middle school with Tech wide receiver Danny Coale, who is a Lexington native. Tresey said Patrick and Coale text each other all the time.
PRAISING THE DVirginia Tech lost seven starters, including four NFL draft choices, from last season's defense. Yet the Hokies are allowing 19.8 fewer yards and only 1.4 more points this season.
"I don't think there's any question how we performed down the stretch and how the defense has continued to get better. This is one of our defensive staff's best jobs for sure," Beamer said.
HIP-HOP COACHCincinnati coach Brian Kelly on the Bearcats sharing a hotel with, as one interviewer referred to, " P. Diddy" — an outdated nickname for rapper/music producer Sean Combs:
"To me, he's 'Diddy.' We've got a busy hotel. Jamie Foxx was in the lobby the other day, and I didn't know who he was, either, until one of our players pointed him out."
QUICK KICKSTonight is the first Orange Bowl without a top-10 team since 1977, when No. 11 Ohio State defeated No. 12 Colorado 27-10.
According to the Orange Bowl media guide, last year's game between Virginia Tech and Kansas was the coldest in the event's history. The high temperature was 59 degrees.