Sugar Bowl 2012: BeamerBall to Test Michigan Wolverines' Mettle

Joel GreerCorrespondent IDecember 28, 2011

Virginia Tech Head Coach Frank Beamer
Virginia Tech Head Coach Frank BeamerGeoff Burke/Getty Images

It's no secret that Virginia Tech has assembled 19-straight winning seasons and 19 consecutive bowl berths. The Hokies have done it with BeamerBall, a highly successful combination of defense and special teams.

The Hokies will have these weapons on display when they battle Michigan on January 3, in the Sugar Bowl.

BeamerBall, of course, was named after Virginia Tech Head Coach Frank Beamer, who has brought the Hokies from college football obscurity in the 1980s, to national contenders practically every season.

Since Beamer took over in 1987, a player at every defensive position has scored at least one touchdown, and 35 different players have scored touchdowns on Virginia Tech's special teams.

During Beamer's 25 seasons as head coach, the Hokies have blocked 63 punts, 38 field goals and 27 extra points.

Punting Woes

A legitimate concern is the possibility of Michigan freshman Matt Wile taking over the punting duties from Will Hagerup, who has recently struggled.

If that's not a realistic concern, Tech's defense has scored 82 touchdowns under Beamer, 54 on interceptions, 26 on fumble returns and two on fumble recoveries.

This season, the Hokies have come up with 15 interceptions, with 11 different Hokies snagging at least one.

Michigan's Denard Robinson, who's already tossed 14 interceptions this season, might need to think twice before lofting one of his famed 50-50 balls.

While Tech's 2011 defense may have been shoved around by Clemson in the ACC championship game, it still gave up only 17.2 points per game this season, which is identical to Michigan.

Also, to consider the youth factor of the 2011 Hokies, that's quite a feat. The starting lineup is made up of one freshman, seven sophomores, two juniors and only one senior. In fact, only three seniors could be found on Tech's 2011 depth chart.

Loyal Assistants

Aside from BeamerBall, Virginia Tech's success is also attributed to its ability to retain its assistants.

For instance, Bud Foster has been defensive coordinator for 16 seasons and Bryan Stinespring has been the offensive coordinator for 11.

Not only has Beamer made sure his assistants received timely pay raises, but he awards his staff and their spouses with paid trips after bowl games.

Bourbon Street, New Orleans (photo: Jan Kronsell)
Bourbon Street, New Orleans (photo: Jan Kronsell)

"It's kind of always been my nature that I wanted people to enjoy working here," Beamer told the Richmond Times Dispatch. "Some places, [assistant] coaches coach out of fear. I never wanted to be that way."

New Year's Eve

Both teams are expected to sample a bit of Bourbon Street during their time in New Orleans.

Just in case you're enjoying the hoopla on New Year's Eve, don't be surprised if you see players from either team. Michigan coach Brady Hoke is allowing his Wolverines to police themselves, while Virginia Tech's Beamer has his players under a 12:30 a.m. curfew.