Hokies Have a New Look Secondary this Spring

Andy Bitter caught up with Torrian Gray who dropped some knowledge regarding the starting secondary this spring, a move "that gives us our best four."

Antone Exum will move from rover to corner. That's a bit of a shock to me. In my mind, Exum staying at rover was the one given in the defensive backfield. Bud Foster had confirmed as much back in February.

"At the safety spot when we looked at our cut-ups, when 'Tone was just able to go out and play, he was unbelievable," Gray said. "When things moved around for him, sometimes it slowed him down. We just want to kind of see if he can do it, 'Hey, you're out here on No. 1 and just play ball.'

"We think it's something worth looking into to see what he can give us out there."

"I'm trying to free your mind, Neo." -- Morpheus

Most of the time speed determines where DBs are slotted in the secondary, faster guys at corner, slower guys at rover and free. During winter testing Exum ran a 4.39 40 (and yes I know that's #BEAMERBALLTIME, but it's relative to the team). I wonder if that number factored into the decision to move him. He'll be a force playing up against the run too. Jayron played at 5-10 171, Exum is 6-0 220 with a thick shoulder.

Kyle Fuller is penciled in at the other corners spot while Detrick Bonner and Kyshoen Jarrett move to "safety" for the start of spring ball.

"Those are the type of free safety guys that we like," Gray said. "You'd kind of like a corner ability-wise but has the physicality to play safety. Eddie Whitley came in as a cornerback. Kam Chancellor came in, he was a cornerback initially. Those are the type of safeties you want — corner-type safeties."

Gray also mentioned he wants Bonner and Jarrett to be "interchangeable". That's how he prepared Eddie Whitley and Exum last season. Rooted in Foster's eight-man fronts, I still think of the rover as the counterpart to Whip, a linebacker playing defensive back, different from free safety. Schematically that may still be true, but if we're fortunate enough to have players with a versatile skill set that can learn both positions and be on the field at the same time, that will allow Bud to tip his hand less and be more creative.

One caveat, it's spring practice, a time where the coaches like to get creative, so there isn't a big disadvantage for trying new things.

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Comments

I'm confused.

ok, my opinion

vt is trying to get their best 4 db's in the backfield.

the problem is they don't exactly matchup as boundary, field, fs and rover. the skills of all 4 are sorta blurred and none are quite a perfect match for any of them.

spring is a time to experiment. maybe it works out, maybe it doesn't. tinkering isn't bad. it also allows for some free wheeling and potential breaking of tendencies. how many times have we seen teams motion guys away to get the matchup they want, like a rover on a wr or a fs run duty on a tail back or wr on a jet sweep?

some skill set cross solution?

a concern to me, is no 1 db has the complete boundary skill set. hell, hosley didn't have it last year either.

if all else fails, bud foster / torrian gray > our opinion.

After thinking about

this for the night I definitely see the idea of getting the 4 best dbs on the field at once. Have to think Foster likes the pressure the front 7 has the ability to create will matching that with his 4 best playmakers on the back end.

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@pbowman6

While the coaching staff knows more than I do

It's not often you see guys move from safety to corner. Usually it's the other way around. My alma mater tried it this past season and the converted safety was lit up most of the year. I think ultimately you're going to see these guys move around a lot throughout the year and if someone like Manning can get up to speed quickly he could push for playing time.

Makes me think of Jimmy Williams

And it makes me wonder if this could hurt Exum long term. Birdman gets moved to corner and did well at VT but the NFL projected him as a safety and he looked lost out there. I know they're different players but it makes me wonder that while it may be the best move for us it may not be best move for him.

"I promise you I will keep getting back up as long as you keep pushing forward." -Michael Brewer
"That kid you're talking to right there, I think he played his nuts off! And you can quote me on that shit!" -Bud Foster

Agree

Great points.

Win one for the Beamer...

It'll be really interesting

to see who are the 4 corners playing in the Spring game this year. For DBU, VT is stretched really thin in the backfield this year.