French on the Bench: Defensive Prognosis

Unlike the Hokie offense, the identity of the defense is clear. Attack, control gaps, funnel the ball carrier to where you want him to go, get after the quarterback, and use that pressure and disguised robber coverage to turn the ball over. With 9 returning starters and numerous experienced backups back, Tech fans anticipate that the Virginia Tech defense in 2012 could be one of the best on record. Will the Hokies have a dominant defense? Let's examine how we can expect the Hokies to perform this season.

Defensive Line

The strength of the Hokie defense coming into fall camp is the defensive line. The Hokies return 7 experienced players, except for Zack McCray, all have had some starting experience. James Gayle, JR Collins, Derrick and Antoine Hopkins, and Luther Maddy have all proven themselves as dependable starters. Backup Corey Marshall demonstrated explosive pass rush ability on the inside, while Tyrel Wilson and Zack McCray both stayed in regular rotation with more reps down the stretch of the regular season.

Preseason Practice: Camp Opens

The players practiced in helmets and shorts, so no pads were popping, but there are some things to note. First however, everyone smile for football!

D.J. Coles and Tariq Edwards moved around, "gingerly," and didn't practice much.

"I'm concerned," Beamer said. "When you come out here and you're not able to work full tilt … we've got three weeks here and we'll see where we are. I know Mike Goforth has a plan on how much work they should do and so forth. But they're two quality players who can't do things full tilt right now."

Edwards said his leg is better than expected, however he'd ballpark his health at 85%. Foster was, "discouraged today by his inability to run." Andy Bitter noted, "The pain is no longer in his shin but rather his knee. It's most evident when he makes cuts."

French on the Bench: Pass Coverage Basics

The start of fall practice marks the beginning of the 2012 season. One thing starts, another ends. Today's post on pass coverage completes my overview of Foster's defensive system.

First let's cover some basic, but unique terminology:

Whip It

Whip backer is arguably the most important position of Bud Foster's defense. More often than not, the defensive scheme tries to push ball carrier to the Whip, the free-hitter setup to make the play. Whip also has responsibilities in pass coverage. The position requires a player who can tackle in the open field, is athletic enough to drop back in coverage, and above all else is football smart—a kid Foster can trust. Finding a do-it-all player is no easy task, so it's no surprise Tech has struggled since 2010 to replace Cody Grimm. So far, corner back Kyle Fuller has been the best option at Whip over Jeron Gouveia-Winslow, Alonzo Tweedy, and the recently departed Nick Dew. Fuller's already said he's going to bump down from corner to Whip against Georgia Tech. Going forward, the Hokies need a more permanent solution, and they need Fuller manning down a new-look secondary.

Last Call For Hokie Tracks

This is the last edition of Hokie Tracks for the foreseeable future. Players report Monday, practice begins Tuesday. There will be actual football things to cover (yay!), and more substantive posts focussed on the upcoming season. I liked talking about non-Tech football things during the offseason, I think some of you might have too, if you're one of those people and a story, picture, whatever, catches your eye, share a link to it in the forum to get a discussion going.

This might be an actual copy of the Frankinator's to-do as two of the first three items involve special teams. What stood out to me was Beamer's praise of sophomore Ryan Malleck.

"I think Malleck is the (most complete) guy right now," Beamer said. "Martin has certainly got some toughness to him. Dunn could become that. He could certainly become a threat as a receiver. Now, if he improves his blocking, he could get there. (Duan) Perez-Means and Redman, they've got some opportunities there, too. I think Malleck is kind of the one that's the most complete right now."

French on the Bench: Bud Foster's Gap Defense Part III

French on The Bench continues. Today, a look at some of the pass rush and blitz packages utilized in Bud Foster's Gap Defense

As discussed in "A Look Back at the Hokie Wide Tackle Six Defense" , Virginia Tech rose to defensive dominance running an 8-man front which allowed the Hokies to blitz from multiple angles. A trademark of those pre-2004 defenses was a speedy defensive end lined up significantly wide, outside the shoulder of the last man on the line of scrimmage (tackle or tight end), at a 45 degree angle pointed towards the quarterback. The whip or rover lined up inside to protect the gap. This look allowed the Hokies to use all the linebackers as blitzers, yet they could get significant pressure from the speed rush of elite ends, like Cornell Brown and Corey Moore, while dropping back linebackers. The result was never-ending tackles in the backfield, sacks, and when things were not going so well, forced deep passes.

Perhaps nothing exhibits this attacking 8-man front better than Corey Moore's legendary "Welcome to the Terror-Dome" performance against Clemson.

1:36–1:47

Blue-Chip Cornerback Kendall Fuller Commits to Virginia Tech

It doesn't get any more official than this.

This is according to a SBNation.com report by Bud Elliott.

Kendall Fuller, a top cornerback recruit out of Olney (Md.) Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, committed to the Virginia Tech Hokies over the Clemson Tigers Sunday during the final round of ESPN's Gridiron Kings competition.

Rivals.com rates Fuller as the number one cornerback in the country, top player in Maryland, and third best player nationally. Fuller is Tech's first 5-star commitment since Tyrod Taylor in 2007.

Image via TechSideline.com.

Kendall had previously announced he would hold off on committing until the Army All-American Bowl, played at the end of the year. However, he recently narrowed his choices to Virginia Tech and Clemson, at one time he was seriously considering Michigan. The finalists each recently received an unofficial visit, Tech two weekends ago, Clemson last weekend. Late Friday morning Fuller tweeted he'd be making his decision today.

40 DAYS UNTIL KICKOFF

A few days ago I reached season anticipation level orange. I watched hours of Tech highlight videos and favorite plays on YouTube, and began finalizing my Labor Day Weekend itinerary. Level maroon hits midway through August, when kickoff is less than 20 days away. Then, I'll be whistling Tech Triumph while walking through my building, honking at anyone and everyone on The Beltway with a Tech sticker on their car, and listening to Enter Sandman on repeat at the gym.

via /r/cfb

Some quick news and notes:

Ranking Tech's Last 10 Starting QBs

Editors Note: This was an epic endeavor undertaken by Brian. Enjoy. --Joe

So it's summer. Summer is boring, not a lot for me to talk or write about. You see though, there's a breaking point during the summer when the boredom of being at home/job/internship/whatever becomes greater than the boredom of not having anything to write about.

Well...ladies and gentlemen...I'm here.

What should I write about? Hard news? I'm not credentialed. Insider updates? You see...I don't have many of those people around the team...what're they called again? Oh yeah, SOURCES. Don't really have many of those...and if I did they probably wouldn't have much to say... It's July.

A campy top-10 opinion piece that can possibly stir the pot for a day or two even though there is nothing really of substance in it?

DING DING DING DING DING!

Yep, we have a winner. All of this talk about Logan Thomas' potential greatness and what he means to this team got me thinking...how do the last ten Hokie quarterbacks stack up?

And by stack up, I don't just mean statistically. I'm talking legacy. Leadership. Wins and losses. Amount of success in accordance to the talent around him. All of this should all be factored while comparing two guys from two different eras.

Logan Thomas and Kyle Fuller at ACC Kickoff

Logan Thomas and Kyle Fuller represnted Virginia Tech at ACC Football Kickoff, the conference's preseason media event, in Greensboro, North Carolina Sunday. I didn't attend in person, but I watched the live stream and followed along on Twitter. This is what piqued my interest.

LT3 nonchalantly talking about trucking defenders en route to six. "Put a left shoulder down on somebody." I'm giddy.

Thomas noted the offensive line's improvement over the course of spring practice.

"Throughout the spring, they have gotten better and better every single week," Thomas said. "Every single scrimmage, you could see the difference. The last scrimmage that we had, the defense was sending the house at us. We were picking it up, we were able to get the ball out of my hand quick, picking up big gains. That's what you want to see and that's what we were doing."

Seeing the light come on for those guys, so to speak, gave him a jolt of excitement.

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