Young Virginia Tech Defenders Demonstrate Improvement, Veteran Breakdowns Negate Effort

1,700 word, 6-play film analysis of the highs and lows of the Hokies' defense against the Eagles.

[Virginia Tech Athletics]

After back-to-back performances where the Virginia Tech defense was physically dominated at the line of scrimmage, the Hokies' linebacker threesome of Rico Kearney (replaced an injured Rayshard Ashby), Dax Hollifield, and Divine Deablo (Whip) turned in a strong performance against a powerful Boston College front. Throughout Saturday's homecoming matchup, Kearney and Hollifield did a terrific job of staying clean when they served as free hitters. They physically attacked gaps and shedded blocks to make plays when they were not accounted for. Kearney finished with 18 total tackles, and Hollifield had 10. Deablo (14 tackles) — who rotated to whip linebacker (Khalil Ladler suspension) while Tyree Rodgers moved to free safety — was dynamic as a free hitter in space and physically setting the edge.

The defense of this split zone run provides a taste of the space-eating capability and physicality that Deablo brings to the whip position. Field-side DE Tyjuan Garbutt (No. 45) sets the table for Deablo (No. 17). Garbutt has force responsibility, meaning he has to contain the run and force running back AJ Dillon (No. 2) back to the inside. Garbutt gets off the football and bull rushes into Eagles left tackle No. 67 Aaron Monteiro. Once he has Monteiro neutralized, Garbutt uses a hard swim technique to gain the outside advantage on Monteiro. From this position, Garbutt has the angle to cut off any bounce wide, and if Monteiro tries to grab him, holding will likely be called.

Garbutt's force creates a bubble in between him and DT Vinny Mihota (No. 99). Mihota stands up a double-team despite clearly favoring his left leg. Deablo steps into the bubble unblocked and makes a clean tackle on Dillon. For Bud Foster's defense — this is a textbook play demonstrating how gap fits with a free hitter in the alley concept should work.

Garbutt, Kearney, Hollifield, and Deablo were the playmakers for Virginia Tech. On this power wham from a bunch formation, RG Chris Lindstrom (No. 75) pulls left to kick out the edge defender, while H-Back Korab Idrizi (No. 85) pulls and isolates inside. Garbutt disrupts the play by spilling hard to the inside. By doing so, Garbutt forces Lindstrom to adjust his path to Deablo on the edge. Idrizi and Dillon all collide with Garbutt in the hole as Idrizi attempts to kick Garbutt out.

Deablo does his part by attacking Lindstrom with proper technique to keep outside position. This prevents any kind of bounce to the outside. Kearney (No. 38), Tyree Rodgers (No. 18), Hollifield (No. 4), and Deablo all get shots at Dillon as he struggles for forward progress. Everyone is in the correct spot. Defenders are playing physical. Garbutt and Kearney are both beating blocks. This is a much more encouraging window into the future versus the tentative catching (absorbing blocks) demonstrated last week.

Veteran Struggles

While the linebacker corps had the most dynamic performance, there were other glimpses of the type of physical engagement and playmaking that I lamented the lack of over the last three games. Garbutt was much quicker and more explosive executing force and spill calls. He executed them with enough speed and violence that several times it noticeably redirected the ball carrier. Fellow DE Nathan Proctor was physical at the point of attack. They probably should have received a few additional snaps. Cornerback Caleb Farley struggled as an alley defender earlier in the season (especially when the receiver opposite him slid inside to crack on a safety). Against the Eagles, he was in better position and made a couple of physical tackles.

However, Virginia Tech's veteran defenders had a much more uneven performance. Vinny Mihota, who appears to be playing on only one fully functional leg and seemingly would be playing fewer repetitions if any trusted healthy options were available, struggled to stand up to repeated double teams inside. Houshun Gaines took a very questionable running into the punter penalty to extend a drive, and looked physically outmatched on the inside.

However, it was veteran rover Reggie Floyd who garnered the most negative attention in my review. Throughout the game, Floyd appeared to be in position that didn't align with the force or spill action by the edge defender. That would indicate either: A) Floyd was not in the correct alley based on the call, or B) the correct call was not being received by the defender. As the most experienced player and "quarterback" on the boundary side of the defense, those things can't continue to happen, especially when Pitt and Miami both will deliver a heavy dose of zone runs into the boundary.

Early, those assignment issues didn't have a devastating impact on the Hokies. Check out this 2nd-and-8 outside zone. Gaines (No. 11, boundary DE) steps inside and is reached by the block of tight end Tommy Sweeney (No. 89). Boston College used this variation of the outside zone, and most of the times I noticed it, the Virginia Tech defensive ends did the exact same thing. They allowed themselves to be reached and tied up both blockers. The play side defensive tackle (on this play, Ricky Walker) would give a little ground and pursue to the sideline.

Functionally, this defensive line execution appears to be a variation of a spill call. Floyd (No. 21), as the free hitter to the boundary, should attack the line of scrimmage wide of Gaines. Instead, he sunk to the middle of the field. Rodgers, the free safety on the opposite side of the field, starts running towards the ball well before Floyd does.

The end result is close to a disaster. Despite a bobbled snap, Dillon is able to turn the corner. Floyd is sinking into the middle of the field while boundary CB JoVonn Quillen (No. 26) is stuck in man coverage on a receiver. Once Floyd does pursue, he takes a poor angle and runs into Sweeney who peeled off to the second-level. If Quillen was not able to get off of the receiver's block, Dillon would have likely headed to the end zone.

Compare that play to this similar design back to the field-side. Boston College used a pin and pull variation to get blockers out in front.

Idrizi (No. 85, field-side TE) pins DE Emmanuel Belmar (No. 40) inside. Deablo doesn't hesitate. He comes forward from his whip spot to force on the edge. Kearney scrapes across from the mike position to take on pulling center Jon Baker (No. 77). (Kearney preferably attacks Baker's left shoulder to force Dillon back into Hollifield. However, if an inexperienced player is going to make a mistake, at least it is aggressive and forceful.) Kearny shrugs off Baker's block and cuts down Dillon, with Hollifield, as the free hitter scraping across from his backer position, flying in to support. This is significantly improved linebacker play from the previous week, and it doesn't happen unless Deablo is setting the edge when and where he is supposed to.

Over and over, I found myself watching the film and asking myself "why is Floyd there?" He seemed to be out of position in several key spots. Against this inside zone read, Kearney made a spectacular solo tackle on Dillon.

Deablo is walked up wide at the line of scrimmage and takes quarterback Anthony Brown (No. 13) on the read play. With Deablo containing, Floyd should attack through the gap between Deablo and Kearney. Instead, Floyd is stationary and stacked immediately behind Kearney in the gap. The result was good. The execution was poor.

However, if Dillon could bounce to the outside against Kearney and get away, Floyd is flat footed and has no angle to trap him against the sideline. Ideally, Floyd approaches from the outside to the inside, within a couple yards of the line of scrimmage with his inside (right) shoulder at least a foot inside of Dillon's outside foot (right).

After near misses for almost three quarters, the Hokies were burned. Boston College was driving when Foster called a seven-man wave run blitz. Seven Virginia Tech defenders attack the line of scrimmage to form a wall, with only Floyd as deeper help.

This should be an atrocious run call against this defensive scheme. Every gap is accounted for, with Hollifield in contain position should Brown keep the football off a dive fake. Instead, Travis Levy (No. 23) runs for a 29-yard touchdown. To the boundary, Mihota has the A-gap. Belmar has the B-gap, and Hollifield has the edge with contain responsibility.

Despite the call, the defense doesn't execute. Mihota fits his gap. Deducing the design, Belmar should slant towards the center and jam up LT Aaron Monteiro (No. 67) along the way. Belmar stumbles as he swims wide, while Monteiro gets a free release to the inside. Finding nobody at the second-level, he turns inside to shield Mihota. Belmar takes himself out of the play without needing to be blocked.

That brings me to Floyd. With Hollifield containing, Floyd should not have a spill call. Yet, he widens out despite looking into the backfield and seeing Levy diving into the bubble in between Belmar and Mihota. I can't come up with any kind of reason why Floyd would widen out with the defensive front executing this run call. Then, Floyd can't react quickly enough to cut off Levy's Oregon Trail to the end zone. Even if Belmar shouldn't have crashed inside through the B-gap (and I think he should have), Floyd has to be there at the line of scrimmage in whichever gap Belmar doesn't fit into or this is going to go from a negligible run to a big play.

As I have written many times in this column: if the alley player is in the wrong place, this defense will get gashed. As a leader, a critical physical presence with a thick shoulder, and as an experienced player, the Hokies can't beat strong zone running teams unless Floyd is firing on all cylinders.

Comments

Despite the call, the defense doesn't execute.

bingo

Not directed at you, but interesting how certain fans are willing to say "D didn't execute despite what Bud called" whereas there's a whole thread about "FIRE CORNEY IT'S NOT THE PLAYERS FAULT THEY CAN'T EXECUTE".

I agree that's annoying. But I think there'd be similar leniency toward Corny if he had fielded a consistently top 10 (if not top 5) offense over the past two decades (as Bud has done with the D). Bud has more than proven himself, so maybe that's why he gets the benefit of the doubt and Cornelson doesn't (in general).

Cornelsen, as we will see in the offensive film review, deserves some heat. However, Fuente wasn't wrong when he talked about execution issues. Boston College won battles up front that VT should have won based on the numbers.

Foster deserves heat, mostly for the state of the defensive roster. Foster and Wiles (and TGray's) greatest strength was player development. Player development is much more difficult when you run a counter-intuitive system and you have to throw inexperienced and physically immature players to the wolves. There should have been people to step in at corner, safety, linebacker, and DL when all those departures happened. I can't make an excuse for that.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Yeah I figured it's that point of view, but I don't buy into that. No one get's a free pass. I'm not saying Bud needs to be fired, but he's being paid to deliver and should be held to the same standards as any other coach on our staff.

What are you look for? Do you want Bud's pay to get docked? I think Bud took responsibility after GT. What punishment lies between 'free pass' and 'not getting fired'?

Twitter me

Impossible sit-up

No punishment, just no benefit of the doubt vs. vitriol from the fan-base. See my original post.

Thanks, excellent write up. I actually feel better reading this. Do you see any changes coming, or will Foster keep Deablo at whip? Can Ladler play rover or free?

French got me checking the math like:

via GIPHY

As always, thank you sir for what you do! You are a gentleman and a scholar. Makes sense why our defense has been gashed lately, it's good to see the young kids finally getting it, hopefully the veterans will follow along, and cause a strong finish to the season.

"...I'm getting a little tired of hearing how good everybody else is..." -Coach Fu [This week: 1-0]

Again thanks for the review. With each of these reviews, it is looking more and more like Floyd isn't trusting the younger players on this Defense.

Let's hope Foster can get that cleaned up for the home stretch.

It's nice to see the growth of these young guys. Hopefully everyone can be on the same page next game. Dax and Kearney played their butts off. Farley did seem to play more physical as well. Deablo looks good near the line of scrimmage.

"What are you going to do, stab me? - Quote from Man Stabbed

What is a spill call?

Force is when a defender sets a hard edge and attempts to force the runner back towards the middle of the field where he has help, a spill is where the defender attempts to make the runner bounce (or spill) the run outside where his teammates can pursue and use the sideline the tackle him

VT '17

Hence the safety (or free hitter) knows where to go before the snap and is in position to make an unblocked tackle

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

*EDIT* alazzaro beat me by 2 minutes. Guess that's what I get for not refreshing after reading the article.

Edge player attacks the inside of the blocker, forcing the runner to bounce (or "spill") to the outside, where the free hitter is waiting.

Contrast with the force call, where the same edge defender will attack the outside of the blocker, "forcing" the runner inside where the alley player (ideally) is flying in to make the tackle.

This makes me realize a glossary of terms for French's reviews world be a good addition to the site. Kind of like the list of inside jokes and memes we use, but actually productive in some way.

"I liked you guys a lot better when everybody told you you were terrible." -Justin Fuente

I think this would be a great offseason project. It'd be nice to include a lot of the OL terminology for those of us not so well-educated on the X's and O's of play in the trenches too. I feel like I've seen a similar article explaining gap and alignment nomenclature for the D-line play before and found it really helpful. An expanded version would be awesome, if it doesn't already exist.

“You got one guy going boom, one guy going whack, and one guy not getting in the endzone.”
― John Madden (describing VT's offense?)

I loved what I saw from Dax and Kearney in this game and I was certain they would be highlighted in the film review. They played fast, instinctive, and brought a heavy shoulder or a quality leverage tackle against the run all game. I can't say I'm particularly surprised, but 18 tackles for Kearney is AWESOME. Watching the game from the stands I had trouble keeping up with who we had in at DE consistently, but I love seeing in this review that Garbutt and Proctor played well. Garbutt flashed a disruptive presence against the run. I would still like to see a better pass rush from our defense, but one step at a time I guess.

I think Dax and Kearney may have earned themselves a lot of playing time going forward. Their speed, passion, and hitting was refreshing to see. If Ashby and Rivers recover from injury and continue to improve we could have a solid, deep linebacking corps in the coming years.

In clip c, is Dax being overagressive when he shoots the gap to try to bring down Dillon in the backfield? It seems like he's in great position to scrape across and meet Dillon on the edge like he does in clip d. Is there any chance Dax is actually the free hitter on that play and Floyd is just in support?

"I liked you guys a lot better when everybody told you you were terrible." -Justin Fuente

But what about the offense??

#FUENTEenFUEGO
Waho's suck
Uva swallows

That's the TKPC-exclusive film review we'll get later.

"I liked you guys a lot better when everybody told you you were terrible." -Justin Fuente

"Pay money so we can make you sad" shouldn't be nearly as effective of a marketing strategy as French has the potential to make it this season.

I pay money so French can make me smart.

"I liked you guys a lot better when everybody told you you were terrible." -Justin Fuente

We're masochistic here at TKPC.

#FUENTEenFUEGO
Waho's suck
Uva swallows

Do you think that Bud keeps Deablo at Whip and attempts to work Devon Hunter back to Safety?

VT '17

I always felt that size wise Ladler made more sense at FS and Deablo at WHIP. But will be interesting to see the shuffling going forward, because it looks like Ladler, Deablo, and even Hunter are more suited for the WHIP than FS role. Hopefully one of them can shore up coverage skills to make our passing coverage better. Rodgers is serviceable but not good enough to start down the road.

Given the match ups for the next couple of games, I wouldn't be shocked. I wonder if Ladler or Rodgers will be the free safety.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

I liked Deablo at whip a lot, but not so excited about Ladler at S. I can't remember which game but I thought he played S and looked pretty lost.

It was.... ODU

I was afraid of that...I think I tried to block that game out.

In Fuente's Sunday presser, he seemed to be pretty happy with Rodgers performance at free safety. I thought he was ok in run support, but he got toasted a couple of times (including the TD) in coverage.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Do you have a guess as to what could have been Floyd's issues? This isn't typical behavior is it?

"with all due respect, and remember I’m sayin’ it with all due respect, that idea ain’t worth a velvet painting of a whale and a dolphin gettin’ it on" - Ricky Bobby

Probably trying to do too much with all the young players around him, but this has been an ongoing issue since game 2.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

This was definitely my thought. He needs to start to trust them more and play his assignment, and hopefully next game everyone is on the same page and we can stuff Pitt all day long.

--
"It's time to go play Virginia Tech Football longer and harder than anybody else in America!!" -- Justin Fuente
"I put a brick in Sacksburg today." -- Cam Phillips

Exactly. Floyd has looked lost and flat footed for the entire season. Maybe when we had more talent around him he performed better. Now that we are depending on him to be an older, steadying influence and a defensive play caller, he is tying up his feet. He has not been the Floyd of the last two years.

Thanks French for this excellent write-up.
Watching from the stands I was impressed with Kearney making as many plays as he did but didn't realize it was 18 tackles. Love his enthusiasm out there along with Dax. 4 is always pumping up the crowd.

“I'm addicted to placebos. I could quit, but it wouldn't matter”~steven wright

Again, thank you French for sharing your insight. It is encouraging to see a knowledgeable source provide what I consider to be a honest evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the players and coaching. and see there is hope for this team.
By the way, I appreciate you including the player's numbers for both our guys and the opposing players. I find that quite helpful looking at the film clips.

You could definitely see Kearney's play from the stands. He was always heading towards the ball. I loved the aggression from Rico and Dax (a great name for an 80's Crime Drama). It's even nicer to know they were aggressive in the proper gaps! Their aggression made Floyd's hesitations easier to notice. He seemed to be guessing wrong a lot. Tough to see from a player who should be a veteran leader.

Speaking of which, that is something I see as lacking on this current team - leadership. We need some more emotional leaders to set the tone with both thier play and their attitude. I will be interested to watch who steps up through this year and into next, particularly on offense.

"Rico and Dax" is the throwback 80-90's buddy cop dramedy Netflix show we all deserve.

Opportunity for a Tango and Cash photoshopped poster.

Thanks French!

From what you've seen what do you think would be the ideal LB lineup? It seems to me that Dax is better suited as a Mike and Kearney looks to have athleticism to be a starting Backer. Feel like Ashby played well before at Mike as well. I know Bud has rotated LBers more this year than before and hope with these young guys it continues.

I haven't written off Rivers but he hasn't really shown much to me so far but he is still young.

I am struggling with it. To me, Kearny, Ashby, and Dax are all mikes. Dax has the heaviest shoulder, but he struggles to get out to set the edge when called upon unless he cheats and goes a little early. That is why Bud has lined up him up so often on the line of scrimmage like he did when he had to use Bruce Taylor at backer (same reason, too.) Ashby is a mike and he was great until the GT game. I think he is about as good as he can get. Dax probably has more upside. Kearny really surprised me. He struggled tremendously to get off blocks in the spring game where I watched him very closely. He is terrific in space, and if this was 2004 I am sure he would be at whip. He has the speed to play at backer as well, but I don't know if he has the heavy shoulder to force plays. He is also probably best suited to be a mike.

This gets more problematic when you realize that Artis is also going to be a mike. Meanwhile, at backer, I haven't even noticed Griffin on special teams. I don't think Rivers has been as bad as some make him out to be, but he isn't as physical as he needs to be to win the job back yet. And who knows if Tisdale will grow into it. Remember, he was playing free safety in the Carolina Shrine Bowl all star game.

Bud has some talent. But, he also has to figure out where it all fits.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Yeah Dax/Ashby/Kearney all being Mikes is simultaneously awesome for depth while being frustrating for trying to figure out how to get them on the field together. I feel like Dax played well at Backer but agree it's probably not his best spot. Given what I've seen from the linebackers this year though, I want to find a way to get them on the field instead of having all three logjammed in one spot with two on the sidelines for any given snap.

My hope is that next year we see a starting duo of Deng and Dax. Assuming we land Deng, that pair has the highest upside out of any possible combo.

On another note, the handling of Artis this year was extremely concerning. I understand that ST is important, but it's not like he's been on the Zach Luckett or Alonzo Tweedy level of difference maker. The handling of his redshirt was extremely concerning to me. If Dax gets moved to Mike next year, Artis would essentially be 4th on the depth chart. He's way too talented of a player to only be contributing on ST for his whole career.

I can't remember a time when a VT defense was giving up an average 28 points a game and over 400 YDS a game.

Overheard as Duke assistant coaches took elevator down from press box: “Guys, they stopped the run with a three-man front.” - David Teel Tweet 2018

The end of 2003, when they had a multitude of NFL corners and safeties and were getting torched by Walt Harris, Rich Rod, and Aaron Rodgers was quite unpleasant.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

I ran some of the statistics on defense, but the site I was on only went back to 2004. This is Bud's worst year ever. Because in 2018 Tech ranks 52 in FBS teams in Total defense. Only the 2010 team ranked lower at 86 and it still only gave up 20.6 PPG and 362 YPG. No Bud Foster defense gave up more than 400 YPG or more than 24 PPG in his worst years. it is the worst statistical defense in Buds career from my estimation.

Offensive woes and Bud struggles is a perfect storm. Hope he can turn it around in the last few games.

Overheard as Duke assistant coaches took elevator down from press box: “Guys, they stopped the run with a three-man front.” - David Teel Tweet 2018

Massive edit:

Oh, hey, look what I found:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bud_Foster#Statistics

Best Rushing D by rank: 1st (1995)
Best Rushing D by yardage: 75.9 YPG (1999)
Worst Rushing D by rank: 75th (2015)
Worst Rushing D by yardage: 180.7 YPG (2015)

Best Passing D by rank: 1st (2006)
Best Passing D by yardage: 128.23 YPG (2006)
Worst Passing D by rank: 77th (2000)
Worst Passing D by yardage: 231.46 YPG (2003)

Best Total D by rank: 1st (2005, 2006)
Best Total D by yardage: 219.46 YPG (2006)
Worst Total D by rank: 52nd (2010)
Worst Total D by yardage: 369.8 YPG (2015)

Best Scoring D by rank: 1st (1999, 2006)
Best Scoring D by PPG: 10.5 PPG (1999)
Worst Scoring D by rank: 59th (2015)
Worst Scoring D by PPG: 26.3 PPG (2015)

French's review provides me new hope for this defense. The growth of our freshman linebackers against a physically large OL with excellent runners shows the growth we have wanted to see. They aren't "there" yet, but this game they made serious strides we all want to see.
I agree that we will likely see more Deablo at Whip (unless Bud sees something in his Pitt film review that makes him think twice about that).
The youth movement is maturing in front of our eyes. We, as fans, need to give it time to keep maturing (please make it enough to help us get 2 more wins this season...).

Bring on the offense review!

Pain is Temporary, Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever, Let's Go Hokies!!

Great write up French. Hopefully they can get it together for PITT.

Hopefully they can get their PITT it together for PITT.

FTFY

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

Very similar offense. I think Pickett is a better runner. The difference maker for Pitt is their fullback (Alston I believe is his name.) He is a monster blocker and receiver- the best FB VT has played since the big Schmidt kid from WVU over a decade ago. He will give our young LBs a major test.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Well that doesn't sound good for us.

Thank you French!

You will see this game, this upset and this sign next on ESPN Sportscenter. Virginia Tech 31 Miami 7

In a comment in last week's review you said:

Historically, young guys may not have gone out and been dominant, especially in the front 7, but you would see flashes when guys who ended up being good had to play. Just in recent years, I can remember Foster rotating in Antone Exum in place of DJ Parker against specific match ups. Luther Maddy (minus the Miami game) had good moments in 2011. Tremaine Edmunds was a playmaker on special teams and did some good things when he got to line up as a nine tech on the boundary and didn't have to read the play much. You would see flashes.

Maybe I am being overly harsh and I should be more patient. I probably should be. But, I just don't see any of the young guys flashing the ability to be dominant defensively.

Did last week's performance give you any more hope?

Twitter me

At linebacker, yes. Garbutt showed some flashes. I am still a little baffled why he started, and then suddenly Belmar was in for what seemed like an eternity. Belmar struggled against BC.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Seems like diablo might have found his home at whip I hope this opens a spot for hunter at safety next year and he performs

Taylor, looking desperately throws it deep..HAS A MAN OPEN DANNY COALE WITH A CATCH ALL THE WAY DOWN TO THE FIVE!!!!....hes still open

French, did you see Debose get any PT at DE on Saturday. I know people have speculated him gaining weight for a move to DT, but didn't know if he was just the 5th DE behind Garbutt and Proctor.

No. I only recall seeing Gaines and Garbutt at the start, and then pairings of Gaines/Belmar and Garbutt/Proctor after the first two series.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

And I am opposed to Debose moving inside. He is smaller than Woody Baron.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

French, as we move our more physical guys in the box, ie Diablo, garbutt, and proctor, what really happened with Hunter? It seems that he could have been a huge help with the physical opponents -nd, gt and bc. Was he just not able to grasp the scheme, or was he not tough enough guy who could play in the box? His size would have seemed to be a positive as we look like high schoolers verses college players in size.

When he got to play against ODU, he was not physical in run support and very poor in coverage. He looked like his head was tying up his feet. After the game, according to Fuente Hunter asked to be redshirted. That is about all I know on the topic, but nothing that he did in that start would lead to him replacing any of the guys currently on the field.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Thanks as always.

The comments about Mihota are concerning, and not just from the perspective of our d-line strength down the stretch. His body has taken so much punishment over his career — shoulder surgery, knee injuries, bulking up for DT on top of a knee rehab (if I recall correctly) . . . this wouldn't seem to bode well for him later in life.

Of the former (Clemson) players I know, mostly receivers and cornerbacks, they ALL have chronic orthopedic issues. It seems worse for linemen, especially d-line who face GT every year. I know Minota's not the only player in this situation by any means, but watching him in particular really highlights the point for me. Having never played myself (duh), I was wondering if some of y'all could comment on your experiences. . . life after football, if you will? Looking back, would you do it again?

"Tajh Boyd over the middle . . . and it's caught for an interception! Michael Cole, lying flat on his back, ARE YOU KIDDING???"

I went back and forth jokingly with Bitter today about Mihota saying he was feeling great. He clearly isn't the same player he was two years ago and he favored his left leg repeatedly. My hat is off to him for playing through it, but I don't envy the aches and pains he will have down the road.

If you have ever talked to me in person about VT football, you will find that I am more critical of VT's orthopedic staff than any coach. It just seems like annually there are guys who struggle with chronic issues that should not have been serious when the initial injury takes place. It has been happening ever since Xavier Adibi and his bionic sleeve. I wonder how many decent NFL careers have been derailed by some of those chronic issues.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

My hat is off to him for playing through it

Absolutely. I should have mentioned that as well.

Interesting observation re the orthopedic staff. A few years ago, it seemed we had way more than our share of O-line injuries. And I'm pretty sure Kyle Chung's been held together by duct tape and super glue for at least the past couple years. Hats off to him, too. This year it was Webb's fluke torn achilles injury followed by a string of d-line injuries. I've only been keeping track of injuries since 2012 or so, and only a handful of schools at that, but we do seem to have more that our share. Does anyone track this at a staff level, sort of a quality control function for training, physical therapy, and surgical outcomes?

"Tajh Boyd over the middle . . . and it's caught for an interception! Michael Cole, lying flat on his back, ARE YOU KIDDING???"

About the left leg... I noticed a BC lineman on his knees dive into Mihota's left knee early in the game. He seemed to be even more favoring it after that cheap shot. It was pretty blatant and in the open.

I'll see if I can find it and post the clip when I get the chance.

With the injuries at CB, it seems likely they might have to move Tyree Rodgers back to corner. If that happens, how would we want to see the starting secondary shake out? Tough to call at this point in the year.

Thanks, French. Looking forward to the other reviews.

should be live Thursday morning.

Five star get after it 100 percent Juice Key-Playing. MAN

Thanks, French, and thanks to everyone for answering my questions.

Over the past 2 years, the film reviews have literally tripled my football IQ.

This has convinced me to join TKP once I have a little more $ saved up