Justin Hamilton on the New Defense

I'm so excited

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One thing with Foster's defense was that it really did lend itself to a lot of "break-but-don't
-bend" games where just a couple busts turned into easy touchdowns even though the defense might have forced two turnovers and three consecutive three-and-outs.

Having a little more depth could be a great thing, but so excited to hear that Coach Ham plans to keep the aggression running high

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Break but don't bend works great when your offense is roughly equivalent or more reliable than the other team's offense. It also works great when it just doesn't break.

What's bit us in the ass was games like 2017 GT where a remotely competent offense wins us that game 10/10 times and nobody cares about giving up a couple PA bombs.

Clemson plays a break don't bend style that's hyper aggressive. It wasn't enough in 2015 but it won them a championship in 2016. They did the opposite in 2018 against Bama, but one of the reasons that worked so well was that they hadn't shown it all season and it was out of character.

Clemson won games against GT where they gave up 50+ yard pass TD's, but their offense scored at will so they still won comfortably.

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)..

this would have made my defending experience a billion times better

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

The thing that made the great Foster defenses so fun to watch is that you never knew where the pressure was coming from. It always felt like any player on the field could make a big play at any time, and each play you were trying to guess who it would be this time.

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So many games we would absolutely dominate the line of scrimmage and pull off blitzes but they would lob it up and get lucky on long balls and beat us. No better examples than pretty much any ECU game, but other teams did it as well. Once teams caught on they would take advantage of it and we didn't really have an answer. The long balls and running QBs were the only flaws that I saw in his schemes and they definitely did bite us. My concern here is that if we provide more coverage back there then we lose coverage up front but only time will tell and hopefully JHAM can react and change tactics throughout games like Bud did.


What does 'a little more depth' mean? I assume he's not talk about roster depth.

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I assumed safety depth from LOS

"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it." - K

Meaning that the safety will play further from the LOS, so if a ball carrier gets past the line/backers, he'll still be in front of the safety? Instead of the defense 'breaking' it will 'bend' a little more?

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Yep that was my take away anyway. I wonder if their hope is to beef up the talent up front so the d isn't as reliant on secondary in run support.

"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it." - K

considering the DL recruiting targets are getting bigger, yes, this is definitely happening

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

If he can stop running qb's it will be a nice change for our games...

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J Ham is good at coach-speak. I got absolutely no insight into our D from that statement.

Yeah, that's what you want to see in a coach.

Sounds profound. Tells you nothing.

yup, all philosophy

There are 2 areas we have struggled on Defense.
1. Running QBs, at times using the Whip to spy kind of helped but seems we get burned on running plays from the QB

2. Spread offenses - Its hard to account for so many Wide Receivers and also it leaves our Middle Wide open, the QB doesn't even have to be too athletic to make the move into open space.

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I think offenses had learned how to dictate some of what the DL was going to do, e.g., which way they would slant, and then made it confusing for the linebackers and safeties to figure out which gap to fill. Film over the last couple of years is replete with examples of players in the wrong gap or taking really bad angles/arriving late, and giving up big chunks of yardage. How many times have we heard French say that he isn't sure which player made the mistake?

My mental picture is we'll get Teerlinck's version of McDermott's aggressive front 6-7, and Hamilton's zone heavy secondary.

The biggest challenge to Foster's defense has been the lack of a competent VT offense (going on 20 years). There are too many games where the D held a team to under 17 points, got the big 4th quarter stop and the offense can't get a first down or make a FG to finish the game. And an exhausted defense gets thrown back onto the field.

Let's not pick too many holes in the career of the best thing to happen to VT football the past 25 years. JHam's got some big shoes to try and fill this year.

I do agree with you but I don't think being honest about Foster's scheme having trouble with mobile QBs is picking holes. It's was an issue since Donavan McNabb and was consistently an issue to his retirement. That doesn't mean Foster isn't a legend or the GOAT in Bburg.

I feel like Foster always did well with running quarterbacks that were more east to west rather than between the tackles. The 2011 defense basically made Denard Robinson a non-factor. It was the guys like Thomas Sirk and CJ Brown that really made us start that narrative. I'm hoping having bigger guys on the defensive line will help us in that regard.

Marshall University graduate.
Virginia Tech fanatic.
Formerly known as JWillHokieAlum.

I cannot stress enough that basically every single fanbase in college thinks their team is terrible at handling mobile QB's. The reality is that a mobile QB is the single most impossible thing to defend in the game. On designed runs its easy to outnumber the defense, which means someone has to make a play and beat a block. On scrambles, it's all improv and the scheme can't account for it (spy) without sacrificing something else on the back end. It's why Deshaun Watson had two all-time performances against two of the best modern defenses in college football in 2015 and 2016 Alabama. He houdini'd out of pressure so many times and picked up crucial third downs with his legs outside of play design.

Now, Foster's scheme definitely did some things that left them vulnerable to designed QB runs in certain situations, but in recent years a lot of that was simply not having the level of players who can consistently beat blocks, not take false steps, and make plays up front. Our DL has taken a huge step back since 2017. But even then, some great defenses gave up bad games (2013 Def, #1 by SP+) got cooked by CJ Brown (without Kyle Fuller), but even then with a competent offense we win that game comfortably. That Maryland offense, with all of CJ Brown's runs, scored two TD's in regulation. He had another rushing score in OT for the win. But let's be clear, if our offense scored 22 or more points in regulation against Maryland, who was was 2-4 in the conference heading into that game, we never talk about this game.

Bonus Fun Fact: CJ Brown had 122 rushing yards in that game, which is a lot, but does anyone know who CJ Brown's best rushing performance came against? 162 yards against the Clemson Tigers.

Do you know how many times in his career he eclipsed 100 yards rushing? Nine times. Other victims include Georgia Tech, Clemson, Wake Forest, FIU, UConn, NC State, West Virginia, and Rutgers.

Seems to me that football has a mobile QB problem much more than just Bud Foster, we just feel the games against us more personally, unable to separate our perspective from what we watch the most (VT football) and we pay no or little mind to the fact that this happens to other teams every single week the game is played.

That Maryland game was the worst game I have seen and it bummed me out for a week. The offense had an abysmal performance outside of the 0-0 Wake Forest game. The defense just seem to have mailed it in. One particular play sticks in my mind is where Gayle walked up to his spot, barely got into his stance when the ball was hiked and he got buried on his backside. The lack of urgency on that play was galling.

When the team dropped that game against Duke, the defense basically just quit. They gave up 14 points and forced 4-5 turnovers, but it still wasn't enough. I think Logan threw 4 picks, and CoJo missed a couple fields goals. The next week, Boston College whooped their asses at the line of scrimmage, a couple weeks later, Maryland did basically the same, and then the bowl game against UCLA was horrible. A far cry from the team that jumped out to 6-1 with its only loss being to Alabama.

Marshall University graduate.
Virginia Tech fanatic.
Formerly known as JWillHokieAlum.

I remember that Duke game. Kendall Fuller was single handily keeping VT in that game and then Logan threw that costly interception in the end zone which iced that game.

For whatever reason, that team fell apart after that strong start.

It was very reminiscent of the 2003 team that just decided to mail it in after the WVU loss. They had the one win against Miami (as did 2013), but the rest of it was garbage.

Marshall University graduate.
Virginia Tech fanatic.
Formerly known as JWillHokieAlum.

I've said it many times, and I'll say it many more times - that 2013 team goes 11-1 if Kyle Fuller stays healthy.

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You're not disproving my point.

Regardless of whether or not others have the same issue does not mean that it wasn't an issue with Fosters scheme.

I don't think he had as consistent an issue with it as many on here claim at times. We are quick to remember anecdotal examples from losses, most of which were paired with an inept offense, and try to force a narrative that suggests it was more consistent than it actually was.

The main problem as I pointed out in my above post is that QB runs are inherently advantageous against any scheme, because you're always going to be outnumbered at the point of attack unless you leave the back end open to even more dangerous long pass plays. The onus then falls on individual players to beat blocks and make plays. In 2018 and 2019 in particular this was the primary issue. Our DL, linebackers, and safeties consistently failed to make a play. In any scheme there is reliance on individuals to make plays against their blocker. Teams like Clemson, Ohio State, Alabama, etc. have the same schematic issues, but they have simply had better playmakers up front to mitigate the issues and more consistently make plays. We've lacked the Isaiah Simmons, Daron Paynes, Jonathan Allens, and Clelin Ferrell's of the world to make those plays in spite of the blocking disadvantages they face. Our best defenses, who struggled with this the least, had elite playmakers who could win battles against the 6 on 5, 7 on 6, 8 on 7 blocker-to-defender situations that happen on QB runs.

agree to disagree on the consistent nature of it in regards to Foster's scheme.

Again it may be an issue for a lot of teams but it still was an issue with Foster's.

And sure, if this player made that tackle or that player filled that gap then anything could happen. But that's the issue I and I think most others willing to say this criticism has. When we faced a mobile QB we all knew what was going to happen just like we knew Stiney was going 3 down the middle and out. And sure enough, as you say, a player is not hitting his assignment or making plays despite disadvantages so Foster's scheme would be exploited by mobile QBs. If that is a known quality of the scheme and we don't have the caliber of players you mention that can overcome those disadvantages then perhaps when faced with a mobile QB we should have changed the scheme around so that we didn't run head first into the same wall.

Again, I'm not trying to disparage the man. He's a fucking legend, but I can be honest about the shortcomings and I don't think that means I'm trying to tear the man's legacy down.

Foster's scheme was always based on making a team one dimensional - take away the run and force a guy to make a difficult throw. Or more recently, take away parts of the passing game and force a team to run or throw short and drive the field.

His best years were when a 4 man front could contain the run / apply pressure, and a lock-down CB could take away one side of the field. He was then able to get creative with his LB's and secondary on complex zones and blitzs to force teams into mistakes.

Without Tapp/Gayle coming off of the edge and Fuller/Williams/Macho/Flowers/etc. locking down a corner, the D started to struggle - with Foster having to use the back 7 to help out the DL, or was forced to play "softer" zones to help out the corners.

I think the point is that it's not a shortcoming if every single defensive coordinator has the same problem.

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Not sure why so many don't get that everyone struggles with true dual threat quarterbacks. Look to the NFL, there are multi million dollar defensive coordinators pulling their hair out over lamar jackson. Same in college , you can't protect both the long ball and the qb run. Something's got to give. Bud had success when he could isolate the receivers with a match up , and he could then trick the QB with robber coveragesto force interceptions.
The front 7 has to be able to match up with the o line, backs and te . if not, the QB can run anytime he wants as there is a hat on a hat at the line of scrimmage, and then the QB is one on one with a full head of steam into the secondary. Dual threat wreaks havoc on the defense, and match ups then get exposed. If one guy can't do his job without help, they will pick on him all day.

My theory is a big part of the criticism is that Bud's defenses were so dominant back before duel threats were common, the fans got used to the idea that it was possible to have an airtight defense. In general the football (not just CFB) landscape has become more offense oriented, whereas our fanbase had gotten used to the "defense wins championships" mentality.

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Not you specifically but few people here getting a tad high and mighty about what "so many don't get".

"Me staring at a car with working air bags, you trying to sell me a car with faulty air bags because supposedly all cars have faulty air bags"

I'm not debating that mobile QBs give DCs trouble. I am simply stating the fact that Foster had trouble with them and my opinion that he struggled consistently. Again, happy to agree to disagree there.

But unless someone wants to start providing stats on all DCs against all mobile QBs those statements are a generalization while also proving my point. Foster had trouble with mobile QBs.

Just accept the statement because it's true. Why so many don't get that, I don't understand.

It's still a shortcoming no matter 1 or a 1000 coaches struggle with it simply because it's their job to stop the offense. As I said I'm not calling for his legend to be burned to the ground, just able to be honest and call a spade a spade.

Every defense has some weakness that helps to build a strength somewhere else. Also, nearly every defense is susceptible to a scrambling qb. Most defensive coaches will tell you that a team will not win based on the qb doing all the work with his feet.

"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it." - K

More depth on defense would be good in so many ways.

This aggressive defense was on display in October and November of 2019. I'm very excited about the upcoming season.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

That there was an ass whooping by an inferior team with a superior scheme

I will never get tired of that game summary.

It was glorious.

sacks for days

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

The anOSU interior and overall right side of that line was getting mauled.

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Everything is a trade-off. More depth means you're likely giving up a little on things like tackles for loss or 3rd conversion percentage (two things VT has historically been very good at), but perhaps being more effective against, say, good downfield tight ends (historically a problem for VT defenses).

There are a ton of D systems which have been equally successful and unsuccessful. The key is being able to execute it better than the O. That requires having the right personnel for the system, teaching them well, and the players understanding it and being able to adapt to changes when needed.

Not easy, but that's why Foster was so good. Particularly the last part - which is also why there were some struggles in recent years. Injuries and youth limited player understanding and adaptability - this was particularly apparent in the 2nd half of many games.

And never discount that talent can hide flaws...

never discount that talent can hide flaws

This is why I expect to see a big difference between J Ham year 1 and 2 defenses and an even bigger difference between year 2 and 3.

He's been given a lot of talent that are all juniors and seniors.

Tremaine Edmunds in 2017 is a prime example of talent hiding flaws. I can't count the number of times it looked like we were about to concede a chunk play, only to have Tremaine chase down a back who was about to turn the corner. False steps and missed reads happen, and sometimes you need every bit of 6'5'' + 4.54 40yd to save you.

The Duke interception, he was out of position and raced back some 30 yards to pick off a pass. In the pouring rain.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

I think that was Terrell, not Tremaine, but the point still holds. First-round NFL talent can hide mistakes.

Also thanks for an excuse to go back and watch the highlights from that 2017 game to fact-check myself. Man, sports were nice.

Damn kinda hope he still stays hyper-aggressive

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Can't remember where I saw this post it was either here or 247 but when Hamilton was announced as DC someone chimed in saying he had been calling plays since the Duke game. Was that ever verified or backed up? Sorry if it's complete bullshit I just remember seeing it and no one really talked any more about it.

I do recall seeing him signalling plays to the players, but I don't know if he was signalling plays to the secondary while Foster gives signals just before the snap.