Let's talk about the Defense

I am really interested to hear people's takes on the defense right now. It felt really sketchy out there against BC for the entire first half but then halftime comes and we've only given up 7 points. We won't be able to rely on turnovers to stop drives every time but it sure felt like improvement over the past 2 weeks. Here are some of my thoughts from an untrained eye:

-Barno looks like he is going to be a big time player
-Brion and Dorian look like they are getting better every week
-Deablo at Strong Safety seems to be the correct move
-Dax on the bench looked to make the defense a little better against the run. To me, Ashby and Dax are similar but Ashby has a stronger shoulder. Both a little slow and need to play in the middle but Ashby is better at stopping guys in their tracks while Dax falls backwards on tackles at times. Can't see them being on the field together going forward.
-A lot of the big plays in the pass looked like miscommunications or blown coverages. I think this is something that we can improve on week to week with more practice time. Almost more encouraging to watch then guys getting beat 1 on 1 consistently.
-Chamari and Deablo like to tackle and that's what we were missing last week. I think Jenkins will be another guy who likes to tackle, when we get him back.
-Belmar and Reed continue to be solid. Seems like we are relatively good at the DE position.
-No clue what is going on at DT. I haven't quite remembered everyone's numbers yet at DT so not really sure who is in the game at times.

Overall, I feel tentatively optimistic about the defense going forward. Bend but don't break actually worked in this game. We still have a long way to go but I think we have enough talent to keep teams under 30 points and that's what we will need to do to win games this year.

DISCLAIMER: Forum topics may not have been written or edited by The Key Play staff.

Comments

Defense was quite opportunistic, last night. Otherwise, we could've very well been in a hole early on.

Has a ways to go yet. Jurkovec and Howell have been able to throw a ton on us, as expected.

So may our offense keep chewing up ground and points.

Rick Monday... You Made a Great Play...

Romanes Eunt Domus

I only saw the condensed version and I need to see the whole thing. But my perception was that on at least three of those defensive plays they showed, there were clusters of defenders down field kind of caught up with each other. One of the interceptions, one of their TD's, seems like more...

Like I said, I need to watch the whole thing when I'm not in a hurry.

edit: and...i'll retract the above

It's hard to get a reliable read on the defense when we have yet to field a completely healthy unit, though this week was the closest.

However, I actually have gotten the same "feel" from the defense in every week. Yes, even against NC State and Duke it felt like we were benefitting from a lot of offensive ineptitude and in NC State's case, the wrong QB. I still never felt like we were making dominant stops outside of the sacks in the NC State and Duke games.

It still felt like we could get run on in every game, but we got out to early leads in almost every game. The first time we got in a sizable hole early (UNC) and the opposition could run the ball without worrying about playing catch up saw the defense completely implode.

Against BC we were very lucky to get those fumbles to stop the BC offense early. The defense seems to settle down when we get big leads, but at that point we also start to benefit from less running and more pressing from opposing QB's. It's still hard to feel like our defense will be trustworthy in a close game.

I do think the Devin Taylor at FS, Deable at SS look could be a solid pairing moving forward. I hope we continue to see lots of reps for Keonta Jenkins and Dorian Strong as they look to be key members of the future secondary. They need some Hilgartification, but right now they are doing enough to earn lots of reps on the field.

The DL and LB's has been hard to get a read on. We seem really soft up the middle, and some of that is almost certainly scheme adjustment and conditioning/S&C issues with the unique pandemic offseason and fall camp. Our DE's seem better than last year rushing the passer (a low bar), but I'd like to hear more from French on how he feels they are doing against the run.

Looking forward: We really need to hit on two or maybe all three of Keli Lawson, Isi Etute, and Will Johnson at LB'er. It seems like we have no depth there.

We also need to Asbury and DJ Harvey to be ready to roll early on in their careers. Corner depth is weak (plus we lose Devin Taylor and potentially Waller) and we didn't take a lot of true CB's in the last few cycles so we can't afford missed evals.

I feel really good about the future of our DE room with Rob Wooten, Justin Beadles, Alec Bryant, Stretch Carroll, and Cole Nelson, but we really need to get more P5, ready to play bodies at DT. We have one DT over 300lbs.

Is the assumption with Waller and Taylor that they're NFL bound this off-season regardless of remaining eligibility?

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

I have no inside info on Waller, but he is eligible to leave and has the deep stats to justify it from 2019. However, if he never gets a consistent run of health then I think it increases the probability of returning. Either way you can't just assume he is coming back, but I hope he does.

Taylor I'm assuming is one and done. I know everyone gets the blanket year of extra eligibility, but again I don't think you handle roster planning with the assumption that everyone is just going to come back.

Honestly had to go look up who taylor was that you're talking about since the dbs has been nothing but musical chairs I had no idea he had played any this year since it's such a revolving door on defense right now.

Directions from Blacksburg to whoville, go north till you smell it then go east until you step in it

For better or worse, we've had really young corners the past three years basically - it just helped that one of them became in All American in year two. So with that I'm not too concerned about Nyke or Harvey. Maybe a little more with Asbury, but Dorian Strong is showing if you can play, then you can play.

I think the defensive line is showing that with a lead, the DEs can really play downhill and create some havoc which hides some of the depth in the back end. Would not be surprised if one of those freshmen/2021 commits move inside, I just don't know enough about football to tell you who it will/should be.

If anything, what I look forward to next year is going to be an infusion of some athletes. Lawson, Etute, Carroll, and Nelson seem like they could be some real rangy, special guys down the line. Just hope we can hold out a year or two for them to develop properly.

However, I actually have gotten the same "feel" from the defense in every week. Yes, even against NC State and Duke it felt like we were benefitting from a lot of offensive ineptitude and in NC State's case, the wrong QB. I still never felt like we were making dominant stops outside of the sacks in the NC State and Duke games.

This was my amateur take away as well. The D has looked "good" against teams that consistently hurt themselves. Quality QB's are going to be able to take advantage of us. Maybe that will be less true if/when we get closer to full health.

I read somewhere that we held BC's most productive player (their TE) to his least productive game of the season so that's a positive.

Proud author of one plaid comment.

Pass rush lacks big time without blitzing

And our DT's look like they continue to get swallowed up .

I thought the DTs were better with Crawford in...but he doesn't look entirely healthy.

It's at the point when any forced punt feels like a victory in itself. Yes, we got 5 turnovers this week, and we definitely contributed to that, but you cannot expect that to happen every week. The way BC was able to drive, they left a boatload of points on the board. And the scoring gap, at least through halftime was literally made up off points from turnovers.

So, it was a better week. Some good points to feel happy about but there are definitely a lot of red flags for the remainder of the year. We are going to need our offense to light it up every game from here on out.

King Alum of the House Hokie, the First of His Name, Khal of the Turkey Legs, The rightful Heir to the Big Board, the Unbanned, Breaker of Trolls and Father of Gritty

Well it appears that the offense can light it up every week. That running game is great and having a QB who can throw makes us super dangerous.

I don't get the glass is half empty mentality. I think the last 5-0 turnover game was the 42-35 win over Miami where they passed at will and crushed us in total yards by over 200. Last night's win was far better IMO.

Maybe I expect too much in general, but the feeling I had in the first half was that we didn't capitalize enough on the turnovers. 3 TOs and only 10 points to show for it didn't feel like we did enough. Still, we had 20 points off of turnovers and I think any coach will take that.

Maybe I expect too much in general, but the feeling I had in the first half was that we didn't capitalize enough on the turnovers.

Same.

Proud author of one plaid comment.

The turnovers are great but the defense continuing to surrender yards basically at will when not forcing a turnover scares the hell out of me. We're not going to get 5 turnovers every game. They were definitely better late in the game last night but for about 2/3 of the game they looked just as inept as they did against UNC except with a couple timely forced turnovers. Hopefully the DL just needs some rest and more practice to get better conditioned because they have been extremely poor the last 2 games after looking great the first 2.

I think Barno might already be our best DE. I'm not sure which of Belmar or Reed he should start over (probably Belmar but Reed has also been quiet since the first game) but I think he should be playing more. I haven't noticed Norell Pollard much this year, I hope that's just because he hasn't been played much because I thought he was very good last year and maybe he should get some more run over Hewitt or Crawford if he hasn't.

The linebackers scare me. They were supposed to be a strength and have been a big weakness to this point. Not sure what the fix is there because it seemed like we had great depth and experience here and they've basically all been disappointments. Maybe it's just the way Hamilton is using them?

The DB's are clearly pretty capable when we're not forced into starting walk-ons. Devin Taylor had a HUGE night last night and I feel like not many people are talking about it.

LBs are ask to do completely different things than last year. They are struggling. Ashby is limited physical, Dax takes too many wrong steps, Tisdale shows flashes, but new system(I hope)

Part of good defensive play is forcing turnovers. Punching the ball out and making interceptions shouldn't be taken for granted. We won't always get 5 but would you have been happier if we had won 40-39? Turnovers are not welfare. It is not like we were gifted the game. The other team made mistakes and VT took advantage. We have been doing this for years with Beamer Ball, so it is not a new concept.
The defense is learning a new scheme this year without the benefit of spring ball. Obviously Covid has hurt so the best thing to do is take a deep breath and let things come together.

I've done some of my best work with smoke, mirrors, and a muleta!

Part of good defensive play is forcing turnovers. Punching the ball out and making interceptions shouldn't be taken for granted.

Turnovers are random. Good defenses create 'turnover opportunities' but the rate at which teams/players actually convert those opportunities is completely random. Why does that matter? It shows that it's not repeatable or reliable for the defense to give up 435 yards, but only 14 points.

The other team made mistakes and VT took advantage.

Not talking about the defense anymore, but off 5 BC turnovers, we only scored 23 points.

Don't get me wrong - this was a very fine win over a pesky team. But the defense needs to improve more before I feel confident in us beating a (true) top 25 team.

Twitter me

But the defense needs to improve more before I feel confident in us beating a (true) top 25 team.

I'd point out that NC State is back in the top 25 now. While I'd agree it would be very difficult to beat a top 10 team with this defense, there are a lot of flawed teams rounding out the top 25 and I think we're pretty deserving of our ranking.

Joffrey, Cersei, Ilyn Payne, the Hound, Jeff Jagodzinski, Paul Johnson, Pat Narduzzi.

I wouldn't tout that NC St win that much. They made the same mistake we made against UNC in starting the wrong QB. They looked much improved under Leary, but he is out 4-8 weeks now so I wouldn't expect that ranking to last.

Turnovers are random.

I believe you're confusing fumble recoveries, which depend a lot on which way the ball bounces, with general turnovers. Forced fumbles are not random. Interceptions are certainly not random. They are products of the scheme and skill of both the defens and the offense.

Bad quarterbacks will throw more interceptions. If that weren't true, Hooker wouldn't have thrown fewer interceptions than Willis did. Good DBs will catch more interceptions. Defenses with more sacks will force more fumbles. To imply that all turnovers are random is a disservice to all those defensive players who practice catching the ball, and all those running backs who faced the boxing glove on a stick.

Good defenses create 'turnover opportunities' but the rate at which teams/players actually convert those opportunities is completely random

You left out the important bit. Yes, good defenses create opportunities, but once a ball hits the grounds it's a roughly 50/50 proposition. Good defenses get DBs breaking up passes, but once a DB gets a hand on the ball it's a roughly 50/50 proposition (I forget the exact % here, but you can accurately predict interceptions as a percentage of all passes defended).

Point being, defense did a good job of creating opportunities, but we can't expect to force 5 turnovers every game going forward.

You're confusing 'turnover opportunities' with 'turnovers'. A turnover opportunity is a fumble or poorly thrown ball. But it doesn't become a turnover unless the opposing team gets possession of the ball. Statistically speaking, that last part is random.

From Bill Connelly (creator and prioprioter of SP+)

From Bill's 2013 post at Football Study Hall:

Over time, you're going to recover about 50 percent of all fumbles, but in a given year, you might recover 70 percent, or you might recover 30. The same goes with passes defensed; on average, you can expect to intercept about 22 percent of the passes you defense.

Study from the NBIC on turnovers in the NFL:

Turnovers appear to be random events. In one study, nearly equal parts luck and talent were proposed to account to year-over-year variations in turnover differential for a given team [3]. Within a season, NFL turnovers correlate weakly with prior game performance . A team with a strong season-to-date record of winning the turnover battle is likely to regress to the mean; conversely, teams losing in turnover margin at a point within a season tend to improve on this statistic moving forward

From Harvard Sports Analytics Collective:

So after a few hundred words of statistics, we arrive at a whopping conclusion that just over half of seasonal turnover differential is due to luck.

From Football Outsiders:

Here we start to see a bigger difference between interceptions and fumbles, and it suggests that interception tendencies are definitely more persistent than fumble tendencies. This is particularly true on defense, perhaps because interceptions, to some extent, result from good pass coverage skills and a good pass rush, both of which are also key components of a good overall defense. But the tendency to force (and recover) fumbles on defense appears to be mostly random from year to year.

In general, a team's ability to force fumbles seems to be almost entirely luck. There is a little bit more persistence in a team's ability to force interceptions, though it isn't clear how much of this ability is just a residual effect of general defensive ability

Twitter me

I think the statistical analysis is leaving something out. Once a defender has proven that they are good at being in position to get interceptions, opposing QB's don't target the receiver as much, so their interceptions decrease, which may LOOK like they're not as good or prolific at intercepting, but is a function of their talent and ability. Then there's the bad throw, where the QB throws to the wrong place in the route or the ball comes out of his hand wrong (either with contact or without, like that one BB interception- those are definitely random because they don't depend at all on a defender's skill, just being in the right place/right time. But we've definitely had DB's in the past who were great at putting themselves in position and going and getting the ball (reading the QB from the safety helps). So if you group interceptions between bad throws and throws to a covered target, they probably appear more random, but if you separate them, less random. Because saying it's random means if a DB has over 5 interceptions in a season it means they should go buy a lottery ticket, and some guys have WAY more than that.

I'm not following...

I think the statistical analysis is leaving something out. Once a defender has proven that they are good at being in position to get interceptions, opposing QB's don't target the receiver as much, so their interceptions decrease, which may LOOK like they're not as good or prolific at intercepting, but is a function of their talent and ability.

I think you misspoke here, but I think you're trying to say that shutdown corners are less likely to leave a receiver open, thus the QB won't pass to that receiver as much, resulting in less picks?

But we've definitely had DB's in the past who were great at putting themselves in position and going and getting the ball (reading the QB from the safety helps).

So, not to be a dick (really mean that), but I recommend reading the pieces I shared before commenting. I think the 2013 study hall piece addresses your comment/concern:

Over time, you're going to recover about 50 percent of all fumbles, but in a given year, you might recover 70 percent, or you might recover 30. The same goes with passes defensed; on average, you can expect to intercept about 22 percent of the passes you defense. (Passes defensed = interceptions + break-ups.)

In the scenario (I think) that you're talking about, where a shutdown corner is targeted less due to being talented, they will have less passes to defensed. The point is, whether the cornerback (or safety) defenses 1 pass, 10 passes, or 100 pass, all defenders regress towards a mean of 22% interception rate over time

But we've definitely had DB's in the past who were great at putting themselves in position and going and getting the ball (reading the QB from the safety helps).

TL;DR Once a DB is 'in position' to get the ball, there's a roughly 22% chance it becomes an interception, regardless of how good that player is.

Twitter me

Sorry my response was so long. I did read everything you included. I keep trying to explain it, but feel like it would go over better in a conversation over a beer or two than how I'm explaining it. I understand what you're saying, just not doing a good job explaining what I'm trying to say (without it turning into a novel lol).

I'll add one more comment that might summarize what you're saying, then I'll shut up... Better players are in position to defense a pass more often, certain schemes put players in position more often, and lesser quarterbacks throw more shitty passes that make it easy for DBs to get in position for. All of these things can and do contribute to more interceptions.

But again, just about all teams' interception rate (as a function of passes defensed) regresses to a mean of 22% over time.

Twitter me

This defense will not be able to get consistent stops this year. That's just the way it's going to be. It seems the coaching staff is aware of this and is telling our guys to be ball hungry. I noticed more instances of our guys trying to strip the ball yesterday than I can remember. They won't force five turnovers a game, but as long as they can get two a game, we will be okay in most games.

As far as Dax goes, the defense is way better when he isn't on the field. I feel bad for him because I do believe he's a good football player and is passionate about the game. He is just not a backer whatsoever. The coaches kept trying to make that work just to get him on the field, and it's just not working. Until Ashby is gone or gives the coaches a reason to bench him, Dax shouldn't be on the field.

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

This is the hard truth. He just doesn't do enough things well to be on the field at backer. I didn't get to watch as closely, as we were with a big group yesterday, but word was that Dax didn't play as much until the 2nd half. I do seem to remember Tisdale being on the field a lot more in the 1st. Can anyone confirm? If so, it would seem that the coaches are coming to this realization as well.

"That's it guys. Let's get out of here. That cold drink's waitin' on us, let's go." - Mike Young after win no. 300.

Can confirm. Tisdale is a lot rangier and will be a force if he can add some weight. Definitely need his speed east/west.

Yeah, while I don't disagree, Tisdale was getting run over (but wrapping up) several times. Hopefully bulking up will help that.

My dad said the same thing this morning. He would be a monster with a bit more bulk, provided he doesn't lose his speed. I do think a lot of these guys with the lankier frames probably had trouble maintaining/gaining weight during the pandemic, as there was not as much access to food, training facilities, etc. I also imagine this was not unique to VT.

"That's it guys. Let's get out of here. That cold drink's waitin' on us, let's go." - Mike Young after win no. 300.

Glad I'm not the only one that sees this. Tisdale looks like a DB playing linebacker. Definitely better for the defense when he is on the field over Dax though.

If the roster changes are to be trusted, Tisdale has dropped weight from last season instead of gaining it. This is almost certainly because of the pandemic, but still pretty frustrating when last year he was on the light side for a LB.

I thought he actually looked pretty good in pass coverage against BC's RB's & TE's when he was in the game. Tisdale is more fluid and more athletic, but Dax is clearly working on his technique and his understanding of where he needs to be.

I always felt that Dax taking a redshirt would have been the right move for him, and that as long as Bud was here, it would never happen.

Insanely luckily on all the fumble recoveries. Good plays to force them, but sometimes the ball bounces your way and that happened this game. We still cant really stop anyone. They almost had as many yards as us. As far as people claiming we still arent healthy, this is it. We wont ever be fully healthy. I doubt many of our opponents will be fully healthy, but we saw VT at our healthiest last night and they still looked inept most of the time.

Thank god we have a killer run game to spell the defnese because. Im still expecting many high scoring games this year.

I don't feel good about the unit at all. On top of us being really soft up the middle, our combination of LBs and the entire secondary are completely lost on almost every pass play. It didn't matter if BC was 3rd & 4 or 3rd and 20, they were getting a first down. And mostly because we have no pass rush and because no one in the secondary understands their place in the zone schemes we run.

J'Ham has his work cut out for him. His first season is going to be historic...

Is coronavirus over yet?

We showed flashes of what we're capable of, so that excites me a little bit. This defense appears to put pressure on athletic ability over role or fit. Too many times, we've seen our LBers getting washed out, when more athletic LBers would be down field running with a TE.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

Go read French's review and join TKPC.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

The defense showed progress. The game plan appears to be make the offense maximize the number of plays knowing yards will be given up. In the case against BC, they did exactly what you want, stop yourself. With that said, they could have easily started hotter and we would have been in a similar hole to last week.

Good signs:
The secondary is battling. They are getting beat here and there but I am seeing encouraging things as well.

The linebackers played better in the second half. In the first half I was actually wondering if Ashby was a liability (that seems stupid to even type). But they improved in the second half even before BC was one dimensional. Let us hope the lights are coming on.

The front 4 strangely gets pressure pretty good on their own but they get blown up in run plays. That will be an interesting unit to watch. I don't know what to think of Barno, he has a knack for finding the ball but is pretty raw.

Until I am proven wrong, I am going to assume the few lucky breaks we received is exactly what the D needed to loosen up and start playing without their brains tying up their feet.

"If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"

I agree, if we don't get those 2 fumbles in the beginning it could have been a completely different game. Not sure how the defense will react if we are down a couple scores again. Hopefully we don't get in the position again.

To me, the scary part is that UNC barely had to throw the ball (and when they did, they hurt us) because we were helpless to stop a pretty darned basic run scheme.

Then last night, BC - who we know was struggling to run the ball at all this season, did pretty much anything they wanted through the air.

So we've been beaten in consecutive weeks by two kinda different but mostly single minded attacks.

This defense with Waller, Hunter, Farley, Crawford etc is a much stronger unit. We have young guys everywhere - which seems to always, somehow, be the case. But we're not gonna magically get healthy or experienced overnight. Which means we need to be better about in-game adjustments. That's a lot to do with coaching, and Covid issues aside, Ham has stubbed his toe a little out of the gate. Neither UNC nor BC changed their attacks at all - because we didn't change the way we tried to stop it.

You're the only ones that I can talk to about this, you guys.

We were close on a couple of long plays against from getting off the field. That has to be frustrating to the defense as much as it is to watch. Too many 3rd and longs converted or at least it felt like a lot.

That said I think we will have a better defense by the end of the year than not.

Let's go!

"Take care of the little things and the big things will come."

Fixing the DL/LB's I think is the conclusion. We had 1 sack against a QB who is said to hold the ball too long. If we could get pressure it would help out the back end tremendously. Instead QB's have time to decide if they want to throw the 7 yard out route that has another 5 yards of cushion or find a breakdown in the backend. Hopefully TNT can figure this out, but the terrible play has me holding my breath.

I felt like the secondary did well...especially late in the game when BC was trying to strech the field and get some big plays. DBs were all over their guys. However most of time BC receivers just seemed to find the open spot and sit in it. There were a few lucky catches as well. Plenty to work on but happy with them overall.

Again, I think the hard part is in where the LBs are supposed to cover or those shallow areas. The just chewed us up w/passes there. We need to get more pressure and didn't seem to get any at all until late in the game when BC was trying to go deep.

Not gonna be confident in the defense in any game this year. The offense I'm not worried about.

If you don't want to recruit clowns, don't run a clown show.

"I want to punch people from UVA right in the neck." - Colin Cowherd

The secondary seemed to get better later in the game. I am not sure if it was the scheme/plan to play soft and make them go 75 yards without mistakes or if our DBs are really struggling but they had guys wide open all night 10-15 yards down the field.

The front 7 is getting big boyed every game. The 2nd half it seemed like we were slanting the DL more to allow them to try and shoot gaps and disrupt. Hewitt played a better 2nd half than 1st.

"I'm too drunk to taste this chicken" - Colonel Sanders via Ricky Bobby

Dax needs to ride the pine until Ashby graduates, he just flat out cannot play to the sidelines well. Would like to see tisdale get a little heavier if he can retain mobility. Really wish we had Hunter to free up deablo as he has to lurk and clean up a lot of plays. DT is bad like really bad, I respect hewitts drive but for the scheme Jham wants to run we need 300lb DTs. I get high energy 300 pounders are unicorns but we need them and bad, Ashby's job gets infinitely harder when his DT is in his lap immediately after the snap. I think we're going to be really good at the DE spot for a while

Dax was doing better than Ashby yesterday

It may be the scheme adjustment with JHam but Ashby has not been quite as good this year it seems. The DT play has been worse than last year too so that may be part of it.

"I'm too drunk to taste this chicken" - Colonel Sanders via Ricky Bobby

Last year the scheme was about keeping Ashby clean. That is not the case this year. He is struggling keeping clean on his own.

He has been picked on the last two games it seems with play action and a slant coming in behind the backers. He's just not quick enough to bite on the play action and then fall back into coverage. Duke and Carolina constantly ran that play and BC hit on it several times. His lack of speed has shown these last 3 games and its an issue.

Gobble Till You Wobble

I think we should emotionally prepare ourselves for Big 12 style boat races every game. And if the other team is pushing to keep up, it opens up the turnovers a bit.

I haven't had a chance to watch the game yet, but off the bat, I am very happy they only gave up 14 points. I know there were many turnovers and it looks like we gave up a lot of yards, but I imagine this should be a confidence booster for a unit that has dealt with a lot this season.

Dax played well when called upon- best he has looked in a long time when he got in. Tisdale was better in the second half. Ashby just isn't rangy enough for this scheme.

It is a work in progress. A healthy Crawford (who played a little), a better Fuga, and a major leap forward by Kendricks would help.

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

French, I'm anxious for your takes on the discombobulated secondary.

Is coronavirus over yet?

Taylor looked good in coverage. While he forced TOs, he is a bit too dainty as a tackler for my taste.

Waller will help. Strong is the next star there, but has a lot to learn. Murray and Chatman are holding the fort as best as they can.

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

If ashby won't be a good fit at LB could we maybe consider moving him to the edge or inside maybe or finding a better role. I'm not a huge fan of playing people out of position because the players too good not to play even if it's not his correct position.

Directions from Blacksburg to whoville, go north till you smell it then go east until you step in it

Charlie Wiles says move him to DT. He's far too small for anyone to get their hands on him. He can quickly slip under the arms of the OL and get into the backfield.

/S

Is coronavirus over yet?

Ashby was the prototypical Mike in Bud's defense. He was all-acc caliber in that role last year. There's really nowhere else for a player like that to play, and he's essentially a senior. I think it's a case where he's going to do what he can to help this defense and move on while we develop younger talent that better fits the scheme

Defense is still rough. I feel the d got better only when bc was behind and became one dimensional. D was not good when they were both running and passing. Our run d looks bad

Need TNT to get the DL fixed.
LB are a mess. Dax and Ashby both have limitations. Ashby has a nose for the ball but is too slow. Dax often misreads the play. So pick your poision. I think Tisdale will be a good LB when his Hokie career is over. Hell, he's going to be better in a month when he knocks off the quarantine rust.
The secondary is surprisingly good when not playing walk-ons. If Waller comes back, I think it will be fine.

Also, people need to focus on the positives instead of the negatives. Once again the Hokies won an ACC game going away. This was a 3-score game. Last year we were struggling to be ODU and Furman and couldn't get the backups any playing time against lesser competition. Last night was a relaxing 4th quarter instead of a tense one. This team is playing well all things considered. We beat Miami 42-36 last year where we were outgained by 200 yards because of 5 turnovers. Everybody loved that win. We beat BC 40-14 with more yards and the same 5 turnovers and there are more complaints. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

This might sound like blasphemy, but I think you have to consider not starting Ashby. This scheme + his physical situation without having the benefit of training is highlighting his weaknesses.

I would like to see Dax and Tisdale get some run.

I would be interested to see what that looks like too. Don't want to give up on Dax, we just need more out of the MLB position.

Yeah - maybe it's the right thing this year. It's possible Ashby works himself back into shape and improves as the year goes along as well.

Either way - as a positive I firmly believe Ashby should and will use his extra year and with the opportunity to train he could be a force although I think he will have to commit to train differently to have the range in this scheme

Agree. Also, what about Artis? You can see that Ashby is not in shape. Artis is a physical freak and is always in the gym. I wouldn't mind seeing what he can do and I'm surprised at his limited number of snaps this year.

Dax and Tisdale would be interesting, too.

He had a couple of tackles I believe, but I would have to rewatch to see if he got reps at LB or just special teams. I agree though as if he could click mentally he is a player - was a great rectory/prospect. Very smart kid.

Defense will be up and down this year. I'll break down the scheme changes I've noticed first and foremost. I'll start inside/out, front to back.
Our DTs appear to be playing with same alignments as Bud system but technique wise, they aren't moving laterally quite as much. This is causing them to be blocked, often doubled, easier and they have been struggling to shed blocks vs the run IMO. Hewitt has been solid but the rest of the group has not. Fuga flashes the potential with his size/strength/quickness combo but still has a ton to learn technique wise, needs to be better with hands and eyes. When he puts it all together he's going to be really good.
Our ends are playing wider, more angle 5s, sometimes 9 techniques vs spread than traditional 5s. Two big positives of this are that it allows them to set the edge better vs the run and also improves their ability to dip the corner on an OT in pass rush situations. The negatives are that on running plays, pulling OL/H-Backs have easier ability to kick out our DEs, leaving slightly wider holes for LBs/Whip/Safeties to fill. Overall I've been impressed with DEs, Belmar and Reed have been legit and Barno is coming on strong after rough game 1.
LBs (I'm talking Mike and Backer, i'll talk Whip as a DB) have had a rough season. I didn't expect it but consider how much the responsibilities changed with Bud being their position coach and play caller. Something about seeing the defense from coordinator prospective in position practice and film room must be considered. Alignment wise, they seem to be playing a yard or so further from the ball than under Bud. Benefit is they can mis read and still not be completely out of position vs pass. With our DBs being so inexperienced, this may just be an early season thing to help the back end in coverage and tighten those windows. The negative is that our LBs are 1 step further away from the ball carriers and OL, which leaves more room for error in filling holes vs patient RBs. Couple that with the DE alignment and we've seen some gaping holes and LBs not able to close in time to prevent big runs. Ashby has always been limited in mobility, he thrived being closer to LOS and thumping in A/B gap. He's had to run more and use different angles more which has shown to be a weakness in his game. I still love his game and how he plays, Artis nor Hollifield has shown to be better. Tisdale is likely the prototype ILB moving forward, long and athletic. I expect him to breakout big time as the season progresses. Dax is struggling but again, he lost Bud and responsibilities changed. I hope people stop hating on him, he's going to be fine but it's going to take him some time. Wouldn't be surprised to see him lose some weight this offseason to improve his mobility and take over for Ashby in the middle next year. Overall this group lacks depth and probably has the most adjusting to do among the position groups. Give it a few more games, they'll be fine.
In the back end I'll start with Safeties. These are JHamms positional guys. Alignment and technique wise, not much has changed here. Many of the same coverage techniques we've always seen from Bud still going on. Deablo should have really good season as SS/Rover. FS is def up for grabs and we'll need someone to seize that role for the defensive backfield to operate successfully. The revolving door at these two positions has made it inconsistent this year and tough to evaluate moving forward. Keep an eye on these two positions all season. Jenkins will be a good one. The Whip is going back to what it used to be in terms of alignment, techniques. I love Conner in this spot. He's been beat a few times but his run defense has been impeccable. He was sorely missed after being ejected vs UNC. Recruit Will Johnson will be a great fit in this position IMO.
The CBs have played a ton of press bail technique which has left them vulnerable to outs and deep stops as they've often got their hips turned upfield on snap. I'd assume this has been to keep the young pups from getting cooked deep. As we get more talent at this position, I'd expect to see that technique a little less. The off man alignment is the same as it has been, man techniques are unchanged. I'm still not sold on Waller as being elite. He didn't look good vs UNC. Chatman still has a work to do to be all conference quality. Murray has been solid but lacks physicality. Strong has been pleasant surprise but still very young. Overally opinion is Hamm has been trying to hide the DBs based on scheme. As the DBs are most inexperienced group on defense, it's no surprise.
In closing the defense will have ups and downs this season. They scheme isn't greatly changed from what we've been accustomed too and I personally like most of the changes, just will take time for players to adjust and in some cases, for us to get the guys who fit. I have utmost confidence in JHam and TNT. Give it some time and I expect our defense to be consistently legit.

There's no glory in practice and lifting but without practice and lifting, there will be no glory!

I'm not sure how you say the scheme hasn't changed since the DL has completely different assignments as they aren't working laterally to spoil the ball carrier to the free hitter. The LBs are playing a lot of zone which is rare for VT historically. Ashby no longer has the ball carry sent right to him. The DBs are playing a ton of zone coverage vs the typical press man. The goals of every position group has changed since last year.

I am not down on Hamilton, its a switch and needs time to get players familiar with it. If he can limit putting certain players in bad positions then I think the defense will get better with more game time, but its not going to look anywhere close to a Bud Foster defense.

When I say Scheme hasn't changed a lot, I will clarify more. We haven't changed to a 3-4 scheme. We are still a 4-2-5 defense that wants to apply pressure. Our base defense looks a lot like the 2000s prime in terms of pre snap alignment. We haven't run a lot of press man in a long time around here accept against Kentucky last year and that was because their scheme called for it. Bud used to implore the boundary corner as a press man guy but he got away from that in the past 5-6 years and went to much more combo zones/split field coverages(cover 6 mainly) in the back end. Maybe we haven't been watching the same defense in the past 5 years, I'd argue we've been closer to 50/50 in man/zone the last 5 years of Bud. Our LBs have always played a lot of underneath zone defense vs pass. Responsibilities have changed for the LBs vs the run more than anyone, hence they are struggling the most save for the undersized DTs. As we improve the talent level and scheme fits, this defense will be just fine. We'll have to agree to disagree on some things.

There's no glory in practice and lifting but without practice and lifting, there will be no glory!

My biggest issue is our tackling. We are hitting and not wrapping up. Other times we are getting to the guy, and then getting rolled for another four or five yards. Make the hit, and wrap up. That's all I ask.

This is every college football team right now. If you want the other games and listen virtually every defense is struggling with this due to the perfect storm of COVID, lack of off season, lack of practice etc

See the SEC

There has been a good amount of high scoring shootouts between teams you would not expect it. Missing spring and partial summer practices and then sitting due to positives/contact tracing has left defenses struggling as it is the harder side of the ball to learn.

and the NFL.

Proud author of one plaid comment.

Other times we are getting to the guy, and then getting rolled for another four or five yards.

Some of that has been playing walk ons or freshmen in the secondary who are not physically ready to be standing guys up.

"I'm too drunk to taste this chicken" - Colonel Sanders via Ricky Bobby

The bigger problem is when it is multiple guys getting dragged. That shouldn't consistently happen.

I'm just happy multiple guys are swarming to the ballcarrier

I'm a little worried that I was able to, without knowing ANYTHING about this year's BC team, predict some of their plays based off the personnel, presnap motion and formations, and some of those plays seemed to gain chunks of yardage against our defense. I'm a few years removed from really studying football, but it seems like if I was able to do that, our defense surely should have.

Maybe I just got lucky?

Warning- Filter lost.

"Look at this... This is just spectacular.... These people are losing their minds"

Somethings are easier to see from the sky than the ground. But we also did get 5 turnovers so the team read something correctly.

Good points.

Warning- Filter lost.

"Look at this... This is just spectacular.... These people are losing their minds"

I was happy to get a few stops this time. Felt like the defense worked better as the game went on.
It was interesting how sometimes they brought almost everyone to the LOS to combat the run.
There were some positives to take away from the game in my opinion.

Is scraping together a defensive scheme that best suits this personnel not an option? I hate to think about wasting a once-in-a-decade offensive attack with a defense that can't get a stop unless the opponent is hemorrhaging turnovers. Tech returned most of their defensive starters - is it not a thing to run a Bud-style attack this year while trying to recruit to the point that J-Ham can flip the switch?

If you go by SP+ then our defense is as good as last year. Both are 23.3 which last year was 39th overall, this year it s 36th overall.

We will improve as the season goes along if our D gets healthier vs. the other way. We are thin at a few spots (see Deablo) as need those guys to stay healthy and the stats will improve. The UNC game was the perfect storm

This weekend was the first time most of our starters played.

I don't buy the old/new system argument when many of the players coming back next season will have to play under the new system. Implement it now.

I believe this isn't the final product either, and what we are seeing is based on personnel. We may see a 3-4 defense next year, or another variant of the 4-2-5 we are running.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

So looks to me that JHam wants:

1. DL to eat up blockers and contain
2. LB to be rangy / athletic and clean up with tackles and enforce

sooo....we're now a 3-4 defense?

VT is 4th in sacks per game behind Pitt, Clemson, and OK State.

VT is 9th in defensive turnovers per game.

VT is 9th in defensive turnovers per game.

Obligatory 'turnovers are random' reminder.

Twitter me

I think BC did as much to stop themselves as our defense did and I thank them for it. I am not sure our defense improved all that much this week (Deablo was a noticeably better tackler), BC was just a worse offense and it showed. This defense is going to give up a bunch of yards, I am hopeful that when the field shrinks near the endzone this defense can hold teams to filed goals and the offense can keep putting up enough points to win. I am guessing the defense will allow about 27-29 ppg by the end of this year.

Whatever. It was one bad year.

Seasonal Brew means High ABV for football season and standard the rest of the year.