Against Old Dominion, Virginia Tech delivered a win the program desperately needed for confidence. Despite a significant talent disparity, the Hokies were shaky at times and played tentatively. That isn't surprising after a disastrous 2022 season. The Hokies provided the one-dimensional Monarchs opportunities to stay in the game with defensive breakdowns and the lack of a run game. The score shouldn't have been as close as the final 19-point margin.
There were also significant positives. The Hokies made plays in the vertical passing game and eliminated pre-snap penalties. The defense was disruptive and got to the quarterback. The special teams were sound. Virginia Tech needs to build on those positives going into back-to-back matchups with the Big Ten opponents.
What Gap am I In?
Defensively, the issues with the linebackers fitting the appropriate gap was the film's biggest story. Old Dominion's spacing placed a premium on Tech's linebackers fitting the correct gaps with the correct leverage. The Monarchs spread the field out so much that Tech's unblocked hat usually had a long way to go to fill the alley. To exacerbate the spacing issue, the Hokies often ran themselves out of the appropriate gap. Defensive coordinator Chris Marve had plenty of film after the game to call attention to this issue.
Against this zone read, field-side d-end Keyshawn Burgos (No. 2) spilled hard into the B-gap. To the naked eye, it looked like Burgos gave up contain, allowing running back Devin Roche (No. 23) to bounce outside for a big gain. However, in the Hokies' gap scheme, if Burgos spills inside, a defender, in this case MIKE linebacker Jaden Keller (No. 24) should fit into the C-gap, outside of Burgos in the contain position.
Instead, Keller froze on the read-action and stepped into the same gap as Burgos. Essentially, Keller blocked himself. Once Burgos committed inside, Keller had to account for the C-gap containment. Once Roche broke wide of Keller, free safety Jaylen Jones (No. 15) had to make an open field tackle with ten yards of space surrounding him, no easy feat for a converted wide receiver seeing his first game action.
Here, the Hokies called an edge pressure from STAR linebacker Keonta Jenkins (No. 7).
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