Rebuilding the Defensive Tackle Room: Virginia Tech Spring Game Review Part 2

A 15-play, 2,600-word film review breaking down what to expect from the three incoming defensive tackle transfers that played in the Hokies spring game, including film analysis from their previous seasons. Tech added a top d-tackle option, but questions remain about the position's overall rotation.

Virginia Tech spring football MVP Aeneas Peebles (#16) poses for a photo with head coach Brent Pry. [Mark Umansky]

With the departure of three veteran defensive tackles, rebuilding the interior of the defensive line was Virginia Tech's top priority this offseason. Brent Pry and his staff delivered, adding Duke transfer and All-ACC third team defensive tackle Aeneas Peebles as the centerpiece of his revamped defensive line.

The 6-1, 290 Peebles is a known quantity. Part of an excellent three-man rotation at Duke, Peebles brings the quick twitch speed that Pry loves paired with the ability to hold up better in the gap than the departing defensive tackles.

On this outside zone against Virginia, Peebles (No. 16) lined up on the boundary side of center Brian Stevens (No. 55). At the snap, Peebles confused the blocking scheme by slanting across Stevens' face as he zone stepped to the boundary. However, because of his alignment, left guard Noah Josey (No. 77) expects Peebles to flow with the zone into the boundary and scoops back. Peebles bursts unblocked through the gap to deliver a tackle for a loss. Tech's defense thrives on this kind of quick, counterintuitive movement by the defensive tackles to confuse blocking schemes while still accounting for each potential gap. Peebles has the twitch to play dynamic in Tech's scheme.

The defensive tackles also flashed that twitch last season, but often struggled to push back and avoid getting washed out of gaps if they didn't burst through initially to make the play. Peebles does a much better job of keeping defenders off his body to maintain gap integrity than the departing group.

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