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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tech Defense Performs Well Despite Losses
Tech Defense Performs Well Despite Losses

by Chris Coleman,, November 11, 2011

Virginia Tech had the best performance you could hope for on Thursday night against a powerful Georgia Tech rushing attack. The Yellow Jackets entered the game #2 in the country in rushing, and the Hokies went to Atlanta with a young, patchwork and banged up defense. Things didn't look promising on paper, but Bud Foster's defense turned in a very impressive performance.

GT Rushing Yards this Year

Opp.     Yards     YPC

Western Carolina     297     6.2

Middle Tennssee State     382     5.9

Kansas     604     12.1

UNC     312     5.4

NC State     296     5.7

Maryland     272     4.5

UVA     272     5.1

Miami     134     2.8

Clemson     383     5.7

VT     243     5.0

Average     319.5     5.84

Only Miami held Georgia Tech to fewer rushing yards than the Virginia Tech defense did, and only the Hurricanes and the Maryland Terrapins limited the Yellow Jackets to fewer yards per carry. 243 rushing yards and five yards per carry might look like a lot on paper, but for Georgia Tech, its well below average.

Consider who Bud Foster had available to put on the field, and where he had to put them, and it's an even more remarkable accomplishment.

    * A 6-0, 187-lbs cornerback (Kyle Fuller) playing whip linebacker

    * A 6-2, 240-lbs defensive end (J.R. Collins) playing defensive tackle

    * A 6-1, 219-lbs defensive end (Tyrel Wilson) in the starting lineup

    * Missing from the lineup: Antoine Hopkins, Jeron Gouveia-Winslow, Alonzo Tweedy

    * A mike linebacker who had played just four snaps all season

    * A front seven that featured all sophomores with an average weight of just 237.7-lbs.

    * A defense that featured just one starter (Kyle Fuller) who started against Georgia Tech at the same position in 2010

When you consider all of those facts, it just didn't seem likely that the VT defense would be able to put the clamps on the Georgia Tech offense, but they did. The Yellow Jackets broke their share of big plays, as they always do. But the VT defense took away the A-back option pitches, and Embry Peeples, Roddy Jones and Orwin Smith combined for just 10 touches all game. That was a big part of why the Hokies were successful on Thursday night.

Imagine if the Hokies had Antoine Hopkins to go along with his brother Derrick on the inside. That would have allowed J.R. Collins to play defensive end, and the defense probably would have fared even better against the Yellow Jackets.

Tech's defense will go back to normal next week against the traditional pro style offense of the North Carolina Tar Heels. While Thursday night's performance won't be looked back on as one of the best VT defensive performances ever, because of what the defense was missing heading into the game, it should be fondly remember by Tech fans.
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