Press Conference: Collins, Thomas and Edwards

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The defense added some more turf to the lunchpail on Saturday.
The defense added some more turf to the lunchpail on Saturday.

J.R. Collins

On how much he enjoyed the first few games

It’s been real fun getting back out there playing another season. Last year we didn’t have too much success. It was fun getting out there just showing everybody that we could be one of the top BCS programs.

On the seven sack performance against ECU

I think it just comes with Coach Foster. He just spends a lot of time watching film and coming up with a good game plan. He forces us to execute in practice and every day we go out and execute. Really it was Coach Foster’s game plan and us executing that gave us success

On the sense of competition along the defensive line

I think there’s more so a lot of great athletes on the d-line than a strong sense of competition.

On whether the defensive line is the deepest position on the team

I think the depth during the course of the game gives the starters rest since it’s like we have eight starters. When our d-line is out there, no matter if it’s the starters or the backups, you’ve got a lot of guys that are hungry and want to get after the quarterback.

On the change in mindset from last season

I think last year we learned a good lesson that you can’t go out there and expect for things to happen, and this year we’re just taking it a day at a time. Punching the clock every day. What’s important now is taking care of the little things. That’s something we didn’t do last year, and this year doing those things, it’s showing that it pays off.

On whether he feels faster this year

Yeah, I feel a lot faster. A lot more energy out there. Not as tired.

On whether the defense needs to prove something

As a group right now, its Tuesday, we’ve got a Tuesday practice; it’s supposed to be tough. We’re not thinking too much about where we’re ranked. Right now we’ve got a lot to work on. These past few games we’ve had success, but at the same time there’s a lot of things to work on.

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Logan Thomas

On whether the Hokies anticipated eight men in the box

No, I didn’t really anticipate anything any different than they’ve showed on film. They really didn’t do a whole lot different than we kind of expected. Maybe they brought a little more blitz than normal, but other than that they didn’t really change much. They were just very good at getting penetration on the defensive line and that’s what stopped us from running the ball a lot. We kind of stopped ourselves, we didn’t really get cut off blocks, and also in the backfield we didn’t press the gaps and make our cuts’ instead we were just cutting too early. Just a little sign of youth and inexperience in both situations. We’re making a point on it this week to make sure we get back to the basics

On whether he should run more

There’s never any change in that. It was just that we didn’t need me to run the ball. The less hits I took the better off.

On having more time in the pocket

In the protection, we looked at it and we knew we had some big chances. If we could have just protected it. It wasn’t that they got beat or anything like that. It was just that we had a mental mistake in the protection where we just let a guy go, or two guys didn’t work it out between the two of them and just one go. All that stuff’s correctable. Thankful that we got out with a win.

On the improvement of Demitri Knowles

We count on him to make a lot of explosive plays. We just need to have him play with a lot of confidence. That’s the one thing out of him that we’ve got to have because when he’s playing with confidence he thinks he’s good, he knows he’s good. He’s playing 100 mph and that’s what we’ve got to have because he has that speed that nobody else has.

On getting more confident with his wide receivers

I’m gaining confidence when they gain confidence. The more I see them with smiles on their face on the practice field or the game field I know they’re having fun. It kind of gives me a peace, I guess, that if I put it out there they’re going to do their best to make a play. So those are the things that get you in a groove with those guys. I’ve always had confidence in those guys. It’s nice to see them get better.

On throwing the ball more after ECU shut down the run

I just came to the sideline after our first drive of the third quarter and I just said “throw it”. That’s all I said to coach. He said the same thing back. From then on we threw the ball the majority of the time. We felt that we had the advantage in the passing game. So I kind of talked to him a little bit about it in the second half and then we both decided on it after the first drive in the second half.

On improving with his progression reads

I did very well. I think I had two missed progressions. One of the passes I threw to Willie I came off my receiver a little too quick. The other one was kind of hairy window thing where I moved from two to three too quick, but I still had a completion. So it wasn’t anything catastrophic. I just got to keep getting better and keep refining it because the two that I missed could have been 10+ yard plays.

On whether there is more emphasis on progressions

Yeah it definitely is. We would have progressions but they weren’t talked about in the same way as we talk about them now. They really run the offense. They run how we throw the football. I feel a lot more confident and a lot more comfortable in this new way.

On whether that was an adjustment for him

At first it was very different. Just because I’d never seen it, never learned it, never had to do it before. Now the more I do it obviously the more comfortable I become. I’m very comfortable with it now. It’s just repetition, repetition, repetition.

On whether there was an acclimation period on play calling

Obviously we game planned throughout the week, and talking through game plans and stuff like that (I) kind of had a good feel for what he was thinking. I think that’s just because the amount of time I’ve spent around it. Just trying to figure it out, trying to understand it. But yeah, we were kind of on the same page, I kind of knew what he was going to call. At one point in time we got on the headset and I knew exactly what his thoughts were for the next coming up possession. That’s how it’s supposed to be, that’s how you’re supposed to be able to understand each other.

On what worked on third downs

The preparation we did do. It wasn’t anything overwhelming it was just kind of knowing what they like to do defensively, and then we just going out there and making a play. A couple of them it was my 3rd progression dropping it off to Willie. I think we had a 3rd and 12 or something like that and I just threw a short five yarder out and let Willie run for a first down. It’s nothing major, just being disciplined.

On whether Tech has an advantage against Marshall in the passing game

With Marshall, they do multiple things. But I think we’re going to have to be balanced to beat Marshall. Obviously they’re a very good defensive team. Fifth in total defense, something like that. We’ve got to be able to run the football first of all. That’s very important. Then we’ve got to be able to drop back and throw it consistently. I’ve got to be accurate. I’ve got to be able to go through all my stuff, and at the same time those receivers got to be able to do their thing and paint the picture for me. Up front, block it up. Our running backs are running the ball hard. Then I think we’ll be just fine. We’ve just got to go out there and do what we do.

On Marshall DT Brandon Sparrow being from Lynchburg

Yeah I know, I played him for two years. I played him basketball as well. I think he started the last time I was up there. I saw him this past summer and talked to him a little bit. It was good to see him. Good to see a guy from my hometown having a lot of success. Wish him the best on every day except for this Saturday.

On the new camo helmets

I like them. I think Coach Ballein and the guys who picked it out did a great job with it. It’s for a good cause. Hopefully we look good and we play good.

On whether Willie Byrn gets lost in the defense

Well, last week he did a great job just doing what he was supposed to do. Like I said, the third and 12 or whatever, it was just dropped it off to him and let him run. We should have had the same thing happen earlier in the first quarter to, DJ but he got bumped and got off his route a little bit. I was forced to scramble and throw it away. Just a couple of small things like that. It’s not just Willie. It’s kind of just the way the game plan was, but for the underneath stuff he does a great job of knowing where he needs to be. That’s the type of person we’ve got to have in that situation. He caught two different plays basically. That’s just what we need out of the guy. He’s there you can always count on him to be where he’s supposed to be and then make the play.

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Tariq Edwards

On whether the Alabama game gave the defense confidence

Oh yeah, definitely. Starting out the first game of the season in such a tough game and the competition level that we had to play against, I think it gave us a good boost on what we needed to get started for the rest of the season.

On whether his leg still hurts

It’s been a progression. As the weeks go by it’s getting better and better. I’m constantly day to day. It’s getting to a point where I don’t really feel it at all.

On whether being sidelined last year gave him a different perspective

Yeah, sort of. It’s kind of different from the outside looking in. You become almost more of a fan or a coach. You notice different things, different people’s efforts and the leadership taking forth. That was one of the biggest things last year as far as leadership. Mainly we really had one senior leader and that was just Bruce Taylor. Of course for the offense it was Logan, and he’s doing the same now. But it was just a leadership issue.

On whether he’s applied that lesson to this year

Oh yeah, definitely. From every year that I’ve been here, just seeing how you have good leadership and then you see some that lack the effort from week to week. You’ve just got to show the younger guys and lead them in a positive direction.

On it being difficult to substitute because of the pace of Marshall’s offense

That’s possible. The expectation will probably be the same as far as practice. Just like we did last week versus ECU, running two different separate scout team offenses.

On how the defensive line helps the back seven

They play wonderful, aggressive; they don’t allow too much movement for the quarterback to get out of the pocket. I think they did a good job keeping the lineman off of the linebackers and the DBs.

On whether the turnovers are a credit to the defensive line

That was kind of a big deal for us. Being able to come in and at least getting three turnovers per game. Just so we could help out the offense. I think the defensive line has done a great job getting pressure on the quarterback and allowing us to do that.

On rewatching his sack of Shane Carden

I mean it’s been a long time since I’ve gotten to actually chase down a quarterback in a game. Looking at film I thought I looked pretty slow though.

On whether he actually thought he looked slow on that play

I just wanted to speed it up. I needed a sack.

On whether he was slow compared to how fast he was in 2011

Yeah, just the aspect that you want to maintain a certain speed. Just look fast. I stride all the time so it doesn’t look as fast as somebody else may think.

On rattling Rakeem Cato in 2011

Oh yeah, during that time he really did and I think that’s happened a lot as far as our defense. Just want to put pressure on the quarterback. Even the great ones, if you put as much pressure as we usually put on them, they’ll rattle. During that time he was very young. I think he’s probably gained more maturity and being able to compose himself in the pocket. So we still have to see this weekend.

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