’s Game Preview, Part 2

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For the second time in as many weeks the Cavaliers will face one of the
nation’s top three defenses.  Last week, it was Miami’s third best
defensive team and this week Virginia will face the country’s second best
overall unit in Bud Foster’s Hokies.  Tech is 20th against the run (97.2),
first in passing (133.8) defense, and leads the NCAA in scoring defense (10.2).
In other words, it may be another grind it out kind of day for the Hoos’

The Hokies have traditionally been a multiple-front, man-to-man coverage team
that relies on shutdown corners and attacking with seven or eight men around the
line of scrimmage. Foster has modified his scheme over the last few years and is
playing fewer multiple fronts, relying more on the front four to rush the passer
and shut down opposing running games. VT has gone to more zone coverages in
recent years, giving opponents the short-to-medium plays and waiting for them to
make mistakes against an opportunistic defense.

At its core, the Tech defense is built around highly athletic and speedy
defenders. Up front, defensive end Chris Ellis is a player that can wreak havoc
on an offense. He leads the team with 3.5 sacks, 15 quarterback pressures, and
is tied for second on the team with 7.5 tackles for loss. The other bookend is
Noland Burchette, who is second for the Hokies with 14 quarterback hurries and
tied for third with 6.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.  Though not as
productive, the interior tackles Carlton Powell and Barry Booker are just as
disruptive. The two redshirt junior linemen have combined for 12 tackles for
loss, four sacks, and 18 quarterback pressures.

Last year, Foster was able to contain the Virginia running game and pressure
the quarterback with his front four.  If that occurs again Saturday,
Virginia will be in for a rough afternoon.

I suspect initially that Foster will go back to what worked last season and
what has worked well for the Hokies recently, especially against Clemson and
Miami. That is to apply pressure with the four down linemen and drop the backers
into coverage and keep the safeties deep to protect against the higher
percentage post patterns and mid-range crossing routes. Look for Tech to align
the ends wide and pinch the pocket in order to prevent Virginia