Spring Practice Review: The Defense

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Despite a number of talented players returning, Bud Foster’s defense still
had plenty of question marks this spring. Depth at defensive end was a concern,
and Foster also had to break in two new starters at inside linebacker. There was
also some shakeup at cornerback thanks to the departure of Macho Harris. Some of
those questions have been answered, while others are a work in progress.

The Hokies appear to be set at cornerback, as usual, and their starting
defensive line will be good. Linebackers Barquell Rivers and Jake Johnson should
be able to hold their own as well. However, when talking about depth on the
defensive line, the magic 8-ball says, “Ask again later.”

Defensive Line

Charley Wiles lost defensive end Orion Martin, a very good player who was
undervalued for his entire career at Tech. Other than that, the defensive line
returns intact. That might make it seem like the Hokies would have a deep
defensive line this year, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Defensive line depth last season was an issue as well, and it doesn’t appear
to have improved. Jason Worilds was out for the spring with an injury, and the
coaching staff was so concerned with defensive end depth that they moved John
Graves to end. He had a good spring at his new position, and it remains to be
seen if he’ll stay there or move back to defensive tackle.

Depth was hurt with the loss of r-junior Steven Friday to an elbow injury on
the first play of the first scrimmage. We don’t know if Friday has improved, but
he’s still too small, and he hasn’t gained any size from last season. Joe Jones
and Isaiah Hamlette don’t appear to be ready yet. If Graves moves back to
defensive tackle, the Hokies might only have two dependable defensive ends this
year: Jason Worilds and Nekos Brown.

Defensive tackle depth is better. Cordarrow Thompson is a proven player, and
Demetrius Taylor had a good spring. Kwamaine Battle and Antoine Hopkins improved
as the spring went along, and they still have room to improve before the