We continue our buildup for spring practice with our first Q&A with
football expert Raleigh Hokie. Raleigh talks about Jake Johnson moving to
defensive end, how the whip and rover positions might shake out, and the
candidates to take over at left tackle. He also discusses Tech’s backup quarterback situation.
1) What do you think about the Jake Johnson move to defense end?
Raleigh Hokie: Personally, I like the move. Johnson struggled with
some of the mental aspects of playing the Backer position, particularly
adjusting to formation shifts and motion. He is very strong which should serve
him well in the move to the DE spot. He will have to get used to playing with
his hand in the dirt, but the position is simpler mentally so he will be able to
play without having to think as much. He will have to get a little bit bigger,
but I do not see that as an issue. With a few more pounds Johnson will be
similar in size to Nekos Brown, a player that successfully made the transition
from LB to DE.
Johnson is strong enough and athletic enough to play on either side, but my
guess is that he will start out at the End spot, backing up Chris Drager. The
End plays on the boundary side of the field — same as the Backer. Johnson is
used to playing on the short side of the field so that part of the adjustment
should be relatively easy for him.
2) Right now there is only one player, Davon Morgan, listed on the roster
at rover. There is a chance he could see time at free safety, since he is the
most experienced player the Hokies have in the back end of the secondary. How
could the rover position potentially shake out this year?
RH: Given the way the defense is structured, the first priority is to
settle the free safety position. Bud Foster has to make sure he has that spot
settled with a player that he can trust. With the advancements of the passing
game at the college level, the free safety in VT’s defense has to perform at a
high level — physically he has to a solid run defender as well as cover a lot
of ground in pass coverage. Mentally he has to be able to make all of the
pre-snap coverage calls and adjustments.
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