Friday Q&A: September 9, 2011

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Virginia Tech’s defense seems to be improved. Why, and how much better are
they? Also, what do the Hokies need to do in the next three weeks to be prepared
for Clemson and Miami? All that and more in today’s Q&A.

1) What facet of VT football has changed the most since we got trucked by
Stanford that you saw materialize on-field against Appalachian State?

Chris Coleman: I suppose each person can take away something different
from each game. For me, it was the speed of the Virginia Tech defense that has
improved so much since last season. The Hokies are faster at nearly every
position on the defensive side of the ball.

J.R. Collins: an upgrade in athleticism over Chris Drager
James Gayle: a better overall athlete (particularly in strength) than Steven
Derrick Hopkins: doesn’t play as still as John Graves
Bruce Taylor: dropped 10 pounds and looks quicker
Telvion Clark and Tariq Edwards: major athletic upgrade over Lyndell Gibson
(have I ever mentioned that before?)
Eddie Whitley: better tackler, and better in coverage, than Davon Morgan
Antone Exum: can cover more ground at free safety than Eddie Whitley

Throw in guys like Jayron Hosley and Kyle Fuller, and you’ve got the makings
of a very fast defense. When Tech is in the nickel package, they bring in Cris
Hill, who is one of the fastest players on the team.

I suppose it’s not just the overall speed that is better. It’s the size and
strength of the defense that is better as well. Overall, it’s just a major
talent improvement across the board.

2) Phil Steele just said the Tech defense will rank in the top 10. Do you

CC: Based on Tech’s schedule, I think they have the potential to be a top
10 defense. The starting unit was definitely a top 10 defense against
Appalachian State. However, they did allow 297 yards in the game, which
currently ranks the Tech defense #42 in the country. Most of those yards were
allowed by the backup defense.

If the Hokies are blowing out a team in the second half, they are going to
put their young backups in the game on defense, and those players