How Good Can This Defense Be?

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Virginia Tech’s defense is expected to be one of the best in the country in 2012.  How good can they actually be?

Warning: this is one of those articles that asks a question, but it doesn’t provide an answer.  We can look at the numbers all day and compare them to previous seasons, but even after 2012 is over, it will be a matter of opinion on how this defense stacks up to past great defenses.

How do you judge a defense?  By comparing stats?  Who passes the eye test most impressively?  Level of competition?  All of that, I think.

This article is going to focus on the 2012 defense and compare it to the 1995, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2010 defenses.  What do they have in common, and what do they not have in common?

First of all, it’s going to be hard to compare the pre-ACC era with the post-ACC era for a couple of reasons.

1: Bud Foster changed his defensive scheme before the 2004 season.  The philosophies are the same, but the scheme is different.

2: Offenses in the 1990s were easier to defend.  This is just my opinion.  There was less spread, passing trees were not as advanced, and the I-formation was still the prevalent formation in college football.  As a defensive player, you didn’t have to think as much. The rise of the spread offense forced Bud Foster’s defensive change pre-2004.

That being said, the two different eras are still tied together by one fact: each year Tech has been dominant on defense, they have had a dominant defensive line.

Pitching a Fit

Luther Maddy and Derrick Hopkins can “pitch a fit”.

Defensive success for Virginia Tech – or for any defense – depends on getting disruption at the line of scrimmage.  If a defense penetrates into the backfield – even if they don’t make the tackle – they disrupt timing.  Charley Wiles wants guys up front