GT Reflections: Unsung Players Step Up

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Any time you put this many unproven players to the test in a big game, and they come through for you, it’s a reason to celebrate.

That’s my big “takeaway”, as they say, from this game. On the defensive side of the ball, most of the talent was well known, but on the offensive side of the ball, not so much, and the Hokies were fortunate to get numerous contributions from guys who were unknown and untested prior to Monday night.

This doesn’t mean this team has arrived, or more accurately, this doesn’t mean that the offense and special teams have arrived. The defense pulled into the station a long time ago, but the other units, though they’re making good time, are still out on the road.

It’s always a good thing when you can take a lot of young players into a big game, learn a lot about them, make some big plays, and win, all at the same time. You can question some things that went on during the game, and you can identify some areas for improvement, but you’ve got to be happy with the result. I am.

Enough cheerleading and philosophizing. Let’s jump right in.

The Defense

Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way first. The defense was great.

I rolled my eyes when I heard Jesse Palmer say on game day on College Football Live that this defense had the potential to be Bud Foster’s best in his 26 years in Blacksburg. (Bud’s only been the defensive coordinator since 1995, but I won’t nitpick about that.)

Bud’s had two #1 defenses in his tenure, a #2 defense, a #3 defense, and two #4 defenses. That’s very tall cotton. Yes, this defense is good, but it doesn’t have all its tools due to injury, and it’s thin in the secondary. A few injuries here and there could reduce it to just another “good” Bud Foster defense, another ho-hum top-ten unit.

And as deep as this defensive line is, it doesn’t have a barn-burning game-changer like Cornell Brown or Corey Moore on it … maybe. I’ll address that more later.

In Monday night’s Stat Pack, I detailed how the defense held Georgia Tech under 200 yards rushing for the first time under Paul Johnson, and limited the Jackets to 3.5 yards per carry. A huge component