The following is a transcribed phone interview with Raleigh Hokie.
The defense really improved over the second half of the season. What are your general thoughts on how they improved, and what do you think about them going into next season?
I think Antone Exum is a lot better now than he was. He’s more consistent. He had to learn how to play certain techniques. He was getting caught doing some things, and he had to figure out what was allowed and what wasn’t. His improvement was a big part of the defense’s improvement. Bonner as well. He had some high highs and low lows there at the beginning. Getting that free safety spot nailed down is a key for the defense. The defensive line played better, and the linebackers played well all year.
Probably the one disappointment, because there were high expectations, is Kyle Fuller . I suspect that this year was a big year for him just trying to figure out how to play that corner spot. He was a nickel back or a whip linebacker last year. He played inside most of the time, over the slot. I think we all just thought that he was going to be a great cornerback and the cornerstone of the defense, but he gave up some big plays. He had some rough spots against Cincinnati and Florida State that basically allowed touchdowns.
We thought the defense was going to be a strength this year. The defensive line was a surprise in the beginning. There were a lot of good players coming back who didn’t play well at the beginning of the season. I don’t know if that’s a spring practice thing, or fall practice, or summer conditioning, or what it might have been, but they came out of the gates slow.
If that doesn’t happen again next year, you’ve...
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