1) Are we thin at DT this year? I’m confident in Derrick Hopkins, Kris Harley, and Luther Maddy, but it drops off quick after that. Alston Smith and Nigel Williams both redshirted last year, but they’re obviously both question marks. Also, do you see us using some DE’s rushing from interior spots this year (like having Corey Marshall or JR Collins back at DT)?
Chris Coleman: Relatively speaking, when compared to the rest of college football, no. I don’t believe Virginia Tech will be thin at defensive tackle this season.
First and foremost, the Hokies have two proven starters in Derrick Hopkins and Luther Maddy. Those guys have proven to be very effective players. Hopkins had 51 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks in 2012. Maddy had 6.5 tackles for loss and four sacks despite fighting a bad ankle sprain for the first half of the season. I expect those guys will be a strength of the defense in 2013.
I agree that there are question marks when it comes to depth, but it’s the same way with most other teams. Kris Harley played a lot early in the season, and with another offseason under his belt, he should be ready to assume the role of Tech’s #3 defensive tackle this coming year. He has the talent, he just has to grow up as a football player.
Certainly there are other options to fill out the depth. J.R. Collins was used at defensive tackle towards the end of the season, and I think he can be effective at that position if he buys into it. Rising r-sophomore Justin Taylor is in the mix. Taylor is sort of a tweener, and I haven’t seen enough of him to form an opinion on his best position. Perhaps we’ll have a better idea after spring practice has concluded.
Nigel Williams and Alston Smith are definitely guys to keep an eye on. I was very impressed with Williams’ athletic ability when he enrolled, and I thought he had an outside chance of playing as a true freshman. However, he was injured when camp opened, and...
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