Defensive Line: The Backbone of the Team

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Between now and the start of the season, there will be plenty of talk about Virginia Tech’s question marks and weaknesses.  The defensive line will not be part of those conversations.

Charley Wiles returns his entire starting lineup from the 2012 season, and loses only backup defensive tackle Antoine Hopkins.  His two biggest challenges this spring will be getting his tweeners in the right position, and figuring out a way to split reps among so many scholarship players.

Get Guys in the Right Position

According to the roster, Virginia Tech has 11 scholarship players at defensive end.  They have six scholarship players at defensive tackle, including two r-freshmen and a true freshman.  I think it’s safe to assume that at least one of those defensive ends will be getting reps at defensive tackle this spring.

I see several different candidates for that move.

J.R. Collins (6-2, 261, r-Sr.): Collins played both end and tackle for the Hokies last year, and his numbers dropped.  He had 6.5 tackles for loss and five sacks as a freshman, and 9.5 TFL and six sacks as a sophomore.  As a junior, those numbers plummeted to six TFL and 1.5 sacks.  Collins is a good player, he just needs to bring it on every play.  If he does get moved inside, he needs to embrace it as being the best move for the team.  It might not be the position he’s best suited for, but it might be the position where he’s needed most.

Corey Marshall .

Corey Marshall (6-1, 267, Jr.): Marshall played defensive tackle as a freshman in 2011, and end as a sophomore in 2012.  I thought his quickness made him more of a disruptive force at defensive tackle, and the numbers support that.  He had three sacks in 2011, and just 1.5 last season.  However, he was