Just like the offense, I thought the defense got off to a little bit of a slow start vs. WCU, the Brandon Facyson interception not withstanding.
I’m a little obsessive with defense, from the standpoint that I watch the defensive tackles to see what they’re doing. It’s as if I think the D-tackles are the key to the entire defense, and certainly they play a huge role in how effective a defense is. When the D-tackles are stuffing the run and blowing up the passing plays from the inside out, it’s hard to pick up yardage.
Just witness Auburn’s Nick Fairley dominating the line of scrimmage in the national title game a couple years ago. It’s hard to control Oregon’s offense, but having a penetrating tackle like Fairly goes a long way toward beating any offense, not just Oregon’s.
I thought it took starting tackles Derrick Hopkins and Luther Maddy awhile to get going in this one. Hopkins was credited with a tackle on WCU’s 16th play of the game, but his second tackle didn’t come until there was a minute to go in the first half. He had a strong second half, though, ending up as VT’s second-leading tackler with 8 stops, the most he has ever had against a team not named Georgia Tech. (D-tackle production goes way up when playing against Paul Johnson’s offense.)
Likewise, Maddy didn’t register a tackle until the second quarter — when he had two — and overall, he only had three on the day. But once the VT defense really got going, they shut WCU down. The Catamounts had six first downs at halftime, but only added two more in the second half.
There’s no question that the defense didn’t appear to be as fired up as they were against Alabama (not a big surprise). The Hokies played a good game — 162 yards given...
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