Virginia Tech Linebackers: Skills, Schemes and Sales – Part 3

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Xavier Adibi
Xavier Adibi was drafted in 2008. He is the last Tech Backer to be selected in the NFL Draft.

Scheme and the Draft

Let’s wrap up this series by looking at the last big bugaboo: Tech’s defensive scheme. So digging into linebacker recruiting, Tech’s had problems getting top-tier talent, and we’ve had problems keeping depth up.  I think scheme hurts us some with the former, but shouldn’t be much of a factor with the latter.  Here’s why.

Tech’s scheme has never been an NFL-style duplicate under Foster.   Early on, putting 15.5 guys in the box on every play while having an inverted corner and the ball boy playing deep wasn’t a scheme with many contemporary NFL analogues, and Foster’s speed requirements often meant recruits would be playing in spots that they’d never be drafted in, e.g., linebackers playing at end, ends playing at tackle, tackles moved to offense.  Tech’s also used a unique verbiage set throughout the years, particularly with coverages.

But there are holes in just saying that there’s no common ground between Foster’s schemes and the NFL, largely because this idea of a monolithic NFL front is a myth.  At about the same time Tech began its ascendancy, the dominant NFL front was the Miami 4-3.  And that’s Miami as in the Hurricanes, not the Dolphins.  Jimmy Johnson built the defense to beat speed-option teams like Nebraska, then brought it with him to the NFL when he coached the Dallas Cowboys.  Tell me if this sounds familiar—the Miami 4-3 was an attacking single-gap scheme that valued speed and recognition above everything else.  The Tampa-2 had a lot of similarities to the