Virginia Tech Gets Back To Form Against Duke

Virginia Tech’s defense performed much better on Saturday night. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

Tech handily beat the Blue Devils behind a great passing game from Ryan Willis. Since there’s been plenty of talk about Willis and his success getting the ball to guys who then won their single-coverage matchups, I’m going to focus on some different spots.

Hokie Defense Plays Closer to Form

Tech’s defense largely rebounded from [REDACTED]. A few deep shots by the Devils should’ve been completed, but after that the Hokies were locked in. Big credit goes to CB Coach Brian Mitchell, who likely employed some grad-level psych to get his guys focused and confident; once the game was rolling a little bit, Caleb Farley, Bryce Watts, and Jovonn Quillen all made plays. They did better closing from deep zones on breaking routes, and when Duke went deep they were better at staying close to receivers and making the right play whether in- or out-of-phase. As a bonus, Watts had a nice break-up playing catch-man that was reminiscent of Adonis Alexander at his best. (Safety play was hit-or-miss, but I think the bad stuff is correctable.)

The corners also had help from the scheme. Everyone noticed the 30 look Coach Foster called frequently with base personnel on the field; the boundary defensive end on a given snap would align like an OLB and then drop into basically a corner’s Cover 2 “read” assignment, where he played the flat if threatened and squeezed deep if not.

ABOVE: Emmanuel Belmar spot drops from the 30 front to squeeze any breaking routes, then comes up on the swing pass.