Inside The Numbers: Defensive Improvement And Cornerback Play

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Bud Foster, Virginia Tech
Bud Foster’s Virginia Tech defense is much improved this season. (Ivan Morozov)

We know that Virginia Tech’s defense has improved from 2018 to 2019, but exactly how much has it improved?  Sometimes simply looking at yards per game is the wrong way to go about it.  For example, the UNC game went six overtimes, and Notre Dame ran over 90 plays partly because the Tech offense struggled to pick up first downs.

Today we’ll look at some other metrics to see exactly how much the defense has improved.

Yards per Play

Notre Dame put up 442 yards of total offense against the Hokies, which seems like a lot.  However, they only averaged 4.9 yards per play, which would rank No. 113 in the country offensively if they did that for an entire season, just barely ahead of Georgia Tech and their 4.88 yards per game.  The Hokies played well defensively; they were just on the field for too many plays.

Here’s how Virginia Tech is faring in yards per play for the season, as compared to last year…

2019: 5.40 yards per play, No. 54 nationally
2018: 6.39 yards per play, No. 115 nationally

The Hokies have improved by pretty much a full yard per play since last season.