Virginia Tech And Man-Under Coverage

Virginia Tech
Brent Pry will have a more experienced defense at Virginia Tech in 2023. (Brian Bishop)

This is normally the time of year where we dive into scouting all of the new Hokie signees. And we’ll get to that. I unexpectedly came across a nice clip of Man-Under defense a few weeks back, though. It reminded me that, thanks to the vagaries of sports broadcasting, I never had a chance to review one of the worst plays of last season, suffered in the Hokies’ loss to Georgia Tech.

The setup: with about five minutes left in the game, the Jackets are trailing by five and Mario Kendricks has landed a potential dagger of a sack. If GT’s going to win the game, they have to overcome a 3rd and 19.

At first, the Hokies roll out into a Cover-0 defense, something that even peak Bud Foster might’ve thought was a little too much. Pry rethinks things and calls a timeout. When the teams retake the field, the Jackets are in empty with trips to the wide side, and the Hokies have their nickel package out, with the underneath players pressed and the safeties very, very deep. And here we go:

At the snap, nearly every GT receiver goes deep, taking Hokie defenders with them. The exception is the left slot receiver, Nate McCollum*, who’s covered by Mansoor Delane. McCollum runs a shallow cross into a completely empty field. The Jackets have a clear plan. If the Hokies play zone, the QB looks to attack the overloaded deep right side of the field. If they play a fairly safe man coverage, the QB attacks the over route. Delane trails, but is a step slow to begin with, and then has to navigate around a referee. The Hokies are late to rally in support, and GT gets the first down.