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Opponent Breakdown: Virginia Tech Hokies Defense

Virginia Tech has a new Defensive Coordinator for the first time in decades.

NCAA Football: Rhode Island at Virginia Tech Lee Luther Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Bud Foster retired from coaching after leading the Virginia Tech defense for 24 years. He left the job to Justin Hamilton who played under him early in his time at Tech. Hamilton has a couple of years of experience as a Defensive Coordinator at the Division II level but outside of his one year coaching he Safeties in 2019, he hadn’t had any experience at the FBS level. The defense has struggled so far this year with some fans being vocal with their frustrations.

The Hokies have had lots of issues with players missing games due to Covid rules so it’s pretty hard to track which players are their key guys. With that being said, the Defensive Line has been pretty solid even with guys all over the defense missing games. This group has forced a lot of negative plays so far this year and they get after the Quarterback pretty well. Amare Barno is the guy putting up the best numbers but they don’t have that second guy that has consistently made plays for them.

Linebacker is the best group for this defense, in my opinion. Rayshard Ashby had 120 tackles and 17 tackles for loss last season but he hasn’t been able to make as many plays this season. He’s still a very talented player and he could be a key for Tech against UofL’s zone running scheme. He can get through gaps and get into the backfield very well. Dax Hollifield plays the Outside Linebacker spot but both line up inside the tackles pretty regularly. Hollifield is an impressive player but he has been sharing time with Alan Tisdale this year. Both have racked up a lot of tackles but neither has been able to make those impact plays you need from your Linebackers.

The secondary is the area that’s been hit hardest by players missing games so it’s a bit hard to know who we will see on Saturday when the game starts. Jermaine Waller has only played in one game this year but he is the top Cornerback on the team. Divine Deablo not only has the best name for a Safety ever but he has played in the last two games after missing two earlier this year. Deablo is a jumbo Safety who can cover a lot of ground. He is going to be key if UofL gets the aggressive looks that FSU gave them last week.

Chumarri Conner is the leading tackler on the team from his Nickelback spot. The secondary hasn’t made many plays in coverage but Dorain Strong has four PBUs in place of Waller and Brion Murray has two interceptions at the other corner spot. Devin Taylor is likely to be the other Defensive Back we see in the game. Though they’ve had guys missing this year, the guys who have played at least have experience playing now. UofL should still be able to take advantage.