Last week, we took a look at the offensive coaching staff and what challenges might face them during spring practice and going into the fall. Let’s now take a look at the defensive side of the ball.
The defensive coordinator is the well-known and respected Bud Foster who is also the Hokies’ associate head coach.
Foster has several challenges facing him but in general, the defensive unit should be stout again this year. The main focus that Foster will have this spring is replacing the loss of Chuck Clark. Clark was a leader on defense last year, and the Hokies are relatively thin at the defensive back position. However, with the budding relationship between Foster and Fuente, it feels like the defense is poised to return to the top in the upcoming seasons.
Foster is also the linebackers coach, and has the help of Andrew Motuapuaka to lead the defense. Motuapuaka has said that he is hoping to fill the leadership role that was left empty by Clark. As far as linebackers go, Motuapuaka has the skills to be the anchor for the defense.
I am expecting him to continue to improve on the progress he made last season, and be yet another linebacker to fulfill the cliché “Foster defense” player mold. After Motuapuaka and Tremaine Edmunds though, the roster is thin in this position. I’ll be looking for Dylan Rivers to make an early impact for this football team as true freshman.
Virginia Tech is known for its secondary, and I don’t expect that to change this year under the coaching of Brian Mitchell (cornerbacks) and Galen Scott (safeties). Mitchell will be faced with the challenge of balancing a very talented defensive back group. Brandon Facyson, Mook Reynolds, Greg Stroman, and Adonis Alexander all return after a very successful season.
Scott is also an associate head coach, so he’ll be helping with other aspects of the team, but he has a complement of skill to work with. Terrell Edmunds and Deon Newsome both return this season, along with Devon Hunter coming in. Hokie fans are anxiously anticipating the arrival of Hunter, and rightfully so.
However, I’m not sure how much playing time to see him get this season. He could be good enough to step right on the field, but I’m not sure whether it would be deep in the secondary or more around the line. It’ll be interesting to see how the coaching staff implements one of the best players to arrive at Virginia Tech in a long time.
The defensive line is one of the most mixed bag groups on this team. Charley Wiles has a challenge facing him, but I have complete faith in the coaching staff to get it figured out. Tim Settle and Ricky Walker both return for the team, rocking low numbers on the line (Settle will be wearing 4 and Walker with 8). They will anchor the line, but after them there are lots of question marks on the outside.
Vinny Mihota and Trevon Hill should be at full strength by the fall, but both are sitting out the spring practices after picking up late-season injuries. The Hokies have Robert Porcher IV coming in, but it’s unclear how much he will contribute to the defensive line this season. My sleeper from this group is Jarrod Hewitt. I expect him to be the 3rd defensive tackle for this team behind Settle and Walker. Because of the physical beating that those two can provide, Hewitt can come in as a substitute and be successful. He needs to progress this spring, however, it’s looked like he hasn’t been playing to his full potential yet.
Overall, this defensive unit has a very interesting makeup. At some positions, there is lots of depth and experience. At others, it’s a thin margin for error and could pose potential issues. However, given this coaching staff didn’t lose anyone over the offseason and how they have proven to have successful chemistry, I expect the defensive side of the ball to be quite proficient in the fall.