Virginia Tech won a dramatic game over Pittsburgh
this past Saturday. However, that win came at a cost as Vinny Mihota and Mook Reynolds both suffered injuries late in the game. The status of Mook Reynolds is still unknown, but the Hokies received some unfortunate news today on Vinny Mihota.
Virginia Tech has announced that starting DE Vinny Mihota will be our for the season due to a left knee injury. Mihota will have surgery on it next week. Houshun Gaines is expected to start in Mihota's place for the rest of this season.
Mihota has been a reliable starting DE for the Hokies that may not have had a lot of big games, but has consistently done his job well and given VT some versatility along the defensive line. Mihota had 24 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks in 11 games this season after having 43 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks in 13 games last season.
Houshun Gaines has been receiving significant playing time over the past month and will be prepared to take on a starting role. In 10 games this season, Gaines has 16 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and 1 sack; and has become the Hokies' top backup that has allowed Bud Foster to use Mihota as a backup DT fairly regularly. Gaines has been productive for the Hokies recently and is beginning to look like the player who had a breakout spring in 2016.
While Gaines is a suitable replacement for Mihota, the Hokies' defensive line depth has gone from marginal to minimal. Gaines had been Virginia Tech's top backup with DT Jarrod Hewitt being the only other backup who has received somewhat significant playing time. Hewitt will now become VT's top backup DT and has shown flashes with 13 tackles and 2 tackles for loss, but will need to be more consistent in a more prominent role.
Belmar may be in for the largest increase in playing time as he was the fourth DE before this injury and played sparingly. Now, the relatively untested Belmar will be forced to step up as the Hokies' third DE and not cause any drop off between him and VT's starting pair of Gaines and Trevon Hill. In his limited reps, Belmar does have 4 tackles and 1 tackle for loss but was part of a backup defensive line that was a significant weakness early this season.
Virginia Tech won't suffer much if any drop-off with Gaines replacing Mihota as a starter, but there are some concerns about the Hokies' thin defensive line depth that just got thinner.
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