While Virginia Tech’s offense was a bit rusty during the team’s first spring practice Wednesday night, the defense shined, as expected.
Of course, when you’re bringing back nine starters from a group that ranked in the top 10 last season in total defense, you’re allowed to have high expectations.
“We were a good defense last year, but I want to be a great defense,” said defensive coordinator Bud Foster. “We want to be one of the best in the country, and that’s what our goal is. But, to do that, you’ve got to create some depth and have some depth up front.
“Obviously we have some holes to fill in the secondary. We’re banged up at linebacker, so we’re looking to create some depth there. Right now (we’re hoping to) improve and continue to go in the path we started last year.”
Here are a few defensive story lines to keep an eye on this spring:
Although the defense does bring back the majority of its starters, once you look at the two-deep roster, you start to realize how many young guys might see meaningful action this season.
“We have a good group of guys back on defense,” Foster said. “But still, we need to create some depth. I want to see us keep taking strides. We need to continue to develop our depth and get some of the young players to learn their positions and their expectations within the defense.”
For this spring, the team will be without starting defensive tackle Antoine Hopkins, who is still recovering from an ACL tear from last October, and starting backer Tariq Edwards, who had shin surgery earlier this month.
The team has also lost two valuable backup guys at linebacker, with Barquell Rivers’ graduation and Telvion Clark’s dismissal from the team.
Add that to Jayron Hosley’s early departure for the NFL, as well as Eddie Whitley and Cris Hill graduating, and now you’re looking at a much greener defense.
The area of least concern right now for Foster is his defensive line, where he brings back everyone on his two-deep, including Hopkins and his brother, Derrick, along with James Gayle, JR Collins, Tyrel Wilson, Zack McCray, Corey Marshall and Luther Maddy.
However, his other two units are in for an interesting spring.