“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Aristotle’s quote could not be more true for Virginia Tech linebackers Jack Tyler, Tariq Edwards and Josh Trimble, as they continue to shut down every offense they face.
When the trio first debuted in the season opener many could chalk up their dominating performance to the atmosphere of the Georgia Dome or the hype around the first game.
But after yet another outstanding weekend against Western Carolina, the three have proved to be force to be reckoned with.
“Against teams like this (Western Carolina) Coach Foster instills in us we should dominate teams like this,” Tyler said. “That was our goal, to dominate. We wanted to get the goose egg; quite frankly we wanted to not let them cross midfield. When we play teams like this that’s just what we expect.”
In the first two games of the season, the defense has held opponents to 187 total yards, with their opponents gaining an average of 3.2 yards per play.
They held top ranked Alabama to only 212 total yards offensively, Alabama’s second fewest total yards since Nick Saban became the head coach.
With such a dominating performance in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff game, many were afraid that the team would fall flat facing a lower-caliber team in the second week as it has in previous seasons.
However, that was not the case. Once again, the defense came storming out of the gate, scoring the first touchdown of the game, and held Western Carolina to only 162 total offensive yards.
“(Coach) Foster said that we played well against Alabama and we couldn’t fall off like we did last year against GT,” Tyler said. “We have to keep getting better every day, improving week by week. (Foster) wanted the leadership to take control and make sure it happens. We made good steps the first two weeks and now we just have to keep getting better and better.”
Tyler, Edwards, and Trimble have all experienced the uncertainty of the Hokies' defense in the past two years.
After sneaking by Georgia Tech last year in the first week and then falling flat in their first road trip in Pittsburgh, the guys know they have a lot to prove in the upcoming weeks.
“I think his (Foster) expectations are so high—and they were last year—we saw that expectations don’t mean anything—we have to prove ourselves, and prove that we are a good defense” Tyler said. “Going into this year we had high expectations and we want to live up to them. He is being hard but he knows we are a senior leading group and we can do more than the younger guys can do because we have experience. “
Defensive Coordinator Bud Foster believes that the defense has grown in awareness and experience in its first two games. The Hokies were able to hold the Catamounts to 50 less yards than they held the Crimson Tide.
Much of that credit can be attributed to Tyler, who led the Hokies on defense with 11 tackles against Western Carolina. With the 11 this past weekend Tyler now has a total of 19 tackles on the year, including a sack on Alabama’s quarterback A.J. McCarron for a loss of six yards.
But Tyler can’t do his job without his partners in crime Edwards and Trimble. Edwards has contributed 11 tackles this season including a quarterback hurry up against Western Carolina. Trimble has put up six tackles so far and a tackle for a loss against Alabama.
For this weekend, the team will have to be on its top game since Eastern Carolina’s offense is averaging 397 yards per game and their quarterback has a 78% completion rate in the first two games of the season.
“We can’t let them have success running the football,” Foster said. “The run sets up the pass—we have to keep them one dimensional.”
Will history repeat itself as it did last year in week three when the team took its first road trip or will Tyler, Edwards and Trimble continue to prove that excellence has become their habit? Here’s hoping Aristotle got it right.