Expectations are already starting to build for the Virginia Tech defense in 2013, as the Hokies return a majority of their starters and look to keep up the momentum they got going in the second half of last season.
What does defensive coordinator Bud Foster think of his group? I had a chance to ask him in a recent phone interview.
How do you feel you guys made it through the spring?
BF: All in all, I like our first unit. We started off last year a little shaky but I think it’s because we revamped our secondary. We gave up some big plays in the perimeter. They played much better in the second half of the season. I think that carried over into the spring. Playing with guys that have experience, they’re playing with a lot more confidence, especially on the back end. Our front kids have been pretty solid, our back kids last year were inconsistent but they played very well down the stretch.
It’s a fine line. That’s something we drove home with our kids this winter. Obviously 7-6 around here is not good enough but we were close to being the type of team we expect to be. I’m sure we won’t be picked to win the league this year, which is fine. It will be the first time in a while but that will give us the motivation and push these kids. I think they’ve really worked with a chip on their shoulder in our winter condition and through spring ball and they’ve got to work that way this summer.
So the results of last season have served as motivation?
BF: It’s a big part of it. Obviously around here we’re not satisfied as coaches. We have high expectations here but we don’t play. We’ve got to get the right guys on the field and those guys have to perform. We’ve got to be consistent in our performance. Last year we were inconsistent. I thought we were much better at the end of the year, especially defensively. I’m seeing that consistency on and off the field.
What questions do you have remaining about this group?
BF: Obviously we have to have a great summer. We’ve challenged those groups, our backup linebackers, the backup defensive tackle spot and then our backup secondary guys. We’re all even across the country right now in a lot of ways. We’ve had a great program here and we still feel like we have a great program. We’re going to challenge our kids, these next 60 days need to be an extension of spring ball as far as what their mindset is, their work ethic, film study. They’re going to have to do it on their own, getting out there doing pass drills and 7-on-7 and things of that nature. We’ve got to continue on the path that we left off with a couple days ago.
We’re obviously playing a dynamic program (in Alabama) and we’re excited about that opportunity. That challenge but we’ve got a long way to go to get to where we want to be. those kids are always a play away from being the next guy and they’ve got to prepare themselves that way.
Do you have a read yet on where this defense could be compared to some of the other great ones you’ve coached?
BF: You can ask me that at the end of the year. That’s what I always tell everybody. Last year, I don’t know who it was said we were going to be the most dynamic defense we ever had here, and that didn’t come from me, but I think it got to some of our kids’ heads and they thought they could show up and play and it didn’t happen. We were 7-6. We’ve got to go back and earn respect and show people we’re one of the premier programs in college football. That’s our attitude and demeanor right now. We’re going to approach this thing with a chip on our shoulder and I hope they approach the season that way with their work habits and work ethic every day. To be honest, we think athletically we have some really good kids. The big stat for me is the wins and losses, that’s the most important one. That will take care of itself if we play good defense. We just have to focus on what we can control and do it one play at a time.