NCF Nation: Demetrius Taylor
After losing six starters from last year’s 10-3 team, there are plenty of young players on the roster this year who will be expected to uphold that tradition this fall.
“We make sure right up front, we want them to know we’ve got a tradition here, an expectation here, and those expectations aren’t going to change,” Foster said. “They’ve got to come up to our level, and the thing about us here, defense is king. As good as we’ve been, we also went through a stretch there where we won 10 or 11 games with 100th-ranked offense. I want them to know we’ve won games around here just by playing great defense, and that’s not going to change. It’s their responsibility to carry the torch, so to speak.”
“We know what it takes,” Foster said. “We’ve been doing it a long time and we’ve had a lot of success. We’ve got the formula for success here, at least I think we’ve got it cornered a little bit. It’s just getting the kids to understand that’s what our expectations are, and you’ve got a certain responsibility to live up to those expectations, and understand this is what it’s going to take for you to be successful, for you to be on the field, your work ethic and how we want you to do certain things a certain way.”
The older players on the team, like boundary corner Rashad Carmichael, take seriously their role in ushering the younger players along.
“It goes back to recruiting and us guys on that defense trying to build a brotherhood more than anything,” Carmichael said. “That’s the kind of player I am. If you put it on the line for your brother, then the game will go a little bit easier. It just feels great when you can look to the left and the right and see guys who are ready. A lot of teams on this level don’t have that chemistry. It’s more of a family here. I’m confident.”
The defensive line, particularly the defensive tackles, is the biggest question mark. Virginia Tech has to replace three of four starters and talented backup tackle Demetrius Taylor. Veteran tackle John Graves returns as the lone starter, and he is expected to be the leader of the entire defense, not just the line. Antoine Hopkins should be the starter opposite Graves, but the staff needs to find quality depth on the interior.
Despite the loss of Cody Grimm, Foster said he is confident in his linebackers, a group that progressed as the year went along, but there will be some competition in the secondary, particularly at safety where Kam Chancellor was the anchor. Free safety is the position that does most of the communication and checks, so he’ll need a leader there. Foster will look at junior Eddie Whitley, and sophomore Antone Exum, a highly recruited player, among others.
Foster doesn’t have much time to prepare the younger players for their Labor Day matchup against Boise State, which will again have one of the most productive offenses in the country. Then again, it’s not like Foster hasn’t had to reload before.
“We’re inexperienced, we’re going to be very inexperienced on the defensive side of the ball,” Foster said. “But at the same time, that’s not a bad thing. I think we’re going to have a good mix of guys who have played. We’ve got a good mix of guys who are leaders, and at the same time we have some young, hungry guys. Sometimes that can really be even better for you than maybe having a bunch of guys come back who think they’re going to be pretty good. I kind of like that challenge a little bit more sometimes. We’ve had some of our best years when people thought we weren’t going to be as good.”
Usually in their best years, though, defense was king.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Plenty of spring games = plenty of links. Here we go around the ACC:
Some wonder if teams will be able to defend Georgia Tech better after having seen it once. Well, don't forget that Georgia Tech is likely to be better at executing it, too.
If anyone knows how to defend that offense, though, it's Jim Grobe, and he was a bit surprised by how well his young defense has played this spring.
Demetrius Taylor's hard work finally seems to have paid off at Virginia Tech -- as one of the smallest starting defensive tackles the Hokies have had "in the modern era," according to Kyle Tucker of the Virginian Pilot.
NC State is in great shape at quarterback, but protecting them appears to be another matter.
Duke's quarterbacks were also looking good, and the offense was better than it was a year ago.
Here's a name to remember: Virginia receiver Matt Snyder.
"This isn't the last time his uniform will be dirty," coach Al Groh told reporters after the Cavaliers' spring game on Saturday.