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   Welcome to TSLMail #344- Friday, August 22, 2008    
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   Tech Sports News

Tech's Defense Ready to Reload
by Chris Coleman,

Virginia Tech's defense has been outstanding since joining the ACC. The Hokies have finished no lower than fourth nationally in total defense since joining the conference. This year Tech has to replace a lot of excellent starters on the defensive side of the ball, but that is something they had to do a couple of years back as well.

First, if you want to know exactly how impressive Tech has been defensively over the last four years, here are the numbers.

Virginia Tech Defensive Stats
Year Rush Def. Pass Def. Total Def. Pass Eff. Def.
2004 21 4 4 7
2005 8 3 1 2
2006 11 1 1 2
2007 5 31 4 5
Average 11.25 9.75 2.5 4

Those are some very impressive numbers, particularly the pass defense, pass efficiency defense and total defense. Conventional wisdom would indicate that after losing Brandon Flowers, Xavier Adibi, Carlton Powell, Vince Hall, D.J. Parker and Vince Hall, the stats would drop off quite a bit this year.

However, the 2006 season proves that might not be the case. The Hokies are perfectly capable of reloading on the defensive side of the ball, if 2006 is any indication. Tech had a lot of senior defenders on the 2005 team. Check out the amount of talent that departed for the NFL off the defense following the 2005 season, and then compare it to what Tech lost following the 2007 season.

Defensive Attrition Comparison, 2006 to 2008
Players Replaced in 2006 Players Replaced in 2008
Name Position Draft Round Name Position Draft Round

Jimmy Williams

CB 2

Brandon Flowers

CB 2

Darryl Tapp

DE 2

Chris Ellis

DE 3

James Anderson

LB 3

Xavier Adibi

LB 4

Jonathan Lewis

DT 6

Carlton Powell

DT 5

Justin Hamilton

FS 7

Vince Hall


Tim Sandidge


Barry Booker



D.J. Parker


Virginia Tech had more defensive players drafted following the 2005 season than following the 2007 season. The 2007 team had a couple of more guys catch on as free agents, but overall, the losses were very similar.

Jimmy Williams was a Unanimous All-American pick at his boundary corner position. He was replaced by Brandon Flowers, who went on to become a better player than Williams. It's unfair to think that Stephan Virgil will be the next Brandon Flowers, but he has impressed defensive backs coach Torrian Gray so far.

Darryl Tapp was thought to be a big loss, and he certainly was a great player. However, Chris Ellis and Noland Burchette were very good in 2006. The Hokies just reloaded, and Ellis went on to become a third round pick.

Perhaps the biggest loss off of that 2005 team was whip linebacker James Anderson. Anderson was the best and most physically gifted whip the Hokies have ever had. He was replaced in 2006 by Brenden Hill, a former receiver who had never contributed anything previously. However, Hill was plugged right in by Bud Foster, and he had a very good season.

At defensive tackle, Tech lost two good starters in Jonathan Lewis and Tim Sandidge. They were replaced by Carlton Powell and Barry Booker, who became arguably a better duo than the guys they replaced.

Virginia Tech's recruiting has done nothing but get better since joining the ACC, and the defensive coaching staff is still intact. It stands to reason that the Hokies will be reloading on defense once again. No one is staying that they will finish #1 in the nation in total defense, but these guys are going to be pretty good, if you trust what Bud Foster has been saying.

The biggest question right now is defensive tackle. Powell and Booker developed into excellent defensive tackles. However, there were some growing pains with those guys early in the 2006 season, particularly Booker, as they adjusted to being starters. However, as the year progressed, they developed into very good players.

Don't expect a perfectly smooth transition with John Graves and Cordarrow Thompson this year, but I'm betting they will be pretty good before the year is over.

So if you're worried about the defense heading into this season, don't be. Bud Foster has shown that he can reload, and the program is a lot deeper than it used to be. Tech will field another quality defense in 2008. Pass - Your Ultimate Ticket to Hokie Sports!

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For more info on TechSideline Pass, and to subscribe, click here. Updates From the Past Week
Friday Football Q&A: August 22, 2008
August 22, 2008
In this week's Friday Q&A, Raleigh Hokie gives his takes on Tech's starting defensive tackles, as well as Billy Hite's rotation at tailback. He also discusses where Zach Luckett's loss will be felt the most.

Former Hylton Standout Keeping Busy
August 22, 2008
Expecting to arrive in Blacksburg on July 1st, former Hylton (Woodbridge, VA) star tight end Eric Martin admits he was "pretty upset" to learn that he would have to wait until January of 2009 to enroll at Virginia Tech. The 6-3, 240-pound prospect has gotten over the initial disappointment and has been creative in the way he is using his time.

Mackey Opens Up Recruitment
August 21, 2008
When the news came out that defensive end Leon Mackey would not be able to enroll at Virginia Tech until January of 2009, it was no surprise to see the talented prospect surface again at Hargrave Military Academy, the place where he attended his senior year of high school. The 6-5 1/2, 245-pound Mackey did have a surprise upon arriving at Hargrave, though.

Hargrave Notes: Good News, Bad News for Virginia Tech
August 20, 2008
Hargrave Military Academy boasts another top postgraduate football program. The team includes Virginia Tech 2008 signee Leon Mackey, who attended Hargrave last season, as well as top 2009 class target Kevin Newsome. Virginia Tech received positive news with one, but not so positive news with another.

2008 ACC Football Season Preview: Preseason All-ACC
August 20, 2008
TSL's 2008 season preview continues today with the Preseason All-ACC Team. The ACC has lost stars such as Matt Ryan, Brandon Flowers and Kenny Phillips, but as always there are talented players just waiting to take over.

TSL Audio: The Jerry Miller Show, 8/19/08
August 20, 2008
Yesterday, Jerry hyped Macho Harris' multiple talents (the word "Heisman" was thrown around) and wondered what Harris' role in the Tech offense will be this year. TSL's Chris Coleman joined via phone to talk it over, and to discuss Tech's receiving corps in general. The Jerry Miller Show appears on The Sports Addict Radio Network every afternoon from 1:00-3:00 pm in Blacksburg (1430 AM), Charlottesville (840 AM), and Bluefield (1050 AM), and from 2:00-4:00 in Martinsville (1160 AM) (WMA format, 3.0 MB, 13:02).

Pasut Changes Course, Sets Official Visits
August 20, 2008
A decision was expected to have already come from Ardrey Kell (Charlotte, N.C.) tight end recruit Zico Pasut. The 6-3, 234-pound senior, who has narrowed his list to East Carolina, Virginia Tech and West Virginia, has yet to decide, though, and likely won't be ready for another month or so.

2008 ACC Football Season Preview: Unit Rankings
August 19, 2008
Clemson is the popular pick to win the ACC this year, and they do have a lot of talent. However, when you rank each team at each position in the ACC, how do the Tigers stack up with everyone else? Despite losing so many quality players to the NFL, the Hokies are still near the top.

2008 Fall Practice Report: Week 2
August 18, 2008
Two scrimmages have taken place since last Monday's update. Performances in those scrimmages are starting to clear some positions up, while a DUI in downtown Blacksburg means more playing time for the freshmen at a critical offensive position. One scrimmage remains, and there is still time for players to make a push, but for the most part the two-deep is pretty much set.

Starting Receiver Zach Luckett Suspended
August 18, 2008
Virginia Tech's offense suffered a blow over the weekend, when starting wide receiver Zach Luckett was charged with a DUI, according to The Roanoke Times. He has been indefinitely suspended by head coach Frank Beamer, and the Hokies will have to find another starting flanker.

Hokies Ranked #17 in AP Poll
August 17, 2008
The first AP Poll was released on Friday, and the Hokies are one of three ACC teams ranked in the Top 25 by the sports writers. They are ranked #17 in the AP Poll, to go along with their #15 ranking in the Coaches' Poll.

Scrimmage Report: Quarterbacks Play Well, Boone Impresses
August 16, 2008
The Hokies completed scrimmage #2 on Saturday afternoon. The passing game was much sharper today, and the starting offensive line continued to show their vast improvement. Naturally, Bud Foster's defense showed up as well. Overall it was a very balanced scrimmage, with both the offense and defense looking good.
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