Thursday, April 02, 2009

Question Three: Defense

What position do you think is most important to the Hokies on the defensive side of the ball this spring? Are there any young players who will step up during spring on that side of the ball?

MadJay responds:

Most folks are saying the linebacker position but that is not correct. Yes the two new linebackers are important, but we all know Coach Foster is going to have Jake Johnson and Barquell Rivers ready to get after it by the time fall rolls around and frankly, while there is a drop in experience, those two are an upgrade in talent from last year. The real answer for most important position this spring is field corner. Stephan Virgil moves over to boundary corner to fill the spot vacated by Macho Harris and we all know Virgil is a star. But field corner is being battled out between Rock Carmichael, Cris Hill and Eddie Whitley. Carmichael is the least talented of the 3, but has the most experience. Hill has all the physical tools but hasn't been able to put it together mentally and Whitley is one of those kids who "gets it" but is probably half a step slower than the other two. My guess is that Whitley ends up backing up Virgil at boundary, but someone is going to have to step-up between Hill and Carmichael and own that field corner position. The reason this is the most important is because the Hokies excel at making teams one-dimensional and then shutting them down. If you don't have the wide side of the field covered with a great field corner, you can't cheat your safety/rover up into run support and it's difficult to make an opponent one-dimensional. Also, teams will shy away from Virgil who tied for 8th in the nation last year with 6 picks. The key question for the defense this spring is if they can uncover another star at field corner.

EhhTee responds:

Well the loss of Orion Martin is gonna be big. TSL is reporting a list of position changes and John Graves will be moving over from tackle to end. Purnell Sturdivant at backer is another key loss. However, I'm going to say that the Hokies will struggle where they've historically struggled: the secondary. The absolute biggest loss the Hokies will have to replace at any position, offense or defense, will be that of Mr Victor Harris. Not only, was he an amazing corner, but his leadership on defense is irreplaceable. Stephan Virgil can and will be an amazing corner and he will move from field corner to boundary corner leaving what could be a big hole at FC. The FC role will be competed for by a number of players. This is the position to watch as practice continues.

Where's The Ice responds:

Cornerback, cornerback, cornerback! Filling Victor "Macho" Harris' shoes are a big pair of shoes to fill. Somebody has to step up and play his role in two respects, although the same player may not fill both roles. Obviously, Harris was a fantastic corner, but defensive coordinator Bud Foster knows how to identify talent, and he knows how to shape it. By three games into the season or less, there will be no question in the eyes of Hokie fans who's evolving into the mold of Macho Harris' position. The other role that somebody needs to fill is that of on-the-field leader. Harris' personality and gusto for the game made him naturally suited to that role, and his fellow teammates viewed him that way. Every squad needs an on the field leader, and out of training camp somebody needs to assertively take that role in such a manner that the other 10 players on the squad respect him and recognize him in that mold. How this will develop is a hard thing to predict and upon which to speculate, but let me just say that I have confidence that somebody will naturally grow into this role 1/4 the way through the season. If we lose one of our big games early, it'll be very apparent who this player is in the games shortly thereafter.

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