Virginia Tech’s run protection is struggling
The Hokies have played at times this season without starting the safety of Divine Deablo and her top four defenders. They were unable to use the numbers required to constantly stop the run of the ball in front of them.
“We’re trying to protect certain positions by calling things a little differently,” Fuente said Monday during a Zoom call to the media. “We just don’t have as many people in the box as we traditionally do, and that depends on a lot of things that I’m sure you can all find out.
“We have to be ready to give up a few yards to get the ball down, hopefully to try to prevent the big games that can sometimes be played at the back.”
Virginia Tech is 11th of 15 teams in the ACC in rapid defense, allowing 194.6 yards per game. It’s the lowest rank in the category for a team with a winning conference record after the Hokies surrendered 206 rushing yards in a loss to Wake Forest (23-16) in Winston-Salem, NC last weekend
Deficits in run defense took shape on the demon deacons’ first voyage when Christian Beal-Smith burst through a gaping hole on the left on the third and first stretch – the result of a missed mission – and rover chased Devin Taylor 58 yards earlier got him out of hand on the 25th.
Wake Forest took the lead for a good four games later on Sam Hartman’s 9-yard touchdown to open the standings. It was the second quarterback’s first quick touchdown of the season, ending 13 yards on 11 carry.
“We were just a little out of our gaps in the first half, missing tackles and things like that,” said Rayshard Ashby, Virginia Tech senior linebacker, who selected the second team’s All-ACC last year. “The game plan has remained the same. They made minor adjustments. It was just up to us to get better. ”
The Hokies scored a second touchdown 91 seconds ahead in the first half on a 75-yard drive in which Wake Forest played 11 of 17 games limited by Kenneth Walker III’s six-yard run. The runner-up, running back in the second year, turned fourth down and down twice while in possession, including winning 11 yards on the first such carry.
Virginia Tech allowed the Demon Deacons to amass their fastest yards against an ACC opponent that season, with Beal-Smith finishing 129 yards over 13 runs.
Three weeks ago, the Hokies surrendered 399 rushing yards to North Carolina in 15th place, including 214 and 169, to run down Michael Carter and Javonte Williams on their way to a 56-45 loss at Chapel Hill, NC, in the U.S. First year defensive coordinator Justin Hamilton trained personally.
“I feel good about our knowledge of what we are trying to achieve, the ability to diagnose what we are achieving and tweaking it or changing it to give us the best chance,” said Fuente. “You, not just J-Ham, but everyone [the coaches], clearly see what’s going on and make it clear to the players. ”
Reinforcements are on their way as Fuente announces the end of the defensive. TyJuan Garbutt has rejoined the team and trained but is unlikely to play Louisville. The Redshirt junior started 11 games last year but retired from football in August to attend to a family matter, according to Fuente.
DaShawn Crawford, who played eleven games last season, is also working his way back from an unknown illness to the regular rotation. Crawford has missed two games this season, taking less than two dozen snapshots.
“I know I can do anything,” said Crawford of how he is physically. “I know I can do it. It’s the zone of trust for me. I have to gain trust, and once that trust comes back it’s normal again. ”