Defenses (VT) -
I’ll lead w/ VT here to transition off the above comment. Here’s what Foster had to say this week about the VT D that has to replace so many starters that people in the media are skeptical.
ON HIS IMPRESSIONS OF THE STARTING DEFENSE AFTER TODAY, DESPITE THE SECOND TEAM’S STRUGGLES: “I’m pleased with our first team. Gave up six points. A kid kicked a 54-yard field goal, then they got the ball on the 35-yard line and kicked a field goal. I feel good about our first group. I really do. I do. I told our kids after practice, ‘If we’ve got to play with 11, we’ll play with 11.’ That’s why there’s a first and second team. So I feel good about our first unit. There’s about four or five guys (on the second team) that I feel very good about. There’s about four or five that are about 60-40, playing for us and the other team. That’s not good enough. At this level, if you’re not being consistently good on defense, you’ll get exploited. And that’s why we’ve been good over the years, because we perform consistently well on a regular basis. Right now, the second group, they’re not always the most disciplined group right now.”
He’s more or less saying that he’s cemented the 1’s, and now is working on cementing all of the 2’s. Not a scenerio being played out in the media, but what more could the man have proven the last decade? This isn’t his first rodeo or retool job, and it sounds like to me below that he’s got his arms around what Boise likes and wants to do on offense. Either way he’s the in-game adjustment master, so even if they come up with a new wrinkle, they’ll need to adust that to his adjustment. His ability to do this is no small reason why VT has had such a successful defense the last decade. We’ll find out how good Boise is at counter-punching pretty quickly.
What most in the media don’t realize either, is that at least all or most of the positions are being taken over by people that are either physically superior or gonna be better football players. VT has simply continued to recruit better, just like the offense suddenly being loaded. Foster has said he expects FS, Field CB and MLB to be upgraded immediately. So you can see why a knowledgable VT fan wouldn’t be making much fuss over this being our biggest “problem”. Again, good problem to have imo. X factor for VT D is Gregg Williams (Chase Williams’ his son, freshman VT LB), Saints DC’s spent a good bit of time w/ Foster this offseason, teaching each other new blitz schemes. I expect to see some that BSU hasn’t seen on film yet fwiw Monday night.
One more angle is what VT’s dline coach Charlie Wiles has to say. He’s right, they haven’t been behind much and that matters a lot to me.
ON HOW HARD IT IS TO SACK BOISE STATE’S QB: “I don’t know how much they were ever behind, having to throw the ball to win. That’s a factor. Knowing it’s pass, we can rush the passer. But on those either/or downs, or first-and-10 downs, it’s a shell that looks like run to you. They’re running the ball and then you get all the play-action stuff. It’s hard to get a good pass rush on play-action. You’re thinking (about) jumping around a guy and swinging your arms and trying to beat a guy on a pass rush, versus being sound technique on a run block. So all the sudden now you’re high. You’ve got to play one or the other. (Boise) had that advantage of scoring 42 points a game, (ranked) 14th in defense, so they played ahead a lot. They never were like, ‘Oh, shoot, we’ve got to throw it to win it.’ It was never that. They won 14. It had a lot to do with that.”
ON TECH’S OBJECTIVES, THEN: “Stop the run. They’re going to try to play-action you, run the ball and do what they do. But hopefully you get them behind and then let’s see how good their front is. Let’s see if they can hold up then. That’s how I see it. They’ve got a great football team. They won 14 games and they didn’t play from behind. I’m trying to think what game ... maybe Fresno they were in a tight one. And Tulsa was pretty tight. But in the bowl game, they kind of controlled the tempo. They do a nice job. The quarterback is really very nifty. He’s not like Tyrod, but he just kind of gets away, buys time by maybe deepening up and gets rid of the football. Matt Ryan-like. Hey, 39 touchdowns, three picks, five sacks. That’s 14-0, brother. That’s what that equals.” (Defenses BSU) -
Actually the strength of the BSU team, despite what the media says. BSU’s D has been dominating their O all spring/summer...It's nearing the end of August, and we still haven't talked about Boise State very much. The Broncos have had a couple of scrimmages of their own and are getting excited to play the Hokies. Today's article focuses on those scrimmages, as well as a Boise State running game that could decide the outcome of the season opener.
Boise's Defense Dominant
If you aren't a close observer of Boise State,you might think that it's their offense that gets the Broncos so many wins. At first glance you would be right, as Boise finished first in the country in scoring offense in 2009. But I've been saying since the spring, and I'm saying it again now, the Bronco defense is better, and it might not be particularly close.
Let's take a moment to look at Boise State's intrasquad scrimmages. In every recent example I could find, going back to the spring, Boise's defense has flat out dominated their offense. Back in March, the Bronco offense had six consecutive three-and-outs in a scrimmage, including three by the first team offense. Quarterback Kellen Moore was just 5-of-12 for 15 yards that day.
Fast forward to August, and we're seeing more of the same. In Boise State's first scrimmage of the month, the offense had 31 carries for zero yards. Yes, zero. The Boise defense dominated the offense in the trenches.
In this past Saturday's scrimmage, the defense dominated yet again. The offense did not score until the ball was placed at the 25 yard line for redzone work. Defensive end Shea McClellin had four sacks all by himself, and the Boise offense was shut down despite the fact that the defense was missing five starters due to injury.
Kellen Moore was 8-of-12 for 44 yards, and the offense found things to be very tough against the Boise defense.
Sure, defenses are generally ahead of offenses at this point in the year, and we don't know exactly how the Broncos run their scrimmages. But to shut down the Boise offense like that defense has been doing, while missing five starters to boot, is impressive.
So if Boise State can't move the ball on a defense that is missing five starters, how were they able to put up such huge offensive numbers last year? Simple: defenses in the WAC stink. Average rank was 81.31.
Bad, putrid, awful. Those words accurately reflect the caliber of defenses that Boise State faced for most of last season. Take out the Fiesta Bowl against TCU, and that average drops to 88. When Louisiana Tech has the third toughest defense that you face all year, then you aren't exactly playing the who's who of college football.
On the two occasions Boise State did face a defense with an actual pulse, things didn't go very well. They put up 361 yards against Oregon, but that's because they had the ball for 42 minutes. (Oregon's offense only picked up seven first downs against that stout Boise defense.) The Broncos only averaged 2.8 yards per carry against Oregon, and just 2.4 against TCU (to go along with just 317 total yards). Considering they had zero yards on 31 carries in a recent scrimmage, we have to conclude that Boise State doesn't have much of a running game when they play an opposing defense that can actually get off blocks and run to the football.
Boise State wins football games with their defense. They beat Oregon and won the Fiesta Bowl against TCU because their defense was dominant, holding the Ducks to nine points and TCU to 10. The defense also scored a touchdown on an interception return against the Horned Frogs.
Think Boise State head coach Chris Peterson is a little worried about the Hokie defense? Check out this quote from an article covering Saturday's scrimmage:
"Our offense, we need to take the next step here in the next couple weeks in a hurry," Peterson said.So....if you’re winning more with defense, one huge problem is if you can’t stop the run, and you’re playing a 4 headed run monster...
Boise State’s defense ranked 28th nationally against the run last season, but that doesn’t tell the whole tale. Against the best backs they faced, the Broncos struggled.
They saw six tailbacks who finished among the top 60 individual rushers in 2009. Those six combined for 140 carries, 804 yards (5.74 yards per carry) and eight touchdowns.
This could be good news for a three-headed Virginia Tech rushing attack that features Ryan Williams (fifth nationally with 1,655 yards last season), Darren Evans (36th nationally with 1,265 yards in 2008) and sophomore sensation David Wilson, who averaged almost 5 yards per carry in preseason scrimmages, prompting coaches to scrap his planned redshirt year.
Williams, Evans and Wilson will be looking to do what some of these guys did against the Broncos in ’09 ...
Ryan Matthews, Fresno State: led the nation in rushing with 1,808 yards (19 carries for 234 yards, 3 TD against Boise)
Vai Taua, Nevada: ranked 17th in the nation with 1,345 yards (24 carries for 160 yards, 1 TD against Boise)
Robert Turbin, Utah State: ranked 20th in the nation with 1,296 yards (14 carries for 61 yards, 1 TD against Boise)
Daniel Porter, Louisiana Tech: ranked 28th in the nation with 1,132 yards (24 carries for 92 yards, 1 TD against Boise)
Seth Smith, New Mexico State: ranked 54th in the nation with 1,016 yards (35 carries for 114 yards against Boise)
DeMaundray Woolridge, Idaho: ranked 59th in the nation with 979 yards (24 carries for 143 yards, 2 TD against Boise)
NOTE: The Broncos also faced top-60 rushers in Oregon’s LaMichael James and Nevada’s Luke Lippincott, but James hadn’t won the job yet and carried just twice (for 22 yards) against Boise and Lippincott was injured after one rush.If You Can Run, You Can Win
The running game will probably decide who wins the matchup between these two teams. Considering the Hokies have Ryan Williams, Darren Evans and (maybe) David Wilson, you have to like Virginia Tech's chances.
Perhaps more important than how the Tech running game will fare is how well the Boise State running game will do against the Hokie defense. History says that you can't beat a Bud Foster defense with a one dimensional offense. The best way to attack Tech is right up the middle with a power running game, and use that success to work in an efficient passing game.
Will Boise be able to get that running game going?
Similar to the first table we ran, Boise State didn't exactly play many good rushing defenses. The two most talented defenses they faced, with players who could be reasonably compared to Virginia Tech's personnel (Oregon and TCU), held the Broncos to under three yards per carry.
I don't think that's going to get it done against Virginia Tech's defense. The Hokies might have a few kinks in their armor thanks to the loss of so many defensive starters, but they certainly aren't Utah State, Bowling Green or Miami of Ohio.Defenses : Contrasting Both - Let’s finalize the defenses by contrasting how they did last year and against whom like we did the offenses. This is much more even as Boise played better offenses than the pourous slate of D’s they played last year.
VT's scoring defense was ranked 9th in 2009. The average national ranking of the offenses we faced was 62.5 (out of 120 division I teams). We faced 3 top 30 offenses -- Bama (22nd), GT (15th), NCSU (30th) and a 4th that was 31st (Miami). We faced 3 bottom 30 offenses (ranked 90th or lower) -- Marshall (96th), Maryland (98th), and UVA
Therefore, we earned our defensive ranking against a fairly typical schedule (overall about average w/ some very good offenses and some very bad offenses faced).
By comparison, Boise State had the 14th ranked scoring defense. The average national ranking of the offenses they faced was 52.3. They faced 5 top 30 offenses -- Oregon (8th), Fresno State (14th), Idaho (20th), Nevada (6th), and TCU (5th). They faced 3 bottom 30 offenses -- Miami (OH) (116th), San Jose State (118th), and New Mexico State
Therefore, they earned their defensive ranking against an above average slate of offenses (overall) -- however, the bad offenses they faced, were REALLY bad (3 of the bottom 5 offenses in all of D-1).