Youth, Inexperience Aren't Excuses for Virginia Tech's Defensive Debacle Against Georgia Tech

By: Tim Thomas | @TimThomas1996 | Oct 26, 2018
Throughout the beginning of the season, Virginia Tech's youth and inexperience was a common and reasonable talking point for the Hokies up-and-down start to the season. The fact that the Hokies only had several seniors and lots of freshmen and sophomores was inevitably going to lead to a roller coaster type season. However, seven weeks into the season, youth and inexperience isn't an excuse for the defensive debacle that happened last night. Virginia Tech has had some bad defensive performances over the years, but this was clearly the worst defensive performance in program history. Looking for the numbers to back that up, well Virginia Tech gave up the most rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, and first downs ever in school history. Georgia Tech averaged 6 yards per carry running a triple-option offense, that's simply criminal. If there was such a thing as a stat for breaking tackles, Georgia Tech's Tobias Oliver likely would have set the NCAA single-game record. The Hokies' defense not only didn't have an answer for Georgia Tech's triple option, but they didn't seem to be anywhere close to stopping the Yellow Jackets until their defensive stop in the fourth quarter. Yes, the Hokies did stop Georgia Tech once in the first half but if not for a fumble off a toss intended for Georgia Tech's RB on a 2nd and 9 that set up a 3rd and 14 and the only pass attempt of the night, the Yellow Jackets likely march down the field again with ease. After the game, Bud Foster was pretty blunt in his assessment that the Hokies were "manhandled" by Georgia Tech. Meanwhile, Ricky Walker says that the Hokies got their "butts whooped" by Georgia Tech. Somehow, that might even be understating it. Throughout the night, Virginia Tech got absolutely dominated along the defensive line. On a consistent basis, Georgia Tech was able to move the Hokies' defensive line a yard or 2 down the field right off the snap of the ball with almost no resistance at any point. Yes, Georgia Tech may have brought a different blocking scheme, but you had extra time to prepare for the style of Georgia Tech blocking and you had the opportunity to adjust to that blocking scheme after they showed it because that scheme wasn't likely to change all night. Instead, the Hokies were simply dominated in the trenches as shown best by the fact that the Hokies didn't have a single tackle for loss in the first three quarters of this game. Virginia Tech was dominated all night in the trenches which made it hard for the second and third level players to make plays though a lack of aggressiveness and missed tackles also hurt their play a lot. Second, Bud Foster mentioned after the game that Georgia Tech had a wrinkle with their option offense in running a QB sweep that wasn't really even an option play, but more of an old-school running play Look, Virginia Tech may have planned for that type of sweep to be more of a true option play, but that still isn't an excuse when they run that an obscene number of times. Yes, it's a wrinkle that Georgia Tech hasn't used in the past, but it's a simple QB sweep, this isn't a complicated play. In addition to the fact that they were simply running a QB sweep time and time again, they also were running it almost always to the outside of the left tackle going right after Emmanuel Belmar and Jarrod Hewitt who both struggled throughout the first half. Georgia Tech was predictable beyond imaginable yet the Hokies either failed to adjust or simply were ineffective with the adjustments they made. Yes, the Hokies have youth that can make it harder to make adjustments, but it wasn't like Georgia Tech was reinventing the wheel, they were running a simple QB sweep and Bud Foster didn't have a single answer. Of course, I'm not paid over $1 million to figure out how to stop a QB sweep, but I think someone who is should have some sort of answer to a QB sweep ran consistently to the same side of the field. Third, I'm not sure if I've ever seen tackling as bad as the Hokies had last night. If there was a Georgia Tech offensive play in space, there was almost certainly a missed tackle if a Virginia Tech player was close enough touch the Georgia Tech runner. The Hokies have had issues tackling all season and if anything, those issues were either magnified last night, a clear sign that they've simply regressed in that area, or both. There's no excuse for the type of poor tackling the Hokies had last night at any level. Yes, the NFL may be a poor example now for young players a lot of the time with tackling, but one of the basic fundamentals a football player is taught is tackling. You can talk about youth and inexperience all you want, but that isn't an excuse whatsoever for poor tackling at any level from high school to the pros. Youth and inexperience was a reasonable excuse for Virginia Tech's defensive failures early in the season but after last night, that's no longer an excuse especially given how this defense has appeared to regressed and are making the type of mistakes that don't simply get covered by youth and inexperience.

Photo Credit: Harley Taylor

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