By Matt Jones, sports editor
The Hokies are preparing for Georgia Tech’s triple option offense, possibly the nation’s most unique attack in the country.
To counter that offense, the Hokies are switching it up a bit in the front seven.
Defensive end J.R. Collins will be moving down the line to defensive tackle in place of Luther Maddy, and Tyrel Wilson will play defensive end.
The linebacker group is also seeing some notable changes. Jack Tyler, who started two games last season, will start at middle (mike) linebacker, and cornerback/nickel back Kyle Fuller moves down to whip linebacker.
“We’re just putting our best players on the field. We just feel more comfortable with J.R. down there in the middle, so it’s going to be a technique game,” said safety Eddie Whitley. “Everybody needs to be focused, everybody has to be into it and we can’t have any mistakes.”
Tyler, who gets his first start of 2011, said the change came in a meeting with defensive coordinator Bud Foster Thursday.
“Coach Foster told us the other day. He said it wasn’t anything against Barquell or anything, it wasn’t any demotion it was just what was best for the team,” Tyler said.” We had our defensive meeting before, and he just brought Barquell and I in.”
Tyler said he wasn’t really expecting to get the start, but understands what he does well. His run defense, combined with a little more speed than Rivers, makes him a better fit for the Georgia Tech offense.
“I wasn’t prepared for that at all, I was kind of just sitting there,” Tyler said. “(Foster) told us after Bruce (Taylor) got hurt that we’d rotate a little bit, but I wasn’t expecting to start because Barquell did play well. It’s the quick reads, the downhill run defense, that’s just my better traits I would say. Coach Foster knows what he’s doing, and he wants to do what’s best for the team, and I guess this is what’s best.”
Foster said the moves were based on two main principles.
“It’s a combination of some experience and speed,” Foster said. “You have to play fast against this offense, and just getting our best defensive linemen on the field. We’re just putting our best people on the field for the offense we’re going to see.
“It just comes down to the speed of their offense and their perimeter attack; we need to have our best people on the field at those spots.”
- Alonzo Tweedy was in blue (limited participation) jersey Sunday night at practice. He’ll likely be used sparingly, if at all, against the Yellow Jackets.
- Jack Tyler on Georgia Tech’s offense. “The whole scheme is different. They run a very unique offense, probably only one or two teams in the nation that run this offense. It’s nice that we have a week and a half to prepare because it’s a very hard offense to prepare for, you have to know your roles on every play. We have the best coaches in the nation, so we’re going to be fine.”
- A big way that the Yellow Jackets beat opponents is getting them out of their normal roles. Tyler, who’ll start Thursday night, pointed at focus as a big key in the game. “You really just have to trust your other teammates that they’re going to be there, and you can’t take somebody else’s role. That’s the whole point of the offense, they try to get you out of your position and covering for somebody else, and that’s when everything goes awry.”
- Fatigue can set in when the Hokies play Thursday night, especially with a short list of defensive replacements. “They can control the clock, they can keep our offense off the field just by running offense. It’s hard too because this offense doesn’t have any problem going for it on fourth and shorts because they know every time that one or two yards is good for them.”
- The Hokies were practicing in maroon helmets with white/orange/white stripes.
I’ll have more from Saturday night’s offensive interviews as well as tonight’s defensive interviews tomorrow.