Friday, July 18, 2008

2008 VT Preview - Linebackers

The Hokies are very green at linebacker, just as they are on the defensive line. The Martin brothers, Cam and Orion, are the only two returning starters among the Tech front seven.

The Hokies will try to avoid the results they had in a disastrous 2003 campaign when they were thin in the front seven, allowed opponents to run on them all day and lost four of their last five games.

The good news is the talent and depth of the 2008 Hokies is light-years ahead of the 2003 team. The bad news is the opponents talent and depth is also a lot higher than that year. If anything, it will be interesting to watch.

Tech's problem in 2007 was it was unable to run the ball. The problem in 2008 could be an inability to stop the run.

The Hokies lost two of the best linebackers in school history when Xavier Adibi and Vince Hall graduated. The only returning starter is junior Cam Martin, but it doesn't mean Tech lacks experience at linebacker.

Other expected starters Brett Warren and Purnell Sturdivant are both seniors. They are used to Bud Fosters defense and should be able to step in and be solid players. However, they lack the freakish athleticism and instinct of Hall and Adibi.

The same can be said for senior Jonas Houseright. Houseright will be the utility infielder of the linebacking corps this year. He can play just about anywhere to give the starters a breather and is not a big step down in talent.

Overall, I like the linebacking corps, but we won't see them make any outstanding plays like we did last year or be the kind of ballhawks they were last year. The job of this year's linebackers is get in and stop the run.

The secondary is good enough that the defense will be able to get away with cheating the linebackers toward the line more to stop the run. You'll see a lot of guys in the box this year. They'll need to in order to control the ground game.

I think in the past, Hall and Adibi had enough speed and skill they could play away from the line and still make the play. That isn't the case this year.

1 comment:

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