When Virginia Tech defensive line coach Charley Wiles was asked about what makes Bud Foster a great defensive coordinator last month, he immediately began to marvel at the field vision of his longtime boss.
Wiles pointed out Foster is one of the few defensive coordinators in the country that coaches from the sideline. But it still doesn’t explain the “knack” Foster has for making the right call at the right time, Wiles says. For that, one must understand how good Foster has gotten at adjusting on the fly.
“There’s an art to that,” Wiles said. “Not everybody can just get in there and call defenses. You can do a lot of stuff and be really exotic on Saturday, but if you can’t fix it, what good is it.”
Added Coach Frank Beamer: “There’s not much Bud hasn’t seen.”
Those skills will be essential once again Monday night, when No. 16 Virginia Tech opens the 2012 regular season with a nationally televised matchup against Coastal Division rival Georgia Tech. Yellow Jackets Coach Paul Johnson has already promised there could be some “wrinkles” in his offense, and there’s always some uncertainty surrounding the first game of any season.
The Yellow Jackets will have a new starter at B back, one of the featured positions in Johnson’s offense. Sophomore Charles Perkins will start and will likely split carries along with quarterback Tevin Washington and A back Orwin Smith. Last year’s B back starter, David Sims, rushed for 656 yards in 2011, but is nursing an injury, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Georgia Tech will also be missing at least three starters on defense. Cornerback Louis Young (Good Counsel) and linebacker Daniel Drummond are both suspended. Safety Fred Holton won’t play because of an undisclosed injury. In addition, second team all-ACC linebacker Julian Burnett suffered what could be a career-ending neck injury in last year’s Sun Bowl.
Another possible tweak could include an increased emphasis on attacking Virginia Tech through the air. The Hokies are preparing for Georgia Tech to potentially throw the ball more than usual this year, and perhaps use backup quarterback Synjyn Days as its A back to have the threat of a halfback pass at times.
Those sorts of big plays are the end result of Johnson’s grind-it-out approach. Georgia Tech had more rushing plays of 20 or more yards than any other team in the country last year.
“They do a good job of getting teams to get out of character and forget the things that they learned all week,” linebacker Bruce Taylor said. “They’re so good at taking advantage of that.”
But the forecast is predicting poncho weather for what already figured to be a raucous night game environment in Blacksburg. So expect heavy doses of quarterback Logan Thomas and running back Michael Holmes on the ground (Remember, Virginia Tech rushed for 267 yards in last year’s 37-26 win over Georgia Tech). And given the amount of precision ball movement required in Johnson’s option offense, the prospect of rain means advantage Foster and the Hokies.
My prediction: Virginia Tech 21, Georgia Tech 16
No poll this week (Labor Day technical difficulties), but I want to know how you envision Monday night’s game playing out? Does Virginia Tech get a jump start on capturing its third-straight Coastal division title. Or can Johnson get his first win at Lane Stadium since arriving at Georgia Tech. Let me hear what you think in the comments section.