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Virginia Tech Football: Previewing The Wake Forest Defense

A look at what to expect from the Demon Deacons' defense in Saturday's clash.

Jared Wickerham

Defensive Coordinator: Mike Elko

Scoring Defense: 27.3 PPG (69th nationally)

Passing Defense: 180.2 YPG (10th nationally)

Rushing Defense: 193.5 YPG (96th nationally)

Front Six:

Wake Forest features a 4-2-5 defense in favor of the typical front seven format. Junior linebacker Brandon Chubb is the linchpin of the front six, contributing 84 tackles and two quarterback sacks for a unit that is allowing 193.5 yards per game on the ground. Fellow linebacker Marquel Lee is just behind Chubb with 76 tackles for the Demon Deacons. The sophomore was once viewed as undersized, but has bulked up to 230 pounds and has become one of the team's more formidable run defenders.

Defensive linemen Zachary Allen and Josh Banks are tied for a team leading four sacks each this season. The senior Allen has also added 55 tackles, while Banks has contributed 32 and an interception. Junior linebacker Hunter Williams has also been a versatile threat for Wake Forest, adding a sack and interception to go with his 47 total tackles in 2014.

Defensive backs:

For all of the 2-8 Demon Deacons' struggles this season, especially on the offensive side of the ball, the pass defense has been a lone bright spot ranking 10th in the country. Sophomore Ryan Janvion leads the secondary and team in tackles in 2014 with 95. Janvion is a quick, ball hawking defensive back who often finds himself a step ahead of the offense. Senior Anthony Wooding Jr. is another athletic defender who compliments Janvion using his athleticism to break up pass attempts. Wooding doesn't have an interception this season but has collected 54 tackles, second most for any Wake Forest defensive back.

Senior Kevin Johnson is the emotional leader of the Deacons' secondary. He is a hard-hitting, big play defender, who does more than his 36 tackles and one interception would indicate. Johnson will play his final two career Saturday's for Wake Forest this year, before almost certainly making the transition to playing on Sunday's next year. Sophomore Thomas Brown has come up big for the Wake pass defense as well, with 38 tackles and two sacks. Rounding out the secondary is senior Merrill Noel who has a pair of interceptions to go with his 37 tackles.

Special teams:

2014 has been a season of transition for Wake Forest and it's new coaching staff, luckily the kicking side of the special teams unit has provided some stability. Mike Weaver has handled the place kicking duty, and has missed only one of his 30 total kick attempts (13/14 on field goals and 16/16 on extra points). Alexander Kinal has handled all of the team's 69 punts this season and has averaged 43.64 yards per kick..

Kick return duties have been split between receiver John Armstrong and running back Tyler Henderson. The sophomore Armstrong has returned 16 kicks for an average of 18.75 yards per return. Henderson, a freshman has also returned nine kicks and is averaging 20.33 yards.

Outlook:

The Demon Deacons have struggled under a new coaching staff and a young quarterback, but the defense has maintained a solid effort despite the team's 2-8 record. J.C. Coleman will be forced into action again with the Hokies' top three running backs out with injury. Coleman put up 95 yards on 20 attempts last week against Duke, a similar performance is probably the best Virgina Tech can hope for. Michael Brewer will have his hands full against five capable defensive backs that have become one of the best pass defense units in the country. Virginia Tech should be able to do enough on offense to earn a victory as they did against Duke, but the Wake defense is far from a pushover.