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Gobbler Country’s Talking Turkey Reviews the Defensive Line and Special Teams

Bryan and John talk about the last two squads on the Roster Review. The Defensive Line still has challenges, but has become a solid high effort unit. The Special Teams players have a couple of legs that have been noticed, nationally. It’s a good way to end the review series. GO HOKIES!!!

Kicking a Field Goal is important... sometimes... a bail others...
John Schneider - SB Nation

The Defensive Line Beefs Up and Gets Better

The Hokie Defensive line was not the shining star setup that it was in 2016 and 2017. The line lacked size, speed, and there was a good amount of inexperienced technique that ultimately caused the Defense to collapse in critical periods, late in the game. This season, with a new coaching regime; Bill Teerlinck and Darryl Tapp, the team looks to re-energize and renew the Hokie defensive line’s performance. We will see, very quickly out of the gate if the 11 game season is finally accepted and scheduled. There will only be one non-conference chance to work out any issues.

That shouldn’t be a problem for this line. The ends and tackle groups are both experienced, and even if lacked technique, never let up on the effort. If the new coaches can get the effort factor to meet up with improved experience and better techniques, the Hokies’ defensive line problems might be behind them.

2020 Virginia Tech Hokie Defensive Line

5 Jarrod Hewitt DL 6-1 288 R-Sr.
8 Emmanuel Belmar DL 6-2 245 R-Sr.
13 Zion Debose DL 6-1 246 R-Jr.
36 DaShawn Crawford DL 6 290 Sr.
41 Jaylen Griffin DL 6-1 260 R-Jr.
45 TyJuan Garbutt DL 6-1 238 R-Jr.
46 Eli Adams DL 5-11 240 R-So.
58 Josh Fuga DL 6-2 308 R-Fr.
92 Jaden Cunningham DL 6-2 306 R-Jr.
93 Mario Kendricks DL 6 293 So.
94 Nigel Simmons DL 6-2 231 R-So.
95 Derrell Bailey Jr. DL 6-6 255 Fr.
96 Norell Pollard DL 6 265 So.
99 Maxx Philpott DL 6 297 R-Fr.
The Defensive Line is looking much better and more experienced this season

This season is going to be pivotal. The defensive line absolutely must do a better job of plugging up the line of scrimmage consistently, containing running quarterbacks, and getting consistent measured pressure on the passer. A few more sacks from the Ends and Interior would be a good thing.

Putting Foot and Snap into Special Teams

2020 is proving to be the completion of a mission for all three of our kickers this season. Star Australian punter 2019 Ray Guy runner up, and 2020 nominee, Oscar Bradburn is up for his final season with the Hokies. Oscar has become one of the most dangerous defensive weapons in college football. He has an amazing ability to drop the ball in unreturnable conditions inside the 10 yard line. I’d love to see more ‘coffin corner kicks’ but Oscar seems to have taught the gunners to do an Australian rules ‘mark’ and run under one of his skyrockets to catch it and kill it inside the 5. Oscar Bradburn can kick for pure distance if he needs to, but more often than not he’s looked at to make it a long trek up the field for the other guy. Which will put him in prime condition to grab that ‘Guy’ at the end of 2020.

The big pleasant surprise of 2019 was the maturing of place kicker Brian Johnson. Brian’s percentages went way up, and his consistency and calm have greatly assisted the Hokies nab points, especially in critical times. His nomination for the ‘Toe-phy’ (Lou Groza Award) is testament to the fact that folks have noticed his improvement and how important he is likely to be to the Hokies in 2020.

Let’s not forget the man who delivers the ball to both kickers. Oscar Shadley is an upside-down passing machine. Both kickers have benefitted greatly from his consistency, accuracy, and pace of snapping the ball. And no one who has ever seen him enthusiastically blast the football out of the end zone for a touchback is ever going to forget John Parker-Romo bounding across the field to destroy the hopes of any kickoff returns by Hokie opponents.

2020 Virginia Tech Hokie Special Teams

92 Mark Applegate K 5-11 155 R-Fr.
93 Brian Johnson K 6-1 191 R-Sr.
96 John Parker Romo K 5-11 170 Sr.
97 Oscar Shadley LS 6 246 Jr.
99 Justin Pollock LS 6-2 235 R-Fr.
91 Oscar Bradburn P 6-1 221 Sr.
A star kicking lineup for the Hokies this year

Replacing our three big legs is going to be a real mission for 2021, but let’s have this season to celebrate the excellence that we have been graced to have play at Worsham Field.