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Hokies Ready for Big Year Defensively

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Virginia Tech will be active, athletic and aggressive, with Bud Foster, arguably the game's foremost defensive expert, overseeing it all.

A large reason for how smooth this has been has been Bud and his professionalism and his excitement and love for Virginia Tech.
~Justin Fuente

Virginia Tech ranked fourth in the ACC in both scoring and total defense a year ago, limiting opponents to 340.7 yards and 22.8 points per game. Expect the Hokies to be even better this season. Eight of the team's top ten leading tacklers return, including a number of all-conference candidates at linebacker and in the secondary. Veteran coordinator Bud Foster could have a vintage Virginia Tech defense this fall.

In the back seven, especially, the Hokies will be among the nation's best. 

Good luck throwing on this defense as Virginia Tech boasts a truly-elite secondary with the likes of Adonis Alexander, Terrell Edmunds, Brandon Facyson, Greg Stroman and others. Alexander has six interceptions in two years, Edmunds led the division with four picks as a sophomore, Facyson has a staggering 34 career pass break-ups and Stroman has been a do-it-all dynamo for Virginia Tech. Keep an eye on Edmunds, who has played linebacker, corner and safety during his career and has now moved over from rover to free safety this season. 

Linebackers Andrew Motuapuaka and Tremaine Edmunds, Terrell's younger brother, combined for 220 tackles in 2016, helping to set the tone for an physical Virginia Tech unit. Leading the team in stops this past year, Motuapuaka has 241 career tackles himself. Edmunds leads all returning ACC linebackers with 18.5 tackles for loss and had nine quarterback hurries. Internally, the group has high expectations. 

"As far as linebacker corps, we're working hard to be the best," Motuapuaka acknowledged at the ACC Kickoff in Charlotte. "We're not satisfied with the accomplishments we've accomplished, and we have a great coach that pushes us hard every single day."

There is some retooling to do at the line of scrimmage. Tim Settle, at 328 pounds, is a strong anchor in the trenches and there is a core of rising talent ready for the upcoming opportunity. Having learned from veterans like Woody Baron, Ken Ekanem and Nigel Williams, the next wave of defensive linemen has been well-prepared. There is confidence in their ability to step in.  

"They had a lot of experience under their belt. So I think that's probably the biggest thing with the guys that are filling in their spots now. But I don't think they'll miss a beat, really," Motuapuaka explained. "I think our young guys are hungry and really ready to make their impact on this program. You know, they know that the baton has been passed to them, and I think they're ready to step up to the challenge."

The Hokies will be active, athletic and aggressive, with Foster, arguably the game's foremost defensive expert, overseeing it all. An institution at Virginia Tech, the former linebacker for then-coordinator Frank Beamer at Murray State followed Beamer to Blacksburg and has been there since 1987. Foster has been the Hokies' defensive coordinator for over two decades. Under his expertise, Virginia Tech has been one of the nation's most consistent units.

Foster has proved invaluable to head coach Justin Fuente, who took over for Beamer last season. 

"Comes to work every single day with a quest of teaching and mentoring young men, and ultimately putting the best defensive product out there on the field. It's great to have that resource," Fuente stated. "It's great to have someone on staff that understands things that have happened at Virginia Tech in the past. And I just really enjoyed it. A large reason for how smooth this has been has been Bud and his professionalism and his excitement and love for Virginia Tech, and I've just really enjoyed the past year and a half."

With many familiar names, some new ones and the same leader calling the shots, the Hokies are poised to have their best defense in recent years.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Matt Osborne and Kevin Thomas on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network and is the sports director for multiple ESPN Radio affiliates based throughout southeast Georgia. @BJBennettSports