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MATT GENTRY | The Roanoke Times
Hokies defensive coordinator Bud Foster thinks the key against Alabama is not letting the Tide running game get going early.
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
BLACKSBURG — The opposition this week might be far better than Virginia Tech is used to playing, but Hokies defensive coordinator Bud Foster isn’t changing his approach.
Tech will go into the season opener in the Georgia Dome against two-time defending national champion Alabama with the same defensive plan it does every game — stop the run first.
“That sets everything up that they do,” Foster said. “They like to play-action pass on first down and second down, but the run game sets all that up.”
“That’s our game plan every week,” linebacker Jack Tyler said.
“Going into every single play, even if it’s East Carolina, a spread team, we’re still going to try to stop the run, make them one-dimensional. Against Alabama, it’s obviously going to take a little more effort and a little more discipline to get it done.”
Alabama ran for 227.5 yards per game last year, ranking 16th nationally. Using primarily Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon and running behind a line that featured three All-Americans, the Crimson Tide averaged 5.59 yards per carry (6th nationally) and scored 37 rushing touchdowns (t-13th).
That included 615 rushing yards and five touchdowns in its final two games of the year — the SEC championship game against Georgia and the Bowl Championship Series title game against Notre Dame.
Lacy is gone, as are three linemen taken in the NFL Draft — D.J. Fluker, Chance Warmack and Barrett Jones — but Yeldon returns as the primary back, coming off a freshman season in which he ran for 1,108 yards and 12 touchdowns. The line lost a lot but still has talent, highlighted by potential future first-round NFL pick Cyrus Kouandjio at left tackle.
Foster thinks the key is keeping the Tide from getting its running game going early.
“That’s what Texas A&M was able to do early,” he said of the Aggies’ upset of the Tide last year. “They scored early and then got them out of their run game. Then, when the game got close, Alabama started to run the football.
“That’s their strength. They’ve got some dynamic players on the outside but their strength is running the football. And I’m sure they want to find out if they’ve got the guys up front too to be able to do that early on. ”
Coleman still questionable
Injured Hokies running back J.C. Coleman remains “questionable” for the Alabama game after spraining both of his ankles a week and a half ago, head coach Frank Beamer said Monday.
Coleman, who led the Hokies’ tailbacks with 492 rushing yards last season, sprained both of his ankles in a drill during training camp and was held out of practice last week.
He resumed jogging last week and expressed confidence that he’ll be able to play in the opener, but the Hokies are still being cautious about statements regarding his status.
If Coleman can’t go, redshirt freshman Trey Edmunds, the co-No. 1 on the depth chart, is expected to start.
Depth chart update
The Hokies had some minor adjustments to their depth chart, which was updated Monday:
OSU on Labor Day
Virginia Tech's game against Ohio State in Lane Stadium in 2015 will take place on Labor Day night, Hokies athletic director Jim Weaver said on the Tech Talk Live radio show Monday.
Originally listed as a Sept. 19 game that year, Weaver said it will now be Monday, Sept. 7, part of the ACC"s television deal with ESPN to play games on Labor Day night.
Tech has twice played on Labor Day before. The Hokies lost to Boise State 33-30 at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., to open the 2010 season. They beat Georgia Tech 20-17 in overtime in Blacksburg to start last season.
Virginia Tech travels to Ohio State in 2014. In addition to the Buckeyes, the Hokies also play Furman and at East Carolina in 2015. Tech still needs a fourth non-conference opponent that year.
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