Virginia Tech Football: Hokies pass defense holds strong against BC

At the midpoint of Virginia Tech football’s season, the Hokies find themselves at 5-1. The lone lose courtesy of the No. 2 Clemson Tigers. Which, so far, so good. Virginia Tech has taken care of business, including a season-opening win over pass-happy West Virginia.

Freshman quarterback Josh Jackson is a revelation; senior receiver Cam Phillips is a star. And once again, the defense under coordinator Bud Foster is potent, but not without flaws.


Clipped wings

Boston College football isn’t exactly the 2007 New England Patriots on offense, but Virginia Tech was dominant defensively in the win over the Eagles. The Hokies held BC to 191 pass yards on 14-of-33 (42.4 percent) attempts.

That’s just the sixth time this season a defense has held an opponent to sub-200 yards through the air and a sub-50 percent completion rate (minimum: 30 attempts).

For the season, Virginia Tech’s defensive backs rank 10th in the nation in a metric called Havoc Rate, according to Football Study Hall. On 10.7 percent of the team’s defensive plays, the secondary has either recorded a tackle for loss, forced a fumble, or defensed a pass.

Senior cornerback Greg Stroman, who has worn the honorary No. 25 jersey twice already this season, has nine passes defended in 2017 — tied for third most in the league.


Is there a cause for concern?

Virginia Tech could stand to be a little more opportunistic on defense, though; the Hokies have intercepted just four passes this season. On top of that, the Hokies have given up some big plays in pass defense, too. VT has given up 23 pass plays of 20-plus yards — tied for second most in the ACC.

According to Football Study Hall, Virginia Tech has allowed 1.77 Isolated Points per Pass Play, which ranks No. 120 in the FBS. That’s an increase over where the 2016 squad stood: 1.55 Isolated Points per Pass Play — good for 80th in the FBS.

Of course, the Hokies have had some injuries to the secondary this season — including junior corner Adonis Alexander and sophomore safety Divine Deablo, who will miss the rest of the 2017 season.

Despite all of that, though, Virginia Tech football still ranks second in the ACC in points allowed per game: 13.7. Only the mighty Clemson Tigers stand taller — a stingy 11.7 points per game.


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