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Foster says defense is “okay”

The backbone of Virginia Tech’s teams has been their defenses. But this year’s unit has had its share of struggles. Through the first seven games, defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s said the Hokies’ defense was “okay.”

“We’ve given up too many big plays,” Foster said. “We’ve given up too many plays in the run game, which to me is disappointing. That’s one thing that we pride ourselves in, making a team one-dimensional.”

No. 14 Virginia Tech has allowed 27 plays of 20 such as or more this season. Those big gains have been in the ground game, to running backs like Alabama’s Mark Ingram, Marshall’s Darius Marshall and Nebraska’s Roy Helu Jr. Each of those running backs gained more than 100 yards.

The Hokies failed to stop the run in a 28-23 loss at Georgia Tech on Oct. 17, but the Yellow Jackets’ spread-option scheme is a unique look that Virginia Tech will only see once this season (unless, of course, it plays Navy in a bowl game). Georgia Tech broke seven runs of 10 yard or more against the Hokies.

There have been different problems in certain games. Against Nebraska, the Hokies tackled poorly. Their secondary was gashed by Duke quarterback Thaddeus Lewis, who threw for 359 yards. Against Georgia Tech, second-half blocking adjustments made the difference, as the Yellow Jackets’ stampeded over Virginia Tech.

Asked if he was surprised by his defenses occasional struggles, Foster said: “You’ve got young kids that are learning. The best way to learn is through experience.”

The Hokies’ defense should have a relatively nice game to rebound opportunity Thursday night against North Carolina. The Tar Heels’ offense is ranked 114th nationally. It has been equally inept rushing the ball and passing the ball.

Only twice this year have the Tar Heels accumulated 350 yards of total offense, against the Citadel and East Carolina.

Quarterback T.J. Yates has been missing offensive weapons around him and he has had a patchwork offensive line in front of him. Yates is ranked 97th nationally in passing efficiency (110.08). He has thrown seven touchdowns and eight interceptions this season.

By Mark Viera  |  October 29, 2009; 6:31 PM ET
 
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