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Foster Still Calling for Leaders on Defense

After Virginia Tech’s 34-26 win over Duke on Saturday, defensive coordinator Bud Foster said he was disappointed that senior leaders did not step up and keep the Hokies’ focused during a practice week that he described as “laissez faire.”

While there are some leaders of the unit who have stepped up, Foster said Tuesday that he was still looking for more leadership among the players.

“It’s their team,” Foster said. “We can only do so much as coaches. You can lead a horse to water to drink, you can’t make him drink.”

The Hokies allowed 397 yards of offense against Duke, including five plays that went for 237 of those yards. The performance highlighted the Hokies’ proclivity to allow big gains; they showed the same weaknesses against Alabama on Sept. 5 and Nebraska on Sept. 19.

Virginia Tech ranks 47th nationally in total defense, allowing 339.8 yards per game. The Hokies rank 33rd in scoring defense, allowing 18.4 points per game.

While Foster was displeased because he said the players had a mental letdown against Duke, he also said the defense had pride as a unit and that he could tell the players were bothered but their performance against the Blue Devils.

End Jason Worilds, a fourth-year junior, said he has been preaching a message of consistency.

“Just having a sense of pride, having a pride about this defense and wanting to be great, trying to instill that in everyone all the time,” Worilds said. “Wanting to be great all the time, not just on Saturdays, when you feel good on a certain day, trying to practice every day and be great at what we do individually.”

Worilds is a vocal presence on the team and viewed as a leader. He said he has tried to instill that ethos into his teammates in practice, in the locker room and even during individual conversations. In practice before the Duke game, Worilds even asked Foster if he could stop the drill to huddle up the defense so he could speak with the players and try to keep their focus sharp.

“It just takes one play to cost you the football game,” Foster said. “That’s the one thing the young kids got to understand. Every play is a critical play.”

Virginia Tech should have a challenge on Saturday. The No. 5 Hokies (4-1, 2-0) host Boston College (4-1, 2-1). The Eagles have weapons on offense, including dynamic running back Montel Harris and 25-yard-old freshman quarterback Dave Shinskie.

Since Shinskie took over the Eagles’ offense, Boston College has looked like a different team. Shinskie led the Eagles to wins in each of his first two starts, 27-24 in overtime over Wake Forest on Sept. 26 and 28-21 over Florida State last Saturday. He has passed for more than 200 yards in each of his starts.

By Mark Viera  |  October 7, 2009; 3:00 PM ET
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