While the Virginia Tech defense might have more overall experience that the offense, that doesn't mean that positions are set in stone. That's particularly true among the guys not starting.
Injuries have created a number of opportunities for backup positions and defensive coordinator Bud Foster has spent much of his time figuring out which players can best provide the Hokies with depth. That's included moving players around and also expecting more out of a few true freshmen.
This week, Foster moved freshman Melvin Keihn from linebacker to defensive end. Keihn, along with Ricky Walker at defensive tackle, are the two defensive freshmen who have drawn the most praise from Foster for their work in fall camp and both figure to see the field early, especially with a few injuries bogging down other players.
"(Dewayne) Alford, he's got a little abdominal strain and Dadi (Nicolas) is battling some tendinitis," Foster said. "We're just thin right there with that spot. But we get everybody back and as Melvin continues to grow, I think he'll have a chance to be a really good player for us. We did that with Cornell Brown. Cornell wanted to play linebacker and he played one day at linebacker. We were happy we moved him quick, but Nekos Brown is another guy who was a lineman. It was kinda the same thing, we were thin that year and we moved Nekos in. Not that Melvin is gonna stay there, but he's gonna help us right now."
Keihn has especially climbed the depth chart in camp, going from fourth-string linebacker to backup defensive end. Foster said Keihn is still adjusting but helps bring some much needed speed.
In Foster's mind, the Hokies already have good speed at linebacker. Moving Keihn's speed to defensive end he hopes will add even more overall team speed.
"I think we've got some quick kids on the edge, talking about our backers, our WHIPs and those kind of guys," Foster said. "I think we're a little faster there. That can help us, if we wanna bring pressure. I know Deon (Clarke) and D Mac (Dahman McKinnon) are both really athletic guys coming off the edge and can create some problems. Each week, it varies. We're always gonna wanna do what we do. Some years are different, some teams are better blitzers than others and some teams are better cover people than others. We're just still trying to find the identity with this group right now."
Below is Foster's full interview with the media this week:
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