July 8, 2014

Breakout Potential: Mike LBs

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Heading into Virginia Tech's 2014 season, there are countless moving parts that need to be in sync for another run at the ACC Championship. The Hokies can certainly get there, given the expectation of an elite defense and an improving offense under second-year coordinator Scot Loeffler.

In less than a month, two-a-days will be taking place with many spots on the field up for grabs. In less than two months, the Hokies will begin the season against William & Mary. As we near the beginning of another adventure of ups-and-downs, we will attempt to break down the five most important aspects of the Virginia Tech squad heading into the season.

Some factors to the season are in groups, but the number 5 biggest factor to the Hokie season is an individual.

IMPACT IMPORTANCE NO. 5:Chase Williams & the 'mike linebacker position

It's never easy to replace a player that averaged 110 tackles from this position in the last two years. But that's what defensive coordinator Bud Foster will have to do with the departure of Jack Tyler.

By all accounts, including Tyler himself, Williams is fully prepared to take on the role as the leading tackler (based on the defense's design) in the Hokie defense. Back to the defense's design- any running play that the opposition runs is supposed to funnel right to the Mike linebacker, which usually results in that position making the bulk of the tackles.

However, that linebacker has to be most consistent tackler on the team because of the amount of chances. Williams has a very similar body-type to Tyler, and also owns the same type of elite football IQ Tyler had. Williams seems to have certainly used his NFL-coach father at his disposal for any reads or questions.

The key to the Virginia Tech defense is stopping the run-game first, which forces the opposition to beat the Hokies through the air. And no offense wants to do that. That's why Williams is so important to the maroon and orange's success in 2014. As long as he's racking up tackles for minimal gains, this defense should defeat most of the offenses it comes up against.

The Mike linebacker is the anchor of the defense; if he isn't making plays, that leaves plenty of holes for running backs to hit and the secondary has to concentrate on filling holes rather than covering. Williams does have 29 tackles in 38 games played thus far, so one shouldn't worry about the inexperience. He certainly won't shy away from this stage.

It will just be a matter of being consistent. Other candidates to step in if Williams isn't up to par are redshirt freshman Andrew Motuapuka, walk-on Sean Huelskamp and true freshman Raymon Minor. If Williams is consistent, he will become the next tackling-machine that the Mike linebacker has produced in recent years.


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