By Christopher Lusk
If you asked most college football fans to name an outstanding defensive football team, most would say an SEC school such as Alabama, LSU or Florida. But Virginia Tech has quietly built a reputation as a consistently dominating defense behind long-time Defensive Coordinator Bud Foster.
This year looks as if it will be no different. The Virginia Tech defense is currently ranked 11th nationally and number two in the ACC in total defense. The Hokies are holding opponents to less than 17 points a game and rank eighth nationally in that category. Virginia Tech opponents have the lowest completion percentage in the NCAA. They allow opponents to convert third-downs into first downs less than one-third of the time. They rank in the top 20 in virtually every defensive statistical category.
The defense is lead by Junior Jayron Hosley, a First Team All-American last year as he led the nation in interceptions, and Redshirt-Junior Bruce Taylor, the vocal and physical leader in the front seven. There is only one Senior starting on the defense, defensive back Eddie Whitley.
Next year, Virginia Tech will return 10 starters on defense next year, enabling the Hokies to maintain their tradition of excellence. In the 10 years from 1999 to 2008 the defense was ranked in the top 20 seven times, including two years ranked as number two in the country.
The unit has benefitted from stability. Bud Foster came to Virginia Tech in 1986 as the assistant coach for linebackers when Frank Beamer was named the Hokies head football coach in 1995. He has won several awards given to assistant coaches in the last 15 years, including the 2006 Broyles Award, given to the nation’s top assistant coach. He brought with him a blue-collar approach to defense, symbolized by a lunch pail given to the previous week’s defensive MVP. The lunch pail has since taken on great meaning to both football players and the Virginia Tech community. Foster started the lunch pail tradition 15-years ago when he was first promoted to defensive coordinator.
Here is a link to a great story about the origins of the lunch pail and what it has meant to former players and the Virginia Tech community http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?columnist=schlabach_mark&id=2997449