CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Justin Fuente’s explosive offense at Virginia Tech has served to benefit longtime defensive coordinator Bud Foster, according to Larry Fedora.
The Hokies are averaging 40.8 points through four games, and in turn, Foster’s defense is allowing 264.3 yards per game and 4.2 yards per play, both of which rank top-10 nationally.
“I think probably what it’s done for him is he knows they score points,” Fedora said after practice on Wednesday. “So he doesn’t have to be worried about going too aggressive or not aggressive enough. He can just let it fly, and that’s what he’s been doing. His defense has been playing really well.”
Foster’s 4-2-5 defensive scheme is designed to create chaos with multiple fronts, stunts and coverages. The Hokies utilize three different packages with the same personnel grouping, allowing for versatility without substitutions. The intent is to take away the quarterback’s first read and to force him to work through his checks before pressure arrives.
Virginia Tech leads the ACC in third down conversion defense (20.3) and is allowing fewer than eight plays of 10 yards or more per game, good for second in the league (Boston College, 6.8).
UNC offensive coordinator/OL coach Chris Kapilovic disagreed to an extent with Fedora about Foster’s adjustments to the new offensive approach.
“It’s interesting, because I’ve seen him be aggressive, but there’s also been times where he’s a little less aggressive because his offense is scoring,” Kapilovic said. “I think there were times maybe last year and the year before when they really struggled on offense I felt like he had to really come after you to force the hand. Now I think he’s mixing it up a lot more because I don’t think he feels like he has to make the big play.”
One thing is certain: Foster’s primary defensive objective is to stop the run, not unlike Pitt’s Pat Narduzzi. However, the similarities between the two defensive schemes largely end there.
“How Bud does it is a little more complicated,” Kapilovic said. “They mix their coverage schemes and fronts a lot more than Pitt. Pitt’s more aggressive with their blitz scheme, where Virginia Tech is more complicated with their coverages and their fronts.”
UNC’s offense has been challenged by Foster’s defense in recent years. After scoring 48 points against the Hokies in 2012, the Tar Heels managed just 17 points in ’13 and ’14 before needing overtime to score 30 points last November.