Virginia Tech defensive tackle Corey Marshall is out indefinitely while resolving some personal issues, and that has thrown Tech’s depth chart at the defensive tackle position in flux. Marshall, who played some defensive tackle as a true freshman, was viewed as the third tackle behind starters Luther Maddy and Derrick Hopkins.
Now, that third tackle spot – and probably the fourth and fifth tackle spot – will be a freshman.
That doesn’t leave defensive line coach Charley Wiles feeling comfortable.
“They’re all doing some good things, but it’s really inconsistent,” Wiles said. “It really is. I’ve told all of them that. Nigel [Williams] made some plays [in the scrimmage] and did some good things. There’s some inconsistency in his game. Obviously, they’re going to play some. You have to spell those guys [Hopkins and Maddy]. You can’t play those guys 60 plays, but it’s going to be one or two plays at a time [his substitution pattern].
“Hopefully, we can get consistent play for three plays [from the backups]. We’re still working to tighten up things. We’ll have three good plays, and then all of the sudden, we’re on the ground. We’ll get cut. People are going to cut you when you’re attacking. Nigel got cut five times and he was 0-for [0-for-5]. Woody has been the most consistent guy. He’s lacking at the point of attack, but he stays on his feet. He’s athletic. You notice him. He can go get things in open space.
“It’s been a good competition. I love coaching those kids, and we’re improved from the spring. We’ve just got to be more consistent.”
Baron, a 6-foot-1, 264-pound true freshman who enrolled last January, is the third defensive tackle right now, according to Wiles. Wiles said that Baron reminded him of former Tech tackle David Pugh.
Wiles said he would like to keep Maddy and Hopkins at around 40-45 plays. But that depends on how young guys Baron, redshirt freshman Nigel Williams and redshirt freshman Alston Smith progress. Or if redshirt sophomore Kris Harley can overcome a lingering shoulder issue.
“I would say around 10, 12, 15 plays,” Wiles said of how much he’d like to play his backups. “Probably work in there three or four plays at a time, maybe one. It might Woody and Luther, or Alston and Derrick. Alston can play both sides, which is nice. But I’d like to keep Luther or Derrick in the game and then sub one young kid. I’d rather sub that way than sub the whole front [at one time].”
Wiles said he probably would not play J.R. Collins at defensive tackle. Collins saw some action at the defensive tackle spot last year.
“I don’t think so,” Wiles said. “He’s been paying attention to it, but I think we’ll go with what we’ve got right now.”
Wiles also wouldn’t speculate on when – or if – Marshall would return.“We’re going to coach the guys who are out here,” he said. “We’ll go into the Alabama game with whoever is available.”
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