Five weeks into the 2023-24 season, the Virginia Tech football team sits at 2-3 with wins over Old Dominion and Pittsburgh and losses to Purdue, Rutgers, and Marshall. Believe it or not, aside from allowing some big plays, the Hokies’ defense has not been all that bad.
In fact, the defense has not been bad at all and this stat will blow you away and where they rank on the list.
Virginia Tech’s defense ranks high on The Athletic’s stop rate
Recently, The Athletic updated their stop rate, (Subscription required) which is the percentage of defense’s drives that end in punts, a turnover, or a turnover on downs, for all 133 FBS schools and you would think that the Hokies would be far down the list. As Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast my friend.’’ In fact, where they landed is rather stunning, if we’re being honest.
Virginia Tech’s defense ranks 35th out of 133 FBS schools in stop rate through the first five weeks. They have defended 65 drives, allowed 1.87 points per drive, and have a 70.3% stop rate.
Now it must be pointed out that the stat has filtered out the end of a half in which the opposing team took a knee, ran out the clock, or wasn’t trying to score. Regardless, if you paid attention to the Hokies’ first five games, you should be surprised to see their grade so high.
Defensive coordinator Chris Marve had his best week to date in 2023 last week against Pittsburgh, holding the Panthers to just 14 points, both coming on two big plays of 75 and 61 yards. Other than that, they frustrated quarterback Phil Jurkovec, forced a key fumble early in the third quarter, and had pressure on the former Notre Dame and Boston College QB.
Now this percentage will likely go down this week against Florida State when the Hokies visit Tallahassee, but for now, they are the sixth-rated team in stop defense nearing the halfway point of the season.