As the 2023 season went along, the Virginia Tech defense got better and better once ACC play began. The defensive line was relentless in getting pressure on the opposing quarterbacks and as a unit, the whole defense benefitted.
They forced quarterbacks to throw earlier than they wanted, they forced fumbles and when they were not able to get rid of the ball, they were sacked. The Hokies racked up 39 total sacks, their most is 38 in 2019. Florida transfer Antwaun Powell-Ryland led the way with 9.5 and he is returning for 2024 along with Josh Fuga. However, with the transfers that head coach Brent Pry has landed so far to make the line one of the tops in the conference next season, it's not out of the question that they could top that number or dare I say, smash that number with the talent defensive coordinator Chris Marve will have.
Virginia Tech could put up big sack numbers in 2024
First and foremost, Powell-Ryland is the big name returning, and his nearly 10 sacks. It would be surprising to see him not exceed his 2023 total next fall. Why? Well for starters, Fuga is returning, but the additions that have been added in recent weeks in the transfer portal will cause headaches for opposing offensive lines.
First Aeneas Peebles committed to Virginia Tech from Duke. He finished this past season with the Blue Devils with five sacks, but he was a focal point for opponents, something that they won't be able to do next season. Then there's Kemari Copeland from Western Iowa Community College who is one of the top JUCO players and he should make the transition to the ACC easily and get to the QB.
Last week after beating Tulane in the Military Bowl, Pry got another huge addition when Oklahoma transfer Kelvin Gilliam announced he was coming to Blacksburg. At 6-foot-3 and 299 pounds, the Richmond, Virginia native struggled to get on the field with the Sooners, but the four-star lineman is set to thrive in the Hokies system next season.
Linebacker Sam Brumfield from Middle Tennessee State was a tackling machine for the Blue Raiders, recording 82 tackles in 2023 and 3.5 sacks. Joining a talented linebacking core and a much improved and experienced defensive line in front of him should open more chances for him to improve on his sack number in 2024.
I'm not a math major, however, they averaged three sacks a game this season and it's certainly not out of the question that they top that number next season and even smash it. This is one of the more talented defensive units in the ACC next season and they should cause a lot of headaches for opposing teams and coaches.