Heading into Monday night there were questions about what we would see out of Harlon Barnett’s defense. An impressive defensive showing left Barnett happy with the performance of his unit, but the coordinator said there is still plenty of room to grow.
One point of improvement that Barnett harped on was getting more turnovers. The ‘Noles got the ball loose plenty of times, but were unlucky to not recover the ball.
“We’re still stressing running to the ball even more,” Barnett said. “We felt like we were running decently to the ball, but when the ball is popping out like that, hey, run to the ball. That’s even more proof, guys. Get to the ball. We can get the turnovers. We need to get them. We’re causing some fumbles, we just didn’t recover them.”
Barnett likes the depth that he has at safety and said it is important to get guys like Hamsah Nasirildeen on the field, even as Stanford Samuels III takes on a larger role. Samuels played in a limited capacity against Virginia Tech as he gets back to 100 percent.
Sticking with the secondary, Virginia Tech targeted cornerback Levonta Taylor with larger receivers and Barnett addressed how to adjust to offenses using the same gameplan. Despite his size, Taylor has the athleticism to make plays on larger recievers, but the line of scrimmage is were the junior can win his battles and take opportunities away from receivers all together.
Finally, Barnett was impressed with defensive tackle Marvin Wilson and the ability he showed returning from injury.
“He did really well,” Barnett said. “Big Marv really dedicated himself in his rehab and getting himself back. He ran around well and I saw him one time chasing the ball. A matter of fact, Coach Odell said he should’ve played him more. I think he was just a little concerned. It was his first time back and didn’t want to give him too much. He looked good. No setbacks or anything like that. I look forward to him playing more snaps this week.”