Divine Deablo – Safety
If the saying misery loves company is true, than Louisville and Virginia Tech fans can take solace together knowing that both of their run defenses have been arguably their biggest Achilles heel over the last two years.
In 2019, Virginia Tech was the better defense finishing 49th overall in total rushing defense while Louisville was one of the worst team’s in power five, finishing 111th overall (212.2 yards per game).
In 2020, Louisville has had the better run defense as they rank 68th overall, while the Hokies are tied at 78 giving up an average of 200.6 rushing yards per game and 5.12 yards per carry. One of the biggest reason’s for their struggles this year has been the lack of depth, loss from last season, and overall execution when it comes to forcing negative plays.
Without their top safety Divine Deablo, Virginia Tech has been consistently worse this season (and even last year) as David Hale’s tweet from last week shows. It appears that after missing two games due to a positive COVID test, Deablo is finally back and playing at full force which could mean a better overall run defense and just in general.
In the three games with Deablo this season, Virginia Tech has allowed 146 yards rushing per game on 116 total carries (38 carries per game on avg.). In the two they’ve played without him, the they’ve allowed an average of 269 (123 yards more) yards per game on 36 less carries. A huge difference overall.
Due to his versatility and ability to provide solid support on the ground as well as through the air, Virginia Tech is able to attack differently when he is on the field. Without Deablo they were forced to play a walk-on at safety in a high number of snaps and the lack of productivity and execution led to giving up such a large amount on the ground.
The Louisville offense will be licking their chops regardless if Deablo plays, considering they are coming off of their best rushing game this season and currently having the nation’s third leading rusher in Javian Hawkins.
Having a player who is capable of covering Tutu Atwell and other receivers as needed in the passing game as well as being able to come into the box and provide sure fire tackling and support against the run will be huge for the Hokies defense. Though they struggled against Wake Forest, I think we’re likely to see a bounce back performance, starting with Deablo, this weekend.