There was but one change to the “Above the Line” chart released Thursday night in advance of Saturday’s home game against Virginia Tech. That was the removal of defensive tackle Chris Martin. The junior from Grayson High, who had started six of Tech’s first eight games, did not play against Virginia last week because of injury.
Martin’s absence further accents Tech’s reliance on young players on the defensive line. With defensive end Antwan Owens out for the season with an unspecified injury, defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker played five redshirt freshmen (T.K. Chimedza, Justice Dingle, Jordan Domineck, Ja’Quon Griffin and Curtis Ryans, who is a walk-on) and two freshmen (Mike Lockhart and Sylvain Yondjouen) on the defensive line against Virginia, along with junior walk-on Djimon Brooks. There were only three linemen who played against Virginia who are not freshmen or walk-ons (Kelton Dawson, Brentavious Glanton and Jaquan Henderson).
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“It’s why the program is designed the way it is, to continue to develop those guys on the opposite side of the field,” Thacker said Tuesday, referring to the developmental (scout) team. “There are no excuses. We’ve got to continue to develop, we’ve got to continue to play, we’ve got to continue to have ‘next man up’ mentality.”
Besides Owens, Tech’s defense has also lost freshman defensive end Chico Bennett, linebacker Bruce Jordan-Swilling and two-way lineman Jahaziel Lee to season-ending injuries.
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