BLACKSBURG — Virginia Tech is shifting things around a little bit at linebacker.

Defensive coordinator Bud Foster outlined those plans coming off the Hokies 42-35 win over Miami.

Outside linebacker Alan Tisdale, who played much of the second half, had the best game of his career with nine tackles (four solo) and a tackle for loss. He also had a pass breakup in the end zone to stop Miami from tying the score as the clock ran out.

Tisdale didn’t play in the previous two games, but Foster regretted not getting him into the lineup with the way the redshirt freshman has practiced going back to the spring.

A bigger role role for Tisdale would cut into Dax Hollifield’s playing time, but Foster’s plan is to give the sophomore some reps at both linebacker spots.

“I think Dax is probably one of his -- his biggest critic is probably himself when it’s all said and done,” Foster said in September. “I think at times, Dax does want to do so well and please so well that I think he puts a little pressure on himself to do that. He just needs to go pin his ears back and play loose. He knows what to do and know how to play.”

While middle linebacker Rayshard Ashby, who was just named the ACC linebacker of the week for the second time this season, isn’t going anywhere. Foster wants Hollifield to get reps at his more natural position and keep everyone fresh.

"We’ve got three really good linebackers I like that can win," Foster said. "We’ve got other guys too, but these guys I think are special football players and have some special skillsets that we can do a lot of good things with those guys."

Hollifield’s practice time at middle linebacker already went up last week in the wake of Tech’s tentative plan to redshirt Keshon Artis.

Artis played in the first four games of the season, but under the NCAA’s new redshirt rules he can still redshirt if he doesn’t play another game this season. Artis was listed as Tech’s backup at middle linebacker alongside Dylan Rivers in September, but now Hollifield is the No. 2 middle linebacker.

Tech moved Rivers to middle linebacker in the offseason, but according to Foster, isn’t “quite ready yet.”

Artis, a 6-foot-0, 235-pound sophomore out of Chesapeake, Virginia, played in 11 games as a true freshman in 2018 with most of his reps coming on special teams. He had two tackles in four games this season.

That redshirt plan could change if Tech suffers an injury or two at linebacker.

“I don’t quite honestly know if we’ll be able to do that with Keshon,” coach Justin Fuente said. “There’s a lot of football left to be played. And we’d like to try to do that if we can, but that’s not taking into account a lot of things that can happen down the road...you don’t have to have a very big imagination to foresee a scenario where we may not be able to do that.”

Get Breaking News Alerts

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Mike Niziolek is the Virginia Tech football beat writer for The Roanoke Times. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Load comments