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Miami Presents Another Forceful Defensive Front

Although it is only September, Virginia Tech has already faced some of the nation’s top defensive linemen. And on Saturday, the No. 11 Hokies will meet another difficult defensive front in No. 9 Miami.

The Hurricanes (2-0, 2-0 ACC) have a deep rotation of speedy, athletic defensive linemen. Although its offensive under coordinator Mark Whipple has been a hot topic of this young college football season, Miami's aggressive defensive front has gained the attention of the Hokies (2-1, 0-0).

“They’re all good athletes,” guard Jaymes Brooks said of Miami’s defensive linemen. “Their second team could probably start somewhere else if they needed to or wanted to. They’ll be fresh, so their motor is going to be going.”

The matchup of Miami’s defensive line and Virginia Tech’s offensive line should be a critical one. The Hokies will have to open up holes for a running game that has, at times, been the only promising sign for their offense. Virginia Tech’s offensive line, which has given up 12 sacks already, will also have to hold off pressure from a mile-a-minute rush.

“They are really fast; they fly to the football,” said Curt Newsome, the Hokies’ offensive line coach. “We’ve played two real good defenses and this will be really the third and they’re all different.”

In a 34-24 loss to Alabama on Sept. 5, Virginia Tech’s offensive line battled the Crimson Tide’s engulfing 3-4 scheme that centers around mammoth nose guard Terrence Cody.

In a 16-15 win over Nebraska on Saturday, Virginia Tech faced perhaps the nation's top interior lineman in Ndamukong Suh. The Cornhuskers sacked quarterback Tyrod Taylor four times and were also able to contain him as a running threat.

What can the Hokies expect to see on Saturday?

“Miami is just true speed,” Newsome said, adding, “They’ve got a track team over there.”

A speed rush might open up running opportunities for the playmaking Taylor. He said that if Miami “allows me to run, I will run.” But it might not be that simple.

Miami’s defense was not impressive in a 38-34 shootout win over Florida State on Sept. 7. But in an emphatic 33-17 victory over Georgia Tech, Miami’s defense stood up and stood out. The Hurricanes limited the Yellow Jacket’s option offense to only 95 rushing yards. (Georgia Tech’s star running back, Jonathan Dwyer, was limited by a shoulder injury and had seven yards on five carries).

Miami’s defensive line has battled injuries, including Adewale Ojomo’s broken jaw. The most experienced member of the line, tackle Eric Moncur, who has made 16 starts, returned for the Georgia Tech game after he was sidelined for much of last year with a sports hernia.

Although the Hurricanes have been without some of their top talent along their defensive line, they have seemed to compensate with their depth and ability. For the Hokies, it will be just another weekend against an impressive and intimidating group.

By Mark Viera  |  September 23, 2009; 10:15 AM ET
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