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Hokies Prepare for Another Tough Nose Guard

Before facing Alabama nose guard Terrence Cody, Virginia Tech center Beau Warren ate a pizza by himself to bulk up. He said he planned to do the same before facing Nebraska nose guard Ndamukong Suh.

Warren and his fellow offensive linemen should have another big task when the No. 13 Hokies (1-1) host No. 19 Nebraska (2-0) on Saturday. The toughest challenge will be subduing the Cornhusker’s man in the middle. It will not be easy.

In two games against Sun Belt Conference opponents, Suh has racked up 12 tackles, with four for loss and 1.5 sacks. He has agility and quickness to make a difference at the line, with rip and swim moves, or behind the play, sometimes hunting down running backs 10 yards downfield.

Asked about blocking a playmaking threat like Suh, Warren said, “You’ve got to prevent him from driving you back but you’ve also got to watch for the rip moves, the swim moves and keeping your base low.”

Suh showed his dynamic ability against the Hokies last year in Nebraska’s 35-30 loss in Lincoln. Suh made six tackles, including one for loss. He provided a tough test for center Ryan Shuman and guards Nick Marshman and Sergio Render.

“I got my tail beat,” said Render, who was sick during that game. “I’ll be the first person to tell you that. He put something on me that game.”

Render added, “This game right here is going to be a game I can get back at him.”

In some ways, Nebraska will resemble Alabama. In other ways, there are stark contrasts. Although Virginia Tech will be tasked with blocking another imposing front, there are differences between each team’s defense and both of their nose guards.

At 6 feet 5 and 354 pounds, Cody is a space eater in the middle of a 3-4 defense who attracts blockers and can get a big push up the middle. In third-down passing situations, Cody was typically sidelined to allow the Crimson Tide’s so-called rabbit rushers to take the field.

At 6-3 and 305 pounds, Suh is smaller but is perhaps faster and plays in the Cornhuskers’ 4-3 base defense. His arsenal includes a number of moves that make him an effective pass rusher, as evidenced by his team-leading 7.5 sacks last season. He also was tied for the team lead with two interceptions, both of which he returned for touchdowns.

“One’s a get up the field, get a push guy and one’s a get off the block and make a play guy,” said Curt Newsome, the Hokies’ offensive line coach. “We’ll see when they all get drafted, but everything you see, these guys can be top five picks.”

By Mark Viera  |  September 16, 2009; 11:15 AM ET
 
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