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Offensive Line Played Well Against Miami

During the summer, players and coaches talked about how Virginia Tech’s offensive line had come together, how it was more athletic and how that all equated to its improvement. It did not always show in the Hokies’ first few games.

But in Saturday’s 31-7 win over Miami, Virginia Tech’s offensive line had perhaps its best performance of the season. For the first time since a 36-0 win over Duke in 2006, Virginia Tech did not allow a sack. (Sacks, however, are not always the fault of the offensive line.) And behind the offensive line, the Hokies racked up 272 rushing yards on Miami’s athletic defense.

“I thought they were solid,” Curt Newsome, the Hokies’ offensive line coach, said of the members of his unit. “It’s still early in the season, so I’m still wanting to see improvement every week. And I thought we got a better from a week ago.”

The Hokies' offensive line has not always looked impressive this year against ranked opponents.

On Sept. 5, Alabama sacked quarterback Tyrod Taylor five times and limited Virginia Tech to only 64 rushing yards. The Crimson Tide’s hulking front posed a difficult challenge, and its physical, fast linebackers made impressive plays.

On Sept. 19, Nebraska sacked Taylor four times and held the Hokies’ rushing offense to 86 yards. Against the Cornhuskers, running back Ryan Williams did run for 107 yards on 21 carries (although some of the team's yardage was negated by Taylor’s negative-22 rushing yards, thanks largely to the sacks).

But despite its speedy pass rushers and a deep rotation of talented defensive linemen, Miami went without a sack against the Hokies. Each week, Newsome tallies up the number of sacks allowed. He said it was “nice to got in that room and put a zero.”

Center Beau Warren said the offensive linemen have been “kind of fusing together. You can see that on Saturday.”

For their performance against the Hurricanes, Warren and tackles Ed Wang and Blake DeChristopher each graded 80 percent or better by the Hokies’ coaching staff. DeChristopher, in fact, was named the Atlantic Coast Conference’s co-offensive lineman of the week after grading a team-high 85 percent.

DeChristopher and left guard Sergio Render missed some time with minor injuries in the game against Miami. That allowed backups like Greg Nosal and Andrew Lanier to get snaps. Newsome said he hoped to get Nosal in a rotation on the offensive line. He also said he hoped to get Lanier “in an out.”

“Most players show you they’re ready to play once they get out there,” Newsome said. “It’s the coach that puts the harnesses on, and I’ve been a little guilty of that.”

With a number of players at his availability, and with the way some of them have come together, Newsome has said he has seen promising signs from the linemen from Square One. And on Saturday against Miami, the Hokies offensive line showed its potential.

No. 6 Virginia Tech (3-1, 1-0 ACC) takes on Duke (2-2) on Saturday in Durham, N.C.

By Mark Viera  |  September 30, 2009; 12:00 PM ET
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Not O-line but Kenny Jefferson at Fullback has been coming on too. Sort of an ad-hoc Oline job.

Posted by: jhtlag1 | September 30, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

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