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Ga. Tech DE Morgan a Challenge

Virginia Tech has faced its share of star defensive linemen – Alabama’s Terrence Cody, Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh, Duke’s Vince Oghobaase – but all of the aforementioned were interior linemen.

On Saturday, the Hokies will meet perhaps the most dangerous defensive end they have faced all season. Asked about Georgia Tech's Derrick Morgan, Hokies offensive line coach Curt Newsome let out an exasperated sigh.

Newsome said Morgan’s motor never stops. “The real tough thing about him is him coming off the edge,” Newsome said.

Morgan, a junior, is one of the nation’s top defensive ends. At 6 feet 4 and 275 pounds, he is rangy, sleek and powerful. He is a relentless rusher who has been a disruptive force in opposing backfields. He ranks third in the ACC in sacks (6 ½) and second in tackles for loss (nine).

He was an honorable mention all-ACC selection last year. In Virginia Tech’s 20-17 win over the Yellow Jackets last season, Morgan had 6 tackles, 1 ½ for loss. He can play on either end – left or right – should again pose a challenge to Virginia Tech’s offensive line.

While quarterback Tyrod Taylor has developed as an efficient, capable passer, Morgan’s rush could disrupt his pocket presence. And that could hurt the Hokies, especially if running back Ryan Williams, listed as probable with an illness, is slowed.

The Hokies’ offensive line, however, has started to mesh as a unit and has shown signs of progress, and its performance in a 48-14 win over Boston College last Saturday may have been its best, as all five of the linemen graded over 80 percent for the game.

Virginia Tech’s offensive line will likely need to have another strong effort, especially in stopping Morgan off the edge.

By Mark Viera  |  October 16, 2009; 11:40 AM ET
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