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Miami's massive O-line has Beamer concerned, and some more notes

By Mark Giannotto

The big story out of Miami the past two weeks has been the job freshman quarterback Stephen Morris has done replacing Jacory Harris, who has not played since suffering a concussion in a loss to Virginia more than two weeks ago. A week after completing a game-winning touchdown pass to defeat Maryland, Morris threw for 230 yards in a 35-10 victory over Georgia Tech on Saturday

Even with Harris out of the lineup, the Hurricanes have run up 1,011 yards of offense in those two wins, and find themselves with a chance to win the ACC's Coastal Division if Virginia Tech manages to lose its final two games.

Against the Yellow Jackets, four Miami running backs scored a touchdown and three had a least 60 yards rushing as Miami racked up more than 270 yards on the ground. Wide receiver Leonard Hankerson, who has been a force all year, added a 79-yard touchdown catch.

But it wasn't Morris or Hankerson or even one of those running backs that garnered ACC player of the week honors Monday. It was freshman guard Brandon Linder, who became the fourth Miami offensive lineman this year to be named the conference's offensive lineman of the week. The only player who hasn't won one yet is true freshman right tackle Seantrel Henderon, only the top offensive line prospect in the country coming out of high school last year.

That fact, first and foremost, is what Coach Frank Beamer thinks will be the most challenging aspect of facing Miami's offense Saturday. The Hurricanes average listing along the line is 6-6, 313 pounds. The Hokies, meanwhile, have one defensive lineman weighing in at more than 300 pounds (DT Antoine Hopkins), and four that are 255 pounds or lighter.

"Our guys won't have trouble getting leverage. We'll be underneath them, that's for sure, just from the height standpoint," Beamer said Monday during his weekly conference call. "I think a real plus for them is their offensive line. They've got good backs, but you gotta have good blocking to get yards. ... They pound you and a lot of that goes back to that offensive line."

Some more notes

*On the injury front, Beamer said the Hokies are hopeful they'll have running back David Wilson and defensive end Chris Drager back in the lineup Saturday, but said their status remains uncertain. Beamer said Drager has repsonded well to tests after suffering his second head-related injury in a month against Georgia Tech. Wilson sounds as if he's also recovering well from his bout with mono.

Beamer also revealed that wide receiver Jarrett Boykin has been battling through a shoulder sprain recently, but that it shouldn't keep him out of Saturday's game. The Hokies could also get some reinforcements in their receiving corps as D.J. Coles will return to the practice field this week after sitting out the last four games with a knee injury.

*Beamer had high praise for Miami's latest quarterback, Morris, saying he was "very poised" and has "good pocket presence." The tricky part, though, is Virginia Tech doesn't know what quarterback it will be facing this weekend. According to reports, Harris will return to the practice field this week and could play Saturday. That, though, doesn't seem to concern the Hokies.

"I don't think their gameplan changes a whole lot regardless of which quarterback plays," Beamer said.

*Beamer said the plan going forward is to have cornerbacks Rashad Carmichael and Jayron Hosley return kickoffs. Sophomore Ryan Williams was supposed to return kicks Saturday against North Carolina, but Beamer said Williams made a gametime decision that "he'd rather not do that," without specifying an exact reason. I assume Williams was concerned with how his hamstring would hold up adding the extra duties.

*Speaking of Hosley, he was named the ACC's defensive back of the week for the second time this season after grabbing two interceptions against North Carolina. Hosley's seven interceptions this year puts him tied for first in the country in that category.

We had an interesting debate on twitter today about who the Hokies best cornerback has been this season. I argued it was Carmichael because his stats don't indicate how little opposing quarterbacks throw at him. The majority, though, said it had to be Hosley since he also ranks second in the country in total passes defended. My buddy Kyle Tucker of the Virginian-Pilot even offered to eat his own shoe if Hosley isn't named an All-American of some kind this year.

"He's quite a talent," Beamer said of Hosley, a sophomore from Del Ray Beach, Fla., "Brandon Flowers, he's from the same high school, he said, 'Hey, he's just like me,' and that convinced us we need to go down there and get him and boy am I glad we did."

*Linebacker Tariq Edwards saw an increase in his playing time Saturday in place of sophomore Lyndell Gibson and Beamer said Monday if Edwards holds up his end of the bargain in practice, expect to see more of that.

"I was talking to Coach Foster yesterday, 'We gotta look to get him a little more playing time,'" Beamer said. "He needs to practice well so you have a little more confidence in him. It seems when he gets in there, he does well, but we want him to practice well."

*There were lots of Miami folks on the conference call, more than any other opposing team I can remember. One asked Beamer how much he felt last year's rain-filled 31-7 victory for the Hokies would play into this year's game since many of the players are still the same.

"I think it's overrated," Beamer said. It's a different year, different players. Hopefully it's not gonna be raining Saturday, that was a miserable day from a weather standpoint. And then things just went our way. We got some big plays and it went our way. Games happen like that. But if you start trying to plan another game because of what happened last year, I think you're going down the wrong road there."

By Mark Giannotto  | November 15, 2010; 3:06 PM ET
 
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