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Running Game Will Play a Big Role Against Miami
by Chris Coleman, TechSideline.com, TSLMail #505, October 7, 2011
Miami has had a very difficult time stopping the run this season. The Hurricanes are giving up 202.25 yards per game on the ground, which ranks 105th in the nation. Even Bethune-Cookman was able to run for over 200 yards and average 4.8 yards per carry against Miami last weekend.
The Canes weren't very good at stopping the run last season. They were not very disciplined in their gap control. However, there have been even more reasons for their poor play against the run so far in 2011.
Olivier Vernon is Miami's best defensive end. He was suspended for the first six games of the season for taking impermissible benefits from Nevin Shapiro. As a result of his suspension, Miami has been starting true freshman Anthony Chickillo at defensive end. Chickillo is a very talented player, but as a true freshman he can definitely be a liability.
Curtis Porter and Luther Robinson have yet to play this season because of injuries. Defensive end Shayon Green has overcome two knee surgeries, and has missed a lot of time as a result. Tomorrow's game against Virginia Tech will be his first extensive action of the season. He is a talented player, but how ready is he?
As if the Canes didn't have enough problems, they have lost two members of their front seven to season ending injuries in the last week. Strongside linebacker Ramon Buchanon blew out his knee during Saturday's win over Bethune-Cookman, while defensive tackle Marcus Fortson hurt his knee in practice this week. Both players are big losses for the Hurricanes.
Forston in particular is a big loss. He is regarded as Miami's best defensive tackle. 265 lbs Adewale Ojomo will replace Fortson in the starting lineup. 265 lbs true freshman Olsen Pierre will move up into the two-deep. The Canes simply don't have a lot of quality depth up front right now. As a result, you can expect Virginia Tech to pound the football on Saturday afternoon.
Miami should have a very similar game plan. The Canes have the biggest, most physical offensive line Virginia Tech will face this season. They also have arguably the most gifted running back in the ACC, Lamar Miller. Miami gets mammoth right tackle Seantrel Henderson (6-8, 345, So.) back this week, and if their coaching staff is smart, they will run it early and often against the Hokies.
The middle of the Tech defense presents a good target for such a big offensive line. Antoine Hopkins tore his ACL and will miss the remainder of the season. 253 lbs true freshman Corey Marshall will likely get the start on Saturday. He is a dropoff in terms of size, strength and experience. The Hokies will have to use a two or three-man rotation at that position.
True freshman defensive tackle Luther Maddy is bothered by a high ankle sprain. He is expected to play, but he's not 100%. Isaiah Hamlette and Dwight Tucker could get playing time, but they couldn't beat out two true freshmen during the preseason, so how much confidence do they inspire?
It should be an interesting matchup in Lane Stadium tomorrow. Expect a running competition between Lamar Miller and David Wilson.
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