Virginia Tech Football: Keeping an eye on the Hokies’ defensive line


As part of the Virginia Tech football 12 Players to Watch series, this article will zero in on a group of players that make up one tremendous unit, the Hokies’ defensive line.

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The Hokies Defensive Line has always been one of the best parts of the team.  A very consistent group though out Bud Foster’s tenure, the Defensive Line has been a huge part of the pressure the Hokies tried to create though out the game.

Last year was no exception as the Defensive line was stellar, that is until it was ravaged by injuries.  Last season defensive tackle, and run stopper Luther Maddy was injured for most of the year.  While others injured were not as serious as the one Maddy suffered, the rest of the line was banged up during the season as well.  The injuries made the line seem vulnerable.

This vulnerability led to some games were the defense game up huge chunks of yards on the ground.  Also, some games it seemed like the Defensive Line could not get to the quarterback no matter what they tried.  This was a disconcerting sight for most Hokie fans.  However, this year the line seems to back healthy and in better shape than ever before.

This year’s version of the Hokies Defensive Line is in my opinion the best Virginia Tech has had in the 20 year history of the “Lunch Pail Defense”.  The Defensive Line is led by the defensive ends Dadi Nicolas and Ken Ekanem.  Both are All-ACC selections, and Nicolas is on several watch lists for national defensive awards.

The duo is by far the best defensive end duo in the ACC, and an argument could be made for them being one of the best in the country.  The speed of both Nicolas and Ekanem will give offensive lines fits this season.  The ends being so quick to the ball creates the need for double teams, which opens up the middle for two equally talented interior linemen.

Luther Maddy and Corey Marshall are big bodies in the middle that can clog up a ton of space.  Luther Maddy is probably the more talented of the two but Marshall is no slouch at all.  Maddy is on all the award watch lists, but it is Marshall who I look for to have the huge season.  With all the attention being paid to Maddy, Dadi, and Ekanem Corey Marshall will get more one on one match ups than ever before.  Marshall is more than capable to take advantage of these matchups and disrupt any offensive flow an opposing team might have.

The Hokies this year are going to rely on the defense to carry them to victories once again.  The Defensive Line is going to be up to the task I have no doubt in my mind.  This group is special, and by the end of the season will have shown the whole country why they are the best group to come through the trenches at Virginia Tech.

This year’s defense is looking to get back to the top of the national rankings, and help the Hokies return to national prominence.  That journey has a strong foundation up front to build from.

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