The Hurricanes are ranked No. 1 for the ninth straight poll this season, and their defensive line is a major a factor for their success. Miami enters tomorrow’s FSU contest with a two game winning streak in the series and the defensive line hopes to lead the way to another win.
“It’s going to be fun,” said senior DT Matt Walters. “I don’t think we’ve been challenged too hard this year so far, so we are looking for a good challenge. I mean it’s always good to go up against a good competition, and we are going to have to play real hard this week in order to come out with another victory.”
FSU, enters the orange bowl with confidence that their offensive line is the best in the nation.”
“You just have to bring your A-game every play against our d-line,” said UM offensive lineman Sherko Haji-Rasouli. “Day in and day out, you can’t take any breaks or slack off. I play left guard against Matt Walters everyday, and his engine just never shuts off. For every play you know exactly what you have to do, you have to put out 100%, because that’s what he does.”
Greg Mark is in his seventh season as Miami’s defensive line coach. Mark realizes that FSU does have a great offensive line, which has actually not been playing up to their potential yet this season.
“We know going up against them is going to be a battle,” Mark says. “They have got a big, strong offensive front, so they’re going to come in here thinking this is a game in which they can prove themselves to the country. And obviously, them going against what the media claims to be the best defensive line, proves that it’s going to be a great battle for both teams.”
Miami’s defense will not strive to sack Rix, but they do intend to put pressure on the quarterback, with the help of the No. 3 ranked secondary in the nation.
“It was a goal for the whole defensive line coming in this season to put pressure on the quarterbacks,” said sophomore DT Vince Wilfork. “We knew we were going to have a young secondary, but so far everything is good with the secondary and the D-line. I believe that if sometimes, it wasn’t for the DB’s covering their guys the way they do, then sometimes we wouldn’t come up with those sacks.”
Matt Walters, fond of the D-line’s camaraderie, said: “Miami’s defensive line is just a bunch of great athletes. We have eight guys who can play, and it’s nice because we have a good rotation.”
Last week the Hurricanes had six sacks on defense. It’s always a plus to score on defense, and as Coker always tells them, there’s more opportunities, more ways to score on defense than there are on offense.
Miami scored their third defensive touchdown of the year against UConn last week.
“I believe they are the best offensive line in the country,” Wilfork admitted about Florida State. “All five guys from last year returned, the whole front line is great. We just have to go in there with the mindset that it will be a battle, all 60 minutes. We cant let down on any plays – if we do they will take advantage of it.”
The defensive line benefits from the eight-man rotation that allows the unit to stay fresh while wearing down the opponent’s offensive line. Walters, Wilfork, Jamal and Cornelius Green, Andrew Williams, Jerome McDougle, and William Joseph all see extensive playing time. John Square and Orien Harris also have seen the field as defensive lineman.
“I put high expectations on the team, I’m a team player. If the team does good, obviously I’m going to do good,” said McDougle, a pre-season All-American. “Obviously it’s a big rivalry between us and Florida State. We go into every game the same though, and prepare the same way. We’re just going to go out and play some Hurricane football.”
You can reach Dana Strokovsky at Hoopg1rl6@aol.com.