From metro rails to pancake blocks, Vernon Carey is an important part of the Hurricanes’ offensive line. After a dominant 2002 season, Carey is on the right track to reaching his full potential as a football player in his senior year.
The ‘Canes lost many of their starters to the draft last season, only returning three to the offensive line in Vernon Carey, Carlos Joseph, and Chris Myers. This year, Carey has developed into a powerful run blocker and is able to play either the guard or tackle position. The entire unit has made tremendous strides throughout the season.
“We’re doing terrifically on pass protection,” Carey said. “I think our o-line only gave up three sacks in seven games. That’s almost up there with the championship team two years ago with Bryant McKinnie. Overall, I think we’re doing pretty well. We gave up only six sacks last year. A few things keep trying to put us back, such as injuries, but we’re definitely coming along.”
Last season, Carey had 37 metro rails, which is a term used to reward driving an opponent out of a play by holding a block for at least five seconds. He also totaled 42 pancake blocks, which is when an opponent is flattened. This season, his stats aren’t as impressive on paper.
“I feel I haven’t been doing that well yet,” Carey said. “I have been playing well, for an OK-type player, as [Offensive Line] Coach Kehoe would say. I have to keep working hard, keep rehabbing, and get my body ready for the rest of the season.”
Bringing a 39-game winning streak to Blacksburg this weekend, Carey feels that the Virginia Tech game will be a challenge, but has confidence that the team will win. The Hurricanes have studied film for hours this week, especially of the Hokies’ loss to West Virginia.
“They [West Virginia] were tough up front,” Carey said. “They run the ball a lot, and that’s how you have to beat that team. Running the ball is definitely a key factor. Jarrett Payton, Tyrone Moss, and all the others are all doing a great job running the ball. But in the end, it’s going to come down to the offensive line.”
With a healthy o-line available, Carey feels that the unit is better now than they’ve been all year.
“We are a work in progress,” Carey said. “Ever since we came back from the FSU game we’ve just been giving more and more every weekend and getting better and better. We have gotten better as a unit. I know I’m getting healthier, much better than I was two to three weeks ago. Everything has just seemed to click recently.”
Winning their 40th regular season game in a row will not be easy, especially against a team competing with the Hurricanes for the Big East title. Carey, known to be one of the best in the nation at protecting gaps, will have to have his finest performance of the season against the Hokies’ defensive front.
“If you don’t win the big ones, it [the season] means nothing,” Carey said. “The only game we lost [last season] was against OSU, and I still do not think that was legit. We are trying to win this big game here and hopefully we can make it all the way through. Our goal is to get to the big dance in New Orleans at the end of the season, and we will do everything in our power to accomplish that.”