This was a topic that I brought up a couple of weeks back when I did the Bearcats Blogcast a couple of weeks ago with Scott from Bearcats Blog. For all the experience that Virginia Tech has up front, and they have a bit of experience, though not as much as they expected in August. Even accounting for the Hokies injury issues up front they have really struggled to protect Michael Brewer.
Through 12 games Tech is 99th in sacks allowed with 31 for the season, on a per game basis that ranks them 102nd in the country. They have allowed sacks on 6.7 percent of Brewer's drop backs, and pressure has impacted their quarterbacks on an 16.6 percent of all drop backs. With a pressure percentage like that it's a wonder that the sack rate is so low. The long and short of it is that the Hokies have struggled tremendously to keep Brewer upright and functioning.
The Bearcats are not blessed with a tremendous all around pass rush this year. The numbers are find, but this group isn't one that you stick on the mantle place like the 2011 or 2008 groups that were absolute terrors to opposing quarterbacks.
The defensive ends are good, and the blitz support from the linebackers has been tremendous, but the Bearcats have not gotten a ton of pass rushing support from the interior positions. Brad Harrah has 2.5 sacks, Camaron Beard and Chris Burton have 1 sack each, and Brandon Mitchell has a half. Together that is 5 sacks from the position. For some perspective the starting linebackers, Jeff Luc, Nick Temple and LEVITICUS PAYNE have a combined 12.5. This in a defense where Hank Hughes went a solid month without intentionally sending a blitz*
*Not a scientific study
All of this is to say that the Bearcats defensive line is going to have ample opportunities to make their stamp on this game. I do worry about the running game of the Hokies, but more because of the prospect of a hot J.C. Coleman than what they can do up front. But I am in the uncomfortable spot of wanting someone to throw against a Bearcats secondary that showed disconcerting lapses against Houston. The Hokies are very banged up at Wide Receiver right now, and I think the Bearcats defensive line can make a real stamp on this game. The Hokie's front will give them chances to do just that, but will they take them?