Adewale Ojomo Talks Move to Tackle; Miami Prepares for V-Tech


Adewale Ojomo was moved to defensive tackle prior to last weekend’s win over Bethune-Cookman, and is listed as a possible starter at the defensive tackle spot for the upcoming matchup with Virginia Tech. There’s an ‘OR’ between Ojomo and Marcus Forston on the latest depth chart, and Ojomo has every intention of erasing it.

“Marcus is like a brother to me,” Ojomo told reporters on Tuesday. “It’s very competitive every day. He knows that if he doesn’t bring it I’m going to take his job, so that’s what I’m trying to do.”

When asked about the position battle at his weekly press conference on Tuesday, head coach Al Golden praised Ojomo’s move to the interior of the D-line. “He’s strong. If he wasn’t strong we couldn’t do it,” Golden said, noting that he makes up for a lack of “girth” with a quick first step and good use of his hands. “Again, we’re not looking for 70 plays out of him there. We want to make sure we rotate guys and when they’re in there they’re playing at 100% and being physical and fast.”

Miami was famous for its ability to rotate backups on the defensive line without missing a step. Some of the best defensive linemen to play in the NFL have come through Miami, and plenty have gone from backup roles early in college to successful collegiate and professional careers. Being able to rotate guys gives you a distinct and obvious advantage over teams without that depth up front. With Ojomo playing tackle, and Forston and Micanor Regis versatile enough to play the tackle or nose, it gives the Hurricanes versatility in the middle.

Ojomo could hypothetically play end as well, and Anthony Chickillo is off to a wonderful start. Don’t forget about Marcus Robinson and Andrew Smith on the left side, and remember that Olivier Vernon will return in a couple of games when his six-game suspension is fully served. So far this year, five defensive linemen have recorded a sack led by Robinson with three and Chickillo with 2.5.

Still, Miami has clearly struggled up front in run defense (they’re off to their worst start since 1995), which the team acknowledges. “To be honest with you, we just have to stay in our gaps and execute the defense,” Ojomo told reporters. “I think that’s been our problem in the last couple of weeks.”

Golden points out that what his coaching staff is teaching up front differs from what the previous coaching staff taught. “I don’t want to judge anybody’s work before me” Golden said. “All I know is what we’re trying to do. We’re more hand-oriented, more gap- and alignment-oriented. So there was a lot of swimming in the past, a lot of jumping in the gap. That’s fine if that’s the style you play, but we’re trying to play a different style right now.”

He went on to note that a lot of the problems are coming from players not playing the same technique and not playing as a unit. He also acknowledged in his press conference that the tackling has to improve. “If the tackling doesn’t get better against this quarterback [Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas] and this running back [David Wilson] we’re going to have a long day.”

Wilson is ranked seventh in the country with 127.8 yards per game, while Miami running back Lamar Miller is ranked eight with 127.75 yards per game. Wilson has rushed for over 100 yards in four of the five games this season, failing to reach the century mark only once when he rushed for 85 yards in the win over Arkansas State. Miami has surrendered 809 rushing yards this season and is ranked 105th in the country letting up 202.25 yards per game.

Wilson and Thomas are dangerous playmakers, a sentiment Golden shared with reporters. “What we can’t do is have it be a two-headed monster all game. We can’t be stopping Wilson and then trying to defend the quarterback runs as well. We got to make sure we eliminate one of them.”

As for Ojomo, he says the defense understands what they have to do. “No, we’re not scratching our heads,” he said. “We know what we gotta do. We got answers.”