The Hokies' already paper-thin depth chart on the defensive line just got thinner. Junior defensive tackle Kwamaine Battle will miss the remainder of the 2010 season with a torn left, the school announced today.
Battle suffered the injury on the second play of James Madison's second drive of Saturday's game. According to the athletics department, sophomore Antoine Hopkins will take Battle's place in the starting lineup and his back-up will be determined later this week before the Hokies take on East Carolina.
The injury leaves the Hokies with just three defensive tackles who have seen action this season. In addition to Hopkins and senior John Graves, Hopkins' younger brother Derrick saw action against Boise State. Sophomore Isaiah Hamlette, who moved to tackle from end in the spring, is also an option although he did not dress against James Madison.
The Hokies' run defense was inconsistent in its first game against Boise State and struggled against James Madison's zone-read option after Battle went down. Hopkins did get in on four tackles against the Dukes and also sacked quarterback Drew Dudzik once.
With Battle's injury, expect the Hokies' run defense to continue to be a work in progress in September. It will need to improve before they get into the meat of their conference schedule. Against East Carolina, they'll primarily face another zone-read attack when the Pirates run the ball. However, against Boston College they'll see more of a power rushing game with one of the conference's best running backs in Montel Harris.
The run defense will definitely be something to keep an eye on the next two weeks to see how the Pirates and Eagles attack it and how effective the defense will be against it.