It’s tradition for the Virginia Tech seniors to parade the Commonwealth Cup downtown the night after beating in-state rival Virginia.
“It was great,” said Ken Ekanem. “Great moment to be a senior, not being a part of, or associated with, a group that lost to the guys up the road. Bringing that downtown was pretty cool. Bringing it bar to bar and hearing everyone yelling and screaming, always wanting to take pictures of it and drink out of it.”
“I told them the same thing I’ve told them after every game that we’ve won,” said Head Coach Justin Fuente. “They need to enjoy it, relax, they’ve earned it, and tomorrow, which is now today, they need to show up ready to work.”
However, Virginia Tech is done celebrating. Now, the Hokies must refocus on getting ready to play Clemson in the ACC Championship Game, something they haven’t done since the 2011 season.
“We can’t get overly excited and not start preparing,” said Sam Rogers. “Clemson is a great team.”
Tech is still in the early stages of preparing for Clemson, but they know two players who they have to get ready for — quarterback Deshaun Watson and linebacker Ben Boulware.
“I hope to introduce myself to him pretty early,” Ekanem said. “Hopefully I can throw him off his game a little bit, show pressure and get to him quick and get him out of his element.”
Watson’s mobility could lead to serious issues for Virginia Tech’s defense. The Hokies have struggled defending mobile quarterbacks on multiple occasions over the years. Tennessee’s Joshua Dobbs ran for 106 yards and two touchdowns vs. the Hokies in the Battle at Bristol, Georgia Tech’s Matthew Jordan ran for 143 yards and a score and Notre Dame’s Deshone Kizer, who is similar to Watson’s skill set, ran for 69 yards on just 16 carries.
“It’s always been a problem, not going to lie,” Ekanem said. “What we’ve got to do is, we’re a gap defense. We’ve got to do a good job of controlling the gap and as long as everyone executes, we’ll shut them down.”
Boulware will be one of Tech’s biggest challenges on offense. Boulware is an instinctive linebacker who plays the run and the pass equally well. The senior linebacker has 95 total tackles, nine sacks, an interception and three forced fumbles.
“He’s a very good player,” Fuente said of Boulware. “They have several. When you watch their front seven, there’s times in games when the backend has very little action because the ball can’t get past the front seven, or the quarterback doesn’t have time to do much. The backend is very talented as well. They’ve got a lot of good players on defense and he certainly is one of them.”
Hokie offensive lineman Jonathan McLaughlin played against Boulware in high school in South Carolina. McLaughlin played at Mauldin High School in Mauldin, SC., whereas Boulware played at T.L. Hanna High School in Anderson, SC.
“He’s a pretty physical guy,” McLaughlin said. “He was a good player in high school and as I watch film, he’s a good player on film as well.”
Stroman medically cleared, status vs. Clemson up in the air
Fuente said on Monday that Greg Stroman was medically cleared to play vs. Virginia, but that the team didn’t feel it was it best to put him on the field. He compared it to the Nigel Williams situation, where the Hokies waited a couple weeks before putting Williams on the field.
“We felt like that was best for the long-term benefit of the team and the person,” Fuente said. “Same thing with Greg now. We’ll go out and practice Tuesday and hopefully everything will be fine.”
Stroman hasn’t played since Duke, when he sprained his ankle on a punt return.
Baron names First Team All-ACC, Evans snubbed
The All-ACC team was announced on Monday, with Woody Baron as the only First Team selection for Virginia Tech. Here are all of Virginia Tech’s players who made an All-ACC team.
First Team: defensive tackle Woody Baron
Second Team: wide receiver Isaiah Ford, linebacker Tremaine Edmunds
Third Team: tight end Bucky Hodges (listed on the ballot as a tight end, not as a wide receiver), offensive linemen Jonathan McLaughlin and Augie Conte, kicker Joey Slye, linebacker Andrew Motuapuaka, cornerback Greg Stroman
Honorable Mention: offensive lineman Wyatt Teller, defensive end Ken Ekanem, safeties Terrell Edmunds and Chuck Clark
Noticeably absent from the All-ACC teams was Jerod Evans, who’s had a solid season at quarterback for Virginia Tech. Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson were the First Team and Second Team selections at quarterback, respectively, while North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky was the Third Team selection.
For the complete results of the All-ACC voting by the Atlantic Coast Media Association (ACSMA), click here. Forty-eight members of the ACSMA voted, with each First Team selection earning a player three points. A Second Team selection is worth two points and a Third Team selection is worth one point.