Virginia Tech nickelback Chamarri Conner was named ACC Defensive Player of the Week after his performance against North Carolina on Friday.
The Jacksonville, FL native had a team-high eight tackles against the Tar Heels, including six solo stops. He also picked off UNC quarterback Sam Howell in the fourth quarter, a play that sealed Tech’s victory. It was the fourth interception of his career.
Conner is one of the Hokies’ five team captains and had the honor of wearing Frank Beamer’s No. 25 on Friday.
The full list of ACC players of the week can be found here: Release.
Justin Fuente Named The Dodd Trophy Coach of the Week
Officials from the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Foundation and Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl selected Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente as The Dodd Trophy Coach of the Week on Tuesday.
The Dodd Trophy Coach of the Week award honors a football coach who led his team to a significant victory during the previous week, while also embodying the award’s three pillars of scholarship, leadership and integrity.
“This was a marquee victory to open the season and conference play for Coach Fuente and the Hokies,” Jim Terry, chairman of the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Foundation, said. “Coach Dodd would have admired such a dominating defensive performance against one of the nation’s premiere quarterbacks.”
Full Release: Link.
Hokies Jump in Rankings
After a triumphant win in front of a packed Lane Stadium on Friday against then-No. 10 North Carolina, Virginia Tech jumped up 19 spots to No. 21 in the USA Today Coaches Poll on Tuesday.
The Hokies sit one spot (22 points) ahead of the Tar Heels and 11 points behind Ole Miss at No. 20. Tech joins No. 6 Clemson, No. 22 Carolina and No. 24 Miami in the poll. The full USA Today Coaches Poll can be found here: Poll.
Virginia Tech also jumped into the AP Poll’s Top 25 on Tuesday at No. 19. North Carolina dropped 14 spots to 24 this week.
Notre Dame (7 in Coaches Poll, 8 in AP Poll) and Miami (24 in Coaches Poll, 22 in AP Poll) are the Hokies’ two remaining opponents on the schedule in the top 25.
Hokies’ Defensive Line Staying Fresh
Virginia Tech defensive tackle Norell Pollard told the media on Tuesday that the way the Hokies’ rotated the defensive line vs. UNC kept everyone fresh. The snap count at tackle:
Mario Kendricks: 34
Josh Fuga: 30
Jordan Williams: 29
“We have depth at the defensive tackle position,” Pollard said. “I feel like it’s the first year we’ve really had depth where we can run me and Mario, Fuga and Jordan, there’s no drop-off, it doesn’t matter. You’re going to have to account for everyone on the d-line at that position, and that’s the great thing of having four d-tackles that can play. You have to account for that because it keeps everyone fresh, everyone rolling and upbeat.”
Against UNC in 2020, Tech recorded just three TFLs and one sack. On Friday, the Hokies had nine tackles for loss and six sacks, coupled with two forced fumbles and three interceptions. Amare Barno and TyJuan Garbutt were particularly impressive, combining for 11 tackles, 5.5. TFLs and 3.5 sacks.
That opened the door for the tackles on the interior to get pressure, and they did. Tech’s defensive tackles totaled seven tackles, one tackle for loss and one sack.
“[Playing alongside Barno and Garbutt] opens up a lot because you can’t just worry about one or two people, you have to worry about the whole defensive line,” Pollard said. “It messes with opposite team’s o-linemen and you pick your poison, basically.”
Solid First Start for Freshman Kaden Moore
Though Virginia Tech’s offensive line has experience and depth, it started Kaden Moore, a freshman from Bethlehem, PA, at right guard on Friday.
That was the first and biggest thing that stood out last week about the Hokies’ depth chart, but Moore played well on a big stage against UNC. Moore received tons of praise leading up to the opener, and it was well-placed. He played 42 snaps at right guard, while Johnny Jordan played 21. While his PFF grades weren’t fantastic, he only allowed one pressure and one sack through those 42 snaps.
“You’ve got to use all of your technique [in a game] because that’s the real deal, that’s not practice anymore, those are like grown men,” Moore said Tuesday. “You’ve got to use your technique, use what you’ve been taught.”
Moore said that Tech’s offensive line had problems getting the playcall because the crowd was so loud.
“In the beginning, we weren’t getting the signal. Brock said, ‘Once I say the front, you’ve got to tell Silas [Dzansi] because he can’t hear,’ it was so loud.
“That was my first game at Virginia Tech with a full crowd so I was definitely excited, definitely nervous, definitely ready. It outdid my expectations. … I’ve never seen anything like it with the students rushing the field. I couldn’t find any of my teammates after because there were so many students, so much happiness and joyfulness. It was amazing and breathtaking.”