After Virginia Tech survived at Duke last weekend, the Virginia Tech Hokies jumped to 14th in the College Football Playoff rankings and now return home one win away from winning the ACC Coastal thanks to Duke pulling off a big upset over North Carolina. However, the Hokies will face a Georgia Tech team that has found ways to frustrated and surprise the Hokies in the past.
With that said, here are our key matchups for the Hokies and Yellow Jackets.
FS Chuck Clark vs. WR Clinton Lynch
While Chuck Clark won’t be matched up against Georgia Tech wide receiver Clinton Lynch, Virginia Tech’s cornerbacks will likely not be playing much off the line of scrimmage against the Georgia Tech triple option while Clark will be the deep guy to prevent any Georgia Tech runner from turning a big play into a touchdown.
However, Clark’s role will also make him the primary guy on some play-action passes that Paul Johnson has wrinkled into this offense with Clinton Lynch being the big play touchdown guy on the outside.
So far, Lynch only has 12 catches but five of those have been touchdowns with Lynch also having 389 receiving yards and averaging 32.4 yards per catch. When Lynch has gotten the ball, it usually has been a big play and Clark will need to be ready to shadow and cover the deep ball that Justin Thomas will likely try to go for at least once or twice.
Clark will be the man over the top to prevent any big plays from being touchdowns and if a Virginia Tech cornerback bites on a fake, it will be critical for Clark to make the quick read and get into man coverage quickly to either shut down the option completely or make a play using his very good ball skills.
If Clark can prevent the Georgia Tech offense from having their big play pass machine in Lynch be effective, Virginia Tech should be able to control this game fairly well.
DE Ken Ekanem vs. LT Jahaziel Lee
Ken Ekanem hasn’t been 100% recently but he seems to be getting healthier and likely has this matchup against Georgia Tech’s true freshman starting left tackle Jahaziel Lee circled. While Lee has played in every game and hasn’t been too bad, this is a dream matchup for Ekanem especially with this game being in front of what will be a rowdy, sell-out crowd in Lane Stadium that has gotten in the heads of their fair share of offensive linemen this season.
Lee and Georgia Tech have likely been practicing with lots of noise to try to prepare themselves for the difficult environment they will face at Lane Stadium and to help them avoid unnecessary false starts. However, there is nothing like a true freshman actually having to get out there and face one of the ACC’s best defensive ends with over 65,000 fans screaming at you.
For Lee and the Georgia Tech offensive line as a whole, their discipline and communication will be tested. For Ekanem, he will look to get in the head early andtry to blow up some of Georgia Tech’s triple-option plays quickly against a guy that he likely knows could cause a serious mismatch that Virginia Tech must exploit.
If Ekanem can exploit this as he’s capable of, he will have one of the best performances of his collegiate career.
WR Isaiah Ford vs. CB Lance Austin
Isaiah Ford is four receptions away from becoming Virginia Tech’s career reception leader and while Georgia Tech may not have as talented of cornerbacks of Duke, they do have some intriguing guys including their top cornerback Lance Austin who likely will be following Ford around a lot with a bigger defensive back like Lamont Simmons or one of Georgia Tech’s safeties spending time covering the massive Bucky Hodges.
For Georgia Tech, they likely will give Austin plenty of help over the top but there may be times where Austin is in pure one-on-one coverage and will be tested by Jerod Evans. Austin has 1 interception and 7 pass breakups this season so he is fairly capable but this is a challenge unlike any he has seen so far this season in the electric Ford who can make plays in almost any a wide receiver can.
Ford has shown that he can be contained at some times but it is almost impossible to shut him down for a game as Ford ended up being the Hokies’ leading receiver one again before it was all set and done after having only 1 reception in the first half. Ford knows how to find ways to get open and make things happen, making this an extremely difficult assignment for Austin who has some experience and likely knows Ford decently well as a fellow true junior.
If Austin can do the almost impossible and shut down Isaiah Ford, the Hokies’ offense could miss some opportunities, but that seems highly unlikely given how talented Ford is and how hard he is to shut down.
Stay up with The Tech Lunch Pail for the latest on the Hokies via Facebook and Twitter plus subscribe to our email updates.