The Virginia Tech Hokies got a big victory last week under the Friday Night lights against the N.C. State Wolfpack with 21 unanswered second quarter points to take control of the game. Now, the Hokies have a chance to get back in the thick of the hunt of the ACC Coastal race on the road against a Miami team that needs a win.
With this important ACC Coastal showdown here, we take a look at this week’s Hokies to watch.
RB Travon McMillian
Travon McMillian has taken the starting job at running back away from J.C. Coleman and was the only running back to receive carries last week against the Wolfpack. This week, McMillian will look to build on his solid game against N.C. State that included a big 59-yard touchdown run.
Now McMillian isn’t as good as Florida State’s Dalvin Cook, but McMillian has big-play potential and could be set for a big game against a Miami defense that gave up 222 rushing yards to Cook on 22 carries last week. The Hokies will look to attack the Miami run defense early and look to McMillian to build on last week’s performance.
McMillian has the type of game-changing speed that can allow him to make a highlight-reel play at any moment. The redshirt freshman running back is dangerous once he gets in space, and the Hokies will need the offensive line to have another good week to create some holes and open up the field for the athletic, fast McMillian.
McMillian has also shown improved vision as he gotten more playing time, and that should continue over the coming weeks as he goes from just being an athlete to being a very good running back. McMillian had a strong game last week, but a bigger game could be coming against a Miami rush defense that struggled last week.
WR Isaiah Ford
Isaiah Ford is back in his home state this week for this showdown against Miami after becoming the first Hokie to have three receiving touchdowns in one game since Ernest Wilford had three receiving touchdowns against Syracuse in 2002.
Earlier this week, ESPN’s ACC blog featured Ford as the ACC’s top wide receiver so far and the Florida native likely knows that he could be a First Team All-ACC player this year. However, Ford will need to continue to keep making plays and this game in front of some of his family most likely seems like a potential big game in the making.
Ford will face one of his toughest matchups of the season against veteran Miami cornerback Tracy Howard. Ford will likely get a lot of one-on-one matchups against Howard with Miami recognizing the presence of the Hokies’ multitude of talented receivers that include Bucky Hodges, Cam Phillips, and Ryan Malleck.
Ford has stepped his game up this season, and has shown great awareness and very good route-running skills along with more speed and great hands. Ford has the potential to go down as one of Virginia Tech’s best receivers and against one of the Hokies’ biggest rivals, don’t be surprised if Ford goes off for a big game.
DE Ken Ekanem
For the first five weeks of the season, Ken Ekanem couldn’t get a single sack, but the redshirt junior defensive end finally got his first sack last week in what was a great game for him. Against the Wolfpack, Ekanem had 9 tackles, 2.5 total tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks in what was definitely his best game of the season so far.
Now with some confidence, Ekanem may be set to take off over the course of the second half of the regular season.
Ekanem and the Hokies’ defensive line will look to get some revenge this year after Miami was dominant on the ground with Duke Johnson and Gus Edwards getting huge holes on a Thursday night in Lane Stadium. One difference is in that game, Miami had a lot more talent at the offensive tackle spots led by Ereck Flowers.
Entering this game, the Hurricanes have a true sophomore at left tackle and a redshirt sophomore at right tackle. With the Hokies’ tremendous defensive line, Ekanem will likely face his fair share of one-on-one matchups, and don’t be surprised if the redshirt junior defensive end makes Brad Kaaya feel very uncomfortable in this matchup.
Ken Ekanem finally got his first sack last week, and a lot more may be on the way beginning at Sun Life Stadium this week.