The Virginia Tech Hokies took care of business last Thursday with a dominant 37-16 victory over the Miami Hurricanes that included the Hokies’ defense having 8 sacks and 12 tackles for loss.
There were plenty of players who had standout performances but Woody Baron was the standout of them all as he had one of the best performances we’ve ever seen from a Virginia Tech defensive lineman with 6 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and 2 QB hurries. Baron put up these type of numbers despite the fact that both Ken Ekanem and Nigel Williams were out along with Vinny Mihota having to miss some of the game due to his shoulder popping out.
Today, Bud Foster had some high praise for the senior defensive tackle in the midst of his best season as a Hokie.
Bud Foster: Front 4 played extremely hard, "Woody is playing as well as any defensive lineman I've had here in my tenure" #Hokies
— The Tech Lunch Pail (@techlunchpaild) October 24, 2016
“Woody, right now, is playing as well as any defensive lineman we’ve had here during my tenure.”@coachfostervt
— VT Football (@VT_Football) October 24, 2016
Given all the talented defensive linemen Virginia Tech has had during Bud Foster’s tenure like Corey Moore and Darryl Tapp, this statement from Foster is tremendous praise for the senior defensive tackle who played well as a backup last season and has taken his game to the next level in his senior season.
Baron has put up some impressive numbers through 7 games as the Tennessee native has 25 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 4 QB hurries, and 1 fumble recovery. Baron has been a force up the middle on a very talented defensive line and while Ekanem is seen as the primary star on this defensive line, Baron is making a push for the claim of being the Hokies’ best defensive lineman especially after what he did against Miami.
With Ken Ekanem and Nigel Williams likely to be healthy for Pittsburgh, Baron will have more help and likely less attention than he received from the Miami offensive line this past week. Of course, Pittsburgh is known as a more physical football team but Baron will definitely be looking to build on what he did last Thursday.
However, the fact that Bud Foster lavished this level of compliment on Baron should not only be a statement on how well Baron has played but also may draw some attention from NFL scouts. Baron is playing like someone who could move up into a late round draft spot as someone who likely has the versatility to be used as a 4-3 DT or a 3-4 DE.
Baron’s breakout season shouldn’t also be a major surprise given his performance as a backup that made 5 starts last season as Baron had 28 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 1 QB hurry, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 fumble recovery. Baron moved ahead of Nigel Williams on the depth chart as a junior right after Williams had just earned All-ACC Honorable Mention honors as a sophomore when filling in for Luther Maddy.
Before Baron’s breakthrough, many wondered if Baron would be best off moving to defensive tackle given that he was undersized for the DT spot when he was around 255 pounds but always had above-average speed and athleticism for the spot. Unsurprisingly, Bud Foster and his staff didn’t listen to people like myself (see here) and Baron has ended up leaving people like myself looking quite wrong along with proving Foster and Charley Wiles right once again.
Woody Baron has gone from a defensive tackle that had many wondering if a move to defensive end would have been best two years ago to one that had one of the best performances in recent memory by a Virginia Tech defensive lineman and was said by Bud Foster to be “playing as well as any defensive lineman we’ve had here during my tenure.”