The impressive victory over Virginia Tech last weekend yielded a couple of ACC Player of the Week honors for two of Tech’s finest, offensive lineman Parker Braun and defensive back Lawrence Austin. The two were each named player of the week for their particular position group, a nice recognition of a job very well done against an extremely talented Virginia Tech team. True to offensive line form, Braun’s good day was much quieter than Austin’s (who recorded three of Tech’s four takeaways), but equally impressive given the level of competition he was going up against. The Hokies have a new coach, but the defensive line remains a strength of the team. The fact that a true freshman was able to perform so well is a great sign for the future.
With Tech finally having notched that sixth win of the season, we can officially stop worrying about whether or not the team will be making a postseason appearance after missing out last season. The better news is that we can now shamelessly look at every possible set of bowl projections, even though some of them still have the Jackets heading to the Quick Lane Bowl to face off with the likes of Indiana. The opponent is not the issue in this potential matchup; the Hoosiers have played very well against some high-quality opposition and are likely much better than their 5-5 record would indicate. The problem is that the bowl is in Detroit, a venue that would draw a horrendously small number of Tech fans. In fact, I can’t think of a bowl city that anyone would want to travel to any less than the Motor City right after Christmas.
Other projections include a potential matchup with Maryland in the Pinstripe Bowl (better location and potentially more fun matchup, though the Jackets and Terps have a long ACC history) and the Camping World Independence Bowl against Louisiana Tech. Uh, no thanks on the trip to Shreveport.
Virginia has named a starting quarterback for this weekend’s game at Bobby Dodd Stadium, and it appears that we will be seeing the veteran Matt Johns for the second season in a row. Johns, a former backup to now-Georgia backup Greyson Lambert, beat the Jackets 27-21 in Charlottesville a season ago before losing his job this season. A 2-8 season has seen head coach Bronco Mendenhall sour on ECU transfer Kurt Benkert, who started the first ten games of the 2016 campaign before costly turnovers hurt his confidence. Johns isn’t the best quarterback we’ve seen this season, and he certainly isn’t the most mobile. However, he can do exactly what every other quarterback who has had success against the Jackets has done: complete short passes for days on end, whether it be a screen or over the middle to a tight end. Please, just don’t go 0-2 against him.