The ACC released its 2016 All-Conference teams yesterday afternoon, and our sincerest congratulations go out to Tech’s three representatives: center Freddie Burden, kicker Harrison Butker, and defensive tackle Patrick Gamble. Butker and Gamble were both named to the Honorable Mention team, having received 34 and 23 points in the voting procedure, respectively, and Burden was named to the Third Team for his excellent senior campaign on the Flats. The nature of Paul Johnson’s offense makes it understandably difficult for voters to key in on specific contributors for their individual efforts — blocking and making reads doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, after all — but I feel justified in saying that Burden in particular probably deserved a higher spot on the list; he’s been a stalwart on Tech’s line for years now and capped off a truly spectacular career on the Flats with another great performance.
Clinton Lynch probably deserved some consideration as well, especially given that he led the ACC in yards per rush among players with at least 35 carries (11.2 yards per carry) and yards per reception among players with at least 15 catches (30.6 yards per reception — remarkable). He was also the only player to finish in the top 30 of the conference in total receiving yards and total rushing yards, compiling 882 yards and 8 touchdowns for the year. His touchdown mark, by the way, is good for 19th in the conference.
Though last weekend’s biggest news was unquestionably Tech’s Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate victory over Georgia, it would be positively ridiculous to ignore the fact that guard Josh Okogie set the Georgia Tech freshman record for scoring by dropping 38 points on Tulane in Tech’s weekend victory over the Green Wave. Though the 2016 season still figures to be a rough one, the performance of Okogie has been a shining example of why we should have hope for the future under head coach Josh Pastner and his staff. He received the ACC Rookie of the Week award for his most recent performances, but the 38-point outpouring was hardly an aberration — Okogie is currently averaging a team-leading 19 points per game while pulling down 5.6 rebounds on average.
Junior center Ben Lammers, meanwhile, has been among the best players in the nation so far this season. He’s averaging a double-double per game, pulling down 10.2 rebounds to go with his remarkable 17.6 points per game this year while also leading the entire country in blocks with an astounding 5.6 per game. It’s true that he’s been putting up those numbers against warmup teams, but everyone else in the country has been playing the same caliber of opponents so far – don’t discredit his accomplishments on the basis of his opposition and what they’ve achieved. He will be instrumental for Tech tonight against Penn State in what figures to be Tech’s first taste of true opposition, despite the fact that they’ve failed one test against Ohio already. The Nittany Lions are a beatable team, having gone 4-3 with losses to Albany, Duke, and Cincinnati. Tech was left out of the ACC/B1G Challenge last season, so hopefully they can avenge their omission with a win tonight in State College.