Over the last couple of weeks, one of the biggest surprises for the Virginia Tech football team has been the play of their defense. They are frustrating their opponents and more importantly, they are getting stops and creating turnovers.
One of the reasons for their success has been the play of Florida transfer Antwaun Powell-Ryland and the junior has vaulted to near the top of the country in one key stat.
Antwaun Powell-Ryland is tied for second in Power 5 sacks
Since ACC play began, the Virginia Tech defense has been tough. Real tough. In their two wins, they allowed 14 points to Pittsburgh and just six to Wake Forest. They have put more pressure on the opposing quarterbacks and created some turnovers.
Powell-Ryland had four sacks of the Demon Deacons’ two quarterbacks last Saturday to increase his season total to seven, which ties him for second for Power 5 teams, tied with Dallas Turner of Alabama. Jonah Elliss of Utah leads the country for Power 5 teams with nine and Louisville’s Ashton Gillotte and North Carolina’s Kaimon Rucker each have 6.5
There is no secret as to who teams have to gameplan for when it comes to Virginia Tech’s defense. Keonta Jenkins knows that the edge rusher is key for the defense over the final five games.
“APR, he’s an exciting player. I know we talked right before coming out of halftime about what we needed to do. And I think we were low on the sacks, and we tried to turn it into a battle of ‘who gone get to the quarterback first,’” Jenkins said. “I think he ended up coming out on top. APR, very exciting player, he [teaches] me a couple things with pass rushing and getting to the quarterback and I like seeing that guy make plays.”
It’s safe to say that the Hokies have needed all of those sacks and will continue to need him to cause problems for the opposing teams. What an addition he has been for defensive coordinator Chris Marve.