ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 12: Ken Ekanem #4 of the Virginia Tech Hokies is flagged for a facemask against Justin Thomas #5 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium on November 12, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 12: Ken Ekanem #4 of the Virginia Tech Hokies is flagged for a facemask against Justin Thomas #5 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium on November 12, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 12: Ken Ekanem #4 of the Virginia Tech Hokies is flagged for a facemask against Justin Thomas #5 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium on November 12, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 12: Ken Ekanem #4 of the Virginia Tech Hokies is flagged for a facemask against Justin Thomas #5 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium on November 12, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)Virginia Tech defensive end Ken Ekanem had five tackles, two for loss, against Georgia Tech last season. He was penalized for grabbing quarterback Justin Thomas’ facemask on this play. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Two Hokies linemen give Georgia Tech particular concern

His name is Woody Baron, and he has Georgia Tech’s full attention this week. The Virginia Tech defensive tackle drew praise from coach Paul Johnson Tuesday.

“The kid No. 60 is all over the tape when you turn the tape on,” Johnson said. “He’s a heck of a player and he’s been playing for about three years now and I think he’s playing his best football by far.”

Baron has 36 tackles, 13 for loss, with 4.5 sacks. He also has four quarterback hurries. His 13 tackles for loss is second in the ACC. In last season’s 23-21 Hokies win at Bobby Dodd Stadium, Baron had five solo tackles, one tackle for loss and forced a fumble. The fumble, recovered by Virginia Tech, gave the Hokies the ball at the Georgia Tech 18-yard line and led to the Hokies’ go-ahead touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.

Defensive tackles can have the ability to wreck the Georgia Tech option game by penetrating the backfield and disrupting the mesh between quarterback and B-back, or by pushing the line back to force the quarterback to adjust his footwork on a run to the perimeter, slowing up the play.

Tech is also wary, among others, of defensive end Ken Ekanem, who last year had five tackles, two for loss, against Georgia Tech. Like Baron, Ekanem is a senior. He leads the Hokes with 4.5 sacks.

“We’ve seen him forever,” offensive line coach Mike Sewak lamented.

Georgia Tech’s offensive line play has improved in recent weeks, but this stands to be its biggest challenge since the Clemson game.

“They’ve got a good d-line and good linebackers,” offensive tackle Andrew Marshall said. They always have a good front seven. We’ve got to take care of the quarterback, for sure.”

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