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ODU’s 17-year-old QB shows elusiveness, potential in loss to Hokies

September 24, 2017 GMT

BLACKSBURG – After his Virginia Tech football team had put the finishing touches on its 38-0 battering of Old Dominion, junior defensive tackle Ricky Walker talked about how frustrated he and his linemates were with their inability to get many sacks against the Monarchs’ rookie quarterback, Steven Williams.

Under duress all afternoon, the 17-year-old freshman used a shuffle of his feet here and a slide step there to keep from taking the battering the Hokies came painfully close to putting on him.

“Going in, we knew that was one of the reasons they started him, because he had that ability,” Walker said. “Just going through the game today, it was getting a little aggravating for the defensive line on the sideline saying, ‘He’s not taking no sacks. He’s running around avoiding them.’”

Imagine how the other guys felt.

ODU gave Williams, believed to be the second-youngest player ever to start a game at quarterback at the FBS level, the start Saturday against the 13th-ranked Hokies (4-0), in large part, because of his elusiveness. Strong-armed and fleet of foot, the Monarchs believe Williams could be a future star.

And while, yes, Walker is correct that Tech only sacked Williams once, it also held the ODU offense to just 149 total yards, a 2 for 14 showing on third down and, most importantly, a zero on the scoreboard.

The Monarchs took just one snap in Hokies’ territory all game, a fourth-and-1 play they ran from an inch or so past the 50-yard line.

“We accomplished what we wanted to do,” longtime Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster said. “We wanted to eliminate their run game, and I think we were 2-for-14 on third down, so that was big on not allowing them to get any continuity or any kind of drives going.”

Williams finished 8 for 26 passing for 85 yards. He was intercepted once and didn’t throw a touchdown pass. But he was only sacked once, being hauled down by Tech linebacker Andrew Motuapuaka as he rolled out on a second-down play at the ODU 34-yard line.

“Pretty amazing,” Old Dominion coach Bobby Wilder said. “His poise, his attitude, the way he is in the locker room. Everybody in our organization knows that he’s the guy and we’ve got to play better around him.”

The Monarchs rushed for just 64 yards on 24 carries, and had receivers drop a number of passes that could have helped Williams out.

“You may all look at me and say, ‘Coach, he didn’t score any points,’” Wilder said. “But I think you all saw what I did. He’s a different player back there.”

And Saturday, he was facing a different kind of defense, most likely the stingiest ODU will see this season.

Virginia Tech’s defense hasn’t allowed a point in the last seven quarters, putting up zeros since the start of the second quarter at East Carolina. It held Old Dominion to three-and-outs on six of its 12 full possessions.

Foster came into this year, his 31st with the Hokies, with 31 career shutouts.

“He gets one every year,” junior defensive back Mook Reynolds said. “The 2006 Tech defense gave up four shutouts, so we’re halfway there. We’re trying to be in the ranks of the No. 1 defense in the land, the best defense Coach Foster has ever had, so it feels good to have two, but we definitely want four, and possibly five.”

Their next chance to add to that total comes Saturday, though the opponent may make it difficult. Tech hosts No. 2 Clemson, the defending national champions.