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  • Irish In Need of “Tech” Support

    by Mike Coffey

    Our guest author this week is seanfl

    This Saturday marks the final home game of the year for Notre Dame.  For most fans, the season can’t end soon enough.  However, the Irish still have bowl opportunities if they can win their next two games.  Before next weekend, and their annual match up with USC, the Irish will face off against Virginia Tech.  Virginia Tech, for the first time since 1987, has a head coach on their sideline that is not named Frank Beamer.  Yes, Frank Beamer was the coach for Virginia Tech when Tim Brown was winning the Heisman Trophy for Notre Dame.  Their program has been a model of consistency.  They have been to a bowl game every year since 1993.  Bud Foster has been a member of the defensive coaching staff since 1987.  And they constantly produce NFL talent.  While not the juggernaut they were in the late 90’s to early 2000’s, they certainly have the talent to not only win this Saturday, but make things ugly if Notre Dame doesn’t show up for all four quarters.

    Virginia Tech’s Offense vs Notre Dame’s Defense

    Justin Fuente has brought his high octane offense to Blacksburg and the results have been pretty solid for his first year. It’s never easy to overhaul an offensive philosophy in just one year, but the early returns are fairly good. Jerod Evans is the driving force behind this offense. Not only has he been very efficient ( 22 tds to just 4 ints), he is also their leading rusher. He has been very solid on the short, intermediate passes but has struggled when stretching the ball down field. That should help Notre Dame’s young defensive backfield. Since the Texas game, Notre Dame’s defensive backs have done a solid job of keeping the ball in front of them, and limiting long gains. However, Notre Dame has yet to face a more talented receiving unit than the one they will face this weekend.  Isaiah Ford and Cam Phillips are the best wideouts the Irish will face outside of USC.  While not speed merchants, they are consistent and have the size to win a lot of one on one battles.  If you are looking at a serious mismatch, look no further than tight end Bucky Hodges.  Listed at 6-7 and around 250 pounds, he is a red zone nightmare.  Notre Dame would be wise to have Donte Vaughn shadow Hodges inside the 20 yard line.  Vaughn’s size would help negate some of the advantage that Hodges has over most defensive backs.  The running game though, hasn’t been a high point for the Hokies.  Travon McMillian has twice gone over the 100 yard mark this season, but much like Josh Adams (who has two 100 yard efforts this season as well), that is the extent of 100 yards games by a back in this match up.  Evans is an effective runner, but the lack of running game has begun to hurt the Hokie’s as the season has wore on.  The offensive line, while solid in pass protection, has not been able to get the sort of push needed in the running game to sustain drives.  Boy, doesn’t that sound familiar?!?!   The Hokies have been turnover prone as of late.  A few turnovers would go a long way for this young, but improving Irish defense.

    Notre Dame’s Offense vs Virginia Tech’s Defense

    If he would actually listen to reason, Brian Kelly would line up and run 50 times this weekend.  Virginia Tech has given up an average of 232 yards per game on the ground over the past 3 weeks.  Part of that is due to nagging injuries on the Hokie front four.  That is a weakness that should be exploited.  Wearing down the defense, and limiting the pass rush, would be exactly what the doctor ordered in this game.  While DeShone Kizer will have opportunities to make plays with his arm, throwing 40 times will play right into Virginia Tech’s strength.  Equanimeous St. Brown and KJ Stepherson have exceed expectations this year, but they will find it tougher sledding against a defense that is currently 12th in the nation in pass defense.  Kizer must show more poise and pocket awareness.  The Hokies average around 2.5 sacks a game.  Andrew Motuapuaka and Tremaine Edmunds are very active linebackers and are the leading tacklers. Edmunds is not only tied for the team lead in sacks but interceptions as well.   The Notre Dame offensive line needs to sustain their blocks, and should be able to open holes for Josh Adams and Tarean Folston, if given the chance.  I am not expecting much of an opportunity though.

    Special Teams

    “Beamer Ball” is not what it once was in Blacksburg.  The Hokie kicking game is 17-23 on field goal attempts, and only 1-5 beyond 39 yards.  The punting game is averaging under 40 yards per kick. While the Hokies do have a punt return for a touchdown this year, overall, the return game has been average.  Notre Dame’s special teams can make a big play at any moment.  They also are one play away from losing a game.  It’s anyone’s guess which one will show up.

    Summary

    If you just went by talent, Notre Dame should win this game going away.  Unfortunately, Notre Dame is the team that is 4-6 and Virgina Tech is the team sitting at 7-3.  Justin Fuente has done an admirable job in his first year taking over for a program legend.  Brian Kelly has looked like a first year coach this season.  Coaching will be the deciding factor this week.  Notre Dame should have the advantage there as well.  I said “should”, not “will”.

    Here are a few questions for this game:

    Will Brian Kelly run the ball more than he throws?

    Will the Notre Dame pass defense be able to hang with this elite receiving corp?

    Will Virginia Tech avoid costly turnovers?

    Which special teams unit will avoid the big mistake?

    Does Jarron Jones emerge from his 2 week coma?

    Will this be Brian Kelly’s final game in South Bend?

    Prediction

    A lot of fans are hoping that this will be Brian Kelly’s final game at Notre Dame Stadium.  If the Irish come out flat on Senior Day, Virginia Tech has the talent to absolutely handle the Irish and put another ugly wart on this season. Notre Dame needs a win to keep their meager bowl hopes alive.  Virginia Tech needs a win next week against rival Virginia in order to secure a spot in the ACC Championship.  I’m unsure how motivated the Hokies are for this game.  Shockingly, this is also the type of game that Brian Kelly’s teams usually get up for.  That combination makes me think that the Irish send their senior’s out with a victory.

    Notre Dame 34  Virginia Tech 24

    19 Responses to “Irish In Need of “Tech” Support”

    1. Glenn Hane says:

      I think the Irish come out strong and put together a complete game for the second week in a row. Kizer has his best game of the year and Josh Adams and Folston are solid in the ground game.

      Irish 31 V Tech 20

    2. Special Teams “blunders” cost ND another game.. JF will outcoach BK.

      I’ve been right all season and nothing will change this weekend.

      VT 33
      ND 23

      NBC can’t wait until this season ends as this is “not” must see television!!!

    3. VT 28 ND 24. Good luck at new location Coach Kelly.

    4. BaldKnobber says:

      My completely unscientific analysis is that the crummy weather will blunt Tech’s passing attack and ND will opt to run more, with some success. (I know we didn’t do it during a monsoon but hope springs eternal!) The Seniors get a final win at home to help take the sting out of this heinous season. ND 24, VT 17.

    5. Carlos Bauza says:

      ND football is above Kelly’s talents.

    6. To say this season has been a disappointment is a huge understatement. There is no entertainment value in watching the team repeatedly shoot itself in the foot and getting thrashed by teams they should be able to beat handily. I’m glad I did not buy the season tickets that were offered to me earlier this year. VT 38 ND 17.

    7. No way Irish win this one, unless VT is looking ahead to next week (which is a supreme insult). Hope I’m wrong.

    8. Why would this team show anything but what has gone before? I love the Irish so hope they can win, but I love the Irish and hope a loss will be another nail in BK”s coffin. Ambivalence is a terrible thing.

    9. I am not sure an ND team that could not stop Navy on most every 3 and 4th down is likely to stop VT at all. The Army game is certainly not any sort of measuring stick of ND progress. They beat a very inferior Army team. They may as well been playing Holy Cross or Assumption.

    10. I think ND may win tomorrow but…if they don’t….next week at SouCal will probably be a terrible and embarrassing loss, perhaps sending BK to the unemployment line. Then maybe the administration can go out there and talk Charlie Weis into coming back. How much longer do we have to put up with this?

    11. irishhawk50 says:

      Has the defense really improved? No way to tell from playing Army. Didn’t show much improvement against Navy who even BVG beat. Is all the talk about defense and offense improvement just Kelly happy talk? This game will tell.

    12. V Tech 24
      ND 21

    13. I’d like to think they’ll the the senior out with a win but it’s difficult to tell. It seems they always find a way to hand the other team a win on a silver platter. It feels like the last couple of years of the Charlie Weis era with no energy or optimism.

    14. Austinirish says:

      Weather looks like it should favor the running game. Maybe that will help Kelly see the light. 27-20 Irish.

    15. Carlos Bauza says:

      Special Teams will do their characteristic 7-year-rash.
      Defense will do their do-do.
      Offense will obey Kelly’s inscrutable sideline plays.
      Convincing liberation for Kelly. He is way above his talent at ND.

    16. Offense – advantage Notre Dame
      Defense – advantage Notre Dame
      Special Teams – advantage Notre Dame
      Home Field – advantage Notre Dame
      Coaching – advantage Va Tech

      So, by my detailed, in depth analysis, it doesn’t look good for the Irish today.

    17. Really hope the Irish win but why is a 4-6 ND favored by 1.5 over a 7-3 VT? Interestingly enough ND has been “favored” in literally every game this season and we all know how that’s gone! A more reasonable score line is probably VT by 3. But come on Irish! On senior day! Find a way! Then there will be a decent reason to watch USC next week and a chance for a bowl game! I know, I know, it’ll be a crappy bowl! But to somehow get to a bowl game and chance of a barely winning season this year would salvage something of the year and give us a little hope for the future.

    18. Fire his ass. He hasn’t a clue. Worst season of ND football I ‘ve ever experienced.

    19. Ridiculous officiating!!

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