Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 2, 2019

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 42 of 63 NOV. 2, 2019 43 BY TODD D. BURLAGE VIRGINIA TECH RUNNING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME RUN DEFENSE Led by redshirt junior running back Deshawn Mc- Clease, the Hokies running game has been solid, though not spectacular, ranking 57th nationally with 175.1 rushing yards per game. Through seven games, McClease was averaging 67.9 rushing yards per outing (87th in the country) at a clip of 4.9 yards per carry and three rushing touchdowns. He has eclipsed 100 yards twice this season, including equaling his career best with 124 yards and a score on 12 carries in a 34-17 win over Rhode Island Oct. 12. Freshman tailback Keshawn King has proven to be a steady complement to McClease, posting 40.0 rushing yards per game and 4.62 yards per carry. Sophomore left tackle Christian Darrisaw leads the way for the Virginia Tech line. The 6-5, 311-pounder started 12 games in his first year on campus and earned Freshman All-America acco- lades from 247Sports, and has been a mainstay for the unit again this season. The improvement for Notre Dame was grad- ual and impressive in this area heading into the Michigan game. The Irish rush defense dropped to No. 110 in the country after allowing an average of 204.3 yards in its first three games. But through improved play from an inexperi- enced group of linebackers, Notre Dame allowed an average of only 97.7 rushing yards in its next three games and ranked 64th in the country with an average of 154.0 yards allowed per contest. Notre Dame's starting linebackers — fifth-year se- nior Asmar Bilal along with juniors Drew White and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah — hold down three of the top four spots among Irish leading tacklers. Advantage: Notre Dame VIRGINIA TECH PASSING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME PASS DEFENSE A left leg injury to redshirt sophomore start- ing quarterback Hendon Hooker in Virginia Tech's 43-41 six-overtime win over North Carolina Oct. 19 has left this position and the Hokies passing game with much uncertainty heading into the matchup against Notre Dame. Head coach Justin Fuente said the injury could have been worse and the Hokies had a bye Oct. 26 to give Hooker an extra week to heal. However, Fuente also indicated that he will not play Hooker unless his dual-threat signal-caller is at or near 100 percent health. Hooker had given the offense a spark with his dual-threat capabilities after entering the starting lineup against Miami Oct. 5. He guided the Hokies to a 42-35 win over the Hurricanes, completing 10 of 20 throws for 184 yards with three touchdowns while also rushing 16 times for 78 yards and a score. He was on his way to another big game against the Tar Heels before getting hurt, and had com- pleted 34 of 59 throws for 572 yards with seven touchdowns and no interceptions in his three starts. He also rushed 41 times for 160 yards and a score. If Hooker cannot go against the Irish, fifth-year senior Ryan Willis or redshirt freshman Quincy Patterson II will take the reins. The duo split time while replacing Hooker against North Carolina, with Patterson getting the bulk of the work in the second half. Virginia Tech's Darrisaw earned a spot on the Pro Football Focus' ACC Team of the Week for his performance in the win over North Carolina, al- lowing zero pass pressures and a conference-high Sophomore left tackle Christian Darrisaw has started the first 19 games of his career (missing one due to injury) and was tabbed as a Freshman All-American in 2018. PHOTO COURTESY VIRGINIA TECH ATHLETICS GAME PREVIEW: VIRGINIA TECH On PaPer

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