Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 2, 2019

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

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Page 46 of 63 NOV. 2, 2019 47 notably the aforementioned 45‑10 humiliation to Duke at home, had Fuente's coaching star plummeting. A three‑game winning streak, with 11th‑hour and even past midnight (overtime) wins versus Miami and North Carolina have Virginia Tech on the upswing again. Like Virginia Sept. 28, the Hokies will be catching Notre Dame follow‑ ing an emotion‑laden road game, with the Irish having played at No. 3 Georgia the week prior to the Cava‑ liers. This time against Virginia Tech, the game occurs after the showdown at No. 19 Michigan. Virginia led Notre Dame at half‑ time before falling. Can Fuente and Virginia Tech provide an even greater challenge while having a little more time to prepare? TALE OF THE TURNOVER For the third consecutive game, Notre Dame will be facing a Power Five team that entering the contest ranks among the worst in turnover margin. USC came into the Oct. 12 contest at Notre Dame 123rd among 130 teams, but had zero against the Irish — who also had zero — while losing 30‑27. Michigan had been in the 100s be‑ fore moving up to No. 84 in turnover margin when it hosted Notre Dame Oct. 26. Finally, Virginia Tech, going into its bye Oct. 26 prior to playing Notre Dame was 113th in turnover margin, gaining only eight while committing 13 for a minus‑0.71 ratio per game. Turnovers were a primary reason why fifth‑year senior and incum‑ bent quarterback Ryan Willis lost his job to redshirt sophomore Hendon Hooker in the first half of the season. During the 35‑28 loss to Boston Col‑ lege in the season opener, the Hokies committed five turnovers (to Boston College's one), with Willis tossing three interceptions and also losing a fumble. The embarrassing 45‑10 defeat at home to Duke in which the Blue Dev‑ ils had zero turnovers to the Hokies two on Sept. 27 that dropped Vir‑ ginia Tech to 2‑2 prompted a change at signal‑caller. Hooker had actually entered his name into the transfer portal earlier in the year before opt‑ ing to return to Blacksburg. "We just felt like it was time," of‑ fensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen told's Cory Van Dyke. "There had been too many mistakes and too many turnovers. … We just kind of felt like Hendon deserved the shot, and we needed something to change." In his first start, at Miami Oct. 5, Hooker and Virginia Tech took ad‑ vantage of five first‑half turnovers by the Hurricanes to build a 28‑0 advantage before Miami stormed back to tie the game at 35 with 3:16 remaining. The dual‑threat Hooker then steered the Hokies to the game‑ winning touchdown while finishing with 184 yards passing with three touchdowns, plus 76 yards and a score on the ground. During the 2‑2 start, Virginia Tech had 11 turnovers. In the ensuing 3‑0 run, it totaled only two. Hooker injured his leg late in the first half of what turned into a six‑ overtime marathon versus North Carolina Oct. 19 before Virginia Tech prevailed 43‑41 with the now obligatory two‑point conversion at‑ tempt that begins in the fourth OT. Willis completed all three passes for 55 yards in the victory, but the staff eventually opted to go with third‑ team redshirt freshman quarterback Quincy Patterson II, who stands 6‑4, 245 and rushed for 122 yards on 21 carries versus the Tar Heels. Whether Hooker will be ready for the Notre Dame game was uncertain heading into the Oct. 26 weekend, but in Willis and Patterson the Hok‑ ies possess quarterbacks who have experienced past success in tight situations. ✦ GAME PREVIEW: VIRGINIA TECH In 2016, Virginia Tech earned a 34-31 win at Notre Dame on Senior Day after rallying from 17-0 and 24-7 deficits. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA Predictions Todd Burlage: Notre Dame 34, Virginia Tech 20 The Hokies are riding a three-game winning streak and looks to have righted themselves after a 6-7 slip-up last season and the early debacle at home versus Duke this season. However, Notre Dame hasn't lost at home for more than a year and it won't happen here. Vince DeDario: Notre Dame 42, Virginia Tech 21 Head coach Justin Fuente's team is averaging just less than 400 total yards per game, but are also giving up nearly 400 yards per game and, more importantly, about 30 points per contest. If turnovers can be avoided, the Irish will score early and often at home. Andrew Mentock: Notre Dame 47, Virginia Tech 27 After playing in a hostile environment the week before, Notre Dame comes out swinging and takes advantage of a defense that's prone to missing tackles. Quicker players such as running back Jafar Armstrong and wide receivers Michael Young and Braden Lenzy have big days getting to the second level of the defense. Mike Singer: Notre Dame 38, Virginia Tech 13 Virginia Tech has some momentum going by winning the last three contests and it has a bye before its matchup with Notre Dame. Regardless, I can't get past them being blown out by Duke at home. Notre Dame wins this one comfortably. Lou Somogyi: Notre Dame 38, Virginia Tech 23 The week after the emotional game at Georgia the Irish bounced back from a slow start to defeat Virginia by 15 (35-20), and I anticipate the results could be similar this time, although the Hokies did have a little extra time to prepare.

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