Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 9, 2019

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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 20 of 55 NOV. 9, 2019 21 VIRGINIA TECH RUNNING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME RUN DEFENSE Other than 245-pound redshirt freshman quarterback Quincy Patterson breaking free on one 20-yard gain on his 19 attempts, Notre Dame controlled the line of scrimmage while limiting the Hokies to 101 rushing yards and 2.8 yards per carry, despite only one sack. Patterson's other 18 carries averaged 3.2 yards, and almost all were designed runs. Top rusher Deshawn McClease was also held at bay with 32 yards on 13 carries, with a long run of eight yards. Behind a unit with no senior offensive linemen starting and a true freshman at center, Patterson's forte is not the passing game. This allowed the Irish not have to play nickel either while utilizing junior rover Jeremiah Owusu-Kora- moah's skills in coverage as well without sacrificing anything versus the run. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame VIRGINIA TECH PASSING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME PASS DEFENSE With redshirt sophomore quarterback Hendon Hooker — who had started the previous three games for the Hokies — trying to battle back from a leg injury sus- tained in the victory versus North Carolina Oct. 19, head coach Justin Fuente said it was in Hooker's best interest to get more recovery time while Patterson — who rushed for 122 yards versus the Tar Heels in Hooker's place — received the nod. Somewhat raw as a passer, Patterson connected on just 9 of 28 (32.1 percent) throws for 139 yards (a paltry 5.0 yards per attempt). His 50-yard heave and completion to Tre Turner was well covered by senior cornerback Troy Pride Jr., but Turner made a remarkable individual play. Both Pride and classmate Donte Vaughn responded on that same series with excellent coverage in the end zone on incomplete passes that forced a field goal and a 20-14 Virginia Tech advan- tage instead of 24-14 — which proved crucial to the outcome. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame NOTRE DAME RUNNING GAME VS. VIRGINIA TECH RUN DEFENSE In the absence of top rusher Tony Jones Jr. (the senior sustained a rib injury at Michigan Oct. 26), junior Jafar Armstrong demonstrated more physicality and burst since recovering from his September abdominal tear — but was still held to only 47 yards on 19 carries (1.9 yards per rush). Junior right tackle Robert Hainsey was injured on the second series with was is believed to be a fractured ankle, and now with both him and guard Tommy Kraemer (sprained MCL) out of commission on the right side, getting a push up front is even more problematic. Armstrong was stopped on third-and-one to end one drive, and when facing first-and-goal at the 5-yard line right before halftime, he picked up three yards, one yard and minus-one — with a fumble that was returned for a 98-yard touchdown. If not for senior quarterback Ian Book's improvisational skills and ability to evade the rush with his team-high 50 yards on 13 carries, Notre Dame's "ground attack" would have been dead in the water. ADVANTAGE: Virginia Tech NOTRE DAME PASSING GAME VS. VIRGINIA TECH PASS DEFENSE With an emphasis to go more vertical, Book completed early 30- and 26- yard passes to seniors Chase Claypool (eight catches for 118 yards) and Javon McKinley, but the trade-off was a lower completion percentage (54.7 percent on 29-of-53 passing) and two interceptions, which matched his total from the first seven games. The Hokies dropped mostly eight into coverage, especially on the final series, because that had been an Achilles heel in the past for Book, but he responded when he needed to the most. ADVANTAGE: Even SPECIAL TEAMS Notre Dame's snafus included a 15-yard punt interference penalty that helped set up Virginia Tech's first touchdown, a kickoff that traveled out of bounds, a couple of mis-hit punts that traveled 28 and 26 yards, a missed 35-yard field goal on its lone attempt, and having to start from the 1-yard line after a kickoff because of a fielding mental error by junior return man Lawrence Keys III. The bright spots were a 16-yard punt return by fifth-year senior Chris Finke to set up the first score, and freshman punter and holder Jay Bramblett's ter- rific save of a low snap to make the game-winning extra point possible. Virginia Tech's 2-of-2 performance on field goals almost helped put the game away. ADVANTAGE: Virginia Tech THIRD-DOWN CONVERSIONS Notre Dame was 8 of 20 (40.0 percent) compared to Virginia Tech's 4 of 16 (25.0 percent), but far more important and the deciding factor was Notre Dame converting fourth-and-three and fourth-and-10 situations on the game-winning 87-yard march. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame TURNOVERS Notre Dame entered the game seventh nationally in turnover margin while Virginia Tech was 117th, but the Hokies came out ahead 3-2. The potential 14-point swing on the 98-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Virginia Tech nine seconds before halftime was a game-changing demoralizing play, but the Fighting Irish were able to overcome it. The turnover margin was 3-1 until Virginia Tech's final play was a desperation toss in its own territory that was picked off by freshman safety Kyle Hamilton. ADVANTAGE: Virginia Tech ANALYSIS Notre Dame's defense (240 total yards allowed, plus 13 points permitted) prevented the game from getting out of hand while the Irish offense mucked its way through for most of the first 57 minutes against a Virginia Tech defense that had allowed an average of 39 points in its previous four ACC games this season. Special teams didn't do many favors either for the Irish. Notre Dame took more vertical shots down the field with the passing game, with mixed results, but the absence of a potent running game could continue to present problems for the unit. Chalk this one up to the defense to make the grit-laden final drive by the offense possible. ON PAPER REVISITED BY LOU SOMOGYI Junior running back Jafar Armstrong returned to full-time action, but he and the Irish ground game had little room to operate. Armstrong's 19 carries net- ted only 47 yards and included an almost back-breaking fumble. PHOTO BY ANDRIS VISOCKIS

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - Nov. 9, 2019