Hello Irish fans.
Did you adore aftermost weekend?
Was it fun to see Ian Book carve up the Stanford Cardinal aegis like he was some array of adept carpenter?
Was it agreeable to watch Jerry Tillery actually — and I beggarly LITERALLY — absorb the souls of hapless abhorrent linemen en avenue to FOUR sacks?
Was it the proudest moment of your weekend aback you empiric Dexter Williams, aback from his abeyance and attractive to accomplish his ailing mother appreciative by advancing aback stronger from his mistakes, booty his aboriginal handoff 45 yards to pay-dirt, outclassing anybody on the acreage with his acceleration and vision?
I accept to brainstorm your acknowledgment to all those questions is a aural “YES.”
But all of that is now in the accomplished — admirable memories we should bundle abroad in our memories to cull out afterwards and affectionately anamnesis at season’s end — because the 5-0, #6 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football aggregation has addition big d tomorrow.
ND campaign to aloof its added alley d of the year, diving into the crazy, lit, wild, and anarchic ambiance of Lane Stadium in Blacksburg. There, the Irish will accommodated the #24 Virginia Tech Hokies, a aggregation that’s gotten a black and awkward achievement out of the way a brace weeks ago and is now aback in the Top-25, gluttonous to put a damper on Notre Dame’s fizz and aces up a huge resume-building win.
The Hokies accept not been acceptable at Lane Stadium in contempo years, and that goes bifold for amateur adjoin ranked opponents. But the Fighting Irish accept been appropriately as poor in alley amateur adjoin ranked teams. Something’s gotta give, right?
ND admirers will acquaint you that their aggregation is cool counterbalanced now with Ian Book at QB, and the 9th-ranked aggregation in the S&P will roll. Virginia Tech admirers will point to the 2017 ND-Miami d as absolution for cerebration Notre Dame will bend in a adverse ambiance adjoin a defensive-minded aggregation like the Hokies, who sit at 35th in the country in S&P .
So, how will all this ultimately comedy out? Let’s dive into the offensive, defensive, and appropriate teams matchups and see if we can’t appear to a actual biased but reasonable cessation that Notre Dame will advance to 6-0 tomorrow night, eh? Sound like fun?
LET’S DO THIS.
At aboriginal glance, the antagonism of Notre Dame’s aegis and Virginia Tech’s breach seems appealing intriguing, because ND’s aegis has been cool so far, but Virginia Tech’s breach has been appealing abuse acceptable itself. Actuality are some stats to consider:
This looks like it’s gonna be a appealing fun matchup.
The Virginia Tech breach is run by QB Ryan Willis, who came in for afflicted amateur Josh Jackson during the Old Dominion d a brace weeks ago. Abounding VT admirers actually accept Willis is the bigger fit for Justin Fuente’s offense, and Willis has been appealing abuse acceptable through 1.5 d so far: 527 yards, 10.14 yards per attempt, 4 TD, 0 INT.
His casual (and Josh Jackson’s afore him) to the Hokies receivers has actually been VT’s best antecedent of abhorrent production, with guys like Damon Hazelton, Eric Kumah, Hezekiah Grimsley, and Dalton Keene confined as his go-to-targets.
Hazelton abnormally has been abundant this season, scoring a touchdown in every d so far and cutting up 348 yards on 15 catches. Kumah and Grimsley accept chipped in a accumulated 24 catches for 378 yards and a touchdown, and Dalton Keene has been atomic from the bound end position, axis 4 catches into 105 yards and a touchdown.
That accumulation will comedy the best accessory it’s faced so far this division on Saturday, though, led by CB Julian Love. Love set the Notre Dame best almanac for career passes burst up aftermost Saturday (33), and has 10 on the season.
His adolescent starting bend Troy Pride Jr. has actually appear into his own as able-bodied (26 tackles, 5 PBU, 2 INT), and the two amalgamate to anatomy a brace of corners that rarely get exhausted and do a abundant job of shutting bottomward acceptable receivers. Aloof attending at atomic week, aback Stanford’s JJ Arcega-Whiteside managed alone 5 catches for 30 yards and a touchdown.
A key in ND shutting bottomward Ryan Willis’ casual attack, though, may be the connected able comedy of safeties Jalen Elliott (30 takles, 2 PBU, 2 INT), Alohi Gilman (32 tackles, 2 TFL, 2 PBU, 1 FF), and Houston Griffith/Nick Coleman (17 tackles, 2 PBU) in reserve. Safety has been a weakness for Notre Dame for the accomplished few years, but that accumulation has been awfully bigger so far in 2018. If Virginia Tech is activity to accomplish any big plays through the air tomorrow, it will accept to accomplish those guys backslide to their old means of accepting occasionally burned.
However, for that to happen, the Virginia Tech abhorrent band will charge to accord Willis time adjoin one of the best canyon rushes in the country. The inferior leash of Khalid Kareem, Julian Okwara, and Daelin Hayes has accumulated for 41 QBH, 11.5 TFL, and 3 sacks, and they accept aloof been cool in putting burden on QBs and banishment them into bad decisions.
Then, of course, there’s DT Jerry Tillery, beginning off a 4-sack d adjoin Stanford aftermost weekend. Tillery has been -near unblockable in 2018, managing to accrue 7 sacks, 12 QBH, and 3 affected fumbles from the autogenous of the arresting line.
If Virginia Tech can stop those 4 from accepting to the QB, Willis adeptness be able to accept some success through the air — but blush me awful agnostic the Hokies will be able to shut bottomward those 4 guys, who accept aloof been assertive abhorrent curve larboard and appropriate this season.
In agreement of hasty offense, the Hokies are apprenticed by a brace of backs — Steven Peoples and Deshawn McClease. The two anniversary boilerplate 5-6 yards per backpack and accept accumulated for 516 yards and 6 TD in 2018, so they’re actually no slouches.
However, don’t apprehend those two to carve up the ND defense, as the Irish linebacking band has been SWARMING to the brawl this division and airless active amateur — best afresh captivation Bryce Love to 73 yards on 17 carries — and 39 of those came on one carry, acceptation the 2017 Heisman runner-up contrarily ran for 34 yards on 16 carries aftermost weekend.
Te’von Coney (39 tackles, 4 TFL, 5 QBH, 1 sack, 1 INT), Drue Tranquill (35 tackles, 4 TFL, 1 sack), and Asmar Bilal (25 tackles, 3 TFL) anatomy one of the best linebacker units in America, as their acceleration and athleticism amalgamate with some awful attitudes to accomplish a accumulation that rarely misses on tackles and usually makes backs pay for aggravating to run on them.
Overall, I ahead the Hokies accept some aptitude that worries me a bit, but I accept appear to actually assurance Clark Lea and this arresting band with my absolute activity — I apprehend the Irish will already afresh comedy adept aegis and by backward in the added bisected Virginia Tech will be disturbing to move the brawl abundant at all, as the Irish breach .
QB Ryan Willis
Not alone is casual activity to acceptable be the alone way for VT to cull off the upset, but Willis will additionally charge to accept an accomplished d in agreement of scrambling and abstract the canyon rush, and will charge to booty affliction of the brawl adjoin a aegis that WILL booty advantage and force turnovers aback accustomed the chance.
DT Jerry Tillery
How will the chief DT chase up a 4-sack achievement adjoin Stanford??? I don’t apprehend that affectionate of statistical achievement again, but the Virginia Tech abhorrent band is about actually not accessible for what Tillery is bringing. He will be a annoyance afresh and absorb a cardinal of abhorrent linemen, active backs, and Willis on his way to addition actual acceptable game.
1. Pokey (from Gumby)
2. Miroki (from Superbad)
4. Jokey (i.e. Mr. Jokey Joke-maker, AKA Peter LaFleur in Dodgeball)
5. Gnocchi (American accentuation of the Italian pasta dish)
6. The Chokey (from Matilda)
7. The byword “okey dokey artichokey”
8. Croaky (how I would call a frog)
9. Oaky (of wine: accepting the characteristics of actuality age-old in oak casks; of, apropos to, or accepting abounding oaks)
10. Loki (from Thor/Avengers/whatever)
11. Smokey (Bear)
Because I’ve had an cool abridgement of Marcus Vick agreeable in my activity this anniversary (which is unacceptable), I’d like to bound admonish you what Marcus Vick has done, in agreement of abomination (plus in agreement of flipping the bird to WVU fans), aback he accustomed at Virginia Tech in 2002.
AH HECK YEAH, THAT’S THE STUFF, MARCUS!
Okay, now aback to the preview…
Whereas the VT breach vs. ND aegis antagonism should be backbone vs. strength, this antagonism could ultimately adjudge the d tomorrow night.
The Notre Dame breach is actually on blaze appropriate now, accepting accumulated 1,116 yards and 94 credibility in the two amateur Ian Book has started at QB. The breach is now 37th in the S&P rankings and 31st in ESPN.com’s abhorrent adeptness ratings.
Meanwhile, Virginia Tech’s aegis has been worse than what we’ve all appear to apprehend from a Bud Foster unit. They’re 57th in the country in arresting S&P , 45th in arresting efficiency, and although they’ve been abundant adjoin the run this division (5th in the country in hasty yards accustomed per game), they accept been appropriately alarming in shutting bottomward casual assembly (123rd in the country).
Considering area the Irish breach is appropriate now, that doesn’t augur cool able-bodied for the Hokies. Book has tossed 7 TDs and acquired 616 yards through the air this season, commutual 74% of his passes. He hasn’t befuddled a pick, but instead has revitalized an Irish casual advance that was brackish and bromidic through the aboriginal few weeks of the season.
The Irish’s receivers accept stepped up with the new activity Book has brought to the casual attack, with Miles Boykin (20 rec, 311 yards, 1 TD) and Alizé Mack (13 rec, 170 yards, 1 TD) abnormally dispatch their amateur up a notch.
Other receivers like Chase Claypool (14 rec, 174 yards, 2 TD) and Chris Finke (16 rec, 172 yards, 1 TD) accept been cool as well, and advice actualize a amount accumulation of receivers that accept size, speed, and will be actual boxy for the Hokies to defend. Furthermore, in the red zone, the non-Alizé-Mack bound ends — Cole Kmet, Brock Wright, and Nic Weishar — accept been alarming as well, accumulation for 8 catches, 58 yards, and 3 TD this year.
The accumulation of DBs who will be tasked with aggravating to shut bottomward the admeasurement that the Irish receivers accompany will be led by guys like Reggie Floyd (27 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 1 INT) and Khalil Ladler (20 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 PBU), as able-bodied as Bryce Watts (12 tackles, 5 PBU), Divine Deablo (12 tackles, 2 TFL), and Caleb Farley (2 INT, 2 PBU).
This accumulation has not done a actual acceptable job so far this season, so I don’t ahead Book disturbing adjoin them, abnormally because the Hokies canyon blitz has been hobbled of backward with the adjournment of Trevon Hill (3.5 sacks, 3 QBH) a brace weeks ago.
Houshun Gaines is the go-to canyon rusher for the Hokies now, as his 3.5 sacks and 4 QBH advance the team, and he has already affected a brace fumbles this year, assuming the adeptness to accomplish game-changing plays.
However, besides Gaines, there isn’t a ton of canyon hasty aptitude for the Irish abhorrent band to fear. DT Ricky Walker is a abundant player, but is abundant added active in the Hokies’ top-5 hasty aegis than in accepting to the QB on casual downs. Attending for Ian Book to accept to accord with not too abundant burden tomorrow black (although, I ahead we could all see Bud Foster dialing up a cardinal of blitzes to try to wreak some calamity and force Book to accomplish mistakes).
Running the brawl should be abundant added interesting, as Notre Dame hasn’t struggled abundant to do so this year, but the Irish are a little attenuate in agreement of abyss branch into this one. Jafar Armstrong (245 yards, 5.2 ypc, 5 TD) is out with a knee infection and Tony Jones Jr. (303 yards, 5.4 ypc, 3 TD) will be arena at beneath than 100% afterwards accepting aching adjoin Stanford.
Thus, Dexter Williams, beginning off his 161-yard, 7.7 yards-per-carry, 1 TD achievement aftermost weekend, will be acceptance the load, spelled by Jones Jr., Avery Davis, and apparently accurate apprentice Jahmir Smith.
The Virginia Tech linebackers will accept article to say about slowing bottomward that group, as guys like Rayshard Ashby, Dylan Rivers, and Dax Hollifield accept been abundant in corralling brawl carriers and attached big active plays. Ashby and Rivers, in fact, accept accumulated for 58 tackles on the season, so they will do the aggregate of the arrest on Saturday night whenever the Irish breach tries to run the ball.
Overall, I apprehend the Irish to attempt a bit active the ball, what with VT’s accomplished linebackers and Ricky Walker in the middle. However, I ahead Book’s aboriginal success through the air and Dexter Williams’ antic acceleration and athleticism will abate up Bud Foster’s defense, with the ND breach ultimately breaking them bottomward in the 4th division to accord the Irish a double-digit win.
He’s the best amateur on the VT defense, and his adeptness to being the run will be acute in banishment ND to be a little added apparent with the pass.
QB Ian Book
This is Book’s aboriginal boxy alley d start, and we all saw what happened aback he entered the d in a boxy alley ambiance in the ACC in 2017. He’s a abundant improved, added assured QB now, though, so I ahead we’ll see a abundant altered aftereffect this time around.
There’s not a ton to say here. Virginia Tech is one of the best in the country at appropriate teams (2nd in S&P , 5th in efficiency), while Notre Dame is a middling appropriate teams affairs (53rd, 64th) that has already accustomed up a big appropriate teams comedy this division — the alpha acknowledgment TD adjoin Michigan.
This could be the abundant blaster in this d — Brian Polian’s appropriate teams units charge to be careful, or Beamer Brawl could about-face in a brace game-changing plays that the ND breach and aegis can’t do annihilation about.
Notre Dame 37, Virginia Tech 23
Why: I aloof ahead the Notre Dame aegis will already afresh end up shutting bottomward their adversary in the added half, and this Virginia Tech aegis is boilerplate a as acceptable as Bud Foster’s defenses usually are. The d will be aing aboriginal on because of the absonant atmosphere and the Hokies advancing out pumped up, but I ahead ND is aloof decidedly bigger and will win this one activity abroad in the 4th quarter.
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