We are getting closer and closer to the season now that the 4th of July is behind us, and OMG we have some ground to cover. As part of our pre-fall camp coverage (ie guesses) I will be going through each game the Notre Dame Fighting Irish play this season, and explain the ONLY way they win or lose each contest. Whoever scores the most points you say? WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT?
There is no rhyme or reason here (as far as the order goes) so lets get metal.
How the Irish can beat the Virginia Tech Hokies
Get over it.
With such a long span of time between college football seasons, there’s very little that hasn’t been talked about and explored with a great deal of volume. It’s what makes us college football nuts. So it’s probably not surprising to hear that a majority of Irish fans that I have come across feel that the Virginia Cavaliers are THE “trap game” of 2019. The thinking is that the Irish will be coming back home after a brutal game (win or lose) against the Georgia Bulldogs, and won’t exactly “be all there” for the Hoos.
It makes perfect sense, and Virginia is probably going to be a tough out regardless (and I’ll get to them soon enough). Still... there’s something about the Hokies that has me thinking the exact same thing. The Virginia Tech game comes one week after Notre Dame’s trip to Ann Arbor (Jezebel) and a win over the Michigan Wolverines. This is absolutely the same type of game as what we expect with UVA.
Hokie head coach Justin Fuente is no stranger to Notre Dame Stadium. During his first year in 2016, he brought his Virginia Tech team to South Bend and handed the Irish a heartbreaking 34-31 loss on Senior Day. While most of the key contributors on this year’s Hokie team weren’t there — Fuente can use his experience to help give his team the confidence needed to pull off what would probably be a fairly large upset. The “revenge factor” could be in play as well after Notre Dame took a giant dump all over that Metallica entrance (the most overrated thing in college football) and beat the Hokies 45-23 in prime time. The Hokies will be looking to return the favor (while still listening to the worst Metallica song possible).
So... it’s quite simple. Notre Dame is just going to have to get over it. The Virginia game should have been practice enough at this point (or a bitter lesson). Whatever it takes to “get up” for this game should be done — and done with fervor.
Tech still has a strong-armed quarterback in Ryan Willis, and a productive group of wide receivers that include Damon Hazelton and Tre Turner. Deshawn McClease returns at running back and ran for 5.5 yards per carry against Notre Dame last year. The Hokie offensive line will most likely start two sophomores at tackle in Christian Darrisaw and Silas Dzansi, and how they hold up against Khalid Kareem, Daelin Hayes, Julian Okwara, and Adetokunbo Ogundeji will most likely dictate how this game goes. Hayes did not play against Virginia Tech in 2018.
The Hokies are still pretty young on defense too, but they have a couple of good linebackers in Dax Hollifield and Rayshard Ashby. Divine Deablo (basically best name in the game) who missed the Notre Dame game last year will be back at safety. They have their own Shawn Crawford in DeShaun Crawford. Theirs is a junior college transfer that should start at defensive tackle. It’s a group that got beat up last year — but with Bud Foster there should be a lot of improvement (and that’s a bit scary).
And Virginia Tech will be coming off of a bye week — if you can believe that! [pauses for laughter]
And having said all of that... GET OVER IT. This is still a game Notre Dame should win — and do so with some comfort. The Irish should be well schooled by this point in 2019 that trap games can get trappy. The best way to avoid it all is to make sure practice that week runs at a high level of efficiency (which after a big game is where the trouble usually starts and what ends up being the biggest culprit). Whatever motivational tactics need to be employed — should be used. Whatever extra juice is needed — should be squeezed. They’ll need to dig deep after the Michigan game and get back to work.
If the Irish can do all of that, the game should be more of an ass-whooping than one where they are holding on to their asses. 42-27 Irish.
It sounds so simple — but can they do it?