It’s gameday in South Bend as the Hokies look to bounce back from last week’s against one of the greatest programs in the history of college football, Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish have significantly underperformed with Notre Dame needing to win their final two games to go to a bowl games while the Hokies likely know that a win could put them back in the top 25.
Both teams will be eager to come out and get a win in what will be poor conditions in South Bend so with that said, here are our three Hokies to watch from Henry Skutt.
Baron has been playing some of the best football that Bud Foster has seen as defensive coordinator at Virginia Tech. That type of praise is hard to come by, but Woody has earned it. His tackles for loss tally is up to 16, and it should only increase as this season wraps up. He is playing at a 1st team All-ACC level, and I expect that to continue against the Fighting Irish.
The weather for the game is going to be terrible — especially the wind. For the defense, the wind will limit the passing game for Notre Dame, and I expect Baron to be in the backfield disrupting the run game for the Irish as a result. Watch for him to be making an impact, and making several tackles for loss in the nasty weather in South Bend.
I mentioned the weather, and that is why I’m calling out Marshawn for the game this week. If the Hokies wish to have success against Notre Dame, they’re going to establish a running game. Shai McKenzie is probably the Hokies best overall runner, but Williams is a power back — something that will be needed against a talented Notre Dame team.
Look for Fuente to use Williams more than usual against the Irish. That is my hope at least. Coach Fuente and his offensive staff have struggled in the last couple weeks, and it’s very possible that it continues against Notre Dame. However, I think that the solution lies in using a power running back — especially in the high winds that are forecasted. If Fuente can use Williams as a main aspect of the offense, they should have their fair share of offensive success.
This is a little bit of an odd pick given how much I’m discussing the importance of both a good run offense and run defense for the Hokies. However, I’m calling out Evans for a different reason. He needs to manage the game in a mature way — something that we’ve seen him do this season, but something that disappeared last week against Georgia Tech.
The Hokies will need to be composed in bad weather, playing in an iconic stadium, and playing against a team that has nothing to lose. On offense, that comes down to the quarterback. Evans needs to control the game from the beginning and limit mistakes and bad reads. Even if Virginia Tech focus on a running game, Jerod is the one running the offense, and he needs to make sure everything runs smoothly. I expect him to have figured out the mistakes from a week ago and for him to return to the form that we have seen him capable of this season — cool, calm, and collected in the face of adversity.
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