When Shake Down The Thunder Sports wrote the Virginia Tech preview article, we didn’t realize our word would be literal. “Win” was shortened from the true thought of “just win.” The Irish faithful hoped that their team would rebound from the loss of the previous week. Coach Kelly talked previously about the team returning to the Gold Standard of Notre Dame football.
In 2018 the Fightin’ Irish took the ball on their first possession and scored on a decent basis. Fast forward to 2019 and the one thing that is consistent for the offense is going three and out. Once again the offense did just that. The upside to that is that the defense was doing the exact same thing to the Hokies. While the Irish were 0-4 on third down attempts, the Irish defense held the Hokies to 1-6 on their third down attempts.
On the second possession of the quarter, Ian Book tried to light a spark in the offense. The first pass of the possession was a 30 yard strike from Book to Chase Claypool. The play after that was another aerial shot from Book to Javon McKinley for 26 yards this time. Unfortunately for a Book INT, the drive was killed at the VT 17.
But all is not lost. After the Irish defense holds the Hokies to minus five yards and a horrible punt, the Irish take possession at the VT26. After an 18 yard pass from Book to Chris Finke, Book finds Cole Kmet in the end zone for an eight yard TD pass. The Irish score on 2 plays, 26 yards and 0:26. The Irish break the ice and take the lead 7-0.
Later in the quarter a penalty on a punt sets up the Hokies with really good field position. Once again, costly penalties this time on special teams leads to an opponent putting points on the board. Instead of starting in the VT40, the Hokies took possession at the ND 45. After 8 plays, 45 yards and 2:26 from the clock, The Hokies tie the game at 7-7.
The notable player of the quarter was Jay Bramblett. On the Irish first possession, Bramblett got a “Boomer” of a punt off. As a matter of fact it was for 50 yards. His next two punts were met with some problems. Two consecutive punts were started with bad snaps. Fortunately they did not lead to any mishaps such as points for the Hokies.
The Irish opened the second quarter in a manner they needed to. An immediate response to the Hokies score. The play of the drive was a 26 yard pass to Jafar Armstrong. The one thing that no one is talking about amongst the criticism, is the fact the Irish Running Backs are doing a better job of catching the ball. On the ensuing play, Book connects with Tommy Tremble on a four yard TD pass. The Irish upped the score to 14-7 on 11 plays, 77 yards, and 4:25.
The next two possessions by each team resulted in another set of three and outs for both offenses. In the midst of all of the back and forth of the teams was another herculean punt by Bramblett. This time the punt went for 52 yards and the snap was good as well.
The Irish defense had been stingy all quarter. The defense is at it’s best when the team is causing fumbles and taking possession back. On the third possession of the quarter of the Hokies, after a penalty for an ineligible downfield on pass, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah recovers a fumble at the VT47. Ten plays after the fumble the Irish are driving on Hokies, and event that not happened to an Irish Running Back occurred. Armstrong gets the ball knocked out of his hands and the Hokies defense causes the turnover and runs 98 yards in the other direction on a scoop and score for 98 yards. Bringing the Hokies even at 14-14 to end the quarter. Notre Dame’s streak of 1,273 carries without a fumble — the nation’s best was snapped.
All of the scoring in the third quarter came on the Hokies opening drive. There was a total of five possessions between both teams. Three for the Hokies and two for the Irish. The Hokies decided to change things up coming out of the locker room. They decided to go quarterback keeper on a vast majority of their plays. Their drive stalled at the ND26 where the Hokies settled for a 44 FG to go ahead 17-14 on the Irish.
On the Irish first possession by the Irish, they were building a strong drive to try and respond to the 10-0 run set by the Hokies. The Irish were playing small ball with short runs and passes was actually working on the possession. On the last play of the drive Book was intercepted at the VT2. For the second INT of the game.
The Hokies started the fourth quarter like they in the third. With a drive that started towards the end of the third quarter at the VT17, Finished with a field goal from 25 yards. Officially putting the Irish down 1 possession with the score of 20-14.
The get possession at the ND1 on the post FG kickoff. The Irish by far are putting an important drive together. After the Irish get to the VT3, Armstrong is called for an illegal block and costs the offense another drive stopping penalty. The result of the FG is even worse. Jonathan Doerer misses wide right from 35 yards out.
The next time on defense for the Irish was critical. If the Irish were going to get a chance to win the game, the defense was going to need to make a stop and get the ball back in Book’s hands. The defense did just that. With the Hokies driving, Khalid Kareem Sacks Quincy Patterson for a four yard loss forcing the Hokies to punt.
The Late Drive
The media gets released to the field with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and this is the view of the field. The Irish take possession on the ND13. That equates to 87 yards to the end zone. Once again the Irish Running Backs are put into a situation of needing to not only run the ball, but catch a few along the way. Armstrong caught two consecutive passes for five yards each. Davis is targeted for a 12 yard reception and a two yard catch as well.
Claypool makes two more spectacular catches. One reception is for 13 yards to the VT33. After three incomplete passes, Claypool is on the receiving end of a 26 yard reception pass moving the Irish to the VT7. After two more incomplete passes, Book takes matters in to his own hands. On the Book”keeper”, Book finds the right hand corner of the end zone and the rest is history. Bramblett saves the day after a bad snap on the PAT allowing Doerer to give the Irish the lead 21-20 with 0:23 left on the game clock.
Coach Kelly Press Conference
“Again, happy for those guys. They again found a way to win a football game, which is very difficult, especially the way they did it. Going in right before the half to seemingly take a, I don’t want to say control of the game, but have it well in hand in the sense that it’s going to be difficult for them to mount an offensive charge for the way we’re playing defensively, and of course they go 90-something yards on a fumble return. So that’s difficult, but our guys responded, we got them back together at halftime, told them they got to continue to fight, continue to persevere. They did that. Those are all character traits that we’re looking for that we needed to see on display. We saw them and really happy for them, proud of the guys and excited about the win.”
Media Question: “Do you need today to be a pivotal moment for your season going forward?”
Coach Kelly Response: “No, but I think it’s a great start. I think we can build off of this. I think Ian Book can have a lot of great things happen for him. He was back to throwing the football with much more authority, confidence. That was, I don’t know 16-play, 17-play, 17-, 18-play drive. When you’re dropping eight and there’s eight guys in coverage. Did a great job. He hasn’t done that in his career here. So that’s a first for him. He can build off that have.”
“I think defensively the ability to stop the run today was absolutely crucial. I think Coach Fuente is almost .850 winning percentage when they rush for over 150 yards and 200 in particular. So that was the game plan and they did a very good job controlling the line of scrimmage.”
Media Question: “I know normally you allow Chip Long to call his plays. I wondered if you, or what your input was on the design run for Book and what your thoughts were? If you weren’t involved in making that decision, what your thoughts were to that.”
Coach Kelly Response: “I wanted something that would give us both the look — they went bracket and then they went man. So bracket is a zone, doubled-out zone. I wanted our combination play that gave us the look, that if we got one-on-one, we would get Claypool one-on-one on the corner route from the No. 3 position. And if they went bracket, he could run the ball. And so just wanted a combination, because we already got a glimpse of what we were getting down there. We got bracket one time, we got man the other. So it was just give me a combination call.”
🏈🏈🏈 Jay Bramblett 6 Punts for 233 Yards. Two snaps were horrible and still managed to get the ball away without incident. Long Punt of 52 Yards, 1 Inside the 20, 2 Punts of 50+.
🏈🏈🏈 Chase Claypool 8-17 for 118 yards. Critical catches on the last drive allowed for the Irish to get into scoring position.
🏈🏈 Ian Book 29-53 341 Passing Yards, 2 TD Passes, 2 INT’s, 13 Rushing Attempts for 50 Yards and the game winning TD.
🏈 Javon McKinley with the awesome block allowing Book to score. 1-3 for 26 Yards.
🏈🏈🏈 Khalid Kareem 4 Total Tackles, 3 Solo, 1 Sack. The sack that forced the Hokies to punt and give the ball back to the offense.
🏈🏈 Drew White 8 Total Tackles, 4 Solo
🏈 Asmar Bilal 7 Total Tackles, 5 Solo 0.5 Tackle For Loss
The Wrap Up
The late scoring drive orchestrated by Book is a confidence booster. The game winning touchdown may be the catalyst that gets him back on track. We all look for an event to build up our confidence. That drive might just be his. The defense did a great job. Holding the Hokies to just 240 total yards (139 passing and 101 yards rushing). The Irish had 447 total yards (341 passing, 106 rushing).
The Irish need to work on their third down conversion issue. The Irish also need to work on the penalties. They have been more disciplined in the past. The good side is that the Running Backs are helping in the pass receiving department.
Next up for the Irish is the Duke Blue Devils. The game will be on the ACC Network. If you don’t get the ACC Network you shutout from the game. You will have to find an alternative method. The game is slated for 7:30 PM EST.
Cheer and Go Irish!🍀🏈⚡