With a relatively quiet week consisting of only a few marquee matchups ahead of us, one game looms above all others: Notre Dame at Virginia Tech. Stated below are three reasons why I believe the Hokies will pull off the upset.
Bud Foster’s Defense
Bud Foster is one of the most skilled defensive minds in college football. His ability to dial up everything from heavy blitz packages to dropping eight into coverage is quite impressive. Foster coaches his players to handle a multitude of offensive scenarios. The Hokies are capable of running anything from a 3-3-5 to a 4-2-5, and they can even mix in certain 4-4 schemes. Should defensive end Houshon Gaines be good to go, expect him and fellow edge rusher Tyjuan Garbutt to be very active in getting after Irish quarterback Ian Book early and often. A staple of a Bud Foster defense is bringing the heat right out of the gate, and with an Irish offensive line still gelling after replacing an elite unit, a defense like this could spell trouble. The crowd feeds off of Virginia Tech’s energy on the defensive side of the ball and the players love to get after quarterbacks, so as long as Bud Foster is on the sidelines, these Hokies are capable of competing with anyone in the nation.
Ryan Willis Shows Flashes of Brilliance
With the injury of star quarterback Josh Jackson, backup Ryan Willis was thrust into the starting role in an upset loss to the Monarchs of Old Dominion. While he didn’t turn any heads in limited action against Old Dominion, Willis did a solid job managing the offense and moving the ball. Where he really shined was against #22 Duke last Saturday. Willis gashed a stingy Blue Devil defense that gave Northwestern quarterback and prized draft prospect Clayton Thorson fits. Willis threw for over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns in a very impressive win over a talented opponent. This is a kid who craves the big moments and none may be bigger than this Saturday against one of college football’s blue bloods. If Willis can replicate that performance, then Va Tech will win this game.
Lane Stadium at Night
There is no tradition quite like the playing of “Enter Sandman” by Metallica as the Hokies take the field. The fans at Lane Stadium provide one of the loudest and rowdiest environments in all of sports. This crowd is always even more raucous at night, and this game is as big as it gets. Over the last their last 13 home games, Virginia Tech is a whopping 11-2. This crowd will be fired up for such a big game, and if they can stay engaged, they will help will their beloved Hokies to a massive win on Saturday night.
This game has makings of an instant classic. Despite an embarrassing loss to Old Dominion, I am still very high on this Virginia Tech team. If they can play at the level we typically see from them then this team can still compete for an ACC Title Game berth. With an elite defense mind, a quarterback finding his stride at the right time, and a home field advantage like no other, the Hokies will come out on top Saturday night to add a statement win to their resume.