Matt Cashore / IrishIllustrated.com

Notre Dame report card: Virginia Tech @ Notre Dame

Notre Dame’s passing game fell apart in the second half while the Hokies completed 78.9 percent over the final 30 minutes, dominating time of possession and the scoreboard.


Rush offense
B-

Notre Dame used the running game effectively in its first-quarter field-goal drive, and then again on the march that culminated on the first play of the second quarter with a touchdown that gave the Irish a 17-0 lead. Tarean Folston’s 21-yard burst jump-started that touchdown drive and DeShone Kizer’s nine-yard run kept it going.

But as the game wore on, except for Josh Adam’s 16-yarder that helped spark a 24-7 lead, and then his long third-quarter touchdown run, the carries dwindled, mainly because the Irish simply didn’t have the football in their hands.

Notre Dame possessed the football 12:29 of the first quarter, and then just 14:46 over the final 45 minutes of the game. A string of three-and-outs – as the Irish tried to protect their lead – gave little time (or inclination) for the running game.

The Irish rushed for 100 yards on 23 carries (4.3) in the first half and 100 yards on 13 carries (7.6) in the second half. The second-half numbers are skewed by the 67-yard run by Adams late in the third quarter. Of Notre Dame’s other 12 carries in the second half, they accounted for just 33 yards (2.7). For the game, excluding Adam’s big run, it was 35 carries for 133 yards (3.8).

After a failed 3rd-and-2 early, a converted 4th-and-2, and a fumbled shotgun snap on 3rd-and-goal from the one, the Irish never attempted a run again on 3rd-and-short.

The 200-yard game was Notre Dame’s fourth of the season. The others were 206 vs. Texas, 239 vs. Nevada, and 261 vs. Army. It was effective at times, but not a major part of the plan once the points started flying up on the scoreboard.

Passing offense
C-

It was two completely different halves passing the football, and unfortunately for the Irish, the worse of the two by far came in the second when the game was on the line.

Kizer completed 6-of-7 for 124 yards through the first play of the second quarter, which was a 31-yard touchdown pass to Chris Finke. The rest of the way he was 10-of-26 for 111 yards. The Irish threw for 199 yards in the first half and 50 yards (a Malik Zaire completion included) in the second half.

In the second half alone, Kizer completed just 3-of-15 passes for 36 yards. There were a couple of Josh Adams drops in there. The passing game was out of sync as Virginia Tech made its furious comeback from 17 points down.

It was a good day for the tried-and-true -- Equanimeous St. Brown – and a host of young receivers with Torii Hunter, Jr. out for the second straight game. St. Brown, Notre Dame’s go-to man from start to finish in his sophomore season, led the way again with six catches for 90 yards, including a 29-yarder in the touchdown-opening drive and a 14-yarder late that gave the Irish a brief glimmer of hope.

Corey Holmes caught his sixth and seventh passes of the season, including a clutch 3rd-and-2 for 18 yards that set up Miles Boykin’s first career score from 18 yards out. Freshman Chase Claypool caught his fifth pass of the season – a 20-yarder late in the first quarter. Chris Finke ran a crisp route and Kizer, who was winging it in the first half, drilled him in stride for a 31-yard score to give the Irish a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter.

St. Brown, C.J. Sanders (three catches, 24 yards), Claypool, Boykin, Finke and offensive freshman of the year Kevin Stepherson (two catches, 18 yards) represent the bulk of the still-young set of receivers in 2017.

Rush defense
B

Virginia Tech managed 152 yards on 47 carries for just 3.2 yards per carry. Twenty of those carries came in the first half for 74 yards with 27 attempts for 109 yards in the second half. Tame numbers, to be sure, but the Hokies use the running game to manipulate the clock.

They’re 20th in the country in rushing attempts per game at 46.1 per contest. It’s this ability to massage the clock that helped give Virginia Tech a 30:14-to-14:46 time of possession advantage over the final three quarters.

The Hokies certainly didn’t gash the Irish in the running game. But Novocain eventually takes effect. Quarterback Jerod Evans led the way with 88 yards gained (and 21 lost on sacks and fumbled exchanges) on 18 carries. Virginia Tech’s longest run was Evans’ 23-yarder. Running backs Steven Peoples, Marshawn Williams, Sam Rogers and Travon McMillian combined for 24 carries for 88 yards (3.6) with only Williams clipping off a run as long as 10 yards.

Evans did enough damage in what proved to be the game-winning field-goal drive when he moved the chains twice on 2nd-and-1 and 3rd-and-5.

The Irish had four players with 10 tackles – Drue Tranquill, Te’von Coney, James Onwualu and Jarron Jones – with the latter three doing most of their work against the run. Onwualu and Jones had tackles for loss with Onwualu causing a fumble and Jones recovering it.

Pass defense
D

With the Virginia Tech ground game contained, the Irish needed to slow down the Hokie passing attack to secure the victory, and if anything, it picked up momentum as the game went on. Jerod Evans was 7-of-10 for 49 yards and no touchdowns in the first half and 15-of-19 for 218 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in the second half.

The big three of Isaiah Ford, Cam Phillips and Bucky Hodges were held in check for such a prolific group. Ford had seven catches for 86 yards, Phillips six for 56 and a touchdown, and Hodges two for 15 and a touchdown. So while the 15 catches for 157 yards isn’t bad, the two scores tell the tale of a second half in which the Hokies out-scored the Irish, 20-7.

The unsung player who helped Virginia Tech early in the game was 5-foot-8, 167-pound C.J. Carroll, who finished with three catches for 80 yards, including a 62-yarder on the third play of the second half that quickly pulled the Hokies to within three points (24-21).

Virginia Tech attacked the deep middle where Drue Tranquill has been vulnerable but pretty well-protected in the keep-the-ball-in-front scheme since the dismissal of Brian VanGorder. The Hokies pushed the ball at Tranquill, and were it not for a propitious drop by Phillips that ended up in Tranquill’s arms off the ricochet, the Hokies likely would have taken their first lead with about five minutes to go in the third period.

Notre Dame’s only pass break up was by Jarron Jones at the line of scrimmage. Unofficially, Isaac Rochell had Notre Dame’s only quarterback hurry. James Onwualu had the lone sack. In the second half, Evans completed 78.9 percent of his passes for an average of 14.5 yards per catch and 11.4 yards per attempt. That’s getting gashed.

Special teams
C-

Nothing egregious; nothing outstanding. Virginia Tech kicker Joey Slye won the battle of field goals with 23- and 20-yarders in the fourth quarter while Justin Yoon converted from 25 yards in the first quarter.

The Irish were lenient on kick coverage, allowing Henri Murphy a 34-yarder in the first quarter, a 36-yarder early in the second quarter and a 28-yarder in the third. Those kick returns contributed significantly to an average drive start at the Hokie 39-yard line, including 6-foot-3, 344-pound nose tackle Tim Settle’s nine-yard squib kick return to the Virginia Tech 44. Neither team did anything on a combined four punt returns.

Both punters had issues with the wind. Tyler Newsome averaged 38.0 yards per seven punts with a driving bouncer with the wind for 65 yards. His final punt – a 22-yarder into the wind – gave the Hokies the football at their own 47, allowing for a short game-winning field-goal drive. Virginia Tech’s Mitchell Ludwig managed just a 30.5 average on four attempts. Of the 13 combined kickoffs, only four went for touchbacks.

Two Virginia Tech touchdowns were scored following two of Murphy’s solid kick returns while Newsome’s short punt in the fourth quarter proved pivotal.

Coaching
D

We’ve been down this road several times this year. The Irish came out prepared and ready to play, jumping to 17-0 and 24-7 leads with three touchdowns and a field goal within the first five possessions of the game.

But from there, the better coaching staff won. Bud Foster’s defense adapted after Notre Dame’s opening salvo. Except for a 67-yard touchdown run by Josh Adams, six of Notre Dame’s last eight drives resulted in punts, and once again, the last-ditch effort ended up in the ditch as time expired.

Brian Kelly said he’d have to look at the film to determine what it was that Foster did to completely gum up the works offensively. That’s much too late in a game that requires rapid-fire adjustments with the game on the line.

On the other side of the football, Virginia Tech made the adjustments, scoring no worse than once every three series over four quarters, including points on six of their last nine possessions, including a touchdown and two field goals on its final three drives.

As the game wore on, Justin Fuente and his staff came up with solutions that allowed the Hokies to out-score the Irish 34-14 over the final three quarters and 20-7 in the second half. That’s the only thing that really needs to be said in a year in which a pattern of failed game plans down the stretch have resulted in losses.

Notre Dame has now lost seven games by a combined 32 points. Those aren’t just unfortunate, close losses. Those are losses manufactured by coaching staffs who have done a better job of controlling the ebbs and flows of the game. Notre Dame’s staff has just been along for the ride.

 


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Rush offense
B-

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Notre Dame used the running game effectively in its first-quarter field-goal drive, and then again on the march that culminated on the first play of the second quarter with a touchdown that gave the Irish a 17-0 lead. Tarean Folston’s 21-yard burst jump-started that touchdown drive and DeShone Kizer’s nine-yard run kept it going.

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But as the game wore on, except for Josh Adam’s 16-yarder that helped spark a 24-7 lead, and then his long third-quarter touchdown run, the carries dwindled, mainly because the Irish simply didn’t have the football in their hands.

\n

Notre Dame possessed the football 12:29 of the first quarter, and then just 14:46 over the final 45 minutes of the game. A string of three-and-outs – as the Irish tried to protect their lead – gave little time (or inclination) for the running game.

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The Irish rushed for 100 yards on 23 carries (4.3) in the first half and 100 yards on 13 carries (7.6) in the second half. The second-half numbers are skewed by the 67-yard run by Adams late in the third quarter. Of Notre Dame’s other 12 carries in the second half, they accounted for just 33 yards (2.7). For the game, excluding Adam’s big run, it was 35 carries for 133 yards (3.8).

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After a failed 3rd-and-2 early, a converted 4th-and-2, and a fumbled shotgun snap on 3rd-and-goal from the one, the Irish never attempted a run again on 3rd-and-short.

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The 200-yard game was Notre Dame’s fourth of the season. The others were 206 vs. Texas, 239 vs. Nevada, and 261 vs. Army. It was effective at times, but not a major part of the plan once the points started flying up on the scoreboard.

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Passing offense
C-

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It was two completely different halves passing the football, and unfortunately for the Irish, the worse of the two by far came in the second when the game was on the line.

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Kizer completed 6-of-7 for 124 yards through the first play of the second quarter, which was a 31-yard touchdown pass to Chris Finke. The rest of the way he was 10-of-26 for 111 yards. The Irish threw for 199 yards in the first half and 50 yards (a Malik Zaire completion included) in the second half.

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In the second half alone, Kizer completed just 3-of-15 passes for 36 yards. There were a couple of Josh Adams drops in there. The passing game was out of sync as Virginia Tech made its furious comeback from 17 points down.

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It was a good day for the tried-and-true -- Equanimeous St. Brown – and a host of young receivers with Torii Hunter, Jr. out for the second straight game. St. Brown, Notre Dame’s go-to man from start to finish in his sophomore season, led the way again with six catches for 90 yards, including a 29-yarder in the touchdown-opening drive and a 14-yarder late that gave the Irish a brief glimmer of hope.

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Corey Holmes caught his sixth and seventh passes of the season, including a clutch 3rd-and-2 for 18 yards that set up Miles Boykin’s first career score from 18 yards out. Freshman Chase Claypool caught his fifth pass of the season – a 20-yarder late in the first quarter. Chris Finke ran a crisp route and Kizer, who was winging it in the first half, drilled him in stride for a 31-yard score to give the Irish a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter.

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St. Brown, C.J. Sanders (three catches, 24 yards), Claypool, Boykin, Finke and offensive freshman of the year Kevin Stepherson (two catches, 18 yards) represent the bulk of the still-young set of receivers in 2017.

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Rush defense
B

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Virginia Tech managed 152 yards on 47 carries for just 3.2 yards per carry. Twenty of those carries came in the first half for 74 yards with 27 attempts for 109 yards in the second half. Tame numbers, to be sure, but the Hokies use the running game to manipulate the clock.

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They’re 20th in the country in rushing attempts per game at 46.1 per contest. It’s this ability to massage the clock that helped give Virginia Tech a 30:14-to-14:46 time of possession advantage over the final three quarters.

\n

The Hokies certainly didn’t gash the Irish in the running game. But Novocain eventually takes effect. Quarterback Jerod Evans led the way with 88 yards gained (and 21 lost on sacks and fumbled exchanges) on 18 carries. Virginia Tech’s longest run was Evans’ 23-yarder. Running backs Steven Peoples, Marshawn Williams, Sam Rogers and Travon McMillian combined for 24 carries for 88 yards (3.6) with only Williams clipping off a run as long as 10 yards.

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Evans did enough damage in what proved to be the game-winning field-goal drive when he moved the chains twice on 2nd-and-1 and 3rd-and-5.

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The Irish had four players with 10 tackles – Drue Tranquill, Te’von Coney, James Onwualu and Jarron Jones – with the latter three doing most of their work against the run. Onwualu and Jones had tackles for loss with Onwualu causing a fumble and Jones recovering it.

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Pass defense
D

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With the Virginia Tech ground game contained, the Irish needed to slow down the Hokie passing attack to secure the victory, and if anything, it picked up momentum as the game went on. Jerod Evans was 7-of-10 for 49 yards and no touchdowns in the first half and 15-of-19 for 218 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in the second half.

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The big three of Isaiah Ford, Cam Phillips and Bucky Hodges were held in check for such a prolific group. Ford had seven catches for 86 yards, Phillips six for 56 and a touchdown, and Hodges two for 15 and a touchdown. So while the 15 catches for 157 yards isn’t bad, the two scores tell the tale of a second half in which the Hokies out-scored the Irish, 20-7.

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The unsung player who helped Virginia Tech early in the game was 5-foot-8, 167-pound C.J. Carroll, who finished with three catches for 80 yards, including a 62-yarder on the third play of the second half that quickly pulled the Hokies to within three points (24-21).

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Virginia Tech attacked the deep middle where Drue Tranquill has been vulnerable but pretty well-protected in the keep-the-ball-in-front scheme since the dismissal of Brian VanGorder. The Hokies pushed the ball at Tranquill, and were it not for a propitious drop by Phillips that ended up in Tranquill’s arms off the ricochet, the Hokies likely would have taken their first lead with about five minutes to go in the third period.

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Notre Dame’s only pass break up was by Jarron Jones at the line of scrimmage. Unofficially, Isaac Rochell had Notre Dame’s only quarterback hurry. James Onwualu had the lone sack. In the second half, Evans completed 78.9 percent of his passes for an average of 14.5 yards per catch and 11.4 yards per attempt. That’s getting gashed.

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Special teams
C-

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Nothing egregious; nothing outstanding. Virginia Tech kicker Joey Slye won the battle of field goals with 23- and 20-yarders in the fourth quarter while Justin Yoon converted from 25 yards in the first quarter.

\n

The Irish were lenient on kick coverage, allowing Henri Murphy a 34-yarder in the first quarter, a 36-yarder early in the second quarter and a 28-yarder in the third. Those kick returns contributed significantly to an average drive start at the Hokie 39-yard line, including 6-foot-3, 344-pound nose tackle Tim Settle’s nine-yard squib kick return to the Virginia Tech 44. Neither team did anything on a combined four punt returns.

\n

Both punters had issues with the wind. Tyler Newsome averaged 38.0 yards per seven punts with a driving bouncer with the wind for 65 yards. His final punt – a 22-yarder into the wind – gave the Hokies the football at their own 47, allowing for a short game-winning field-goal drive. Virginia Tech’s Mitchell Ludwig managed just a 30.5 average on four attempts. Of the 13 combined kickoffs, only four went for touchbacks.

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Two Virginia Tech touchdowns were scored following two of Murphy’s solid kick returns while Newsome’s short punt in the fourth quarter proved pivotal.

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Coaching
D

\n

We’ve been down this road several times this year. The Irish came out prepared and ready to play, jumping to 17-0 and 24-7 leads with three touchdowns and a field goal within the first five possessions of the game.

\n

But from there, the better coaching staff won. Bud Foster’s defense adapted after Notre Dame’s opening salvo. Except for a 67-yard touchdown run by Josh Adams, six of Notre Dame’s last eight drives resulted in punts, and once again, the last-ditch effort ended up in the ditch as time expired.

\n

Brian Kelly said he’d have to look at the film to determine what it was that Foster did to completely gum up the works offensively. That’s much too late in a game that requires rapid-fire adjustments with the game on the line.

\n

On the other side of the football, Virginia Tech made the adjustments, scoring no worse than once every three series over four quarters, including points on six of their last nine possessions, including a touchdown and two field goals on its final three drives.

\n

As the game wore on, Justin Fuente and his staff came up with solutions that allowed the Hokies to out-score the Irish 34-14 over the final three quarters and 20-7 in the second half. That’s the only thing that really needs to be said in a year in which a pattern of failed game plans down the stretch have resulted in losses.

\n

Notre Dame has now lost seven games by a combined 32 points. Those aren’t just unfortunate, close losses. Those are losses manufactured by coaching staffs who have done a better job of controlling the ebbs and flows of the game. Notre Dame’s staff has just been along for the ride.

\n

 

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Rush offense
B-

Notre Dame used the running game effectively in its first-quarter field-goal drive, and then again on the march that culminated on the first play of the second quarter with a touchdown that gave the Irish a 17-0 lead. Tarean Folston’s 21-yard burst jump-started that touchdown drive and DeShone Kizer’s nine-yard run kept it going.

But as the game wore on, except for Josh Adam’s 16-yarder that helped spark a 24-7 lead, and then his long third-quarter touchdown run, the carries dwindled, mainly because the Irish simply didn’t have the football in their hands.

Notre Dame possessed the football 12:29 of the first quarter, and then just 14:46 over the final 45 minutes of the game. A string of three-and-outs – as the Irish tried to protect their lead – gave little time (or inclination) for the running game.

The Irish rushed for 100 yards on 23 carries (4.3) in the first half and 100 yards on 13 carries (7.6) in the second half. The second-half numbers are skewed by the 67-yard run by Adams late in the third quarter. Of Notre Dame’s other 12 carries in the second half, they accounted for just 33 yards (2.7). For the game, excluding Adam’s big run, it was 35 carries for 133 yards (3.8).

After a failed 3rd-and-2 early, a converted 4th-and-2, and a fumbled shotgun snap on 3rd-and-goal from the one, the Irish never attempted a run again on 3rd-and-short.

The 200-yard game was Notre Dame’s fourth of the season. The others were 206 vs. Texas, 239 vs. Nevada, and 261 vs. Army. It was effective at times, but not a major part of the plan once the points started flying up on the scoreboard.

Passing offense
C-

It was two completely different halves passing the football, and unfortunately for the Irish, the worse of the two by far came in the second when the game was on the line.

Kizer completed 6-of-7 for 124 yards through the first play of the second quarter, which was a 31-yard touchdown pass to Chris Finke. The rest of the way he was 10-of-26 for 111 yards. The Irish threw for 199 yards in the first half and 50 yards (a Malik Zaire completion included) in the second half.

In the second half alone, Kizer completed just 3-of-15 passes for 36 yards. There were a couple of Josh Adams drops in there. The passing game was out of sync as Virginia Tech made its furious comeback from 17 points down.

It was a good day for the tried-and-true -- Equanimeous St. Brown – and a host of young receivers with Torii Hunter, Jr. out for the second straight game. St. Brown, Notre Dame’s go-to man from start to finish in his sophomore season, led the way again with six catches for 90 yards, including a 29-yarder in the touchdown-opening drive and a 14-yarder late that gave the Irish a brief glimmer of hope.

Corey Holmes caught his sixth and seventh passes of the season, including a clutch 3rd-and-2 for 18 yards that set up Miles Boykin’s first career score from 18 yards out. Freshman Chase Claypool caught his fifth pass of the season – a 20-yarder late in the first quarter. Chris Finke ran a crisp route and Kizer, who was winging it in the first half, drilled him in stride for a 31-yard score to give the Irish a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter.

St. Brown, C.J. Sanders (three catches, 24 yards), Claypool, Boykin, Finke and offensive freshman of the year Kevin Stepherson (two catches, 18 yards) represent the bulk of the still-young set of receivers in 2017.

Rush defense
B

Virginia Tech managed 152 yards on 47 carries for just 3.2 yards per carry. Twenty of those carries came in the first half for 74 yards with 27 attempts for 109 yards in the second half. Tame numbers, to be sure, but the Hokies use the running game to manipulate the clock.

They’re 20th in the country in rushing attempts per game at 46.1 per contest. It’s this ability to massage the clock that helped give Virginia Tech a 30:14-to-14:46 time of possession advantage over the final three quarters.

The Hokies certainly didn’t gash the Irish in the running game. But Novocain eventually takes effect. Quarterback Jerod Evans led the way with 88 yards gained (and 21 lost on sacks and fumbled exchanges) on 18 carries. Virginia Tech’s longest run was Evans’ 23-yarder. Running backs Steven Peoples, Marshawn Williams, Sam Rogers and Travon McMillian combined for 24 carries for 88 yards (3.6) with only Williams clipping off a run as long as 10 yards.

Evans did enough damage in what proved to be the game-winning field-goal drive when he moved the chains twice on 2nd-and-1 and 3rd-and-5.

The Irish had four players with 10 tackles – Drue Tranquill, Te’von Coney, James Onwualu and Jarron Jones – with the latter three doing most of their work against the run. Onwualu and Jones had tackles for loss with Onwualu causing a fumble and Jones recovering it.

Pass defense
D

With the Virginia Tech ground game contained, the Irish needed to slow down the Hokie passing attack to secure the victory, and if anything, it picked up momentum as the game went on. Jerod Evans was 7-of-10 for 49 yards and no touchdowns in the first half and 15-of-19 for 218 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in the second half.

The big three of Isaiah Ford, Cam Phillips and Bucky Hodges were held in check for such a prolific group. Ford had seven catches for 86 yards, Phillips six for 56 and a touchdown, and Hodges two for 15 and a touchdown. So while the 15 catches for 157 yards isn’t bad, the two scores tell the tale of a second half in which the Hokies out-scored the Irish, 20-7.

The unsung player who helped Virginia Tech early in the game was 5-foot-8, 167-pound C.J. Carroll, who finished with three catches for 80 yards, including a 62-yarder on the third play of the second half that quickly pulled the Hokies to within three points (24-21).

Virginia Tech attacked the deep middle where Drue Tranquill has been vulnerable but pretty well-protected in the keep-the-ball-in-front scheme since the dismissal of Brian VanGorder. The Hokies pushed the ball at Tranquill, and were it not for a propitious drop by Phillips that ended up in Tranquill’s arms off the ricochet, the Hokies likely would have taken their first lead with about five minutes to go in the third period.

Notre Dame’s only pass break up was by Jarron Jones at the line of scrimmage. Unofficially, Isaac Rochell had Notre Dame’s only quarterback hurry. James Onwualu had the lone sack. In the second half, Evans completed 78.9 percent of his passes for an average of 14.5 yards per catch and 11.4 yards per attempt. That’s getting gashed.

Special teams
C-

Nothing egregious; nothing outstanding. Virginia Tech kicker Joey Slye won the battle of field goals with 23- and 20-yarders in the fourth quarter while Justin Yoon converted from 25 yards in the first quarter.

The Irish were lenient on kick coverage, allowing Henri Murphy a 34-yarder in the first quarter, a 36-yarder early in the second quarter and a 28-yarder in the third. Those kick returns contributed significantly to an average drive start at the Hokie 39-yard line, including 6-foot-3, 344-pound nose tackle Tim Settle’s nine-yard squib kick return to the Virginia Tech 44. Neither team did anything on a combined four punt returns.

Both punters had issues with the wind. Tyler Newsome averaged 38.0 yards per seven punts with a driving bouncer with the wind for 65 yards. His final punt – a 22-yarder into the wind – gave the Hokies the football at their own 47, allowing for a short game-winning field-goal drive. Virginia Tech’s Mitchell Ludwig managed just a 30.5 average on four attempts. Of the 13 combined kickoffs, only four went for touchbacks.

Two Virginia Tech touchdowns were scored following two of Murphy’s solid kick returns while Newsome’s short punt in the fourth quarter proved pivotal.

Coaching
D

We’ve been down this road several times this year. The Irish came out prepared and ready to play, jumping to 17-0 and 24-7 leads with three touchdowns and a field goal within the first five possessions of the game.

But from there, the better coaching staff won. Bud Foster’s defense adapted after Notre Dame’s opening salvo. Except for a 67-yard touchdown run by Josh Adams, six of Notre Dame’s last eight drives resulted in punts, and once again, the last-ditch effort ended up in the ditch as time expired.

Brian Kelly said he’d have to look at the film to determine what it was that Foster did to completely gum up the works offensively. That’s much too late in a game that requires rapid-fire adjustments with the game on the line.

On the other side of the football, Virginia Tech made the adjustments, scoring no worse than once every three series over four quarters, including points on six of their last nine possessions, including a touchdown and two field goals on its final three drives.

As the game wore on, Justin Fuente and his staff came up with solutions that allowed the Hokies to out-score the Irish 34-14 over the final three quarters and 20-7 in the second half. That’s the only thing that really needs to be said in a year in which a pattern of failed game plans down the stretch have resulted in losses.

Notre Dame has now lost seven games by a combined 32 points. Those aren’t just unfortunate, close losses. Those are losses manufactured by coaching staffs who have done a better job of controlling the ebbs and flows of the game. Notre Dame’s staff has just been along for the ride.

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