Monday, November 24, 2008
Our 100th Post Is A Real Downer...
AP Photo/Joe Raymond
Optimism is a commodity in short supply around here today. Both Virginia Tech and Notre Dame turned in real stinkers on the gridiron yesterday, Notre Dame inexplicably falling to Syracuse 24-23 and Virginia Tech winning a war of attrition with the Duke Blue Devils 14-3.
First let's dissect the Irish.
Notre Dame had zero turnovers Saturday in South Bend and Jimmy Clausen turned in another solid performance completing 22 of 39 passes for 291 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Golden Tate continues to impress during his sophomore season. Tate caught 7 passes for 146 yards and 2 touchdowns. On the year, Tate has 50 catches for 888 yards and 7 touchdowns.
That's about all the good I could find in this one (granted I missed the end to go to the Tech game).
This should be pretty obvious. The Irish led Syracuse 23-10 and looked pretty good doing it up to that point. 'Cuse looked like the hapless shell of a once great program that they are but something strange happened on the way to 7-4 for the Irish...
Notre Dame suddenly couldn't muster any offense. Starting inside the Orange 23-yard line on 4 possessions, the Irish managed just 6 points.
"I really don't know why that happened," said a bewildered Clausen after the game.
The only way to rationalize this game is to chock it up to the dreaded "look ahead" factor with the #6 USC Trojans on the docket next weekend. In the end, it's a matter of executing consistently on offense which has been a problem throughout the season.
Now for the Hokies.
The Virginia Tech defense played one of its best games of the season holding Duke to just 136 total yards. The Blue Devils were able to complete just 2 passes for 20 yards and quarterback Zack Asack threw 4 interceptions, though he did run for 87 yards and was effective on the ground most of the night.
Sean Glennon played well again, completing 12 of 22 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown. It was the first touchdown pass of the year to a wide receiver, freshman Jarrett Boykin who led the Hokies with 67 yards receiving.
Darren Evans also had another good game rushing 24 times for 111 yards. Evans needs just 74 yards to eclipse 1,000 for the season.
The Hokies offense scored just 7 points on a frigid evening in Blacksburg. I would have to say it was among the worst performances by a Virginia Tech team that I've seen end in victory.
Tyrod Taylor had an alarmingly off night. Taylor was just 2 of 5 passing for 15 yards and two interceptions. He also lost two fumbles. Couple that with the unlucky interception on Sean Glennon's first passing play and Tech turned the ball over 5 times, in the first half.
Tech coaches will decide who starts against Virginia during the week. Based on recent performance, it's hard not to pull for senior Sean Glennon to get the start in his final game at Lane Stadium.
The Irish are now 6-5 and will head out west to take on USC (9-1, 7-1). Virginia Tech is 7-4 overall and 4-3 in the ACC. If the Hokies can retain possession of the Commonwealth Cup and defeat Virginia (5-6, 3-4) on Saturday they will go to the ACC Championship for the third time in four years.
Notre Dame has a tough challenge ahead of them but I expect a game effort come Saturday. The result could get ugly, but I expect the team will rally around head coach Charlie Weis who has come under tremendous fire recently. Also, the Irish want to cement their bowl hopes. They could certainly go to a bowl at 6-6, but would be heavily criticized in the press in such a scenario. They don't want to limp into the postseason, but neither do the Trojans.
The Hokies are in an unbelievable position. The ACC has been an outrage of inconsistency this season, as a result, the Hokies are one win away from a pretty big accomplishment. Rivalry games are always tough, and this weekend should be no different. I actually give the Hoos a better shot at victory this year in Lane Stadium than last year up in Charlottesville. Just the nature of the conference and of these two teams this season lead me to expect the unexpected.
Plenty more to come on both these games as the week progresses.