Irish Running Backs vs. Virginia Tech Linebackers
This is one of the matchups where the Irish have a significant advantage. To put it lightly, the Hokies are extremely inexperienced at their linebacker position after losing Andrew Motuapuaka, Sean Huelskamp, and first round NFL draft pick Tremaine Edmunds. They have no redshirt seniors or seniors and the nine players they have on their linebacker depth chart have played a combined seven games entering this season.
Sophomores Dylan Rivers and Rayshard Ashby will lead the way for this group on the inside. They have combined for 58 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss so far this season. Though this group is inexperienced, the biggest factor they have in their favor is coaching. Defensive coordinator Bud Foster is in his 24th season with Virginia Tech and is known for leading a “Lunch Pail Defense” that has led the country in a major statistical category nine times and been among the top five 44 times. Great gameplans can make up for a lack of talent and experience which is what the Hokies will need Saturday.
With the return of Dexter Williams last week, the Notre Dame running game has a new level of explosiveness that is was missing to start the season. We saw this on Williams’ first touch of the season that went for a 45-yard touchdown. Jafar Armstrong will miss this week again with a knee infection, but Tony Jones Jr. and Avery Davis will be there to pick up the slack.
The Irish have the experience advantage and the talent advantage in this matchup. If the offensive line can allow the backs to get to the second level consistently, it could be a long night for these linebackers.