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Varsity Cup QFs - Our Picks

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Varsity Cup QFs - Our Picks

Can Navy handle Arkansas State? Colleen McCloskey photo.

We're into the Quarterfinals of the Varsity Cup, and the games are a little tougher to pick, with an expectation that a couple, as least, will be close.

Army is at Cal, and while Army has been undercut somewhat in some games, the Black Knights look to be on a role after beating Navy and then, in the opening round of the Varsity Cup, Oklahoma. There's also the fun fact that Army's Coach, Matt Sherman, played for Cal's Head Coach, Jack Clark, when he was an All American flyhalf at Cal. 

“We're looking forward to hosting Cal and their storied rugby program at West Point for the first time,” said Sherman. “Our two programs share a long tradition of competition. We look forward to renewing that competition Saturday, as well as being able to share the history, tradition and experience of West Point and the United States Military Academy with Cal.”

Cal, however, have been very polished, and solid up front. They are exceedingly patient on defense, and that's what will be needed to take down Army. Cal should win this.

Dartmouth surprised many with the Big Green's win over Penn State. They might have garnered an advantage thanks to a red card, but they still took advantage of that advantage. Now, though, it's a different deal as Dartmouth hosts the BYU Cougars. 

"We know Dartmouth is working hard in preparation for this weekend's game," BYU Head Coach David Smyth told BYU Rubgy online. "They'll be ready to play. We have to stay focused against Dartmouth and stick to our game plan."

"They're experienced as a program and have had the chance to see different styles of play," added BYU captain Luke Mocke. "I know that sticking to the game plan our coaches have created will be the difference maker in the game. We've seen it work this entire season."

BYU, however, is experienced, too - very experienced. The players have a lot of rugby under their belts, and they've beaten eight ranked teams by an average score of 67-14. This includes last week's 113-8 destruction of Arizona State. BYU should win this and they will finish very strong.

Central Washington at is going to be a tougher call. 

"We know each other week obviously, being matched up for the last couple of year," CWU Head Coach Tony Pacheco said. "I think having seen how we've played, I think we're a different team from last year and Utah the same. I think it's going to be about those 80 minutes and not so much about our previous matchups."
CWU won 18-7 in strong winds last year in Ellensburg, Wash. This time the game is in Salt Lake City. 

"We're just trying to get healthy from our match against UCLA," Pacheco added.  "We may lose a guy from last week but we picked up a guy we didn't have last week. For us, it's about handling the scout and handling the travel well. Keeping in mind our legs because we are playing in some evaluation this week. It's very much 'what you see is what you get' from [Utah]. They run hard, they tackle hard, they scrum hard. Everything they do is 100 percent and they are on the job for 80 minutes. So if you switch off mentally and miss your assignment they will take advantage of it. This tournament is about us getting better throughout, that's the next step. We have to be better this week than we were last week if we want to advance."

Utah has been stretching things very thin this year. But they haven't backed down at all. Led by hooker Chad Gough, who is having a superb season, they can always surprise teams. This is a close one, but we're going with Central Washington.

With Arkansas State at Navy, we have a chance of changing the Varsity Cup semifinalists, which have been BYU, Cal, CWU, and Navy each of the past three years. This year, Arkansas State is in excellent position to unseat the Midshipmen. It's not that Navy is bad - in fact this might be the best Navy team in some years. Instead, it's about how Arkansas State has been clinica and brutal. The Red Wolves shut out a very good Clemson team 50-0. It's that defense that makes us wonder. We pick Arkansas State to win this.



Varsity Cup Quarterfinals - Check Back for Scores
Cal at Army
BYU at Dartmouth
Central Washington at Utah
Arkansas State at Navy