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IBG – Wake Up the Demon Edition

Chris Givens is a dangerous wide receiver that could give the Notre Dame secondary a lot of problems this weekend. (Photo / Icon SMI)

Notre Dame makes it’s first trip to Winston-Salem this weekend to face the Demon Deacons for the first time and the guys over at Gameday 40 are hostingthis week’s Irish Blog Gathering

1. I don’t know anything about Wake Forest except that Tim Duncan went there.  Who is the Tim Duncan of the Wake Forest footballers, i.e., one guy that the Irish must game plan for on Saturday and why?

Chris Givens is a wide receiver that could give Notre Dame a lot of problems on Saturday.  He’s recorded 100 yards in all but two games this year.  Same with touchdowns.  He does his damage with big plays too.  He is averaging almost 18 yards a reception this year and has nearly 1,000 yards already with 8 touchdowns.  North Carolina is the only defense to keep Givens in check so far this year.  The Tar Heels held Givens to 42 yards on 6 catches for just a 7.0 yards/reception average.

In terms of receptions, Givens has been the model of consistency this season too.  He’s had either 6 or 7 catches in every single contest this year – no more, no less.  If Notre Dame can slow down Givens, they’ll walk out of Winston-Salem with a win.

2. Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray have been a solid running back tandem this year with Gray coming on strong in the last couple of games.  With a finite amount of opportunities for each back, how do you think BK should split the carries in the coming weeks?  Explain.

I would employ the play the hot hand approach with these two since both have had their moments when they’ve played better than the other.  Wood was on fire against Purdue while notching a career day.  Same could be said for Gray when he erupted for the 80 yard touchdown against Pitt or last week when he scored three touchdowns.  Both have been great this year so it would be hard to argue with whatever Kelly does here.  The only time I would definitely play Wood over Gray would be on passing situations since he is a better receiver out of the backfield and has really improved his blocking.

Another option would be to use Gray early running right at opponents to soften them up and then unleash Wood who is more elusive in the open field later in the games.  Like I said though, there’s not really a wrong way to use them in my opinion.

If Notre Dame gets some early leads it also wouldn’t surprise me to see Gray get a few more carries to help him improve his draft stock.  As much as Kelly says he only cares about what is best for Notre Dame (ie not liking having players who only see college as a stop gap to the NFL), he’s smart enough to know that producing high draft picks at the skill positions will only help recruiting.  Considering the last time Notre Dame produced a high round pick at running back was Julius Jones 9 years ago, Kelly would be wise to help Gray improve his stock over the next three weeks if the situation allows for it.

3. Andrew Hendrix did not play against Navy.  Without speculating as to the reasons why he didn’t play against the Midshipmen, do you think he’s being underutilized?  Why or why not?

I’ve said a number of times that I thought Hendrix should see more playing time because I am not sold on Tommy Rees as the long term answer at quarterback for Notre Dame.  The Navy game was a great time to get him some more playing time since Notre Dame was rolling throughout and the issue was never really in doubt.  For Notre Dame to upset Stanford Thanksgiving weekend, I think the Irish will need to pull out all of the stops too so getting Hendrix some more experience by then should be a priority over these next three games.

4. What do the following series of statements mean—if anything— for Notre Dame versus Wake Forest this weekend?  Wake Forest beat NC State.  NC State beat Virginia. Virginia beat The U. The U beat Ohio State. Ohio State beat Illinois. Illinois beat Arizona State. Arizona State beat USC. USC beat Notre Dame.

Not a whole lot.  Every year you can make a case for some awful team like that.  For instance, in 2007 Notre Dame beat Staford who beat USC who beat the crap out of us on our home field.

5. What’s your prediction for Saturday’s game against the Demon Deacons and why?  Bonus points if your answer is a Haiku.

Not much of a poet so I’ll just say that I think this game will be closer than people think.  Wake may be slumping recently, but they are a solid team with a good coach.  This game will also be their biggest game of the year and will give Notre Dame their best shot.  Where the Irish are mentally right now we don’t know either.  Notre Dame has been flat after two of their convincing wins this year too.  After thumping Michigan State, they squeaked by Pitt.  After destroying Air Force, they were flat against USC and got beat.  The only time Notre Dame has looked sharp back to back this year has been the Purdue and Air Force games.

I think Notre Dame will still win this game, but it’ll be a tough contest with the game still in doubt late in the second half before Notre Dame finally pulls away.


  1. Every one has their own personal litmus test and you are certainly entitled to yours. However, forget about enforcing your rudimentary my way or the high way conclusion on others. What else do you have in your armamentarium worth listening to?

  2. Brian Kelly took over a team that averaged a 7-5 record since Holtz left. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, this is not going to change overnight, however, I do see major improvements.

    When was the last time ND was able to run the ball the way they are? The O-Line hasn’t allowed a sack since the Pittsburgh game. All I remember from the Weis years is a team that could throw it all over the field but couldn’t pick-up a 3rd and 1 on a regular basis.

    I like what Kelly is doing and I do think it will lead to great things. I agree that Rees is not the answer, but there is a reason Kelly is sticking with him. Rees will remain the starter unless he gets hurt.

    The defense seemed uninspired at first, but they did shut them out in the second half. Teo is playing hurt and the D-Line is a mess, but they did some nice things at the end of the game. The defense also seems to play better in the nickle.

    Take the game for what it was…a win. We should win the next 2 games and then we have a shot at a Top 10 team. The Stanford game is going to be our BCS game. This will be the first game that ND is not favored, so they can put it all on the line. There always has to be that one game that puts a team over the top…Stanford could be the one. Kelly even said in his press conference after the game that he hopes Stanford is undefeated when they play. It may be a stupid comment or it may be coach that believes in what he is doing.

    I choose to believe as well because when you stop believing you should stop watching and find a new team.

  3. Where is all the dynamic offense we were expecting to see with Kelly? Kelly’s team blame game doesn’t work anymore. I’m beginning to wonder, why did he leave his undefeated team early for ND? Team loyalty seems to be an additional Achilles Heel for him late in his career?? Check out all the comments on TR at ndnation.com. All these fans or hyperventilaters (LOL!) can’t be wrong also?

    Lets be clear: Do you really think you can be drafted or coach in the NFL with your name being synonymous with turnovers? And it is patently untrue that one of our highly talented QB’s cannot have a great performance comming off the bench or starting. I have not checked lately, we have to be leading the NCAA in turnovers or in the bottom ten. It is highly possible we will end up 8-5 like last year ignoring the lackluster play at QB. Ah yes, the unthinkable?

    Remember the last guy around here to win a national title was a true motivator not an agitator!

  4. Here is the QB problem in a nutshell, you are down by 6 with a minute thirty left on the clock on your own five. Do you have any prayer at all of going 95 yards in that time (of course I am assuming you are not playing us:) )? This dink and dunk stuff is fine but if you don’t have an arm you can’t cover the necessary ground when you have to and if you can’t stretch the field all aspects of the game become tougher.

  5. To Kelly’s point about upperclassment may have been a correct point? Just not an ego centric driven point shared with the media 1st!! It is moronic to say after the fact “We are a family and it stays in the family.” Purely a statement of convenience and CYA that does not resonate. In this case BK is dead wrong speaking outside the FAMILY 1ST! But don’t due as I do…do as I say! A really sincere apology? Not at all! By the way, this whole team is a work in progress not just the upperclassmen.

    Special treatment to certain classes is certainly defined as Class Warfare in every day life and is unacceptable to a blind eye.

  6. While Rees may not be the most talented I would certainly want him over any untested QB at this point. Mixing it up once in a while with Hendrix is desireable. Seeing the offensive line being able to close the game out last night was encouraging…seeing more consistent run blocking spells success.

    Defensively, this team is young, especially on the line: three freshmen do not spell success. To Kelly’s point about the upperclassmen: they make too many mistakes in pass coverage. It’s a work in progress.

    • Michael the Archangel

      You don’t become “tested” until you are allowed to play. It’s like telling kids out of school they can’t be hired because they have no experience. You don’t get experience until you are given the chance.

    • They make too many mistakes in coverage because last year Chuck Martin was responsible for the whole defensive backfield and this year they fixed something not broke and made Chuck in charge of the safeties and Kerry Cookes in charge of the DBs and the results look dis-jointed.

  7. Greenday,
    The problem with this team on defense is the injury bug. They have several key players on the front line out with injuries. I think Diaco has found a system to handle spread attacks. The problem is the Stanford game must have a healthy defense to stop their rushing attack. Right now the defense needs to get healthy. I don’t see anything different on because BK won’t switch QB’s and if Rees is hot ND will crush the opposition, if not close games.

  8. Jack right on with the QB situation. I would like to see Golsen start next year with Hendrix backing up or visa versa. Moving forward the rest of this season, could Hendrix be any worse than Rees if put in? Might be a spark they need. Yeah last night was a win but not impressive by any means. Seems to be the same old thing every week. Not sure what Sal is seeing? Looking forward to next year but seem to say that every year. Getting old!

  9. BK’S teams are QB driven, period. ND goes as Tommy Reese goes. He did not play well last night and neither did the offense. We are now seeing his limitations, no running ability, no ARM defenses are sitting on short routes, locking in on receivers and turning the ball over an average of two times a game. As far as the defense, a lot of injuries are their problem. Lewis Moore, Ethan Johnson and Manti Two. The only defenses in the FBS that could handle those loses are Alabama and LSU. I am sorry to say this but Rees is great number 2 not a number one. Three years ago LSU had issues at QB and had three loses and a loss to Penn State in a bowl game. Solve QB issues and you will see a different team. Look at the 2006 ND team, if it wasn’t for Quinn they would have been 6-6. I like the way this team looks with a sub par QB.

  10. Oh my God! WE WON people stfu already and quit whining. ND is having a solid season and is improving.

  11. why bob diaco is a joke, 12, 24, 34, 37, 13, 17, 20, 35, 28, 3, 16, 17, 23, 35, 13, 12, 10, 33, 31, 14, 17, the opposition average scoring? 21.14, no one shut out in two years, a zone defense that lets everybody score, a defense based on being afraid of the opposition?, i remember that stanford game last year, they looked like the nd of old, chargin across the line, re-watch the lsu-alabama game last night, they wanted to win, these guys have given up on diaco, swarbrick is the new kevin white. and kelly blames the guys he didnt recruit.

  12. A decent win against a decent team. I do not think the Irish are ready for a top ten team. The younger talent on defense still needs time to mature.

    Bob Diaco still causes me to have concerns. Adjustments were slow.

    I am more concerned as to whether the coaches know what they must do at Notre Dame to get the kids ready week in and week out. It is different. Although the announcer on ESPN got it way wrong on teh dorm thing. Yes, the football team must live on campus but other students may live off campus. Personally I wouldn’t. There is no good safe housing in an area that has off campus advantages. The dorms are pretty nice. But the general statement about ND being different holds true. However, if Stanford can do it, so can Notre Dame.

    This team needs to realize it has very high potential. They need someone to tell them to wake up each day determined to take care of school work and also to stay focused on getting better in each detail in football.

    I truly would like to see an inspiring Notre Dame football team again. Because frankly although I really enjoy the game, seeing the corruption and greed in both the NCAA and NFL is less than inspiring.

    • Good post C-Dog.

    • C-Dog –the game is being lost on viewers because of it. You are exactly right. ADJUSTMENTS ARE SLOW!! BTW, there are football players that live off campus–maybe it is in the Spring –but they do live off campus –off season perhaps or all the time. Whatever.C-Dog your comments are right on the money. Inspired Notre Dame is not there. 1993-we were called no names–and SHOULD HAVE won the National Title but they kissed Bobby Bowden’s fat ass and gave it to him even though we beat them head to head 31-24 and they had to come back to make a game of it because we outplayed them 99% of the time. Title or not in 93, they PLAYED well and this team has “TALENT” and is a notch or two above lackluster. I pray we can dominate 50-0 the next two weeks. But you are right C-Dog , we can’t play with top 10 teams right now–and at the end of last year, even folks in Columbus, Ohio said the Irish were heading BCS style as the horses were in the barn. What has happened???

  13. I am going to go out on a limb and say that I believe that Coach Kelly knows what he is doing on the QB front. I think if ND would be better off with Hendrix then he would most certainly start. I read a article that said that Hendrix is not worried about wether he starts or not, he just wants to go to Med School at ND. I have a feeling that although Hendrix has talent he is not ready and I think Kelly knows it and Hendrix knows it. I also have a feeling that Kelly has no intention of starting Reese next year. Golson was sick in High School, and Gunner is in our cross hairs to play at ND.

    • To top it off Kelly has been known for developing QB’s with little talent and making them NFL draft picks. Although everyone on this board is experts of the gridiron I am sure. I have a feeling that Kelly is doing his best to get through this season with what he has and as many wins as he can get. Then he will implement his system with his QB when the QB is ready.
      Go ND!

      • No more of an expert opinion maker than yourself either. I don’t hear anyone (including myself) proclaiming themselves an all-know-it expert This is an opinion blog which is about giving opinions. As to your comment about Hendrix regarding whether BK thinks he’s ready or not, we don’t know how ready he is or isn’t (hell, the coach won’t put him in when it would be appropriate to see how he does in extended plays). He came to play Div 1 football (and get his degree), it’s not like he is completely incapable of playing football or he wouldn’t have been offered a damn scholarship. The last time Hendrix got to see the field, he didn’t do too bad. Let’s don’t forget Mr. Rees was not that prepared to start when Crist went out year. BK needs either to adjust his offense to suit TR or put a QB that better fits what he is trying to do. I’d love to see TR be under center a little more. The run game seems to be good coming out of that set. Hey, I’m not trying to stir trouble with you or start a pissing contest, Brandon,on this opinion blog. As it can be said, we can agree to disagree. As to Gunner, I don’t think he would be a best fit QB for the type of offensive scheme this coach wants to run.

        Go Irish

  14. Well, for 7 games our HC has taught TR that 2 turnovers per game is certainly acceptable. Unfortunately, for our HC this will lead to his demise soon. We should have beaten WF by more than one touch down! Stanford will really capitialize on this flawed approach. How can we be “work in progress” when there is no progress on correction of turnovers?

    I would agree we definately need someone who can run at the QB position, rather than relying on “dinking” the ball hoping it will clear the D-Line.
    However, with this HC he is certainly not worried about this year or next.
    I would hope he would see the value of making a change now before it is too late. Wishful thinking with this HC. Someone needs to get out crayons and draw pictures for him.

    So, the question then becomes: Why not make a change at QB? Maybe he likes being mendacious about the QB position? Especially for the future. Or maybe he’s lazy and has not prepared the other QB’s properly to step in? Or maybe it’s his infamous narcissistic attitude blinding his judgement concerning our more talented QBs?

    Being highly predictable on offense this late in the season will take its toll with the better teams soon. Certainly Standford and a future bowl opponent. Well, you know the future is not bright when lip service trumps corrective action.

  15. We really should have pounded this team but im glad with a win. Already looking forward to next year here are my hopes:

    1) Hendrix or anyone else but Tommy Reese at QB
    2) Eifert stays another year
    3) Landry Jones and Broyles enter the draft so we dont catch a beatdown from the Sooners
    4) Barkley enters the draft so we dont catch another beating from USC
    5) We somehow find a replacement for Floyd at WR
    6) Our defense gets better

  16. Five General Observations:

    1) This will be probably be the most popular sound-off. The officials looked like they were paid off. Wake couldn’t cash in

    2) Notre Dame’s best two defensive lineman since Justin Tuck are Stephon Tuitt and Aaron Lynch. Both came up with big time plays. I must mention Robert Blanton, Darius Fleming and Prince Shembo. All three supplied game-changing plays.

    3) After tonight’s game, I’m not sure if Michael Floyd will be selected in the top 15. The Wake defensive backs were very physical with him and it seem to rattle him. He did have that spectacular TD catch, which was the game-winner. Other than that, he had a quiet night. #6 on Wake Forest plays like he will be a 1st rounder. Very physical corner with tremendous cover skills and tackler.

    4) More and more props to Tyler Eifert. I’m not sure what criteria they select All-Americans, but I think if ND was to get an All-American this season, then Eifert at the TE position should be the choice.

    5) If anyone wants to vote for the most underrated play of the season for ND, then I will start the voting for Ben Turk’s big time punt with the giant roll in the 2nd half. He was punting from inside his 10 with Wake destined for good field position. But Turk came up big, with a little luck, to hit a punt and have it bounce over twenty yards down the sidelines to place Wake at their own 30. At the time, a big field position turn in ND’s favor

    • Rees did what he usually does- turns in an avg performance but finds a way to win. Not pretty, but he got the W.

      Not sure what happened with Floyd. Was he always covered well? Or would a better QB be able to get him the ball in that tighter coverage? I don’t really know.

      Eifert has really become an impact player. He should be up for AA.

      If Kelly does not file a formal complaint with the ACC and the NCAA then, to me, it’s just another example of his bad decisions. During some of those blatantly obvious, absurd calls, he just stood there. Didn’t say a word! I don’t get that.

      This was a game that was tight and officiating that was THAT bad could have very easily lost the game for ND.Granted, ND’s performance was weak, but those calls were just horrid.

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