Looking At Notre Dame’s Schedule Through Week 2

Notre Dame decided it was a good idea to first torture us with a Monday game on opening weekend, then take the next week off entirely. It has not been fun, first having to wait all weekend to our boys play, then another week entirely. I don’t speak for everyone else, but I did not appreciate it. The bright side is it afforded a lot of time to focus on our upcoming opponents and two weeks is good enough to come up with some trends.

Generally speaking, everything is breaking as expected, the frisky teams are frisky, the November games will be stressful, and the elite teams are elite. (Well, at least one of them is.)

PSA, I’m going to skip over New Mexico in this, mostly because they’ll be previewed a ton this week.

A Blast From The Past

Before getting into upcoming opponents, I wanted to highlight Louisvilles 42-0 victory last night over Eastern Kentucky, who came into the game 1-0. Normally, I don’t like to do the “hmmm, maybe the team we just beat in somewhat underwhelming fashion might be pretty good, eh?” thing, but I think the Cardinal rushing for 322 yards and 8.5 yards per carry is notable. Rush defense was clearly the biggest flaw for Notre Dame last Monday, and it needs to improve, but it appears Louisville will be a pretty good rushing team this season. Eastern Kentucky isn’t a great opponent, but those numbers are good against anyone. At the very least, it was a good test for Notre Dame’s linebackers and interior line.

Georgia

The Bulldogs are 2-0 and are just as threatening as you would imagine, especially on the ground. Through two games they are averaging 296 yards on the ground on 7.4 yards per carry, with five ball carriers who would probably start for our team, even with Jafar Armstrong. Not only is their strength on offense in direct conflict with our weakness on defense, but they might be the best running team in the nation. So that’s daunting, to put it frankly.

The passing game hasn’t really gotten going yet, they average 224 yards per game, but on 9.5 yards per attempt. When they throw it, they are pretty efficient. Not really what you want to see against a rushing attack like that.

The defense has been predictably stout, but they haven’t been anywhere near tested, and won’t be leading up to the Irish. With games against Vanderbilt, Murray State, and Arkansas State prior the date with the Irish, even Georgia isn’t sure how they’ll handle a real team.

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Virginia

If you were hoping Virginia was one of these teams that received a lot of preseason hype without much substance, then your hopes have been dashed so far. They are good defensively, dangerous offensively, and they play like a team that’s well coached and confident. They are 2-0 with wins over Pittsburgh by 16 and William and Mary by 35. They give up 2.1 yards per carry on defense and 5.8 yards per attempt to opposing quarterbacks. Given the way Notre Dame looked against Louisville on offense, Virginia looks like they’ll be a very good test for Ian Book and his offense.

The offense has been solid, but certainly not spectacular. The key is limiting quarterback Bryce Perkins and forcing field goals instead of touchdowns, because they will move the ball but aren’t very explosive. This will be a game though, and likely all the more tougher following Georgia.

Bowling Green

They opened with a 46-3 win over Morgan State and likely started to feel good about themselves, then followed that up with a 52-0 defeat to Kansas State, and have been brought back down to earth. This team is not very good, Notre Dame should roll them, and there isn’t much more to say.

USC

If you were hoping USC would be a dumpster fire heading into this matchup, you’d probably be wrong. They’ve got a new freshman quarterback operating their Air Raid offense, they just put up 45 points against Stanford, and everyone out west is fired up and feeling hopeful and all that. The good news is what USC wants to do on offense will allow Notre Dame to play more defensive backs, which is what they want to do. The bad news is those guys are super talented and if given time this quarterback can hurt us. This game will likely come down to the defensive ends getting pressure.

USC’s defense has been spotty, although their pass rush has looked good so far this year. Their secondary can be had, and hopefully by game time Book has figured things out and Kmet and Young are back. And you never know, maybe Kevin Austin will be available.

Michigan

It’s been an underwhelming start to the season for the Wolverines, who have looked ineffective running, inconsistent passing, and basically been getting by on overall talent (a 40-21 win against Middle Tennessee State) and the skin of their teeth (a 24-21 overtime win against Army).

The defense held Army to 3.3 yards per carry in the game, so they held up well on that end, and were on the brink of defeat thanks in large part to their offense being a fumble machine, especially from quarterback Shea Patterson, who has been wildly inconsistent.

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The biggest surprise has been their running game, averaging a measly 3.79 yards per carry so far this year. It really is the nicest thing that USC and Michigan, two teams that have been able to out physical us when they were at their best, have decided it’s a good idea to move away from that and go more finesse.

Virginia Tech

This was my pick for the trap game candidate and I’m sticking by it, because they don’t look frisky at all, in fact they look to be down again, and Notre Dame is likely to overlook them. But, they’ve got an experienced quarterback and good enough receivers to where a sleepy Notre Dame team can be had at home. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time. But, they dropped their opener to Boston College 35-28, they can’t really run the ball, and the defense doesn’t look as good as they’d hoped. Yep, perfect trap game.

Duke

Another team who most would have predicted to be exactly what they are. Pretty good on offense and competitive on defense. They’ve got a really good coach, a good running back, and they’ve shown enough the first couple weeks to believe they’ll have a good plan against Notre Dame, a lot like Louisville did. This is the point of the season where it’s possible things have gone wrong for the Irish, in which case this game is a danger game (and frankly they all would be in that scenario). A motivated Notre Dame team should come out of this matchup fine, as they did in the opener.

Navy

Won the opener against Holy Cross, 45-7. Didn’t play this week, so not enough data to decide on any trends. But, it’s Navy, so we know if they’ve got a solid quarterback they’ll be a tough out. We don’t know if that’s the case yet, so we should all stay tuned.

Boston College

BC has a very good running game (251 yards a game on 5.1 per carry) and a dynamic quarterback (219 yards per game, 11 yards per attempt, 5 touchdowns, no picks) so it looks like a stressful Senior Day is upcoming. They’ve got the star running back in AJ Dillon, which everyone knew about, but also sophomore David Bailey who is averaging 67 yards a game on 5.4 a carry.

The defense doesn’t look like anything special, which is nice, but given the weapons on offense, the final home game won’t be the laugher we want.

Stanford

Stanford at Stanford is what it is, Notre Dame hasn’t won there since 2007, but it sure seems like the fall we saw coming from them has arrived. They don’t look dynamic on offense, their defense has some good defensive backs, but the front seven looks weaker than in the past, and they aren’t that physical juggernaut they have been. Stanford has a way of building and getting better as the season goes on, so I might regret these words, but a loss to them as it stands right now would be a huge disappointment.

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6 comments

  1. Subway Alum 2 months ago

    Greg,
    I like that you updated us on the progress of teams on our schedule yet to be played. Hoping you can continue that feature each week.

    On another subject, lots have been printed regarding Books’ poor performance. Granted he missed a 3rd down easy pass that resulted in an ND punt. But, in his behalf this was a game that demonstrated our OL can ONLY learn one technique each week. This week they worked on opening holes for the run game at the expense of learning pass protection. Every article tells us the Book was skittish in the pocket. He broke and ran when people were open.

    Two things about that…I re-watched the game, did not see the OL holding their blocks or preventing a delayed rush by the DB’s and LB’s. I don’t believe Book had all that time to find open receivers. The other knock on him was that people were open and he hesitated. Unless you were at the game, you couldn’t prove it by watching the game on TV. Very little coverage was shown from a downfield perspective.

    I confirmed that in the re-watch.

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  2. Damian 2 months ago

    I love that the Meatchickens almost got beat by Army. All the hype they get…how many times have we heard “This is the year Michigan goes all the way”. Their prized coach has to be feeling some heat by now. Ever since the RichRod experiment failed so spectacularly they’ve had problems. If they lose again this year to their most hated rivals, ND and Ohio State–their fans will be apoplectic. And it cracked me up for a number of years that little brother, MSU, was beating them up as well. 😛

    I agree with Greg about the scheduling. I don’t like early season byes like this one. And last Monday’s game was a killer since I had to work last Tuesday. Who’s idea was that anyway? Whoever it was thanks a lot. Not only did they keep me up on a work night but the only football I had this weekend was my NY Giants (yeah, thanks for that Swarbick–or whoever decided to have a 2nd week bye).

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  3. Ryan 2 months ago

    It looks like this team needs a good challenge to understand who they are. The Georgia game will define this team whether we like it or not. Hopefully they are able to rise to the challenge.

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  4. Michael The Archangel 2 months ago

    Some teams never become road warriors. So we’ll have to see whether this version of ND develops into one. Not overly impressed this early with Virginia Tech, Michigan or Stanford. True that “Stanford has a way of building and getting better as the season goes on”, but isn’t that what most well-coached teams do? So if well-coached, NDs team by season’s end ought to still be better. It’s time to finally win one @ Stanford. Playing Duke on the road and BC on Senior Day could be challenges. I agree it’s too early to know what Navy has, and I’m glad ND didn’t have to play Army their second game. The week after Georgia ND cannot afford a preditable letdown vs. Virginia. Those two back-to-back games ending September, apparently without three of NDs better O’ skill players, could be the most difficult games (along with SC) that ND faces. I won’t be boycotting any of them, Burgy.

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  5. Ron Burgundy 2 months ago

    Gonna be tough to boycott all of these games.

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    1. Ryan 2 months ago

      The more input from you the better Ron!

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