Frankie V’s Prediction: Notre Dame v. NC State ’16

Notre Dame RB Josh Adams
UPDATE: Can Josh Adams get going this weekend in the rain? (Photo: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports)

UPDATE: The Saturday morning forecast for Raleigh is looking worse than it was just 48 hours ago when I made my original prediction.  With more rain and wind in the forecast now, this should be a much lower scoring game than originally predicted.  

Notre Dame finally got back in the win column last weekend and looks to return to .500 this weekend on the road against NC State for their first ever trip to Raleigh.  The Irish will battle 4-1 NC State and weather conditions courtesy of Hurricane Matthew.  While the forest doesn’t look as dire as it was early in the when it looked like the game could be moved, the Irish and Wolfpack figure to be playing in some wet and windy conditions.

Will Notre Dame even their record with Stanford coming to town next weekend?  Let’s find out.

How’d I Do Last Week

Last week Syracuse’s fast pace, uptempo offense had me concerned along with their record setting wide receiver Amba Etta-Tawo.  Sure enough the fast pace offense caused some problems for Notre Dame early and Etta-Tawo was able to out-play Julian Love for a jump ball on the sideline that turned into a 72 yard touchdown.  For the most part though, the Irish defense settled in and held the Orange in check in the second half.

Even though Notre Dame gave up 33 points, last week had the chance to be worse with all of the change in coaching and philosophies.  Notre Dame even showed some incremental improvement.  Hopefully the same happens this weekend.

As for my prediction, for once I gave the opposition too much credit but got close to picking Notre Dame’s point total right again last week.

What Concerns Me This Week

  • The Weather – For all the talk of playing in this weather last year and being prepared for it, Notre Dame is still an offense that has to pass well to score points and a driving rain storm is usually not conducive to throwing the football.  If the rain isn’t too bad and the wind isn’t too strong, the Irish should be able to pass.  If they are forced to run the ball, however, I don’t think this one will play out how we want.
  • Ryan Finley – The NC State quarterback is accurate completing over 70% of his passes so far this year albeit against some suspect competition.  Notre Dame’s defense hasn’t exactly instilled confidence in being able to make an inexperienced QB uncomfortable though.
  • Week 2 of the “New” Defense – Syracuse didn’t know what to expect from Notre Dame last week.  NC State will have a better idea of what to expect with a week of game film to go off of.  Brian Kelly and Greg Hudson changed more than most thought they would in their first week of patching this defense together.
  • The Notre Dame Run Game – The Irish ground game has been stalled the last few weeks despite some OK rushing totals yardage wise.  Until they show they can run on an opponent when they know the run is coming and do so with success the run game will be a concern.
  • Ball Security – Notre Dame has had some crushing fumbles this year at the worst times.  A game in the rain doesn’t bode well for ball security.  At the same time, maybe Notre Dame finally gets a fumble recovery this week.
  • Justin Yoon – When he struggled in camp it was easy to dismiss as just needing to shake off some off-season rust, but now that he’s five games into the season and still struggling it’s concerning.  He’s already missed more field goals this year (3) than he did in his freshman season (2) with two of those misses coming from less than 40 yards.  Add in some poor weather and it will be interesting to see how willing Kelly is to use him.
  • NC State’s 50th Anniversary of Carter Finley Stadium – NC State is celebrating 50 years of the stadium, wearing special uniforms, hosting 100 recruits, and likely has had this game circled for a long time.  That terrifies me.

What Doesn’t Concern Me This Week

  • Deshone Kizer – It shocks me how many people are down on Kizer even as he continues to rack up records and make big plays.  He threw a bad interception last week but he’s still playing at an extremely high level. If the weather permits, expect another video game style stat line.
  • The NC State Defense – If Notre Dame doesn’t score 40 points this weekend, it will be because of Hurricane Matthew, not because of the Wolfpack defense.  NC State gave up 33 points to the only half decent offense it has faced this year (East Carolina).  The Notre Dame offense is much more prolific than East Carolina.

Players to Watch

  • Greg Hudson – OK so Hudson isn’t a player but a lot has been made of his energy in practice, in the meeting room, and on the sidelines.  With a young defense, on the road, in a some rough weather it will be interesting to see how he responds and how his players respond to him.
  • Jay Hayes – He played more last week than we’ve ever seen and he played well.  He should play quite a bit again this weekend.   He played at the SDE behind Isaac Rochell who actually got some snaps off last week.
  • Troy Pride – Played a ton of snaps in his collegiate debut last weekend and more than held his own.  Pride figures to play a lot again this weekend.
  • OK all the Frosh DBs – Pride stood out last week just because we hadn’t seen him yet but all of the freshmen will be interesting to watch this weekend.  Julian Love is slated to start but Donte Vaughn has looked sharp as well.  At safety, Devin Studstill and Jalen Elliot will be Notre Dame’s last line of defense.
  • Dexter Williams – The arrow is pointing up for Williams and with Tarean Folston coming off the ankle injury Williams figures to see plenty of work again this weekend.  Even if Folston is fully healthy, Williams should play quite a bit.
  • Josh Adams – Staying at running back, watch Adams this weekend.  He’s looked a bit tentative the last couple of weeks after a hot start.  Adams was a home run hitter last year for the Irish offense but hasn’t been able to break free very often – especially over the last three weeks.
  • Chase Claypool – Even if he doesn’t see the field much as a wide receiver this weekend watch #83 on the kick coverage unit.  It’s a joy to watch.
  • Colin McGovern – Had to leave the Syracuse game and was replaced by Hunter Bivin.  McGovern is expected to start this weekend but how he holds up will be worth watching – especially in some potentially sloppy conditions.

Prediction Time

This game honestly scares the hell out of me – mainly because of the weather.  If it were to be sunny and 60 degrees this weekend in Raleigh I’d feel much better.  If NC State weren’t having all it’s celebrations and what not this weekend, I would feel much better.  If Notre Dame wasn’t still trying to figure out what it has defensively, I would feel a lot better.

In the pre-season, I thought this was a trap game for Notre Dame, now I am really scratching my head to find a way Notre Dame wins this one.  As long as there aren’t monsoon, Clemson-esque conditions this weekend I think Notre Dame will be able to score some points, but with potential wind gusts of 25-35 mph I worry about how effective the passing game will be.

Defensively we have a bunch of kids playing a sort of hybrid scheme that they are learning on the fly from a new defensive coordinator who is two weeks on the job all while playing in a true road game in what figures to be a hostile crowd with fewer friendlies than a normal road game (Notre Dame returned some tickets to NC State this week).

At the same time, we really don’t know all that much about NC State.  They lost to East Carolina while beating William and Mary, Old Dominion, and Wake Forest.

Phil Steele picked Notre Dame in this one saying the Irish don’t need the points they are getting.  I wish I was as confident as Phil.   Still, I just can’t pick Notre Dame to lose to NC State.  I’d much rather be wrong again this week than pick against Notre Dame vs. NC State.  Next week might be another story, but this team lost to East Carolina already this year and the only FBS teams they beat last year were Wake Forest, Boston College, and Syracuse.

Prediction: Notre Dame 42, NC State 35

UPDATE: A revised prediction with the latest forecast would be more along the lines of 28-21 or 21-14 Notre Dame.  

Season Predictions vs. Outcomes

1@ TexasW, 27-23L, 47-50 OTOne defensive stop in the 4th could have saved the prediction.
2NevadaW, 52-21W, 39-10Thought there'd be more scoring, but margin of victory wasn't far off.
3Michigan StateW, 31-21L, 28-36Completely overestimated the defense's ability to slow the run game
4DukeW, 42-24L, 35-38I got nothing on this one.
5@ SyracuseW, 47-38W, 50-33Irish show some signs of life and for once an opponent doesn't score more than I predicted.
6@ NC StateW, 42-35
9@ Navy
11Virginia Tech
12@ USC

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  1. @ Frank…wasn’t sure, but from the small chart sample shown, looks like you believed they could win each of the first six. Certainly, after the TX game you should have been on the L side of things. BTW, haven’t these teams who have beaten ND proven to be mediocre in subsequent games? What’s that telling us? BK is a piss poor coach.
    Here’s my prediction, they lose to a Stanford team (which has not looked impressive to date) at home with “fire Kelly” chants ringing out through the stadium. During the bye, and just before Miami wails on them, Kelly works a deal to save face and bows out with a ‘retirement package’. Good riddance and good riddance to Swarbrick (but not immediately) who fought for Kelly’s lucrative extension package. Put in an AD who can better evaluate HC’ing talent…someone who’ll put in a call to Jon Gruden, hopefully. This is still a ‘big-time’ program, that begs for a big time HC before it’s too late. As much as i hate saying it…witness ‘the’ Ohio State and Michigan programs. We are the Big 10’s Rutgers. We’re a joke…he’s a joke. But we fans ain’t laughing.

    1. And “has not looked impressive” is putting it lightly. Yes, Stanford is not strong this year, but ND is far worse.

  2. Well, you don’t get that many moments of crystal clear clarity in life that force you to reassess things you just might have very wrong.

    For a lot of confused Americans, one came along last night in the form of a 2005 Donald Trump audio tape.

    For anyone who thought Brian Kelly might lead ND to a national championship, there was today’s game.
    What a stupid, arrogant, clueless, wealthy POS.

  3. I don’t see notredame being elite under Kelly. I think he needs to go after this year. Notre Dame has really good talent good enough to win double digit games but very poor coaching.

  4. @Evan – Even in the conditions at Clemson last year the offenses scored points and I think both of these defenses are far worse than the ones in that game last year.

    @SubwayAlum – I have picked ND to lose and usually they end up winning those games so perhaps I should have picked NC State. And baring a monumental improvement this weekend, I am fairly certain I’ll be picking Stanford next week.

  5. @Frankie v…not surprised you picked them to win…have you ever picked them to lose? I think they’ll win, but for a reason not covered in this article. Who’d they play this year? It’s easy to put up O & D numbers when you don’t have to open against TX or face MSU in your 3rd game. But while you and 98% of ND followers are hoping and praying for a W (as they say)…I’m not. The quicker they lose, the quicker the university gets rid of the #1 problem…BK. He may be able to entice 4 star guys over here, he just doesn’t know how to coach them at this level. I was one of the many who thought BVG was the main problem (BK a close 2nd), but if they lose this weekend, and again vs Stanford, Miami, Va Tech and USC….can’t be blaming BVG, can we Kelly? FWIW, a loss to NCSt and Stanford…might just do the trick. We still have Denbrock on hand to finish the season…here’s hoping… (but not praying).

  6. Turnovers will be the key. We have to lock that ball up, no cheap td’s. Notre Dame 27 Wolfpack24 We’re now at 500!

  7. Not that I care about making the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl anyway, but lose this game and ND will end up bowl ineligible.

  8. I agree with you on Josh Adams. I am still waiting for him to have a breakout ground. So far his running has been tentative. I don’t understand the stutter step before he hits the hole. He is a big strong young man. Why can’t he square up and hit the hole like a big strong young man. Stutter step after that if you will but hit the hole man!!!

    Go Irish!

  9. If we can’t pass because of the weather, then probably neither can they. I doubt their QB is a better “mudder” than Kizer.

  10. QB with high completion percentage is scary for ND. They leave wide receivers wide open and have trouble tackling. I’m expecting a track meet regardless of weather. We shall see if ND’S defense can keep them under 35.

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