Notre Dame Football Stock Report: Week 6

It’s ok to feel good about being 5-1 everyone.

One of the things that’s been reinforced to me this year, in sports and in life, is multiple things can be true at the same time. It is true we don’t know what this team is and it appears the schedule is about to get a lot tougher. Five of the next six are against teams currently ranked in the top 25, with two of those coming on the road. Adding to that fact is Notre Dame has tailed off in the past in the month of November. So, there is lots of danger on the horizon.

However, lets not pretend what we’ve seen so far is something short of encouraging. This team tackles better, they block better, they (generally) do the little things better. The average point differential in their five victories has been 28 points. They are crushing teams. And they are doing it on the ground, something the Notre Dame faithful have been screaming over for the last 20 years.

Look, all of these positives bring with it zero guarantees. The goal isn’t to be good, the goal is to win all the games. I wrote a couple weeks ago about the “incompetency bias” a Notre Dame fan brings to the table; this tendency to take X information and turn it into Y. Simply because Notre Dame is good at blocking and tackling doesn’t mean they’ll go on the road and beat Miami and Stanford. And while Notre Dame looks good going into the bye ahead of USC, they still have to beat USC.

There is still much to find out about this team, but for the present, I’ve really enjoyed watching this team play over the first six weeks of the season, which I said exactly zero times in 2016. So there’s that.


Deon McIntosh

This young man currently has 230 yards on 40 carries (5.75 per tote), and four touchdowns through the first six games. I’ll be honest, before the season I would have posited those would be career stats for him. His efforts the last three weeks have been what we call in the business “seizing an opportunity.” What was a fun little thing in the fourth quarter against Michigan State, turned into 12 carries, 124 yards and two second half touchdowns against North Carolina in which he displayed speed, power, elusiveness, and vision. Otherwise known as everything you want to see in a running back.

I always viewed McIntosh as an Amir Carlisle type. Someone who could play running back in a pinch, but really should be a wide receiver. Turns out he’s a running back whenever they need him to be and a quite capable one at that. He made several impressive runs last weekend, but I did not expect him to shuck a tackle from an unblocked middle linebacker at the line of scrimmage, throw a defensive tackle off him, and keep on trucking like he was Jerome Bettis. Here’s to Mr. McIntosh for greatly exceeding expectations.

Alize Mack

I’ve been critical of his play during the first six weeks, but credit where it is due, he made some plays on Saturday, and not just as a receiver. He made a key block that sprung Josh Adams on his weekly 70 yard run, a nifty snag on 4th and 1 from Ian Book that moved the chains, as well as another key third down reception to extend a touchdown drive. Sometimes expectations can cloud our judgement; if Nic Weisher had been the one making those plays there would be a lot more attention given. Not so for Mack, but that is the responsibility of being a big time recruit. And unfortunately, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, as Mack dropped what would have been a touchdown on a beautiful throw up the seam from Ian Book. So there are still plays to be made.

It’s pretty clear when a player has confidence and when they don’t, and Mack has been mostly the latter to start this season. There are a lot of elements missing in the Notre Dame passing game, one of them being consistent production at tight end. A confident Mack changes things through the air, and last week was a step in the right direction.

Tommy Kraemer

Not a lot has been said about the starting right tackle the last few weeks, which pretty much tells you all you need to know about how he has been playing. He’s been in a time share with freshman Robert Hainsey since the start of the season, and I would imagine it will continue, but Kraemer has been the better of the two pretty much the whole way, at least from a penalty stand point. And it wasn’t really talked about because McGlinchey and Nelson get most of the pub, for good reason, but Kraemer might have had the best block of the season when he body slammed the left defensive end for Michigan State so violently, thoughts of retirement had to have crept in as he was flying through the air.


Equanimeous St. Brown

I don’t know if Notre Dame can get where they want to go if they can’t get this going in the passing game. They’ve connected on 15 of 37 targets to St. Brown this year, an abysmal 40 percent catch rate for their most targeted player (St. Brown registered a 66% catch rate last season). There are times when he has been open and flat missed, and there are times when he hasn’t been strong enough fighting for the ball, and there was a missed opportunity against Michigan State where St. Brown simply ran out of  bounds on his corner route. It just isn’t happening right now.

There has been a debate about whether the trouble in the passing game has more to do with the problems of Brandon Wimbush or the receiving core. It should be pointed out that Notre Dame played a new quarterback last week and St. Brown finished with one catch for nine yards. Small sample size, but the infusion of what some considered the better passer didn’t bring new life to the Irish’s top receiver. I don’t get game tape, so it’s hard to say whether the fault lies more at receiver or quarterback, but I will say that Mike Denbrock, former offensive coordinator and receivers coach, was very good at his job who got a lot out of his troops.

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  1. Dr.Duranko, your pontifications sounds like you would like to outlaw predicting. What fun would that be. Do you want to bankrupt Vegas? Give the fan what they want. Did you think M. Ali was a fool also?

  2. WAKE ME WHEN THIS TEAM HAS A LEGITIMATE CHANCE TO BEAT ALABAMA OR CLEMSON. Unless Wimbush turns into the second coming of Joe Montana we’re just whistling in the dark along with everyone else in college football.

    1. Wake me up when Bama has a legitimate chance of beating Clemson. Your post has to be one of the dumbest I have seen. Unless you are a Clemson fan, you are a moron.

  3. I have read that St. Brown in particular but all the receivers in general have a problem with effort, not running out good routes, not fighting for the ball and the like. As far as I’m concerned, this reflects badly on the position coach, who should be kicking them in the butt and hounding them to improve every aspect of their gsme. I’ve read that when Urban Meyer was a wide receivers coach he was a miserable SOB who insisted on perfection in every detail. He obviously got results. If this is what’s going on with the ND receivers, Brian Kelly needs to step in directly and start kicking butts and taking names, starting with Coach Alexander, but being very careful not to embarrass Coach Alexander in public with his players.

  4. What worries me is that it has been a while since Notre Dame jas won a big game that was really important to the season. We have four of those games coming up. We will see if this team is for real depending on how they respond to USC, North Carolina State, Miami, Stanford

    1. Not won a big game really important to the season? MSU on the road? I think so, Jeff. But, as you say, the four coming up are just as important. We shall see.

  5. What creates such stress and hysteria is the unwillingness to let a season and a team unfold.

    The culture, and even the once-insular Notre Dame fan base, has been Espn-ized, chat-ized, twitter-ized, poll-ized.

    Football teams and seasons, like history its own self, are only understood after events and analysis, not before.

    The future, simply is not knowable.

    Yet the ESPN (in which wild conjecture, dissembly, irrelevance and obfuscation, and fan emotion are cherished and elevated beyond the deeds of the lads in the trenches) brainwashing has worked, aided and abetted by this Kabuki theater that is the Football Final Four and its absurdly early polls and its predictors who bumrush the polls.

    “Men at some time are masters of their fates;
    The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
    But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

    The fault is neither in this wonderful pigskin game we play nor in the paced rhythm of the season. The fault is that we are impatient. Don’t blame the stars.

    Enjoy the off week.
    Show up when the leaves are falling on October 21st.
    Watch closely.

    And then, late at night after the leftover turkey is becoming tiresome on Saturday, November 25th, we will know the final result from Palo Alton. Until then, it is all conjecture, speculation and gobbledygook.

    These seasons are full of twists, turns and surprises. Heck, it’s not yet the Ides of October. For all you soothsayers, who had Oklahoma beating Ohio State in Columbus and then losing to Iowa State in Norman?

    Those who predict are fools. And bigger fools pay attention and comment on their predictions.

    We each make our own choices. But for those happy few who just wait and watch the season unfold it can be fun.

    Sit back. Enjoy the ride. It’s October a time for Harvest, leaves and college football.

    Go Irish!

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