Frankie V’s Prediction: Notre Dame vs. Vanderbilt ’18

What a difference a week makes in terms of perception.  Last week at this time we were all wondering how Notre Dame could use its next three games to tune up for Stanford.  Now we’re wondering if the Irish will make it to Stanford unscathed much less how they’ll handle the Cardinal.

Last week’s sobering performance against Ball State calls into question much of what we thought about the Irish as they prepare to host Vanderbilt this weekend in what is now a crucial early season contest.

What Worries Me this Week

Everything offensively.  Notre Dame’s offensive struggles last week are well documented at this point so there isn’t much point to completely rehashing them here, but suffice to say that the Notre Dame offense has me worried.  All phases of the offense struggled last week.  The line had a lot of issues (more on that soon), the backs missed lanes on the few occasions there were some, the receivers didn’t help Wimbush much, and we all know Wimbush struggled as well.

Right now, Notre Dame has nothing to hang its hat on offensively and that is scary entering week three.  Notre Dame has to find out who they are offensively tomorrow.  And the fact that its week three and we still don’t know is very worrisome.

But most especially the offensive line. The offensive line’s struggles warranted their own section because the offensive woes really start with the line as Greg pointed out yesterday.  If the line was opening holes they did a year ago, Notre Dame beats Ball State by 30 or 40 like they should have.  Instead, Ball State’s defensive line pushed around the Notre Dame offensive live.  Let that sink in for just a second.

Is Ball State’s d-line bigger or stronger than Notre Dame’s o-line?  Of course not.  Are they more talented?  Nope. They played with a ton more confidence and fire though and that is the biggest worry with the offensive line.  For all of the experience Notre Dame returned, the offensive line looks unsure of itself through two games.

Now, it’s not time to freak out on new OL coach Jeff Quinn either.  He’s been coaching offensive lines a long time and coaching was not the concern with that hire originally – recruiting was.  Quinn already showed us he can recruit at an elite level so let’s see how he responds to his offensive line looking as bad as it has.

The game plan. There’s always one game a year where you look at Notre Dame’s game plan and think what the heck were they thinking?  Like when they threw the ball 40 times in a hurricane or when they asked Brandon Wimbush to be a pocket passer and took away his threat of running the football.

All week long Kelly has said there was no effort made to keep Wimbush in the pocket, but watching the game it was clear as day that they were trying to protect Wimbush after the beating he took against Michigan.  Doing that had a domino effect that made the offense look utterly lost.

Until we see an offensive game plan that makes sense and highlights Wimbush’s skills, it is safe to worry about Chip Long since this is his second year now.

A hangover from all of the snaps last week.  I don’t think we have to worry at all about an emotional hangover as you’ll soon see, but I do worry about all of the snaps from last week having a physical hangover this week.  I think we’ll actually see more rotation at a lot of positions this weekend.  So it wouldn’t surprise me if Tevon Coney or Drue Tranquill got a few more breathers this week after the defense played 97 freaking snaps to Ball State.

The David Shaw Factor.  Some Notre Dame fans don’t want to admit it, but David Shaw kind of owns Brian Kelly and as a member of the David Shaw Coaching Tree, Derek Mason’s connection to Shaw does worry me.  I’m sure Mason had a call or two with his old boss this week and Shaw clearly knows what it takes to beat the Irish.  Shaw is 5-2 against Notre Dame and Brian Kelly.

What Doesn’t Worry Me this Week

The Notre Dame defense.  Even with all of the snaps though, the defense doesn’t have me worried at all. All signs are pointing to Clark Lea having the Irish defense progressing towards being an elite defense in his first year as a defensive coordinator.  Even with being on the field for 97 snaps last week the defense won the game for the Irish last week.  There will be other weeks this year that we say that as well because the defense has the looks of being one of the best in the nation.

Another emotional let down. Notre Dame will come out fired up this week.  I was worried about the let down last week but never imaged it was be as profound as it was.  That won’t be the case this week.  The players know that everyone is now questioning just how good this team is and I think we will see them respond in a very positive way.  Julian Love even admitted this week that they overlooked Ball State and it’s not something that they will do again.

Players to Watch

  • Robert Hainsey & Liam Eichenberg – These two specifically have struggled the most on the offensive line.  There is some chatter that Hainsey might be hurt more than the staff is letting on, but whatever the case he has struggled mightily through two games.
  • Brandon Wimbush – Obvious one, but how he responds to last week is crucial.  Last year Wimbush let bad games linger.  After Miami he wasn’t the same quarterback again.  If he lets last week linger, he may end up on the sideline.
  • Khalid Kareem – He was a wrecking ball in week one and then a bit quieter last week.  Look for him to get back on track this week .
  • Nick Coleman – With how well Notre Dame’s corners have played and then how great Jalen Elliott was a week ago, Vanderbilt is going to be looking for someone to target and that person could be Coleman in the slot.
  • Miles Boykin – He had his first 100 yard game a week ago and Notre Dame needs someone to step up to get the passing game going. Boykin took a step forward to being that true #1 WR last week.  Let’s see if he can build on that.

How’d I Do Last Week

About as good as Notre Dame did on the field.  I need to be careful what I wish for as well.  Last week I wrote that I hoped Notre Dame would attempt to work on their passing game against Ball State and use it as an opportunity to work out some kinks.  Well Kelly and Long took that to the extreme now didn’t that.  Obviously though I, like everyone else, did not see Ball State giving Notre Dame any problems after how good the Irish looked against Michigan.

Prediction Time

After two weeks, I don’t know exactly what kind of team we’re dealing with.  I don’t think the ceiling is as high anymore as I did two weeks ago, but I also don’t think last week’s struggles are any indicator that we’re headed for any sort of disaster season either.  Vanderbilt is a really good opponent for Notre Dame this week because it’s a foe they should handle but also one that is a legit threat.

I think we’ll see an inspired Irish squad come out and play a great first quarter before they settle in sort of like we saw against Michigan.  There were just too many problems on offense last week to assume they all get fixed in just one week.  I still see Notre Dame winning this one but not nearly as comfortably as I did in August when I did my season prediction post.  At that time I had Notre Dame 42-10.  This week I am not that optimistic.

Notre Dame 27, Vanderbilt 13

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  1. The distance between ND and Bama is as big as Alaska.

    Bama is well-coached. Bama is full of studs. Bama’s QB can read the D, run, pass.

    You see, little b – – ch Davey boy will claim I’m schizo for being an ND fan but realistically acknowledging that ND is no where near Bama’s class.

    I guess that in addition to being a jocksniffer little Davey doesn’t really know much about either football or mental health.

    Actually, that would explain a lot about little Davey’s trolling and deep-seated gay panic!

  2. I see that little Davey as usual waited to troll after the game.

    Hey, loser, how’re the Cornholers doing?!

    I guess ND’s jocks must smell better to little Daveythan the Cornholers. Why else would he be on a ND website? To awe us with his wit and wisdom?


  3. Hey, little Davey boy, if objectivity is schizoid for you, so be it. You see, sometimes I like what I see, at other times I don’t.

    Someone who knows something about sports would know that, but, I forget, I’m speaking to someone who only has sniffed other men’s jockstraps rather than wear his own.

    Besides, I see you failed to respond to my observations on Nebraska’s impressive play, How about those Cornholers, little Davey?!

  4. Sounds like another fulfilling, satisfying Saturday of championship calibre football entertainment here.


    1. Almost as fulfilling and satisfying a Saturday of championship caliber football as I saw with Nebraska, but not quite. The Huskers are just unbeatable!


      1. SFR you must use crutches to walk, jumping on and off the ND wagon every few minutes. Your posts are a cry for help.

        Seriously though, Schizophrenia is treatable, and should be taken seriously.

  5. I thought it was a better performance this week. Brian Kelly quickly pointing out the struggles of the red zone offense was the key to the game being much closer than it should have.

    A concern is this is the third straight week where Notre Dame had to hold on to a win while struggling in the second half. ND looks really tired, especially the defense, at the end of games here in the early part of the season.

  6. This is what a Brian Kelly coached team does play down to the level of its opponent we’ve been seeing this for years and it’s not going to change anytime soon

    1. ND’s opponents don’t deserve to be patronized like that. Most teams can get this ND program’s best efforts and compete with them straight up. Face facts.

  7. The excitement on Tirico’s voice when he thought the VU player caught the ball and then the sadness of seeing the ball on the ground is priceless!

    I can’t believe some on here actually believe these two clowns are even close to objective and neutral.

    Is it so hard to find a pro-ND announcer?! What happened to Mike Mayock? He was actually decent!

    1. I believe NBC wants to keep the announcers and their production neutral because they are a national network. It is obvious by the standpoint of the production. Most of the vignettes (sometimes all) are of the opposing team. Also, they usually do cut shots to family members of opposing players. They’ve shown the entire family tree of the Vanderbilt QB today. I’m willing to bet they’ve never shown anyone from Brandon Wimbush’s family.

      I know it is annoying, but NBC believes it is important for the away fans and neutrals to enjoy the game as much as an Notre Dame fan.

      1. So how is any of that neutral?!

        I can’t recall the last time NBC had anything approaching a neutral booth. Maybe when the late Bill Walsh or the late Todd Christiansen were in the booth.

        Regardless this is getting to be too much

      1. Thank you. I’m pretty sure the announcers didn’t say who that was. I feel I know more names on the Vanderbilt team than on this Notre Dame team.

  8. I hope I’m wrong, Lord, knows, but I have a feeling that Yoon miss seals ND’s fate.

    This is an all too familiar game that ND finds a way to lose under BK.

    Like I said I hope I’m wrong.

  9. Yoon, gonna have to bail us out of this disgusting, pitiful display of total ineptness. Thank you Michael Young for putting us in position to save face.

  10. The expletives are coming fresh and fast towards this officiating crew. The blown holding penalty around midfield, the flag for pass inference, the incorrect spot after Vandy got a holding call.

  11. So much for the myth of the ND D!

    Like the rest of this team, it’s over rated!

    Hold on now, lads, this is all too familiar!

  12. So much for the myth of the ND D!

    Like the rest of this team, it’s over rated!

    Hold on know, lads, this is all too familiar!

  13. Chasing points! Stupid challenges! Bad clock management!

    BK=Mike “Dumblin” Tomlin.

    Brothers from different mothers these two!

  14. The pick return (selfish play!) to the 1 led to this short field for VU. Stupid, undisciplined play!

    This is one of those types of games against underdogs ND has lost at home too often in the BK era (and before).

    Bama or Ohio St. would beat ND by at least 40, and that’s taking it easy at the end.

    This is a very mediocre team, with a mediocre coach, that’s living on its past glories. Those won’t last forever!

    1. It was definitely a stupid play, but it’s sad the offense won’t even attempt to pass in that situation after taking possession

  15. Really enjoyed watching Nebraska and its spotless, entertaining brand of football. Beautiful, inspiring football to watch. So clean, such brilliant playcalling and execution!

    Go Huskers!

  16. Totally underwhelming half. The O can’t score TDs. The D gave up a lot of yards on the last two VU drives. Newsome couldn’t flip the field by pinning a punt inside the ten. Yoon is the bright spot.

    I’m glad to see NBC devoting so much time to promote Vanderbilt and its alums.

    The pain in the voice of the two ND haters in the booth calling this game lamenting VU’s missed opportunities is as laughable as it is sad!

  17. Totally underwhelming half. The O can’t score TDs. The D gave up a lot of yards on the last two VU drives. Newsome couldn’t flip the field by pinning a punt inside the ten. Yoon is the bright spot.

    I’m glad to see NBD devoting so much time to promote Vanderbilt and its alums.

    The pain in the voice of the two ND haters in the boot calling this game lamenting VU’s missed opportunities is as laughable as it is sad!

  18. I’m really impressed with Tony Jones. Jafar Armstrong has done a lot of good work, but Jones is more reliable with the ball, plus he picks up the blitz much better than all the other backs.

    1. I have heard of switching out the normal quarterback for a running quarterback in short-yardage goal-line situations but I’ve never heard of doing the opposite like Kelly apparently loves to do

  19. This is Wimbush’s chance to prove he’s got the right stuff. If he falters, expect to see Ian Book in the

    second half. Prediction: ND 27 Vandy 20

  20. Will somebody please tell this “George” character a secret: We’re UNDEFEATED George. U- N- D- E- F- E- A- T- E- D…look the word up in a dictionary, George, before you “Trump Tweet” to the world that our Administration does not care about winning.

    BGC ’77 ’82

  21. Well, all week long we’ve heard repeatedly from Chicken Little (and a bunch of his little chickens, too!) Tomorrow we’ll see if the sky really is falling.
    In the meanwhile, could we postpone running Coach Kelly out of South Bend until the team loses at least one game, or maybe drops a notch or two in the polls?

    BGC ’77 ’82

    1. THEY ALL want him fi red B G C but they never ever name a replacement!! Who’s coming in to be the 52 highest paid coach in D-1! WHO’S gonna come in to face the ACADEMIC STANDARDS that apply at ND!! HOW’S it workin out for the boy genius at TEXAS? FROST looked good in the season opening loss to COLORODO!! And let us not forget dopey daves buddy at FLA. ST, Taggart already is on the hot-seat 2 games into the season!! And remember URBAN LIER turned us down BOOB STOOPS was not interested , Gary Patterson rather take his chances at T C U !! And last but not least tell the next coach #8 in the country after 2 weeks wont cut it!! GO IRISH!!!!

      1. You nailed it. Nobody wants to coach at a university that puts no emphasis on winning football games. And it shows.

      2. No, I agree with what you’re saying – ND can’t do any better than BK as a coach because the university doesn’t put a strong enough emphasis on winning football games. Davie warned Urban of this, and Weis has made similar assertions.

      1. AND STILL WAITING NAME THE COACH YOU THINK WE SHOULD HIRE? This isn’t the 70s or 80s when every catholic kid in the country wants to play for ND!! ND no longer accepts the kids they did back then example TONY RICE would not get in today , RICKY WATTERS not get in today, BETTIS WOULD NOT GET IN!! ALZIE MACK had to sit out a season because of ACADEMICS yet he could of played at any SEC OR BIG 10 school with the same GPA !! KIDS aren’t beating the door down to go play somewhere they have to bust ass to make grades when they can play anywhere else and BALANCE ACADEMICS AND FOOTBALL!! GET A CLUE, ITS NOT EASY TO WIN AT ND!! KELLYS an average coach so go get the big name you want!! 3 teams have dominated college football the last 6 years ALABAMA , CLEMSON AND OHIO ST!! NAME THE NEW ND COACH GEORGE, OR SHOULD THEY JUST FIRE KELLY WITH NO BACKUP PLAN LIKE YOU SUGGEST!! Do these names ring a bell; BOB DAVIE , TYRONE WILLINGHAM AND FAT MONEY GRABBING WIND BAG CHARLIE WEISS!! 13 years of those 3 should tell you something! OR HOLTZS last 3 years at ND REMEMBER : 94, 6-5-1 ! 95, 9-3 AND 96, 8-3 !!

  22. Wish I could agree that the tight game with Ball State resulted from a lack of focus, overconfidence or even execution. (Recall how Tampa Bay coach McKay responded when asked to comment on his team’s execution? “I’m in favor of it,” he deadpanned.) But problems with O line, special teams, and QB performance are substantial and not necessarily capable of being fixed in a week. I think Frank has it right with a 10-13 point victory. Hope the Irish prove me wrong, big time.

    1. McKay like most coaches lived and would do anything to beat the Irish. On a kickoff vs Irish His returner fell to his knees with the ball. He was asked at post game what happened. He said “ I thought they shot him”

  23. It might be an ugly performance—- but I’ll take 3-0 and 4-0 after Wake Forest. Based on the Irish D ! By the time Stanford roles in — who knows what may transpire–perhaps a new QB at helm ? I want wins and a 5-0 record and in playoff talk after Stanford game. Whatever it takes — Get ‘er done ! Go Irish .

  24. It’s best if you are going to have a letdown game that it happens early and that the players learn from it. This happening in week 2 may be the best thing that this team, including the coaches, needed to see. Do not take any opponents lightly and don’t change the strengths of your team just because you are playing a team inferior to you. Dominate the game utilizing your strengths. Hopefully everyone realizes this and the bad one is now out of the way. We will know this team’s attitude this weekend against a team we should pound on.

    As far as what I’d like to see other than the stated obvious of the things from this article is Chase Claypool have a big game. I really thought he was going to dominate this year but really hasn’t done a whole lot yet. I’d like to see him get some fades thrown his way in one on one coverage where he can utilize his size and hands to make a play. Boykin has definitely been the go to receiver so far but I think Claypool has the highest ceiling of all our receivers.

    1. Well stated ChrisJ. I’ll add one minor wrinkle. Focus on execution- every play – until the game is over.

      Go Irish!!!@!

    2. Well I’m glad the coaches learned something they should have known at the JV high school level.

      Sounds like your expectations for the receiving corps were way out of line. Look who’s throwing the ball.

  25. Special Teams Are A Major Issue And This Is With Two Experienced Veteran Seniors Kicking & Punting. Brian Polian, although a great recruiter continues to struggle coaching special teams. ND needs to find a new young, energetic Special Teams coach next season and let Polian do what he does best and simply recruit.

  26. I’m not a Kelly fan and I love the Irish. He has let me down since the Tulsa game when he had an easy win by. FG and passed incomplete on 4 th down. His teams are like a yo yo piitsberg back in 2012 . Every easy game I could have made a fortune on if I bet against them . His best victory was at Oklahoma with manti teo. I loved the Mich game but he seems lost not wanting to make mistakes

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