Frankie V’s Prediction: Notre Dame v. Wake Forest ’18

Notre Dame hits the road for the first time this season tomorrow with a trip to Winston Salem to take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.  Notre Dame is still searching for an offensive identity at the quarter point of the season and now it looks like there might be a quarterback change coming this weekend.  There’s a lot more going on this week than originally thought, so let’s jump in.

What Worries Me This Week

Notre Dame’s handling of the quarterback position.  Yesterday threw a fun little wrinkle into the storyline for this weekend’s game when news began circulating that Notre Dame was going to turn to Ian Book.  Brian Kelly so far has only said that both of his quarterbacks will play, but it sure sounds like Book is getting the start.

What worries me here is how Kelly handles this.  Sorry, but to date he has not shown that he can handle the quarterback position right since 2012.  The disaster of 2016 was in large part because he couldn’t make a decision on the quarterback position and stick with it when it was clear who should have been starting.  It divided the team and the season collapsed.

I don’t think that will happen this time around and there is a chance that he proves me wrong and suddenly he’s figured it out. There just isn’t any data right now that backs that up.  If Book does start I hope that he gets at minimum a few drives to be given a fair shot at jump starting the offense before he gets pulled for Wimbush.

That said, I don’t think pulling Wimbush is the answer to begin with.  Developing a game plan around Wimbush’s strengths and not calling plays he struggles with is.

Too many plays for the Notre Dame defense.  Wake Forest’s uptempo offense could have Notre Dame on the field a lot this weekend just two weeks after the Irish defense had to play 97 snaps in Notre Dame’s win over Ball State.  With Stanford on the horizon, it would be ideal to get the starters some rest this weekend, but that is something else we haven’t seen data to suggest it will happen.

Tevon Coney and Drue Tranquill have played virtually every snap on defense this year.  If they have to play 90+ snaps again and then take on Stanford and Virginia Tech on back to back weekends, all of those snaps will take their tole.  Before that happens, Notre Dame has to get past Wake Forest to begin with and another 90+ snap day for the starting defense won’t be ideal.

Too much passing from Notre Dame.  Earlier this week Alize Mack told the media that there was a lot of passing in practice this week suggesting the Irish are going to air it out this weekend.  That would be a mistake.  With that aforementioned uptempo Wake Forest offense, Notre Dame should rely on their running game to keep the Wake Forest offense off the field and utilize the clock.  That isn’t about being scared of the Wake Forest offense either – it’s about protecting their own defense from having to play too many snaps again this weekend.

In an ideal world Notre Dame would run for 300 yards this weekend and attempt less than 20 passes.  I’m worried we’ll see the Irish run for less than 200 yards and attempt more than 30 passes though.  Would LOVE to be wrong here.

A lack of big plays from Notre Dame.  Whatever offensive game plan the Irish employ this weekend, the lack of big plays for the offense has been concerning.  Notre Dame will get Dexter Williams back next week, but that won’t help them tomorrow.  Can they find some playmakers this weekend?  Hopefully, but again until we see it, it’s something to watch.

What Doesn’t Worry Me This Week

The offensive line.  Last week was big for the offensive line because it had to boost their confidence heading into the rest of the season.  The Ball State game film could not have been fun to breakdown but the offensive line as a whole responded very well against a solid defense last week.  There is still a lot of work for Jeff Quinn to do with his line but what we saw last week was very encouraging and is more along the lines of what I expected us to see from the Notre Dame offensive line early on this season.

Wake Forest is not particularly strong defensively so the Notre Dame offensive line should get in another confidence booster this weekend before next week’s challenge of Stanford.  If Notre Dame can’t build on last week’s performance it will be a major red flag, but I don’t see that happening.

Special teams.  Another unit that responded in a big way last week was the Notre Dame special teams unit.  Michael Young had a 48 yard kick return, Tyler Newsome had a historic day punting, Jonathan Doerer was booming touchbacks, and Justin Yoon was 3 of 4 on FGs.  Now, Yoon should have been 4 of 4, but there was a bad snap on his missed 32 yarder that he pushed wide right.  Still, given the special teams performances in week one and two, last was very encouraging.

Hopefully Brian Polian continues telling Doerer to just boom the ball out of the endzone on kicks because the Irish defense is good enough that the extra 5-10 yards of field position Notre Dame may be able to gain from a perfectly placed high kickoff isn’t worth the risk at this point.

Players to Watch this Week

  • Ian Book / Brandon Wimbush – Obvious here but hopefully one of these two plays so well that we can put an end to any notion of a two quarterback system.
  • Michael Young – He looked great on that 48 yard kick return last week.  This might be the week he gets a look at wide receiver and maybe that playmaking ability shines through in the passing game too.
  • Daelin Hayes / Khalid Kareem – Both have been quiet since week one.  Notre Dame could use its pass rush to wake up after it’s been silent the last two weeks.
  • Julian Love – I think he gets his first INT of the season this weekend and it wouldn’t surprise me if he got two.
  • Houston Griffith – The frosh saw extensive action last week at the nickel spot.  The arrow is pointing up here and his playing time will only increase.

How’d I Do Last Week?

Eh not terrible, but not great.  I had Notre Dame 27-13 but the final ended Notre Dame 22-17.  For a while it looked like the margin of victory would be two scores, but the Irish once again made a game much closer than it needed to be.   I was worried about the game plan last week, and it still was a bit suspect.

Prediction Time

Okay so after two back to back weeks of Notre Dame playing close games down to the wire against lesser opponents, this weekend will obviously come down to the wire again right?  Maybe not.  Getting on the road and playing away from home might be good for this team right now to get their focus back and take away all of the home game distractions.  The quarterback situation now makes a prediction a bit tricky, but Wake Forest really isn’t very good.  If this one is close, it’ll be clear that Notre Dame is just living on borrowed time.

I’ll go out on a limb here and pick Notre Dame 31, Wake Forest 16

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  1. Thankfully Wake decided to start that little, skinny QB. That man they put in has run right through this overrated D. And it wasn’t all against backups either, since I can hear the excuses now.

    Just like the game last season, Wake is exposing the weakness of the Irish D against a big, running QB.

    Can you imagine what Bama’s QBs (Tua and Hurd) would do to this D?! Wouldn’t be pretty.

    1. Notre Dame blew them out and the only damage done was against back ups. Wake was dominated by the Irish D and it is obvious that you are new to football. Maybe watch some games and turn down the volume. You might also want to stop getting your talking points from the likes of ESPN. Go Irish

  2. Just remember that Ian Book was a 3* recruit, while Wimbush was a 4*, top 5 QB, top 60 overall prospect out of high school.

    We can thank Mike Sanford for Ian Book.

    1. Yeah, Book is the man. But, Brandon better be ready just in case. Jurkovec looked very tight, awkward in His debut. Not a suitable backup. Hey, I thought BK said both qb’s would play.

      1. He’s been on the practice squad. He is learning the opposing teams plays every week and running that offense, not ours. Once he starts getting reps with the offense it will be way different.

    2. I would pump the brakes on Ian Book. He looked great today against a poor defense. Next week at home will be the real Test for Ian Book. Book was awesome today and deserves to start next week.

  3. On a side note, I did like the vignette ABC did for Jerry Tillery. It is nice to see a national network lend some time and share with us what a Notre Dame player is like off the field.

    1. Those people don’t have substantive opinions anyway. They just blindly defend BK’s decisions. Otherwise they’d risk saying something negative.

  4. I’m watching this running simulations for next weeks supreme challenge. You’re right SFR if our D plays like this we will get ripped. I like Books consistency and He lives to beat the TREE. He is a Bay Area kid.

    1. Greg, I don’t know who it was, but someone sitting behind kept yelling “put in Wimbush” as the ND score mounted. Finally, I turned to him and asked “why?” Silence for about ten minutes, followed by “put in Wimbush.”

  5. This ND D is far from elite! I don’t know why we keep on hearing about how good they are. A greenhorn QB has pretty much moved up and down the field. Thankfully Wake’s kicker is not very good.

    Too many penalties on D, especially on 3rd down to sustain their drives. Too many missed assignments allowing for long Wake runs.

    The O has looked good, better than of late, but still left at least another TD drive on the field and off the scoreboard.

    D needs to tighten up and play with discipline and get off the field on third down. O needs at least another three TDs to make sure we’re not sweating the outcome.


    1. 130 degrees on the field and 3 previous weeks of seeing to many plays because the offense didn’t execute takes it toll, add to that the hurry up offense on a brutally hot day, shit happens.

  6. GK,

    “Dopey Dave” is watching Nebraska impress once again!

    But he’ll be back trolling here after the game, ND win or lose. He can’t help it. I guess he has nothing better to do with his miserable life.


    1. HOW COULD YOU SAY THAT TO ME GK? WHEN HAVE I EVER!! I NAMED HIM DOPEY DAVEY IN THE FIRST PLACE!!! BOOK gets the ball out so much quicker, not to mention goes through his progressions quicker!! DOESNT have the arm strength of BW , but he is a natural QB !!

  7. Ian Bush gets the start today and will light up the scoreboard against weak Wake Forest. He will not light it up against Stanford and once again and once again we will have a Quarterback Clusterf@#k under Kellys watch. Both QBs will be looking over there shoulder instead of whats in front of them. ND 35 WF 10

  8. Totally agree on the QB situation past and present and the strategy of building the offense around Wimbush’s strengths.

  9. My prediction: Georgia-Mizzou will be much more entertaining, and will likely mean something come playoff selection time.

      1. I love college football, I value my Saturdays, I want to be entertained, and ND football is nothing but vexing and disappointing.
        You enjoy masochism…to each his own.

      2. Hey, “Dopey Dave” what you love is to be a troll, pathetic loser that you are.

        Today it’s UGa you love watching. A few weeks ago it was Nebraska. Next week it will be someone else. Who’s the schizoid, “Dopey Dave”?

        You see, college football faithless whore, there’s something called being loyal to your team, win or lose.

        And being loyal means you can be critical as well.

  10. No player is “entitled” to play for Notre Dame. And it is not throwing someone under the bus if you require excellence and they don’t cut the mustard, so you make a change. It’s funny how many CEO’s and CFO’s are “results oriented” for everyone else on the planet, but their own compensation packages are not tied to company performance in any really effective way. Well, I’m results oriented in a very real way for my own self…always have been. Now we are (still) undefeated, and those are the results I want…but we have also steadily slid closer and closer to a loss each week…not the trend any of us (except the ND haters) want. But here’s the point: It doesn’t matter if BW gets pulled when the “O” continually falters later in a game (like the Citrus Bowl), or if IB starts and gets pulled if his “O” falters continually at some point in a game…as long as SOMEBODY gets pulled when things start to look, and smell, like a dysentery break out. NOBODY HAS SOME KIND OF ENTITLED “RIGHT” TO PLAY OVER EVERYONE ELSE. That is just more millennial era CRAP that you NEVER heard 30 years ago. See, I don’t have a dog in your little QB fight…just give me the guy who can move THIS team…not last year’s team, and not next year’s team…this team.

    By the way, a lot of people use the “definition of insanity” phrase…often to make some valid point about seeming to be paralyzed in the face of continual, repeated failure; but actually “doing the same thing over and over again, and being surprised that it still doesn’t work” is a red flag from my old profession, education. It is one of the symptoms of a really severe learning disability. Insanity is definitely something else, though it occasionally can partially present in that way.

    BGC ’77 ’82

      1. Yes, it had a definition…in medieval Europe. David, I may be crazy, but I am not insane. And in medieval terms, I am melancholic – not a lunatic.

        BGC ’77 ’82

  11. Hmm. A TE says that they’ve been doing a lot of passing practice, and BK hints that Book will see more playing time.

    Seems possible that ND will go with Book and do a lot of short to medium passing, featuring the TEs more than they have done so far.

  12. “A lot of passing in practice this week suggesting the Irish are going to air it out this weekend. That would be a mistake. With that aforementioned uptempo Wake Forest offense, Notre Dame should rely on their running game to keep the Wake Forest offense off the field and utilize the clock.”

    I feel like this is an antiquated view of football. An accurate passer can move the chains and can eat up clock just as well as a running game. At least other teams seem to be able to move the ball through the air.

    Maybe this is why a QB switch is being made. Too many three and outs. I’ve been a huge Wimbush supporter but we all know the definition of insanity.

    1. An accurate passer can certainly move the chains, but I don’t think that passing plays eat up the clock as well as running plays do in general. Running plays gain fewer yards overall, and unsuccessful ones don’t stop the clock. I suppose it’s possible to throw a heck of a lot of short passes and march slowly down the field, but I don’t see that as typical.

  13. Let me be the first to complain about the obvious ND bias the TV crew will have on Saturday afternoon. They will be very complementary of WF and show way too many shots of alumni in the stands. They will not cheer for ND TDs either.

    Why oh why can’t Lou Holtz and Regis Philbin call the game?

      1. I liked the (CBS?) team that did the Cheerio Bowl. It was a “pro” group of three, and they were great and funny.
        Dierdorf was one, Gifford was one, and I don’t remember the third. Good stuff.

        BGC ’77 ’82

  14. Basically it seems whatever ND shouldn’t do is what BK will do. They should focus more on the running game and supplement that with reliable passes. BUT….instead they will probably focus more on the pass and supplement that with the run game.

    It’s almost like they are scared to do what they do best. That’s what keeps BK from taking this team to the next level. You can bet your bottom dollar if Nick Saban thought he could have a dominant running game, he’d run the damn ball until it didn’t work anymore. If running it 75% of the time meant a comfortable win that’s what he would do.

    It’s almost like the ghost of Charlie Weis’ past has worked it’s way into BK. This is the kind of stuff that Weis used to do, overthink things. You know, hmm, we have a lot of potential with the running game soooo the other team is probably going to expect that so I’ll air it out more…but then maybe they’ll expect me to change that soooo …….and so on.

  15. Yes, developing a game plan around your star athlete is usually the way to go but Kelly seems to be absent that gene and pushes through what he thinks should work.

    I actually don’t think ND will have a problem winning this one but, Kelly has proven us all wrong in that department every year.

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