Notre Dame Football Stock Report ’18: Week 6

Nothing is written, folks.

There was so much talk last week about Notre Dame’s poor road record against ranked teams under Brian Kelly. It’s something that people do, talk about trends, and it’s not a useless exercise, but in terms of predicting future events, it’s more helpful to look at the actual matchup. Because what happened in 2014 or 2016 doesn’t really factor into how this group will perform this season. What was once a concern, doesn’t have to be now. Nothing is written.

Notre Dame was better heading into the game, they were better during the game, and they are still better following their 22 point victory against then #24 ranked Virginia Tech. It wasn’t a perfect performance, there was that middle to late second quarter stretch where things looked like they could go the wrong way. Of course, it’s nice when a shaky stretch in the middle of the game ends with a three touchdown victory against a ranked team.

All told, Notre Dame moves to 6-0, into the top five in the AP poll, and with a bit of a breather (at least on paper) following two consecutive games against ranked teams. On to Pittsburgh next Saturday.


Miles Boykin

With his eight catches for 117 yards and two touchdowns, Boykin has posted two game totals of 19 receptions, 261 yards, and three touchdowns. He’s on pace for a 61 catch, 927 yard, seven touchdown season. He’s had a rapport with Ian Book since the bowl game against LSU last year, when the two combined for one of the best highlights of the bowl season. Boykin has given Notre Dame what they seemed to be lacking early on in the year, which was a #1 target, and go-to player.

The next step for the Boykin and Book connection is the deep ball, which Book missed a number of times against the Hokies, and will be needed at some point. Somewhat reassuringly, Book missed deep to a couple different players throughout the game, so it doesn’t appear to be any problem between just the two of them.

That said, three weeks ago, Notre Dame didn’t have any type of big play ability and consistently good play on offense. Now they’ve got the running back, the quarterback, and the receiver. Which is nice.

Backups on Defense

We are getting to the point of the season when attrition really sets in, and the bench gets deeper and deeper. That was the case for Notre Dame on Saturday, which saw a number of reserves see the field in key moments, especially on defense.

The Ademilola twins on the defensive line, Donte Vaughn, Jamir Jones, Tariq Bracy, and Shayne Simon all saw action in none blowout snaps against Virginia Tech. These weren’t star performances mind you, but Virginia Tech managed only seven points post-halftime against the Irish, so these players did play some part in that.

Brian Kelly talked in the offseason about this being his most talented team in terms of players 60-85 on the roster he’s had at Notre Dame and that has shown itself to be true in the first six weeks.

Dexter Williams

Turns out, his return to the Notre Dame team was very, extremely important. Just want to note Williams more than doubled his career high in carries coming into the season, and with two more carries this year he’ll set his season career high. On his 38 carries so far this season, he’s averaged 8.9 yards per carry. Things have been working out.


The Injury Situation

Notre Dame is down starters/serious contributors Bars, Crawford, Armstrong, Daelin Hayes, and Tagovailoa-Amosa. It hasn’t been a cause for serious alarm lately, and those filling in have performed well, but any more injuries to this point could very well push Notre Dame to the breaking point. Not there yet, but it’s a concern.

Desmond Howard Picking Games

Love to be a picker of games and have the currently undefeated and #5 team in the nation be 2-4 according to my game picks.


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  1. Greg,

    In my opinion Desmond Howard is exactly like Mark Mayes. They both are ND haters and they both are ignorant when it comes to ND. Last week Mark Mayes praised ND for all of their good points but turned right around and said VT will cream them. Lou Holtz laughed at him and called him a liar (smiling of course) and then Lou said ND would kill VT. The point being Mayes and Howard are worthless sports commentators in my view!

    1. They’re supposed to be. It isn’t their job to give insightful analysis or accurately assess the matchup. Their job is to get people riled up and talking. If they make the viewer react emotionally, they have done their job.

      So it isn’t that May and Howard are bad sports commentators, it’s that ESPN’s College Gameday is built around hot takes, pandering, and manufactured tension. And it goes both ways. I remember Lou saying, in 2007, that Notre Dame had the talent to play with anybody.

    2. Translation = If I agree with your opinion you are smart and insightful, if I disagree with it you are worthless.

    1. Depends on if he develops enough to take reps away from Young. Lenzy is faster, but Young plenty fast to stretch a defense, and is likely a better route runner and blocker than Lenzy at this point.

  2. PS: The combination of depth and experience, plus Balis’s conditioning program and the “new” coaching staff, is exactly why I posted this some time ago: “Things are now as they should be at Notre Dame”…and I really believe that. Duranko (and others) have also posted about the depth this team has, compared to other BK teams. And on top of all that, we will be getting some players back after various early season injuries (though unfortunately, not everyone). And the best thing of all is for the future: we’ve got a great group of recruits coming in for 2019! Things are as they should be.

    BGC ’77 ’82

  3. Greg, One nice thing about having depth and having the schedule front loaded is this: We will be facing a bunch of teams that might themselves have depth problems for the second half of the year…like we did in 2014 and 2015. And even though we’ve had a lot of injuries, we may be better positioned on our bench than some of our next six opponents to weather the injury storm. As you said, “(our injuries) have not yet caused serious alarm.” But injuries to our some of opponents might be working against them in the second half of the season. Injury wasn’t kind to Stanford recently, and certainly not kind to VT…and that showed in the second halfs of those games. Now I am NOT saying that’s why we won those games: in both cases we were a better team top to bottom. But depth is a necessity – always has been.

    BGC ’77 ’82

  4. So do you count as a hater that’s falling? You have bashed Brian Kelly for a while now. Since his 4-8 season, we are 16-3 with wins over USC, NC State, LSU, Michigan, Stanford, and VT. We are in the top5 for the 2nd straight season. We all wait for your “I was wrong” article.

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