Notre Dame Football Primer: Irish Prepare for Davie-less New Mexico

It has been an unfamiliar start to the season for Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish played a Monday Night Game in Louisville, preceded by a bye-week. Now the Irish will play their second game of the season against the New Mexico Lobos. The Lobos will be without head coach Bob Davie, as he was hospitalized after their win over Sam Houston State. This Saturday Brian Kelly and the Irish will look to improve off their week one victory over the Cardinals.

Essential Game Info

  • Game Time: September 14th at 2:30 pm ET on NBC
  • Location: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Indiana
  • Matchup History: 1st Meeting between Notre Dame and New Mexico
  • Current Odds: Notre Dame -36.5

Weather Forecast

The current forecast for GameDay shows a 20% chance of rain with a high of 73 degrees and a low of 55.

New Mexico Details

  • Conference: Mountain West (Mountain Division)
  • Head Coach: Bob Davie
  • 2019 Record: 1-0
  • 2018 Record: 3-9

New Mexico Storylines

No Homecoming for Bob Davie. This matchup was circled as the return of Bob Davie to Notre Dame Stadium. After Davie led the Lobos to a win over Sam Houston State, he was hospitalized due to a health scare. Coach Davie will not be traveling to South Bend this weekend, unfortunately.

Under Davie, New Mexico has been struggling. The Lobos went 3-9 each of the past two seasons and are at the bottom of the Mountain West Conference. Bob Davie may be in a decisive season for his tenure in Albuquerque.

New Mexico Quarterback Battle. The New Mexico Lobos played two quarterbacks against Sam Houston St. in Week 1. Starting quarterback Brandt Hughes went a lackluster 12 for 29, with 218 yards and 0 touchdowns. Hughes only had one rushing attempt for -5 yards before he exited with a shoulder injury. Since his ailment, Brandt Hughes has returned to practice.

On the other hand, Quarterback Sheriron Jones came in and played convincingly as a dual-threat option. Jones went 6 for 11 in the passing game, but also had six rushes for 35 yards and two rushing touchdowns. Expect the Lobos to use a combination of both quarterbacks on Saturday.

Notre Dame Storylines

Offensive Injuries Accumulating. Jafar Armstrong left the week one matchup against the Cardinals with a groin injury. He is expected to miss at least a month of action before he can return to the field. Yes, Notre Dame has quality backups, but Armstrong was without a doubt the #1 running back option for the Irish.

Notre Dame could be without three starters on the offensive side of the ball this weekend. Tight End Cole Kmet looks good to be available for the upcoming Georgia game though there is still a chance he is available to play this weekend. As for wide receiver Michael Young, all indications are pointing towards a later return. Brian Kelly has built a deep roster, but the Irish are certainly down some of their best skill position players heading into this week, as well as their trip to Georgia.

New Players need to step up. Tony Jones Jr., Jahmir Smith, and Kyren Williams will need to produce in Armstrong’s absence. Jones Jr. had a great week against the Cardinals and has the most experience at running back. Smith and Williams must step up to create a balanced running attack.

Ian Book Slow Start. After an outstanding 2018 season, Book got off to a slow start against the Cardinals. The starting quarterback went 14 for 23 with one touchdown and took three sacks. On the ground, Ian Book had 14 rushes for 81 yards and one rushing touchdown.

How concerned should Irish fans be? With a new Head Coach at Louisville, it took time for the Irish Offense to get things figured out against Scott Satterfield’s Defense. It was only one game, and Ian Book is still one of the best quarterbacks in the country. Fans should be more concerned about Ian Book’s targets. For Notre Dame to win this week and against Georgia coming up, the Irish need more receivers to create separation and show the capability of a deep receiving threat.

Head to Head Matchups

Notre Dame Offense vs. New Mexico Defense: Chip Long and the Irish Offense will likely be without three starters this week, but still expect them to dominate. Notre Dame’s Offensive line has a distinct advantage in the trenches. With a mild start to the season, expect Ian Book to take a step forward back to his “dark horse Heisman” potential.

On the other side of the ball, the New Mexico Lobos surrendered 558 total yards last week against Sam Houston State.

Advantage: Notre Dame

New Mexico Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense: The Fighting Irish gave up 14 points on the first two drives by the Louisville Cardinals. After that, they only gave up 3 points the rest of the game. New Mexico will have a hard time blocking Julian Okwara and Khalid Kareem all game.

Against Sam Houston State, New Mexico was only 1 for 15 on 3rd downs, something they will need to improve on if they want to have any shot of upsetting the Irish.

Advantage: Notre Dame

Special Teams: Jonathan Doerer was 5 for 5 in extra points last week and did not get to attempt a field goal. Freshman Jay Bramblett performed solidly with six punts for 236 yards.

Andrew Shelley from Albuquerque, New Mexico is the returning kicker for the Lobos. Last season he was 7 for 8 with a long of 53 yards. In week 1, Shelley was 4 for 4 on the day.

There is no distinct advantage in the special Teams department.


My Prediction

This game reminds me of when Miami of Ohio came to South Bend back in 2017. I expect the Irish to take control of this game early. Brian Kelly and the Irish want to make sure everyone is prepared before the monumental matchup down in Athens. Yes, this is College Football, and anything can happen, but Notre Dame needs to work on adjustments from their trip to Louisville.

It would be nice to see players like Kyren Williams, Lawrence Keys, Braden Lenzy, Kyle Hamilton and Tommy Tremble get more action this weekend. I know the Irish went down to the wire with Ball State and Vanderbilt last year, but this week Notre Dame needs to take care of business.

Prediction: Notre Dame 45 New Mexico 17

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  1. I can’t get over the fact that people are still saying that “Book looked shakey…” or, “I can’t wait to see Jurkovec come in…”

    Two things I get from the comment (above article)…”Book took 3 sacks”.

    First, the OL sucks at pass protection, and secondly, Jurkovec, not being as mobile as Book, would have taken 5 sacks.

    No, what we ND fans should be screaming for is an OL that actually gives a better than average QB like Book enough time to execute.

    Not a lot to ask of BK in his 10 year, is it?

    1. Book was shaky but it was because of the O-LINE. This o-line needs to improve run and pass blocking fast! But your post about JURKOVEC not being as mobile as Book is WRONG! I VE seen JURKOVEC play many times in HS he is faster and more mobile than Book will ever be. The fact is this o-line needs to improve dramaticly for GEORGIA in 2 weeks! Young receivers must step up and contribute!!

  2. Based on your analysis, it’s hard to see where the Lobos get 17 points. I’d be surprised if New Mexico crosses mid-field three times, let alone the end zone twice.

    1. RR: 17 points is what the defense was giving up at this time last year. The BIG difference is on the offensive side of the ball:
      we were scoring in the low to mid-twenties at the start of last year. Against Louisville (no slouches on defense!) we scored five touchdowns…mid-thirties.

      BGC ’77 ’82

  3. I want to see the Irish dominate to the point that Jurkovec comes in the 4th quarter to get some “practice” time. Georgia is going to be their biggest game of the year. While you never want to overlook an opponent the Irish should use this opportunity to tighten things up. They shouldn’t have to show the entire playbook against NM, but they should play a solid, disciplined game so when they do open things up for Georgia they are competently executed.

    But if they struggle in this game—or Book still looks shaky then we may be looking for a rout at the hands of Georgia.

    1. re: “competently executed”. That will be the demand from many ND fans for BK and staff if this isn’t a rout.

      1. MTA: dry weather and most of the game will be played in the 70’s. I hope this is not the nail biter we saw at last year’s Pitt game!

        BGC ’77 ’82

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