Frankie V’s Prediction: Notre Dame Attempts to Slay Goliath, er Georgia

Notre Dame is on the road this weekend for the biggest road game in years.  The 7th ranked Irish attempt to slay another Goliath this weekend when they face off against 3rd ranked Georgia.  No one is giving Notre Dame much of a chance in this one – even Notre Dame fans.  There is a reason they play the game though so let’s dive into this week’s preview.

What I’m Worried About this Week

Notre Dame’s ability to stop the run.  Lousiville and New Mexico both had success running the ball against Notre Dame.  Georgia is a whole other beast.  Notre Dame’s inability to shut down those rushing attacks early this season backs up most Notre Dame fan’s fears from the summer.  It will be interesting to see which linebacking grouping Clark Lea uses this weekend because getting some like Bo Bauer on the field makes sense to slow down the run, but he is a liability against the pass.

Whatever grouping they use might not matter much, though.  Georgia is going to have success running the ball. Limiting that damage is Notre Dame’s only hope in slowing down the Bulldog offense.  So far we haven’t seen much evidence to think that is possible.

Notre Dame’s short-yardage rushing.  The hope here is that Notre Dame has some third-down package we haven’t seen yet because if they don’t, don’t expect to see much running on 3rd and 1 or 2 this weekend.  Notre Dame couldn’t pick first downs up in those situations against New Mexico and Louisville running right at the Lobos and Cardinals.  Not a good indicator they will be able to against Georgia.  Add in the loss of Jahmir Smith and Notre Dame is down to one back with any size right now – Tony Jones Jr.

Ian Book‘s pocket presence.  The last time we saw Ian Book on a national stage, he wasn’t comfortable in the pocket – even when there was time to pass.  Then against Louisville Book bailed from clean pockets too early as well.  There were big throws available to Book against both Louisville and New Mexico that he missed because he gave up on the play too soon.  Georgia is going to try and rattle Book early, and to date, we haven’t seen Book show that he can stand in a collapsing pocket and stay calm.  If he does on Saturday, Notre Dame has a chance.

What I’m Not Worried About this Week

Julian Okwara and Khalid Kareem Notre Dame’s star defensive ends have been relatively quiet the first two games of the season.  Both of these players came back for their senior seasons, at least in part, to improve their NFL stock.  There is no better stage for them to do that this season than tomorrow.  Notre Dame’s stars on defense will come out to shine.  Something tells me that Okwara will get some redemption for that awful roughing the passer penalty the led to Georgia’s game-winning score in 2017 too.

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Notre Dame’s secondary versus Jake Fromm.  Even if Okwara, Kareem, and co don’t get a ton of pressure on Fromm because of the Georgia offensive line, the Notre Dame secondary should be up for the task.  They might not be tested that much if the Georgia running game is humming as most expect it to be, but when they are, the Irish secondary will be ready.  Freshman phenom Kyle Hamilton already got his hands on a turnover and found the endzone already this season.  Notre Dame needs him to get another this weekend.

Notre Dame being ready to play.  This one might be a leap of faith here by me, but I think Notre Dame’s shaky first quarters in games one and two are in part the team looking past Louisville and New Mexico and having this game in their sights all off-season.  After the Clemson debacle, this team heard again and again that they don’t belong on the national stage and no one right now is giving them even a chance to keep this one close.

For as bad as the Clemson game was, it wasn’t the same story as the Miami disaster from 2017.  Notre Dame was prepared and ready to play from the opening whistle.  They weren’t shell shocked like they were in Miami.  They just ran into a buzzsaw and suffered a really, really untimely injury to their best player.

Players I’m Watching This Week

  • Ian Book – He looked scared in the pocket against Clemson and then again on the road against Louisville.  He has a chance for redemption tomorrow night.  For Notre Dame to win, Book needs to have the best game of his career.
  • Tony Jones Jr – Notre Dame is thin at running back with the injuries to Jafar Armstrong and Jahmir Smith.  Notre Dame needs Jones fresh and needs him to run with power and authority.
  • Javon McKinley – After breaking out last week, it wouldn’t be a shock if he is in the starting lineup tomorrow.  Starting him outside would let Notre Dame move Chris Finke back inside where he could be a real weapon this weekend.
  • Avery Davis – Can Notre Dame find a way to get the ball in his hands in space?  We saw how fast he is in the open field last weekend.
  • Tommy Tremble – With Cole Kmet back this weekend, Notre Dame can use those two tight end sets we heard about but haven’t seen yet.  The Georgia native could have a big game in his homecoming.
  • Asmar Bilal – We saw a different Asmar Bilal last week.  Look for Georgia to still test Bilal this weekend.
  • Jeremiah Owusu-Khoramoah – JOK got fooled a few times early against New Mexico because of his over-aggressiveness.  Georgia is going to throw a lot of misdirection at JOK this weekend.  If he is disciplined, he could have a few more TFL.
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Prediction Time

I want to pick Notre Dame to win.  I really do.  A win this weekend for Notre Dame would be program-altering.  I just don’t see it happening.  Notre Dame’s interior defense is just too susceptible to the running game right now.  To beat a team of Georgia’s caliber, the Irish would need to match strength to strength.  Instead, Notre Dame is facing a team with an elite offensive line that wants to run the ball at a time when their defense hasn’t shown it’s able to slow down such a rushing attack.

The line on this one is right around two touchdowns, and I think that is probably how this one ends up playing out, unfortunately.  Hopefully the Irish prove me wrong, and I can write about how wrong I was on Sunday.

Notre Dame 13, Georgia 27

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31 Comments

  1. The problem as I see it is Brian Kelly is a good coach he is not an elite coach. Same with Book good qb just not elite.Switch quarterbacks in this game and who wins? Also would have liked to have seen more downfield throws.Dinking and dunking will work all the time against New Mexico not against Georgia

  2. What happened to that unstoppable pass rush the ND D was supposed to have this year?!

    Just like the O line, all hype and no bite!

  3. Well, at least Michigan lost too. Nice to see one of our arch rivals is mired in misery as well.

    I do think we are better then them at least. Almost brings a smile to my face. Michigan and Miami–two teams I hope never win another NC either.

  4. The ND administration does’t care. They just take the cash!

    The average ND fan also doesn’t care if ND ever wins another NC. Just witness the endless excuse-making on this site!

    If ND really was serious they would quit the BK experiment and go out and get the best available coach. Then give them flexibility to recruit the difference makers.

    Short of that these moral victories will have to do for ND and its fans, forget about NCs!

    1. I’m sick of ‘moral’ victories. Year 10 of BK we should be past that. Well past that. We’ve known beating elite teams have been a problem for ND for years. This isn’t new. If it were the 2nd or 3rd year and we took the number 3 team of the country to the wire..ok, maybe you could say we were moving in the right direction. I used to think that about BK. D/W/W did real damage to the ND brand and it took years to get ND to be an above average team. But now it’s year 10. We should be over the hump by now.

      Am I glad we didn’t get blown out? Sure. I really was worried this was going to be 45-3 and people would be laughing at ND. I mean, the haters will still hate, but probably most will think ND at least showed up. But that’s not enogh anymore. We should expect more by now.

    2. So, ND is 1-19 now against top 5 ratedopponents in the last 20+ years, Kelly continues to flounder in big meaningful games, 46 total yards rushing which will make you lose to top teams. Until a mentality of “hating to lose” becomes greater than “winning games,” nothing is going to change. Losing remains acceptable when I hear comments like, “gee they played hard, they kept it close, we stayed with them.” I have participation trophy for you if you like if you have that attitude.This was in essence a playoff game tonight. The Irish are out. Even should they go 11-1, they won’t be in the CFP, not after what happened with Clemson. These are the games that ND has to start winning or they continue to be perceived as lower tier team with no credibility. We have had 10 years of data outcomes from Kelly’s tenure. I think that’s long enough to know where things stand for this program. All the hype of improved recruiting as really brought what when it counts? It has brought continued losses in these type of games. I miss the times of Holtz, Devine, and Parseghian when ND football really meant something.

  5. This is very sad. But not unexpected. We all wanted the upset, but we all knew ND just is not up to the task.

    I started following ND on a regular basis back in 2002, when they went on that amazing, but short lived run in Willingham’s first year. I put up with Weis’ false promise. And when they hired BK I thought ND finally got it’s man.

    Now BK was in improvement. We have a respectable football team. BUT, we don’t have an elite team. And what makes me sad is I really don’t think ND is going to win another NC. Despite what they say, I really don’t think it’s that important to the real PTB.

    ND Football is probably the best they will be. A solid team that maybe beats 95% of the teams out there. But we just dont’ have what it takes to break that glass ceiling, to be the Alabamas and Clemsons of the world.

    I really hoped to one day see ND football win it all. But I’m starting to think I never will.

  6. I would say the book on Book is open and closed.

    Barring some greatest come back of all time, just play PJ and get him going for next season and beyond. Although the QB of the future might not even be on the team.

    But that would be too forward thinking for BK and company!

    1. I just don’t have faith in BK’s ability to develop QB’s anymore. EG, Zaire, Wimbush, Book, they were all the elite QB’s we have been waiting for we were told. ANd they all fizzled after showing early promise. I can’t help but feel like Jurkovec will pan out the same way.

      I wonder sometimes, would EG, Zaire and Wimbush have been different with a different coach.

  7. Book isn’t an elite QB! Is he good enough to lean ND to a 10-2 or 9-3 season? With help from the D, sure. But he’s very, very average.

    BK isn’t a championship coach. He’s good for about 9 wins on average. Tops!

    This team will probably win no more than 9 games and lose a mediocre bowl game. That’s BK for you.

    I hope the shit ND fans who sold their tickets see what loyalty looks like!

  8. ND penalties are just stupid, the product of an undisciplined team, which always seems to be the case in these big games with BK as coach!

    ND will always be out-coached against big-time programs because BK can’t compete against elite coaches.

    What has happened to Finke this season?! That C on his uniform doesn’t suit him!

  9. It’s clear that the ND O line is over-matched, like it always seems to be against big-time D lines.

    ND is still about a dozen play makers on both sides of the ball away from competing against the big-boys on a consistent basis.

    ND has no identity on O, plain and simple. They can’t run or pass! The QB is very, very average, and you can’t win in today’s college football without an elite one.

    I have a sinking feeling that despite BGC’s optimism ND doesn’t have enough to pull this out.

    I hope I’m wrong, though.

    GO IRISH!

  10. That bumbled punt redeems Dan Devine’s special team blunder that won the Sugar Bowl for Georgia in Dan’s last game.
    So far, Georgia’s MVP for defense is definitely Liam Eichenberg. This game should be 21 – 7. He may need some bench time for “critical reflection of self” as the Chinese used to put it during the cultural revolution. I’ve got news for you Liam…they aren’t so good that you need to get some kind of jump to block your assignment! Just play them straight up and we’ll win. And if we do win, the record of losses last year and this year will be Notre Dame ONE loss and the great, angry, unbeatable Dawgs FOUR LOSSES.

    SCREW GEORGIA. Pour it on Special Teams!

    BGC ’77 ’82

    BGC ’77 ’82

  11. Huge let down by the Irish D!

    How huge would’ve it have been to get the ball back to the O up by 7?! We’ll never know now!

    The O will need to step it up or UGA pulls away in the second half.

    GO IRISH!

  12. GEORGIA has so much more speed at the skill positions, huge O-LINE that will massively outsize ND, better qb, overwhelmingly better rb,s , and great speed on DEFENSE!! Books arm strength will be tested by GEORGIA the same way CLEMSON took away short and medium range passes and force him to beat them deep. The o-line has shown no signs of a running game, and no ND back has shown any breakaway or quick burst out of the backfield! HOPE IM WRONG but 31-14 Georgia

  13. What I hear NO one saying is that Half of Georgia’s opponents wins were against, wait for it,
    Pikeville!!
    Thats right, and the only other team any of its opponents beat was UNLV. So Georgia may be National Champion caliber, but we dont know it from their games played.
    We do know Georgia can beat losers. NDs opponents have largely won against all others. There is a difference. Doesnt make ND better than Georgia, but it might make you think they may be.

  14. Make Fromm beat you from the pocket , outside rush will do that . Go 4 wide and hope Book finds the single coverage or open man but he has to trust HIS pocket. It will be there for sure. Survive the half and it can happen .

  15. The Irish win this game easily 34-13. Fromm gets injured early in the game and there backup qb throws 3 interceptions and one is a pick 6. Dream Big or go home. Go Irish

  16. I see Notre Dame’s “path” to victory is in a higher scoring affair. One thing we’ve seen with Georgia vs top tier competition is that the games tend to be track meets. I’m not sold on Georgia’s defense being able to shut down our passing attack. Where is the elite pass rush? I agree that we won’t get much done on the ground in this one. But I think we can do enough in the short passing game to open up some deep throws. I envision Cole Kmet feasting in the middle of the field. He is our X factor considering Georgia has no tape on the 2019 Kmet.

  17. I like all of your comments Frank. One of the best ways to keep Georgia off-balance will be to play controlled offensive football, i.e., I love big plays but they give the ball right back to an offence. In this case that offence is Georgia and so far nobody has been able to stop them. So keep the Georgia offence off the field. The problem with this scenario is that it demands a strong controlled running game from the Irish and so far we have not seen any evidence of that.

    On defence, I hate to say it but I think they will be eaten up by the Georgia rushing attack.

    On Ian Book, I agree that he is going to need the game of his career on Saturday night. I watched the New Mexico game again and I hate to say it but it almost seems like Ian Book has regressed from where he was last year. I hope I am wrong but he made a lot of bad decisions.

    One more thing for the record, I have to agree with the Kyle Hamilton hype. This guy really looks like the real deal. It’s difficult to imagine him not opting for the NFL before his collegiate career is over. I know, I am getting ahead of myself so let’s just enjoy him while he’s around.

    As always, Go Irish!!!!!!

    1. Brad , doesn’t your first paragraph say Irish running game — will not keep Georgia off the field also ? What team doesn’t want a balanced attack in all of college football ? Running game shut down — what’s left ? A passing game —if one dimensional so be it.

  18. NDs only shot is with two TE sets. Kmet and Trimble. Kmet and Wright. Trimble and Wright. More flexibility in finding matchups. Mix up run/pass with those personnel groupings. Find space in the middle of the field with TEs and Finke. Then take shots with Claypool down the field. On defense, safeties must be downhill in the run game which means CBs must be able to hold up by themselves outside. Is that realistic? Must use multiple LBs. ND does not have 3 down LBs at this point. Run stoppers on 1st/2nd. Bring in better coverage backers in passing situations. Must be smart with personnel and have a great plan. ND keeps it close until Georgia pulls away late. Georgia 27 ND 17

    1. BC, I’m not sure Georgia is going to slow it down on third down so we can bring a different set of LB’s in. Maybe they’ll substitute too – I don’t know.

      BGC ’77 ’82

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