Frankie V’s Prediction: Can Notre Dame Respond with Win Over Virginia Tech?

Notre Dame limps back into Notre Dame Stadium this weekend following last week’s meltdown in Ann Arbor.  Standing in their way this weekend is a 5-2 Virginia Tech team coming off of a bye week. We know this season can go in one of two directions right now, and we’ll know by about halftime of tomorrow’s game to know which way the Irish are headed.  So which way do I see this going?  Let’s dive in.

What I’m Worried About This Week

The Michigan hangover.  The one way Notre Dame loses this game is if they lose to Michigan again.  The embarrassment of last week can linger and cause this team to lose another game.  Virginia Tech is a pretty good team, but Notre Dame should beat them.  If they don’t, give Michigan an assist on this one, but this is a game that no one thought would be a possible loss in the preseason.  The fact that Notre Dame is still a 17.5 point favorite despite getting shredded by Michigan last weekend backs up the difference in talent in these teams.

Some Brian Kelly teams have spiraled out of control after performances like we saw last weekend. We’ll see if this is another one of those teams.  Given the number of upperclassmen and the experience of this team, I don’t think this is one of those teams; but I do believe it is possible, and it has me worried.

Another slow start. Notre Dame has to get off to a hot start in this one to put the stink from last weekend behind them.  If they start slow again, the home crowd is going to get restless, and you will hear some boos.  Running a tempo offense out of the gates could help the Irish start fast, but there haven’t been indicators that Kelly and Chip Long are willing to do that.

Jafar Armstrong.  The Notre Dame staff keeps saying that Jafar Armstrong is fully healthy, but we barely saw him in his return against USC.  Then last week in need of a spark, we still barely saw any of Jafar Armstrong.  We heard a lot about how the two-back sets were going to be a big part of the Irish offense this year, but in two games after returning from injury, we’ve barely seen him utilized.

If Armstrong is fully healthy like the staff says, why haven’t we seen more of him?  With Tony Jones Jr banged up and questionable for this week, if we don’t see a lot of Armstrong, then we know there is more than meets the eye here.

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The weather in South Bend this weekend.  The chance for rain right now is still relatively low at ~35%, but that is up from 20% earlier in the week.  If that keeps trending upwards and it rains tomorrow, I am going to have flashbacks to last weekend and reach for some double IPAs.

What I’m Not Worried About This Weekend

Ian Book After how bad Book looked last week and after opening questioning whether or not Kelly should consider a quarterback change, why I am not worried about Ian Book this week?  First, because he can’t possibly play worse than last weekend, and second, there is a pretty good buzz among the players on social media that they are rallying around their quarterback too.  There’s a real “win one for Book(er)” possibility this weekend.

Facing a Virginia Tech defense that is nowhere close to the Michigan defense could also just be what the doctor ordered.  One of the last really great performances we have seen from Book came against Tech last year in Blacksburg.  This year he gets them at home at a time when he needs a bounce-back game.

Virginia Tech’s defense. Bud Foster is a great defensive coordinator.  Maybe one of the best the game has seen the last quarter-century.  That said, his defense this year is not a vintage Bud Foster defense.  The Hokies are 66th nationally in total defense despite not playing a tough slate of games.  Boston College, Old Dominion, Furman, Duke, Miami, Rhode Island, and North Carolina, and they are 66th in total defense after that murder’s row.

The Hokie defense is giving up 253 yards and 2 TDs a game this year.  That is part of the reason why I think Book will actually bounce back this week.

Notre Dame’s defense.  Michigan ran the ball all over Notre Dame all night long last weekend.  Tackling was the worst we’ve seen since the Vangorder terrorized Notre Dame’s sidelines.  The streak of giving up less than 30 points in a game vanished with a 45 point outburst by the Wolverines.

That was an outlier for the Notre Dame defense, though.  Other than the first 15 minutes against Louisville, Clark Lea‘s Notre Dame defense has been at worst solid this year.  The Notre Dame defense will bounce back this week, and the Virginia Tech offense isn’t particularly explosive or scary.  They are good enough to put a couple of drives together, but not good enough to put consistent pressure on the Irish defense.

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This could be a similar performance to what we saw against Virginia back in September – especially if the defense comes out and plays ticked off.

The pressure being off of Notre Dame.  This one might sound weird, but the goal all season has been the playoffs.  Ever since the Cotton Bowl loss to Clemson, the goal has been getting back to the Playoffs and winning this time.  One reaction to that by the team could be to give up since that is no longer possible.

The other way to look at this, however, is now the pressure is entirely off of Notre Dame.  I feel like the Irish will come out looser than we’ve seen this year now that the weight of the world is no longer on their shoulders.  Now there’s a good argument to be made about why the pressure might have gotten to them, but I feel like we will see them respond well to the embarrassment of last week.

Players I’m Watching This Weekend

  • Phil Jurkovec – If Book does struggle this week, watch for Jurkovec.  In any event, he needs to get more live reps.  Kelly needs to find a way to get the sophomore more reps to see what they have in him because even with a bounce-back for Book, we generally know what we have there.
  • Jafar Armstrong – Will we finally see Notre Dame use him this week?  I don’t know.  I hope so, but I just don’t know.
  • Braden Lenzy – With Michael Young gone, Lenzy knows that the opportunity is there to start the rest of the year.  Notre Dame has to find more ways to get the ball in his hands.
  • Julian Okwara & Khalid Kareem – Notre Dame needs its senior captains to step up this weekend and play like they did against Virginia.  This is a week where Notre Dame needs these two preseason All-Americans to start playing somewhere close to that level.
  • Chase Claypool – If Book gets going again, Claypool needs to be heavily involved.  We still haven’t seen a monster game from him.  Please let this be the week.

Prediction Time

So I am weirdly optimistic about this week.  I felt bad about both of the last two games, but this week I kind of feel alright.  Weird, right?  All signs are pointing to Notre Dame not having a great performance.  Everyone is saying the Irish are on upset alert.  Book isn’t seeing wide-open receivers in a clean pocket right now.  And yet, here I am oddly feeling reasonably confident that Notre Dame comes out and bounces back this weekend.

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Not only do I think Notre Dame wins, I think they cover the big spread.

Notre Dame 42, Virginia Tech 21

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56 Comments

  1. Hey, Regina…your pal Duranko (aka Gretchen) was looking for your insights on App State….you ghosting her?
    C’mon! Plastics gotta be thick!

  2. Georgia looks back on track, and this SMU team looks fast.

    ….is there a speed limit for football played above the Mason-Dixon line?

  3. Rewatch alert.
    Only need to watch the last 4:59.
    Or at least the last 3:39.
    Book with two fourth quarter drives, missed FG
    then from the 13 a TD drive for the ages
    high stepping into the EZ.
    The sack by Kareem that set up the winning drive.
    Then ND 4th & 3. 1st down. 3rd & 7. 1st down.
    Claypool’s epic reception @ the 33.
    Then 4th and 10 :57 seconds left
    1st goal to Claypool
    Ending it all with a Kyle Hamilton INT.
    The fourth quarter is truly Irish lore.
    It won’t get much better than that
    Don’t underrate, appreciate.
    Enjoy, fanatics.

  4. Uninspiring, unmotivated, playing down to the level of competition. This team is a reflection of the HC. 10 years, it’s time for somebody else to bring a new approach to this program. Kelly isn’t it. This seems so 2013 with the fair headed wonder boy at QB named Rees. The ND fan base has every reason to be pissed at this HC and staff. This game was in many ways just as bad as last week. ND deserves better. It’s too bad this Admin is letting down the fan base as much as this HC does too. God how I wish this program would get a leader that makes this a high caliber program again.

    1. Yup…but they won.
      So these fools will all bandage up their sprained and broken ankles, pound back a few more, watch some nostalgic videos, start polishing this turd for some shiny nuggets, and do it all again next Saturday.

      And ND and NBC really appreciate that.

      1. Yup, sounds about right!

        Don’t forget their favorite pie-in-the-sky dessert, always popular with many around here.

        Has been a best-seller for years!

      1. I’ve been questioning BK and his staff since long before you ever arrived here, son!

        “Burghy” can document it all!

      2. Don’t get the pop culture reference, sorry.

        I don’t know exactly what “Burghy” is or isn’t according to you. Don’t really care about your internecine feud with him since I have my own issues with him.

        The personal insult is always proof of the small minded and spiritually destitute.

  5. Frank should quit his useless, pie-in-the-sky predictions!

    What idiot actually thought this O would score more than in the 20s at best.

    42, Frank!

    1. “Home” is a quaint term.
      It’s a repurposed & redeveloped real estate project, complete with maintenance-free landscaping and gigantic advertising screen.
      With several nearby amenities to sustain your spiritual sensibilities.

      It’s SoDoSoPa.
      .

  6. ND just lost on that drive!

    That’s the BK era right there!

    This team wasn’t prepared to play this game because the coaching staff is lost in space.

    This team might not win another game this season playing like this.

    Mark my words.

  7. Here’s my bad omen: ND will manage one last TD drive only to see VT kick a late game-winning FG.

    Then again, given the ND O, that might be too optimistic!

    Get ready to hear Flutie have an on-air orgasm soon!

    This program is going nowhere fast. There’s no leadership anywhere.

    Another STs error coming up as well. Starting a the one!

  8. So what if ND loses this game? Will our pie-in-the-sky crowd finally admit that the BK era should be at a crossroads?

    What will it take? Not win another game all season? I think some here would be OK with that and make excuses for BK.

    This team is just lost!

  9. Not one sack, not one pressure. Its a running fucking quarterback, stack the box and make him beat you with his weakness.

  10. Did I say I have a bad feeling about this game?!

    ND trying hard to lose (not win) this game!

    Bahamas Bowl against Shit Stain St. A&M U next stop for this team!

    What a joke!

  11. For a team that hardly ever fumbles, when they do . . .
    Trick or treat – day 3

    Rocket reappears at halftime
    I was there when he and Ricky Waters both ran it back vs. SMU one Veterans’ Day.

  12. Bad juju for this team!

    Like I said, real bad feeling about his game!

    ND will find a way to lose this game, I’m afraid!

    That TO and this game may well define what’s left of the BK era at S. Bend!

  13. Book is a glorified Tommy Reese, Matt Lovecchio, etc. He’s more athletic but is far from a good D1 QB.

    Until ND finds that QB, RB, and CBs, it won’t compete for a NC! If ND were playing SC today they’d lose.

    Close the book on Book!

  14. I have a real bad feeling about this game!

    VT getting all the calls and all the bounces. ND getting all the injuries and penalties!

    I hope ND squeaks by but this is not a good team, period!

    If this game is close going into the 4th I think ND finds way to lose.

    I’m sure hope I’m wrong.

  15. I was at the 2016 game against these guys, in the sleet and the cold. They are from up in the mountains, so the cold this year won’t bother them anymore than it did in 2016…not anymore than it bothered us in 2016. That’s OK – I like the cold for its own sake…that’s why I (still) live in North Central Indiana.
    What I do worry about is a Bud Foster halftime adjustment that goes unanswered for too long, resulting in an eventual loss, like 2016. We can’t wait until “the third half” to readjust to Coach Foster’s second half moves (assuming there is such an adjustment by VT at halftime). In this game, Coach Long may have to be a bit quicker to adjust than usual, and a bit more fluid. He can do it, no question about that…the question may be this instead: “Will he do it?”

    BGC ’77 ’82

  16. I believe Notre Dame will win this game rather easily 41-14. I also believe ND will win the rest of their games rather easily. And lets face it if ND want to call itself an elite football program they should easily walk thru their remaining opponents. Take the current top 10 programs and ask yourself would they have any difficulty with ND’s remaining opponents. I think not. This isn’t a very good ND football team but they should and will win their remaining games.

  17. This is a major game for Notre Dame. The offensive line and the defensive line were awful. Both these units will need a lot of determination to regain whatever accolades they may have garnered in the past.

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