Frankie V’s Prediction: Can Notre Dame Build on Last Week’s Heroics Against Duke?

Notre Dame is back in action today on the road against ACC foe Duke.  The Irish enter the contest at 6-2 on the heels of one of the most exciting, albeit at times frustrating, wins in the last few years.  With four games left on the schedule, a New Year’s 6 bowl is still a possibility for the Irish as long as they don’t slip up again, and that includes today.  Duke is sitting at 4-4, but are still dangerous considering how Notre Dame has been playing of late.

What I’m Worried About This Week

Notre Dame’s rushing attack. Notre Dame should have Jafar Armstrong and Tony Jones Jr healthy in the backfield together for really the first time this year other than that first drive against Louisville.  Should.  We thought we had both for USC, but Armstrong barely played.  We thought we had both for Michigan, but then Jones got hurt.  Last week, Jones was sidelined while Notre Dame struggled to run the ball.

Combine Notre Dame’s injuries in the backfield with the injuries to the right side of the offensive line – the Irish are without Robert Hainsey and Tommy Kraemer for the rest of the regular season – and I am worried about Notre Dame’s ability to run the football.

In a perfect world, we see that two back sets that we got a brief glimpse of against Louisville, but I am not holding my breath at this point.  I’d love to see it, but I am just not counting on it right now.

Notre Dame’s offense stalling at times.  The Irish had a chance to put up a lot of points last week, but they left far too many points on the field.  Ian Book missed at least three touchdown passes on drives that resulted in zero points for Notre Dame.  He missed Kmet on a post route in the first quarter before throwing an interception a few plays later.  He threw an interception at the goalline because he underthrew Chase Claypool, who had gotten behind the defense.  Then he missed Kmet in the endzone again before Jonathan Doerer missed a field.  Three drives with easy touchdown passes called.  Zero points.

Now, one way to look at this is, at least Book saw those reads last week.  He didn’t make those reads earlier this season – especially against Michigan.   So maybe this is the week Book starts not only seeing those reads but making those throws too.  At this point, though, I’m worried that that isn’t what happens today and that the Irish offense continues to struggle at times.

What I’m Not Worried About This Week

Notre Dame’s defense. The Michigan game looks like an aberration after the Irish defense returned to normalcy last week against Virginia Tech.  The Hokie offense could not muster long drives on Clark Lea‘s unit.  The only way Virginia Tech scored last week was when they were gifted turnovers or penalties.  That is the defense I expect to see later tonight.

The defense we saw against Virginia is the defense I think we’ll see tonight in Durham.  Duke has been careless with the football at times this year.  Look for the Notre Dame defense to capitalize on that.  It’s been a few weeks since we’ve had a Julian Okwara sighting on defense, but this game feels like a good time for another outburst.  Okwara, a North Carolina native, could be in for a big evening.

Facing a mobile quarterback is something that could be worrisome for this defense, but we’ve seen the Irish limit damage in that department after the first quarter of the Louisville game.  Notre Dame’s defense will create turnovers and limit Duke all night long.

Playing on the road. Sometimes when Notre Dame is struggling a bit, the perfect medicine is a road game like this one.  They won’t be in a hostile environment, and they’ll be away from the distractions that come with the pageantry of a Notre Dame football home game.  This team showed last week that they are still very much playing for each other.  Chase Claypool had his quarterback’s back all ever since the Michigan game, and it showed last week.

There is a chance this team uses Ian Book’s game-winning touchdown run as a galvanizing moment for the season, and from this point on, we start to see the team that we thought we’d see from week one.  Wishful thinking, perhaps, but a team can use a moment like that to rally behind.

Players I’m Watching This Week

  • Braden Lenzy – Can we please start to utilize this kid’s speed more?  USC couldn’t keep up with him; there’s no way in hell Duke can keep up with him.  It’s time for Chip Long to get creative.
  • Jafar Armstrong – Is he fully healthy?  He hasn’t looked it just yet this year.  Maybe this is the week we see Armstrong get back to the back we expected to see in August.
  • Javon McKinley – Can we please get some more targets for this kid too?  Any time Book throws it up for McKinely, he comes down with the ball.  Let McKinley use his size to win 50/50 balls today.
  • Trevor Ruhland – After all his injuries, it’s amazing he is still playing.  Notre Dame can’t rely on him as much as they did last week if they want to have him available for the rest of the season.
  • Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah – It’s been a few weeks since we’ve seen some of those “WOW” moments we saw earlier in the year.  Today feels like a good day to have a couple of those – especially with Notre Dame facing a mobile quarterback.

Prediction Time

Welp, last week, I had a good feeling about the game and thought the Irish were ready to break out against a mediocre Virginia Tech team.  They didn’t.  And now they face a Duke team that beat that same average Virginia Tech team 45-10 earlier this season.  I’m not a huge believer in the transitive property of college football, but on the surface, that doesn’t make me think that this is the week the Irish breakout.  Heck, at this point, I question whether or not we see the offense break out at all this year.

I see tonight being a slog.  Notre Dame is going to have to earn all of its yards and points, and as a result, this game will be close throughout most of the evening.  I see Notre Dame scoring late to put the game out of reach for the Blue Devils after giving Irish fans plenty to stress about throughout the game.

Notre Dame 27, Duke 17

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  1. Any major football power can win 11 games with BAMA’s schedule. They have yet to beat a ranked team, and have very few wins against teams with winning records. Yet there will be a chorus of (blind) eye test guys clamoring for two (or, if Georgia beats LSU) THREE SEC teams in the playoffs. And in the same breath, they will, with a condescending smile, explain to the rest of us why an 8 team playoff is a bad idea. Can’t you just hear these bastards already?

    BGC ’77 ’82

  2. Not one post from STEELFANROB during the game. He/She had the longest run of in game comments of anyone dating back 15 plus years. Congrats SFR that was a helluva run. Hope you’re OK . I’m sending Burgandy over right now to do a WELFARE CHECK on you. Please let us know you’re status.

    1. Thanks for the concern, Jeff.

      First game in fifteen years I had to watch at a sports bar with no access to my computer.

      I’d spare “Burgy” the trouble of a welfare check on me and instead have him check on those whose comments point to limited their desperate need for weekly pie-in-the-sky.

  3. Glad to see the W in the W-L column for ND. Interesting that out of the stock RB’s that ND has, it was again the QB leading the team in rushing. Though he had passing TD’s, it just seems to validate the ineptness of the running game overall not being directed by the RB’s for the QB to lead in rushing. I know the OL has a role in this too, but, the team the previous 2 years had a QB who was doing similar things with his legs and not so much with his arms. He eventually got benched. I wouldn’t exactly say Book is setting the world on fire with his arm. either. Then, there was all the hype about PJ when he came in, but, now it seems that Brian the Almighty One, has a confidence level that appears less stellar regarding him getting suitable reps.
    Minnesota looked pretty good winning a big game against a Top 5 team. It’s interesting that the last great coach ND has on the sidelines came from Minnesota, just saying.Boy, it would be nice to see The Almighty One actually win a game against a Top 5 opponent.

  4. Yes Bruce I see your point. I just get frustrated with Notredame not being a powerhouse every year like when Ara, Lou and Devine were coaching. Also the great coaches before them.It hurts me more because I’m 63 and remember watching Lou Ara and Devines teams. I want Notredame to be great again. Brian Kelly is a good coach.I just dont know if he can get Notredame to elite championship level.Maybe no coach can with the way Notredame is set up in the modern era of college football. For example Auburn won the national championship in 2011.Their 2 best players Farley and Cam Newton came from junior colleges.Notredame wont take a junior college player.Also 3 of the top 5 teams in the country this year have quarterbacks who transferred . Hurts Burrow Fields. Notredame wont take an undergraduate transfer. Again I’m not complaining I’m just stating facts.

    1. Pete, may not be quite your stated age, but I started following ND football when Ara was there so I have a lot similar feelings I think as you do. I have had much criticism of Brian Kelly in many aspects of how he has run the program ( and I believe has had reasons to be criticized). Has ND improved? If comparing to BD, TW, and CW tenures, then I would say yes. But to be successful or considered to be successful, you have to win those type of big games that you play in with some consistency and that is something he hasn’t done in TEN YEARS at the helm. I think there are some coaches out there that could bring a different altitude and ideas that could assist ND doing better than what we have seen these last 10 years. As a fan of ND football, yes winning a NC would be fantastic, but, to prevail in winning those type of games that define you as a program, I think many on this site would take that to be a pretty good thing. I think the ability as a coach to motivate, inspire, and scheme/play call can obviously have a big factor. I think there are some coaches out there that can do it better than the Almighty One that ND has now. I know he’s not going anywhere unless he decides to leave on his own accord.I just wish the program would get back to a level of playing at a higher caliber.

      1. I agree. He has 2 more years on his contract and wants another 2 years extension.This may sound harsh but I would tell Kelly you want another 2 years then win a national championship in either 2020 or 2021 or you are not getting an extension. Yes I believe there are coaches out there who can take Notredame to championship level and are better than Brian Kelly.

    2. GREAT POST PETE, the limitations at ND make it tough for any coach who comes to ND!! IN the last 40 years the IRISH have had 1 GREAT COACH ( HOLTZ ) 1 GOOD COACH ( KELLY ) and 4 LOUSY COACHING HIRES!! FAUST, DAVIE, WILLINGHAM and FAT ASS, BIG MOUTH, WIESS! EVERYONE who wants KELLY gone should remember the past and hope the next guy up is really up for the job!! ND does not pay well for head coaches!!

    3. Pete, I agree with the extension being dependent on winning a NC, which I predict he will in 2020. I also predict that he will not stay, of his own choice, if he does win one. He will have achieved all his goals here. ND Administrators should watch the following closely: Fleck, Satterfield, Lea, and Rhule. I’d add Tom Hermann to the list, but Notre Dame will never match what Texas is paying him, so he is not in play. Navy’s coach also is not in play because Notre Dame fans would never accept a “running only” offense…but I personally think he’d be a great coach, especially if paired with a defensive coordinator like Lea. I also like Stoops, but I’m not sure if he’s a good culture match at ND – don’t know enough about him personally.

      On a separate note: Please put Bud Foster in the College Football Hall of Fame as a career assistant coach ASAP. If any career assistant deserves it, it would be Foster.

      BGC ’77 ’82

  5. JEFF my firestick was perfect no buffering came in 720, remember do the updates. Kellys not giving into playing JURKOVEC this year, barring injury BOOK will finish the year out! IT’S just that simple, 3 games left Book will finish what he started. As much as we all see the limitations with Book, if the irish win out and go 10-2 that makes Book and the ND 22-3 the last two years!! Kelly will point to that stat!!

  6. Amazing to see Saban get ripped in the last two big games they’ve played. Massive win for the big rajin Cajun.
    ND game was complete snooze fest.
    Row the boat.

    1. SO TRUE!! CLEMSON & LSU went thru BAMA’S defense with ease in the 2 biggest games of the year! Over 40 pts both games, somebody hide CLARK LEA PLEASE!!! Way to stay CLASSY MR. BURGUNDY!!

  7. Jurkovec should have been playing the entire 4th quarter bro. I’m to the point where I’m starting to despise Brian Kelly. Cutcliffe even put his backup qb in early in the 4th. Jurkovec will transfer money doubt. And this is the reason backups “don’t get the offense” is because Kelly’s dumbass not giving them key opportunities when games are out of reach.

    1. ORGERON 3 LOSING SEASONS AT MISSISSIPPI and fired!! Couldn’t win at USC fired! GETS TOP 3 RECRUITING CLASSES ALL 4 YEARS AT LSU HIS RECORD 6-2 , 9-4 , 10-3 , first good year and dopey has him as another of his great coaches, what a dope!! Anybody can win with the talent they have!! IT just took him 4 years to maybe get to playoffs, but its not over yet!!

  8. This will be another easy win for the fighting Irish 49-10. Like I mentioned last week the Irish will win their remaining games and finish the season 10-2. They will probably get snubbed on a top tier bowl game invite and that actually might be a good thing considering the overall quality of this team. Get your Amazon firestick ready for this game and catch it on a stream.

    1. I wish I had your faith Jeff. But it’s rare or ever that Brian Kelly’s teams go on the road and destroy an opponent 49 to 10. I’m pretty much at the point with Notredame where I would like to see a new coach. Kelly is what he is a solid good coach but he is not a great coach. The guy I would like to see coach Notredame is Dave Clawson Wake Forest.Ive watched his offenses and they put points on the board with less talent than Kelly ever has.His offenses are creative fast paced and they really can move the ball.In 2017 Wake Forest came to Notredame and against a pretty good Elko led Notredame defense put up 37 points against Notredame.I remember Elko praising Wakes offense saying they kept us off balance all day.

      1. Pete, There is a touch of sarcasm in my prediction. I really don’t think ND will win 49-10 . It will most likely be much closer but I still believe ND will win. The reason I picked 49-10 because that’s what I think the elite teams would do to Duke. Notre Dame is far from elite and with the current injuries on the O-line this team is trending in the wrong direction. I still believe they can and should win the remaining games and get to 10-2. But depending on who they face in a bowl game they could get drubbed. I’m a die hard ND fan but I cant stand BK regardless of his success at ND.

      2. Kelly is not a “solid” coach. IMO, he’s having an obvious, developing mental and physical breakdown, he’s medicated, and looks completely lost.

        Coaches who are in even more danger of losing their jobs look more engaged, more professional, more relevant than Kelly does.

      3. Pete, the last time you posted for Clawson I got him confused with Cutcliffe – sorry. Wake Forest just got buried by the very same team you guys were moaning about us only beating by one point last week. So if we hire Clawson someday, will you all turn on him the minute after he loses badly to a team you all claimed was “mediocre”, “poor”, “bad”, etc.? Or will you wait till the following week, when he gets beat by an “elite” team? I’m just wondering, because I don’t want to go through the endless streams of criticism you guys give BK all over again with a new coach like Clawson, or anybody else. I’m really sick and tired of you all’s perpetual whining, and I don’t want to hear it for the next coaching regime too. So let’s make damn well sure that our next coach is better than BK, or at least as good. As usual, no sarcasm here – just the way I feel for real.

        BGC ’77 ’82

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