Frankie V Prediction: Notre Dame Looking to Quiet Chirping Cincinnati

Another week, another big-time match for Notre Dame football. This weekend the Irish host #7 Cincinnati; after spending a week hearing about their 28 point victory over Wisconsin, barely counts because they were “lucky” according to the national media – and even some on the beat. The subplots are aplenty with the Bearcats, owners of a resume that only includes victories over Murray State, Indiana, and Miami of Ohio, certainly feeling themselves too, with a lot of trash talk. Will the Irish do the walking tomorrow, though?

What Worries Me This Week

Cincinnati treating this as more than their own Super Bowl

Notre Dame has wisely kept from providing Cincinnati any of their own bulletin board material. You know, since the Irish have been there before. Notre Dame is used to playing in big games like this. Cincinnati isn’t. And therein lies one of my worries for this week. This is bigger than a game to Cincinnati. It wouldn’t just make their season to win at Notre Dame; it would be a program-defining victory for them. That is how they are treating this contest.

Notre Dame just played a big game last weekend, on the road, against a traditional powerhouse program. Cincinnati spent the week on a bye daydreaming of what it would be like to win at Notre Dame Stadium. There’s no way around it. This game means more to Cincinnati. It doesn’t mean Notre Dame isn’t taking it seriously. It just means that to Notre Dame, this is just another big game. It’s much more than one game to Cincinnati, and that worries me.

Possible explosive plays from Cincinnati

Notre Dame has done a great job limiting the explosive plays the last two weeks, but they were a problem weeks one and two. Cincinnati has a quarterback that can deliver some this week if given a chance. Graham Mertz had an opportunity to make some plays downfield on Notre Dame last week that he missed because he was just not very good. If Ridder hits those same plays, things could get dicey.

Marcus Freeman knows the Cincinnati personnel well, and the defense has been playing really well, but the system is still risk/reward, and Ridder is a good quarterback. With the Notre Dame offense struggling to sustain offense, big plays from Cincinnati could be tough to overcome without many big plays of their own.

I love what I am seeing out of the Notre Dame defense right now, but right or wrong, the margin for error for the defense is thin because of the offense. That said, I fully expect the Irish defense to deliver their own big plays.

Until proven otherwise, the offensive line

It looks like Notre Dame will get Michael Carmody back this weekend, but I don’t think anyone thinks that will suddenly cure all that ails the Irish offensive line. This week, I said on the pod that I think Notre Dame will try to run up the middle and might just have some success since that is where the Bearcats are a little vulnerable. I even think it might just work. However, that doesn’t mean I’m not worried about the offensive line as a whole or concerned that they could try and fail at this.

There is also the matter of pass protection. Notre Dame’s OL hasn’t been good at it even though the QB hasn’t helped much. We very well could find out if it’s all the line or a combo of the line and the QB this week. Regardless, until we see some improvement, the offensive line worries me.

What Doesn’t Worry Me This Week

Notre Dame’s quarterback position

On this week’s preview pod, both Greg and I speculated that we expected to see Drew Pyne in at QB1 for Notre Dame, given the vagueness with which Brian Kelly answered questions about Jack Coan this week. Regardless of who starts, though, I am not worried about who is back as much as I am about how the line will protect whoever it is. If it’s Pyne, it opens up some things for Tommy Rees and the Notre Dame offense that they couldn’t do with Coan in the running game.

If it is Coan, I have to believe he’s 100% and that he’ll be able to hit plays to Michael Mayer and Avery Davis is Cincy’s outside corners are able to shut down Kevin Austin and Braden Lenzy.

I say this knowing that I could regret this, but I am genuinely intrigued with what Pyne could do with this offense after seeing him in the 4th quarter last week.

Notre Dame’s pass rush

Notre Dame’s defensive line is straight-up nasty. Cincinnati’s offensive line isn’t great. Combine those two, and I think Notre Dame gets enough pressure on Desmond Ridder to rattle him and make him rethink his trash talk from earlier this week. Notre Dame got pressure on Graham Mertz without having to send extra blitzers. They should be able to do that this week too.

Ridder can escape pressure with his athleticism, so wrapping up will be critical, but I think the pressure will be there without Marcus Freeman having to call for a lot of exotic blitzes. The defensive line is that good.

A let down from Notre Dame after a big game

Usually, after a big game, you worry about a letdown, but that usually happens when the next game is against a lesser opponent. That isn’t what Notre Dame has this weekend, and if you listened to this week’s Inside the Garage podcast, the Notre Dame players talked about how excited they were that they had another big game coming off of last weekend.

A lot has been made about all of the teams coming off a bye week and then playing Notre Dame, but the Irish desperately needed some momentum after their early season struggles. Well, they got that and then some in the 4th quarter against Wisconsin, and I think that carries over to this week.

Players to Watch This Week

  • Braden Lenzy – Please, for the love of God get this kid the ball on a jet or a pop pass
  • Avery Davis – The captain chould have a sneaky good game – especially if Cincy gives extra attention to Michael Mayer
  • Jordan Botelho – He didn’t appear on the stat sheet last week, but he was definitely on the tape. I’m intrigued to see how his role changes against a very different offense
  • Tyler Buchner – If he is indeed available, he will play. He’ll have a chance to make plays with his RPO package if he makes the right reads
  • Howard Cross / Jacob Lacey – They filled in great for Kurt Hinish last week and will be needed again tomorrow
  • Joe Wilkins – With Cincy’s talent at CB, Notre Dame could look to run some more four receiver sets and Wilkins could be the recipient of more targets this week
  • C’bo Flemister – He is back this week after a convenient four game stretch of being unavailable.
  • Kevin Austin – Yes, Sauce Gardner is good, but guess what, so is Kevin Austin. He will still have a chance to make plays tomorrow.

Prediction Time

I didn’t feel that great about this game to start the week and didn’t really have any feelings towards Cincinnati then either. But, both of those have changed. Cincinnati’s talking certainly has the team’s attention, and hearing the Notre Dame players talk about how they’re excited about a big game after last week makes me feel more optimistic. It all comes down to the offensive line for Notre Dame. If they are just average, Notre Dame wins. If they aren’t, we might have to hear fans of a program that has never produced a consensus All-American that wasn’t a kicker/punter continue to chirp.

Well, I said it on the pod, and I’ll repeat it here. This team turned a corner last week, and while Cincinnati made the headlines with their words all week, Notre Dame will make them with their play tomorrow. Just expect the national media to immediately downplay it if it happens because “well maybe Cincinnati wasn’t all that good, to begin with.”

Notre Dame 34, Cincinnati 21

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47 Comments

  1. This looks like a two-horse race, Bama and Georgia. Given that Bama is Georgia’s daddy, chalk up another natty for Saban and the “Evil Empire”.

  2. I think it’s best for everyone here that playing Georgia is not something that y’all need ponder anymore.
    Silver linings, meet small blessings.

  3. The Fire Brian Kelly Brigade is trending!
    …until all you rummies get some sleep, pick up your pom poms, and go right back to the mindless insanity.

      1. Wow, you’re so advanced for a toddler, little one!

        Your parents must be so proud of you!

    1. Does it even matter. Say they fire BK. They’re just going to hire another BK. Or maybe worse. Maybe we go back to the Wiilingham/Weis fiasco years.

      Not saying BK is a great coach. But ND has more problems than just BK. Including a complacent administration that’s perfectly fine with the way things are, and an apathetic fan base that doesn’t even care.

      So fire BK. Great. But serious roadblocks remain.

      1. Well said, Damian. I can appreciate the “better the Devil you know than the one you don’t!” But at some point a regime reaches a zenith and its downhill from there. I think ND football has peaked with BK. I can’t see him doing more than he’s done. But he won’t quit and the administration won’t fire him. My guess is we’ll have about five more years of BK (I think that’s how long he’s signed to). But unless Saban wants to try to walk on water and revive ND football as his swan song, like you say, it probably won’t matter. ND football is a relic of the past. It’s loyal fan base is dying off with each passing year. Rather than trying to build on the past to go on into the future, this administration is just trying to hold on and make as much money as it can. But once ND football dies, it’s dead and the money will not come in. But Jenkins and the powers that be figure that’s someone else’s problem. We’re seeing the slow demise of a once proud program. BK’s not the cause; he’s the symptom of the internal rot.

        God, I hope I’m wrong!

  4. What an embarrassment.

    Buchner has to be the starter from here on out to get full experience for next season. Pyne throws on time but he literally wound up completely to throw a 30 yard pass to Lenzy. Pyne has no arm. Buchner has the total package as far as general qb skillset. Work him now so he learns everything.

  5. Well the bright side is we won’t have to worry about being blown out in a playoff game now.

    Face it. ND isn’t going to ever win another NC. And the PTBs are fine with that.

    1. Yup, this program has lost its soul and Fr. Jenkins and the AD just care about winning enough to continue to bilk NBC!

      No one will ever win it all at ND. Too much working against them!

    2. You’re right Damian regarding the PTB’s. and ND now falls 2-9 against Top 10 opponents under purple face fucktard.

  6. The trend here looks like a loss is looming today. There’s enough places to go around as to take blame for this loss today. Pyne needs to be the starter from here on out. If he’s not, then Kelly is just reiterating how much of fucktard he is as a head coach.

    1. The “Red Outs” at ND Stadium equals loss for the Irish (Nebraska, UGa, Cinci.)!

      ND fans that sell their tickets to visitors are bitches! Unless you have a child with cancer and are running out of money then there’s no excuse. I don’t want to hear it!

      The gutless home crowds are another reason ND will not get back to the top any time soon. You need coaching. You need studs. But you also need a home field advantage.

  7. This will be a total team loss. The O struggled. The D didn’t make enough plays. The STs also was bad with a TO, penalties, poor punts, missed extra point. And coaching was mediocre.

    This is a three or four loss team playing and coaching like this.

    If we could only flip that big-time LSU QB commit! Wishful thinking!

    BK will never be more than this, folks. In short, mediocrity is the norm where it used to be championships.

  8. Well, this is a fine little game, now isn’t it? When the day comes that a team ( at least on comparison paper) is of lower stature ( G of 5)is favored over P5 team at P5’s home field and so far is substantiating that favorability, the wheels are gone. This O line is one of the worst I have seen in a longggggggg time. Where is the upgrade in recruiting showing up for this. This substantial drop off shouldn’t happen if improved recruiting is occurring, regardless of who moved on to Sunday playing. Let’s see what Drew can do now.

    1. Stores,
      Apparently O line recruiting has been irregular over the last few cycles.

      I can’t wait for Bramblett and Doerer to go. These guys are so inconsistent! How do you miss an XP in that spot. That makes up for Cinci’s two missed FGs.

      I like Pyne. But we need one of those stud 5-star recruits at QB to really get over the hump. But that assumes he’s playing behind a solid line and has stud WRs.

      1. We don’t get those type of players too often now do we Rob. Hahaha. Yeah, amazing in 10 years purple face hasn’t landed a difference maker QB. I see Stanford is beating Oregon.

  9. That Austin drop might well be the game, folks!

    Good patience by Pyne, food protection from the O line, Austin runs a good route, then he drops the ball by taking his eyes off it. Terrible!

  10. So it takes BK a whole wasted half to figure out Pyne is a better option for the O given this O line?!

  11. BTW little “david/David/dav” (have I forgotten one of your aliases?!) I was on BK long before your loathsome self showed up on this site.

    I don’t need any lecturing from the likes of you about BK’s incompetence. Anyone here can testify you haven’t said anything I haven’t said long before you showed up.

  12. Please someone tell me that this is Bramblett’s last season! This guy is wildly inconsistent. Cinci plays that totally different if he pins them inside the ten.

    Still, the D just sucked on that last Cinci drive. That was way too easy.

    This has the making of a historic defeat if the the D gives up. I wouldn’t blame them if they did, but hopefully they show some heart and keep this to under forty. The first drive will tell us a lot about this D’s heart.

  13. This is the most pathetic O performance I have ever seen in my whole life as an ND fan.

    Coan has to be benched. Play for the future right now. That means take your lumps with Pyne and/or Buchner.

    This is a lost season. The home-winning streak is over, no shot at winning anything important. So play for the future right now.

    Most important thing is not to lose any big-time recruits after this debacle.

  14. Game, set, match!

    Plan B, C, D time!

    Even the endless excuse-makers have abandoned this site!

    I vote we just make this the “david” anti-ND page.

      1. So sensitive little one!

        Name calling is still your best intellectual quality! Play to your strength when you have nothing else to play for.

      2. Then how do you suffer yourself, ye of little mind?!

        Boy, what a loser if that’s the best you have little one!

  15. If ND loses today, it would solve one problem:
    Finding an insurance co. willing to write a policy on ND’s QB should it have faced Georgia in a playoff.

  16. “Notre Dame is used to playing in big games like this.”
    ….and God willing, it will rise to the occasion tomorrow.
    Thus preserving its shot at another appearance as roadkill in the BCS playoff.

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