Notre Dame heads to Charlottesville tonight for the first time since Will Fuller’s iconic touchdown grab in 2015 delivered one of the most dramatic Irish wins of the Brian Kelly era. The Irish look to improve to 9-1 on the season while Virginia limps into the contest, perhaps without its star quarterback Brennan Armstrong. With Armstrong, this game could be a wild shoot-out. Without him, it could be a laugher for the Irish.
What Worries Me This Week
Please, no more of them this year. Notre Dame keeps on chugging along with injury after injury, but we’ve now reached the point at linebacker, safety, and wide receiver where the Irish might not be able to overcome another significant injury. While the Irish have some solutions for replacing Avery Davis after he was lost for the year last weekend, there is almost no depth left at wide receiver, just like linebacker earlier this year.
The week after Navy effect
Outside of monstrosities in 2010 and 2016, Notre Dame has returned to beating Navy year in and year out. What they still have had issues with, however, is the week AFTER Navy. Preparing for Navy requires you to radically shift your defensive approach for one game in the middle of the season, and the physical toll of all the cut blocks from the Midshipmen is genuine.
The Irish lost to Stanford a week after beating Navy in 2017. In 2018, the Irish struggled with Northwestern for much of the night before putting the game away late. In 2019, the Irish might have solved the post-Navy puzzle with a 40-7 win over Boston College on Senior Day.
No Kyle Hamilton, again
Virginia has the deepest and most talented wide receiver corps Notre Dame faces this year. Facing them without Kyle Hamilton is not what I would consider ideal. The Irish secondary has managed OK without Hamilton so far, but the Cavalier receivers offer a much stiffer challenge than North Carolina did since the Tar Heels really had one star receiver to slow down. Virginia has a stable of receivers, all capable of doing damage if they get the ball.
After a light day at the office last week, Notre Dame’s corners should be pretty well-rested, but the safeties were heavily involved. Watch out for how much Xavier Watts plays should Houston Griffith struggle this week.
What Doesn’t Worry Me This Week
If Brennan Armstrong plays tonight and is his usual self, Virginia can put up a lot of points on Notre Dame. However, I am banking on Armstrong either not playing at all or being severely limited if he does. It’s just too hard – and there’s too much risk – to play this soon after a rib injury for a quarterback. Sure, he could wear extra padding, but quarterbacks get hit in their ribs all the time.
My guess here is that he doesn’t play much, if at all. If he does play, I can’t imagine he’ll be 100%, and the injury will impact his effectiveness quite a bite. The spread in this game has been dropping steadily all day from -6 down to -8. That tells me the late money coming in isn’t expecting Armstrong to play or play well if he does.
All this said, if Armstrong does play and isn’t limited, then look out because Notre Dame might need to win a track meet.
Anything about Virginia’s defense
Luckily for Notre Dame, if this game were to become a track meet, the Virginia defense is very bad. It might be the worst defense that Notre Dame faces all year. Two weeks ago, they gave up 66 points to BYU. Georgia Tech put up 40 on them the week before. Somehow Duke managed to be shut out by the Cavaliers, but every other offense has put up points on the Cavs.
Notre Dame’s offense is far from prolific right now, even with the improvement we’ve seen the last few weeks out of the bye week. That said, they are good enough to put up a bunch of points on the Cavalier defense tonight. I think they’ll need to mix things up more this week since Navy really gave a good blueprint for slowing down the Irish last week, but UVA isn’t getting a lot of stops in this one.
Players to Watch This Week
- Lorenzo Styles – He should have an expanded role with Davis out. Still not sure why he had such a limited role against Navy, but that should change.
- Chris Tyree – We haven’t seen him much in weeks since the turf toe injury took him out of the Virginia Tech game. Is this the week we finally get to see him at full speed again?
- Xavier Watts – He got real defensive reps last week for the first time and looked pretty good in his debut. Greg already predicted an INT for Watts this week.
- Isaiah Foskey – If Notre Dame can jump out to a lead, UVA will be forced to pass a lot regardless of who the quarterback is. That feels like a recipe for another big week from Foskey.
- Tyler Buchner – Kelly said that Buchner could see his role expand and then Notre Dame made him available to the media mid-week for the first time this year. Maybe we see more of him this week.
- Kevin Austin – He had his big breakout last week. Can he build on it or will we see more of the inconsistency that we saw earlier this year. I am betting on the former.
Predicting this game is tricky since it really all hinges on whether or not Brennan Armstrong plays. As I said earlier, I am betting on Armstrong either not playing or having a minimal role this week. Without him, I don’t see Virginia putting up a ton of points even with a talented receiving corps. I see Notre Dame being able to score a lot as well, which should lead to a comfortable Notre Dame victory.
Notre Dame 42, Virginia 17
As it seems more and more likely that Notre Dame are heading to a high profile bowl game, the team, who definitely had to fill some major voids left from last season, has done a fine job getting back on their feet. The offensive line is the major story. Maybe much shouldn’t be made out of it because Notre Dame recruits very well along the offensive front, but Notre Dame has found their best line. The line is producing a running attack and protecting the QB much better. Jack Coan, with help from a productive run attack and protection, has turned his season around. I can’t wait for Buchner to take the helm in the future, but Coan must be given his rightful due for turning his season around.
Gutty performance tonight. Well done Irish!
Notre Dame is sooo overrated this year. They will win the rest of there regular season games. They wont make the playoffs no matter what happens going forward.
Did I just hear the idiot talking heads calling the game actually compare the ND O to Ohio State’s?! Were they trying to be funny or ironic?!
ND’s O is the worse of all the top 15 or even top 20 teams. Right now the Wisconsin O is better then ND’s.
This team is going to get smoked on Jan. 1 by whomever they play!
28 points against this Uva D is a joke!
BK has never grasped the concept of style points, and sadly never will. You needed to put 50+ on this awful defense to even have a sniff at the playoff. Now watch Oklahoma State pass us as they are 49-3 vs TCU right now. They deserve to pass us
And then the gutless little bitches on here like, Rhonda, will either make a stupid joke or cry like a baby about how unfair ND is treated by the pollsters.
And it’s not just about style points either, Pedro. It’s about really being a competent O. ND just doesn’t have a lot of playmakers on O. KW is about the best. Then Mayer. That’s about it. Coan sucks. Buchner is inexperienced. The O line can’t even open up holes against UVa on a consistent basis.
This team will get smoked on Jan. 1. No matter who they play. The O can’t score 30 consistently. The D is too bendy but not breaky meaning teams control the ball for too long and limit Irish O possessions. Has the Irish D heard about giving the O a short field every now and then?!
Then there’s the always inconsistent ND STs!
Coan and the shitty O making UVa D look like the 85 Bears or Steel Curtain!
What a gutless, piece o’ dung performance by this O tonight against this crap D!
The ND D is also very soft!
Coan is a much inferior passer to Book. And he certainly isn’t a playmaker with his legs. With this shit O line, Book would’ve been much a better option. Buchner would be a better option if he had development, something BK doesn’t know anything about!
This isn’t a PO caliber team. It’s totally unimpressive in all three phases of the game and coaching-wise.
This Virginia team is an absolute shitshow yet somehow Notre Dame can’t put them away. Typical Brian Kelly style of play
Let me be clear unless I stuttered, the ND O is a joke!
BYU put 66 points on these Cavalier bums. ND might not break 30.
Coan is mediocre. The O line stinks. Only KW is worth a crap on the pile o’ dung unit.
Why can’t this D get off the field three and out more often? This is a really poor O without their all-world QB.
ND may end up winning easy, but this game is showing all this teams warts. Soft D, un-explosive O, poor time management, etc.
Make no mistake. ND would be in real trouble if Armstrong were playing tonight.
F’ing gutless, BK!
You have two TOs and do nothing but three RB dives?!
This is why this tool will never win a NC!
Unbelievable how gutless this clown of a coach is at Notre Dame. Its embarrassing.
The play clock shit show continues in the entire BK era! This is piss poor!
Notredame needs to play every game into the 4th quarter like it is tied or they are behind. Ohio State was up big early and kept pouring it on deep into the 4th quarter. I dont know what it is with Notredame s offense.
Easy, Peter, it stinks! If not for KW this O would be DOA!
Maybe BK will decide one day to KO and not take the ball with this putrid O!
This will be tight if the D doesn’t step up and control the UVa backup QB.
It sucks because Kelly refuses to hire a great oline coach a great receivers coach and a great o coordinator to team with Tommy. Should have hired Joe Morehead.
Phil Jurkovec numbers today. 13/20 310yds 2 TDs 8 rushes 71 TDs 3 TDs.
Notre Dame is the worst team in the playoff rankings top 10. Benifitting from a weak schedule. Zero signature wins. Brian Kelly’s reluctance to develop Buchner will rear its ugly head early next year when ND faces Ohio state.
Notre Dames wins today 37-31
He should have been our QB last year and this year and next. He’s got NFL talent.
Agreed Kelly is an idiot for not developing PJ. With the talent around him at ND he would’ve been a Heisman contender. Kelly done such a poor job with Qb development at ND.
Still no word from Big Wheel Mike. Training wheels may have come off to soon.
Big Wheel Mike knew he lost all credibility with everyone on here when he said Chase Claypool wasn’t an elite receiver. Hasn’t been back since. LMAO!
No worries here! The Irish need a statement to move up in the CFP rankings. Throw the kneel play out the playbook! ND 42 UVA 17