Nothing is written, folks.
There was so much talk last week about Notre Dame’s poor road record against ranked teams under Brian Kelly. It’s something that people do, talk about trends, and it’s not a useless exercise, but in terms of predicting future events, it’s more helpful to look at the actual matchup. Because what happened in 2014 or 2016 doesn’t really factor into how this group will perform this season. What was once a concern, doesn’t have to be now. Nothing is written.
Notre Dame was better heading into the game, they were better during the game, and they are still better following their 22 point victory against then #24 ranked Virginia Tech. It wasn’t a perfect performance, there was that middle to late second quarter stretch where things looked like they could go the wrong way. Of course, it’s nice when a shaky stretch in the middle of the game ends with a three touchdown victory against a ranked team.
All told, Notre Dame moves to 6-0, into the top five in the AP poll, and with a bit of a breather (at least on paper) following two consecutive games against ranked teams. On to Pittsburgh next Saturday.
With his eight catches for 117 yards and two touchdowns, Boykin has posted two game totals of 19 receptions, 261 yards, and three touchdowns. He’s on pace for a 61 catch, 927 yard, seven touchdown season. He’s had a rapport with Ian Book since the bowl game against LSU last year, when the two combined for one of the best highlights of the bowl season. Boykin has given Notre Dame what they seemed to be lacking early on in the year, which was a #1 target, and go-to player.
The next step for the Boykin and Book connection is the deep ball, which Book missed a number of times against the Hokies, and will be needed at some point. Somewhat reassuringly, Book missed deep to a couple different players throughout the game, so it doesn’t appear to be any problem between just the two of them.
That said, three weeks ago, Notre Dame didn’t have any type of big play ability and consistently good play on offense. Now they’ve got the running back, the quarterback, and the receiver. Which is nice.
Backups on Defense
We are getting to the point of the season when attrition really sets in, and the bench gets deeper and deeper. That was the case for Notre Dame on Saturday, which saw a number of reserves see the field in key moments, especially on defense.
The Ademilola twins on the defensive line, Donte Vaughn, Jamir Jones, Tariq Bracy, and Shayne Simon all saw action in none blowout snaps against Virginia Tech. These weren’t star performances mind you, but Virginia Tech managed only seven points post-halftime against the Irish, so these players did play some part in that.
Brian Kelly talked in the offseason about this being his most talented team in terms of players 60-85 on the roster he’s had at Notre Dame and that has shown itself to be true in the first six weeks.
Turns out, his return to the Notre Dame team was very, extremely important. Just want to note Williams more than doubled his career high in carries coming into the season, and with two more carries this year he’ll set his season career high. On his 38 carries so far this season, he’s averaged 8.9 yards per carry. Things have been working out.
The Injury Situation
Notre Dame is down starters/serious contributors Bars, Crawford, Armstrong, Daelin Hayes, and Tagovailoa-Amosa. It hasn’t been a cause for serious alarm lately, and those filling in have performed well, but any more injuries to this point could very well push Notre Dame to the breaking point. Not there yet, but it’s a concern.
Desmond Howard Picking Games
Love to be a picker of games and have the currently undefeated and #5 team in the nation be 2-4 according to my game picks.