Thursday, September 24, 2015

Trading questions with Notre Dame Blog "One Foot Down"

I traded questions with the excellent Irish blog "One Foot Down". Check them out for my comments.

Pat Burns from One Foot Down answered my questions about Notre Dame going into Saturday's game against the Minutemen.

 1.     Notre Dame lost their starting QB Malik Zaire for the season with a broken ankle. Can you tell us how QB Deshone Kizer changes the Irish offense?

It's not as large of a step down as most people (even inside the Irish fanbase) may have originally thought, actually. Kizer is well aware of the entirety of the playbook, and has all the skills he needs to put everything together. There's a reason he wasn't the starting QB, however, so the offense will change a bit to minimize the burden that is put directly on Kizer's shoulders. Notre Dame has the offensive line to lean on in the running game, and the wide receivers needed to make tough throws for Kizer look easy. The offense went from a  more QB-focused attack under Zaire to a "get the ball to the playmakers" focus under Kizer.

    2.     The Irish have lost six starters to season-ending injuries. Does Notre Dame have the depth to continue a run for the Playoffs?

I can't believe I'm about to write this, with where the Irish were just a few short years ago, but yes I believe they do have enough depth. Brian Kelly has done a great job of recruiting 1 through 85 on this team, so that even the backups' backups are talented football players that can contribute to the team. There's obviously some headaches associated with the inexperience, but knowing that the guys filling the holes in the roster are top level talent makes that a little easier to swallow.

    3.     How do you feel this about the Irish team current #10 ranking? Too high? Too low?

[Note to you Frank: We are now #6 in AP, #8 in Coaches. I answered question for the AP ranking]

I think the Irish are ranked pretty much in line with what they've shown this season. I think they could be ranked a bit higher than 6th if it was to be based on resume and the eye test, but it's college football, so as long as you're somewhere near the top and take care of business, it won't end up mattering come the end of the season.

    4.    Obviously, Notre Dame will be a big favorite against UMass. How do the Minutemen fit into the Irish' season? Any chance of a letdown?

I think there's certainly chance of a letdown this weekend. The Solid Verbal podcast has the concept of a "letdown look-ahead sandwich", and that's right where the Irish are this week. Coming off of a huge win over Georgia Tech, a team that they prepared for very intensely, and heading into Death Valley next week to take on Clemson, it could be easy for the Irish to look past UMass and get caught with their pants down on Saturday. I think Brian Kelly will be doing all he can this week to make sure that doesn't happen, but college kids are going to be college kids and we may see some shaky play from the Irish this weekend.

    5.    How do think the Irish will approach UMass? Colorado flat ran over our asses. Do you think Notre Dame will go run heavy and just try to get the game over as fast as possible? Prediction for the game?

I think there will be a big focus on scoring early and often, whether that be through the run game or through the passing attack. I think the coaching staff has a secondary goal of getting as many second string players playing time as possible, and jumping out to a big lead is a part of that. I expect it to skew run-heavy just because of the advantage that Notre Dame's O-line provides, but we'll still see a healthy dose of Will Fuller and Co.

My prediction is Notre Dame 45, UMass 13 following a slow first quarter with no score and a couple of scares from Frohnapfel.


1 comment:

TheClearwall said...

I expect huge doses of Wheel Fullar and CJ Prosise the first half. After that is completed, it will be Montgomery van Gorder running the offense in the second half. I'd expect to see him run some very conservative plays...screens to Corey Robinson, handoffs to Josh Adams.