Thoughts on Notre Dame football, Irish recruiting and college football
OFFENSE HAS A CHANCE TO GET RIGHT .... FAST
Notre Dame's offense has been incredibly disappointing through the first six games of the season. The line has been awful, quarterback play has been disappointing, the receivers have been up-and-down and the offensive design continues to avoid the things that could make this unit far more explosive.
That's the bad news. The good news is the offense has a tremendous opportunity to get right in the final six games. There are two reasons. One, Notre Dame had an extra week to self-scout itself, to hopefully address the areas where it has been struggling, to better build around what the offense actually does well (instead of forcing what it doesn't do well) and to figure out more ways to get the skill players going.
Reason number two is that Notre Dame's second half schedule is filled with average to bad defenses.
In the first six games Notre Dame faced the No. 3 (Cincinnati), No. 5 (Purdue), No. 16 (Toledo), No. 23 (Wisconsin) and No. 36 (Virginia Tech) scoring defenses in the country and the No. 2 (Wisconsin), No. 13 (Purdue), No. 14 (Cincinnati) and No. 25 (Toledo) total defenses in the country.
That flips completely upside down in the second half.
During the final six games Notre Dame faces the No. 64 (Virginia), No. 71 (Georgia Tech), No. 79 (USC), No. 81 (Stanford), No. 87 (North Carolina) and No. 109 (Navy) scoring defenses. It also faces the No. 61 (Navy), No. 65 (North Carolina), No. 69 (Georgia Tech), No. 71 (USC), No. 86 (Stanford) and No. 95 (Virginia) total defenses and No. 55 (Georgia Tech), No. 72 (North Carolina), No. 92 (Stanford), No. 101 (Virginia), No. 103 (Navy) and No. 106 (USC) defenses in yards allowed per play.
Notre Dame needs to roll against these defenses. The only team in the first half to be similar to the second half opponents was Florida State, who ranks 95th in scoring defense, 96th in total defense and 67th in yards allowed per play. Notre Dame scored 41 points, racked up 431 yards and had a season-high 6.2 yards per play in that game.
Now, the Irish offense must play better than it did against Florida State, but you get the point. The offense must get right, but it's not just about beating up bad opponents, which is what the offense faces in the final six games. It's about beating them up while also making the necessary improvements to become the best version of yourself, which sets up for postseason success.
That best version of the Notre Dame offense means improved line play, using more 11, 20 and 21 personnel and spreading teams out within those alignments, it means building around the pass and using that to set up the run, it means improving your quick game, screen game and enhancing your RPO offense, moving the pocket and getting back to being the big play offense Notre Dame was early in the season while also playing more efficient football.
BIG WEEKEND AHEAD - USC VISITOR LIST
Notre Dame is having a HUGE recruiting weekend, both literally and figuratively. I'll have a breakdown of how success this weekend could be a program changing, gap closing moment for the Notre Dame program, but here's a list of the visitors for the weekend.
2022 PROSPECTS - UNCOMMITTED
S Xavier Nwankpa
DE Anthony Lucas
DT Hero Kanu
OL Billy Schrauth
QB Walker Howard (per Tom Loy of 247Sports)
OL Aamil Wagner
2022 PROSPECTS - COMMITTED
WR Tobias Merriweather
LB Nolan Ziegler
LB Josh Burnham
DE Aiden Gobaira
TE Eli Raridon
LB Niuafu Tuihalamaka
WR Amorion Walker
DE Brenan Vernon (Notre Dame commit)
RB Sedrick Irvin Jr. (Notre Dame commit)
LB Drayk Bowen
OL Kadyn Proctor
CB Justin Rhett
DT Luke Montgomery
QB Avery Johnson
OL Josh Padilla
RB Jayden Limar
There will be more players added and more players listed by others, but these are the visitors we've been able to confirm.
BOWL PROJECTIONS ARE GETTING INTERESTING
Now that we are halfway through the 2021 season it's time to start taking a very early look at the bowl projections for the Irish. Here's a look at a couple of very interesting bowl projections.
Mark Schlabach from ESPN has the Irish playing Wake Forest in the Fiesta Bowl, and Brett McMurphy from Action Network has Notre Dame in the Peach Bowl against NC State. Both matchups give Notre Dame a good chance to finally win a "major bowl game" under Brian Kelly, but the opponents would take away some of the validity of that matchup.
Kyle Bonagura of ESPN has the Irish in the Gator Bowl against Auburn. While not a "New Year's Six" bowl this game, in my view, would give Notre Dame "better win" since it comes against a more respected program from the SEC.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
This tweet from Notre Dame is about Kyren Williams being nominated for the Paul Hornung Award, but I put it here because it's a great, great run.
VIDEO OF THE WEEK
On Monday we broke down the latest press conference comments by Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly. A lot of our focus
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