Five thoughts and news tidbits about Notre Dame football in advance of its season opening matchup against Florida State.
1. Let’s take the dark view of how the season could start for Notre Dame. Because what college football program has ever had anything less than a fantastic fall camp? Everybody is stronger, faster and bigger. Consider this your dose of bitter-tasting medicine. The Irish start four new offensive linemen, their quarterback couldn’t win the starting job at Wisconsin so he transferred to Notre Dame and they lost one of their rising linebackers - Marist Liufau - to a season-ending knee injury. Collectively, the veteran wide receivers have underachieved. Florida State is going to be particularly amped up because it's Notre Dame, the stadium hasn’t been full in nearly two years because of Covid 19 and they are honoring their former coach Bobby Bowden. Bowden, who was one of the most beloved coaches not only at FSU but in college football, died on August 8 at the age of 91. Personally, I prefer the sky-is-always-falling Lou Holtz approach to the unfettered optimism that Brian Kelly has projected. It's easier to process an upset that way. My game prediction in this case: FSU 24, Notre Dame 20.
2. Okay. That’s not how it’ll go. This team is very good. Perhaps even special. The Irish defense is the force that everyone predicted. The defensive line terrorizes quarterbacks Jordan Travis and McKenzie Milton. Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton has a monster game, intercepting a pass and the Irish rack up over 250-yards rushing. Quarterback Jack Coan exceeds expectations. He throws for two touchdown passes and the Irish barely break a sweat in balmy Tallahassee. My Prediction: Notre Dame 44, Florida State 14.
3. According to Jack Kiser, the leg injury to Liufau, was difficult to watch. Kiser witnessed it. Liufau had surgery on Monday and Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said the operation was a success. Liufau is done for the season. Kiser saw it.
“It was one of those things that happened and everybody just stopped and hoped everything was Okay,” Kiser said. “You try to move onto the next step and just erase it from your mind. It’s one of those things that is hard to move on from right away.” Kiser said it was “devastating” to see Liufau go down because he’s such a “special kid. If you ever see him, he always has a smile on his face. He has that enjoyment in everything he does and makes practice have a lot more energy.
4. I read this stuff so you don’t have to. CBS Sportsline analyst Matt Severance is taking Florida State and the eight points because “the Noles are going to be scary good with McKenzie Milton (at quarterback) and the Irish have among the fewest returning starters in college football.” One big problem with prediction. Severance apparently hasn’t paid much attention to Florida State coach Mike Norvell, who hasn’t named a starting quarterback. If I had to guess, Jordan Travis not Milton, will get more snaps at quarterback. Severance ends by suggesting that Brian Kelly will be in the NFL next year. Okay. Carry on.
5. I can’t wait for the day when vaccination rates for Covid 19 and what percentage of each team is and isn’t vaccinated is no longer part of the pregame conversation. Can’t come soon enough for me. Yes, we’ll get there.
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