Know Your Enemy: Notre Dame

Submitted by alum96 on August 18th, 2014 at 10:18 AM

USA Today has done a pretty nice write up of the strengths and weaknesses of Notre Dame, accounting for Friday's issues.  ND has a very tough schedule this year - even their 'patsies' i.e. Rice and Syracuse have a chance to beat them, and then they have road trips to ASU and FSU not to mention the traditional tilts with UM, USC, Stanford.  Outside of Purdue/Navy there is not much out there in terms of 'write it down wins".  It's the type of schedule where even a solid team could emerge with 5 losses.

Looks like the matchup with UM is actually going to be a strength on strength thing (ND's offense vs UM's defense) and then a weakness on weakness (ND's defense vs UM's offense) so should be a very good preview for the following month or so of UM football. 

ND is switching defenses, has a new defensive coach, and is relying on some young - if very talented players on that side of the ball.  They might also be relying on some walk ons, Kovacs style.  Sounds like outside of WR they return some good talent on offense (their OL was very impressive last year - took some hits but has a lot of depth), and obviously their QB is the type that has given UM issues for 2 decades now. (I see you McNabb)

Jury still out on if these 4 players will actually miss time but if so, it's a stud CB and their leading returning WR... along with a "Will Campbell" type on the DL (5 star who has not really made an impact thus far in his career).




August 18th, 2014 at 10:30 AM ^

until Voltron downvotes an otherwise interesting thread.  But I digress...  If those 4 players don't miss time, I for one will be very surprised.  I know a lot is being investigated, but this doesn't seem like 1-2 games missed and they call it good, especially since the attention that the academics have gotten the last year or two, a la Gholson.  I think the WR involved missed Spring ball because of academics...  Should be interesting to see how it all flushes out.

Monocle Smile

August 18th, 2014 at 10:32 AM ^

Whut? They've been held out "until the investigation is complete" and they'll likely be dismissed. They're not even practicing.  I think it's safe to say they'll all miss time.

Golson is NOT Donovan McNabb. He ran for 3.2 yards per carry last year with a long of 27. He's mobile, but he's neither swift nor all that nimble.

Jalen Smith and Sheldon Day are the only real threats on defense.


August 18th, 2014 at 10:45 AM ^

Donovan McNabb average 3.7 YPC his jr year and 3.2 YPC his sr year.  McNabb ran 110 times his JR year, Golson ran 94 times in 2012.  What were you saying again?

Golson was also a first year starter so taking his stats from 2 years ago and saying he will be meh precludes the thought that players improve the older they get.  He is again exactly the type of QB who gives UM fits.  See Troy Smith.  Those are the guys you think you have a sack on, they break contain on 3rd and 4 and run for 6 making you throw a shoe against the wall... all day.

And I am assuming those guys will be suspended but until ND says it, it is our assumption not a given.




August 18th, 2014 at 10:48 AM ^

And lesser talents than McNabb or Smith have done so. There is no more frustrating thing to watch than a mobile QB repeatedly escaping contain against us, and I've watched that happen at least once per season almost every year since 1971. The only exception I can think of is '97.


August 18th, 2014 at 10:57 AM ^

That's my point.  I am not saying Golson is McNabb.  It was a throw away line in the OP - there are a litany of far worse QBs than McNabb who play that style - throwing QBs who are mobile enough - to give UM's defense fits.  We've had 20 years of those guys drive us nuts. 

But on second analysis the rushing attempts/yards on Golson v McNabb was a lot closer than I assumed.  McNabb was not Michael Vick or Denard Robinson where running 15-20x a game was normal; that's a different type of QB.

Danny Bonaduce

August 18th, 2014 at 11:34 AM ^

Yeah I agree with you here.  I think Malik Zaire fits the mold for the type of player 96 is trying to describe better than Golson.  In fact, I would not be at all surprised if Zaire unseats Golson as ND's QB at some point this season.  


August 18th, 2014 at 2:13 PM ^

was a true freshman starting for ND.  It's much tougher to come out of the gate guns blazing as a true freshman at QB.  Golson have a year of experience under his belt and had a year to work on his mechanics with a QB coach.  People forget that he was the #1 QB coming out of high school so he has the talent to be a bondafide QB.

Golson has gotten better and better as the season goes on and I wouldn't be surprised if he comes out on fire this season.


August 18th, 2014 at 10:38 AM ^

Granted, this is last year's data, so it is limited in its usefulness but it is interesting all the same. Consider:

Notre Dame's overall rating = 79.80

Rice = 67.67

Michigan = 75.75

Purdue = 51.65

Syracuse = 70.91

Stanford = 91.57

North Carolina = 75.68

at Florida State =101.9

at Navy = 73.53

at Arizona State = 85.51

Northwestern = 70.08

Louisville = 85.05

at USC =84.55

The average rating of these is 77.82, which comes pretty close to Notre Dame's own score. If you used this as a basis, four games - Stanford, FSU, ASU and USC - are games in which they would be estimated to be about a 1 TD (much more in the case of FSU) underdog. That is on the brutal side. Again, interesting to think about even with last season's numbers. 


August 18th, 2014 at 10:43 AM ^

but I'm skeptical that Rice and Syracuse really have a shot in South Bend just from a recruited talent standpoint. If the Domers lost either one of those games, plenty of ND fans will start calling for Kelly's head.


August 18th, 2014 at 10:52 AM ^

Rice is not great but they won a bad conference last year and it is the first game of the year.  As we all know around here anything can happen in the first game of the year and I'd much rather open with a directional Michigan school the first game and then play an upgraded baby seal in the 3rd or 4th non conf. 

To put in perspective Rice lose to Texas A&M in College Station 52-31 to open last year.  It is losable for ND. 

Syracuse was a 7-6 ACC team - nothing great, but essentially they are the equivalent of our Utah game in terms of where it fits on ND's schedule.  We get Utah at home, they play Syracuse in New Jersey.  Syracuse beat Minnesota in a bowl last year, and lost to PSU by a TD.  That is within the margin for error of being a dangerous game.  Again these are their 4 "worst" opponents (Rice, Navy, Syracuse, Purdue).  It speaks to how their lower 1/3rd of the schedule does not offer them a mental break - Purdue is probably the only terrible team on their entire schedule.


August 18th, 2014 at 11:09 AM ^

Chickens, I stand behind 100%.

But Cheaters...idk if you can say that. To say the 5 kids who cheated (Golson + 4 recent players) reflect badly on the program, is an understatement. But to say those 5 people represent the entire football program as a whole is a little far fetched. Its actually refreshing to see that type of self policing in college sports these days. 

You know Alabama wouldn't do this to 3 staters and a first-one-off-the-bench type player. And they definitely wouldn't kick off a QB who just led them to a National Title game.


August 18th, 2014 at 10:47 AM ^

This week's podcast discusses ND a little more in depth, with a heavy emphasis on schadenfreude.

Bottom line is that even before these suspensions, Notre Dame was starting a sophomore converted wide receiver at outside linebacker, a walk-on at MIKE, and a true freshman at SDE. Now, with Williams gone, they are shorthanded at WDE, Russell was their best corner (they still have two good ones, but not much depth), and Daniels was their ONLY returning wide receiver with significant production.

That defense looks very, very beatable.

Duval Wolverine

August 18th, 2014 at 10:54 AM ^

Was Golson allowed to practice with the team last year or was he completely removed from the program for a year, if so, he will probably struggle early trying to adust to college football again.  He was not impressive at all his freshmen year, and they needed 6 turnovers to beat Michigan at home by 7 

Duval Wolverine

August 18th, 2014 at 10:54 AM ^

Was Golson allowed to practice with the team last year or was he completely removed from the program for a year, if so, he will probably struggle early trying to adust to college football again.  He was not impressive at all his freshmen year, and they needed 6 turnovers to beat Michigan at home by 7 


August 18th, 2014 at 11:04 AM ^

Not impressive?  As a first year starter he had a 58.8% completion percent, and a 131.0 QB rating with a 2:1 TD to INT ratio.  To put in perspective Devin's comparable stats were 60.8% and a 146.1 QB rating with a 2:1 TD to INT ratio. 

He is not a great college QB but for a first year starter where the game was going way too fast for him... he did pretty darn well.



August 18th, 2014 at 11:29 AM ^

 How many games in that first year did Gholson have to be pulled out of. If not for Tommy Reece, Notre Dame loses at least 2 games and possibly a third against Michigan. I'm just saying it's not like he was a great QB. He was just the QB at Notre Dame and that gets you a certain ammount of hype


August 18th, 2014 at 12:03 PM ^

Rees has 2 TDs in 2012 and 2 INTs...and 34 completions.  Maybe I missed the part of how he was the savior of the 2012 season and led ND to countless wins late.  He must have been very efficient.  He only threw more than 10 passes 3x all year - UM, BYU, and Pitt.  He had one very good game - vs Michigan.


August 20th, 2014 at 1:48 PM ^

 The fact they pulled Gholson out in close games the entire year speaks volumes.…

I'll also throw in the Stanford game that year and the Pitt game

Danny Bonaduce

August 18th, 2014 at 11:46 AM ^

Here are his game by game stats from his RS freshman year.  He did pretty well against the bad teams on the schedule (Wake Forest, Pitt, Miami (YTM), Boston College, and Purdue), but was average at best against everyone else, with his worst game against Michigan.



August 18th, 2014 at 11:58 AM ^

Which was the 2nd game of his career starting I believe.

How did Gardner do against UConn, Iowa,and Northwestern etc. 

Again not saying he is a great QB.  He was a first year starter and aside from Manziel and Winston those guys are going to have ups and downs.  Connor Cook was a disaster vs Purdue last year but everyone is all over his knob for the OSU and Stanford games.  19-20 year old people have ups and downs.

Maybe he comes back this year and totally sucks - I have no idea.  But making him out to be a bad QB since he struggled sometimes his first year starting while still being relatively effective and not that disimmilar from a guy we have who some think is a Heisman candidate is maize shaded.  He was horrid vs UM (19.0 Qb rating) so maybe people think that is what he was all year.  


Danny Bonaduce

August 18th, 2014 at 12:10 PM ^

It was the fourth game of his career as a starter, but that is not what really matters.  I don't think he is near as good as you, which is just fine.  I am not a big believer in ND's receiving core this year and their defense will be much worse than 2012, which both really helped Golson in his first year as a starter.   And it's not just that he was horrid against UM (though that was by far his worst game), he wasn't very good against any good defense they faced. 


August 18th, 2014 at 2:04 PM ^

I am not really sayinge he is that good.  He is the type of QB though who can drive you nuts being elusive when you think you finally stopped a drive and he gets out of the pocket and extends a play over and over.  His arm is not super duper or anything.   Traditionally we have not fared well against this type of QB.  

On paper he and Devin don't have stats that differ much: 2013 Devin v 2012 Golson.

And I have no idea how far he has come since then; judging a QB based on his first 3, 4, 7 games or whatnot starting would mean most QBs are nothing to fear.  They generally get better with experience.   I assume he will show up 2 years later from the last time we saw him as a more advanced QB.

p.s. awesome screen name and photo


August 18th, 2014 at 3:43 PM ^

Just curious - and anyone knowledgeable can jump in on this - is it an MGoBlog "thing" to call the receiving corps a "receiving core?" My impression is that corps is spelled "core" here about 90% of the time (other than in the staff writing).  I find it hard to believe that that is just coincidence.


August 18th, 2014 at 10:59 AM ^

Been to two away games against the Figthings and I've had the good fortune to witness 50% of all Michigan's wins at Notre Dame since 1980.  I went there in both 2006 & 2010 so as far as I'm concerned winning there isn't that difficult (but is a blast - nothing like the "It's be.....a MICHIGAN WOL-VER-INE" heading down the ramps after the game while high fiving eveyrbody wearing maize n blue in site)

Sadly though I will not be able to attend this year so one of you guys will need to pick up my apparently much needed mojo in the stands.


August 18th, 2014 at 11:09 AM ^

It has been strange how even in our dark years the ND-UM game has been very competitive.  I don't know if it is because it of the lack of tape early in the season to identify UM tendencies, or mediocre (Weiss) coaching, or what it is but unlike OSU and MSU, ND has been the 1 rival where we do well whatever the talent we have.  They have also been the easiest team to blow out every so often the past 10-12 years.


August 18th, 2014 at 11:25 AM ^

If you went there in 06 and 10, I'd really prefer if you go this year. The fluke plays that went against Michigan over the years in that stadium, not to mention the bad calls ND benefitted from and the downright bizarre happenings like a ref using an index card to measure for a Michigan first down is NOT going to make me miss that place.

Even in 06 when we were up 47-21 in the final minute and kept getting called for late hits, the last hit being because a Michigan defender breathed too hard on Brady I'm ready to be done with that stadium for good.


August 18th, 2014 at 11:39 AM ^

As much fun as the destruction of Brady Quinn was in 2006 I more enjoyed Denards run in 2010.  Anyone from Chicago that has to deal with domers on the regular takes joy in winning there.  2008 is still the worst game (year 1 of RR) I have ever seen in person.  The Tsunami made the game impossible and both teams were just awful to watch.  2012 Every ND fan approached us saying "roll tide".  KHARMA!  

I really want to send them off with a loss at home in the midst of despair and an academic scandal with Kelly leaving at years end as they plunge into 20 years of despondence.


August 18th, 2014 at 11:05 AM ^

Navy returns one hell of a team this year 16-17 starters return and all the skill position players on offense along with a Heisman hopefull QB. Mark it down, with or without the 4 suspected cheaters Navy will win.


August 18th, 2014 at 11:06 AM ^

All I want to know about the ND game is how Michigan will avoid  12 turn overs and other bad luck which just seem to always happen in South Bend.  I went to the disaster game 6 years ago when McGuffie scored one of his few TDs in RichRod's first year.  Weather sucked and team was worse.  Then I went two years ago to watch Denard and Vinny Smith offer up 10,000 turn overs in a game we lost by less than a TD...

I vote to change "To hell with ND" to "To hell with South Bend" .


August 18th, 2014 at 12:04 PM ^

The only Nd games I have been to have been wins for us.  I went to  03, 07, and under the lights at the big house.  I also was at the 2006 and 2010 games at ND.  2006 was my favorite game at ND because of them being #2 going into the game, all hype and crazy trash talking, then the ass whooping from everyangle we put on them was glorious.  2007 was fun, just simply because of all the Horror and Oregon trash talk and then we dust em 38-0.  I'll be there in ND in a few weeks for the game.