November 19, 2010

Week 12 Pick: Notre Dame - Army

Dan: Notre Dame

This game comes down to two things to me. Can Tommy Rees continue to mature before our eyes and develop into a legitimate D-1 quarterback? Can the ND defense prevent the absolute debacle of the Naval Academy’s option attack?

I think the answer to the first one is maybe, and the answer to the second is yes. Not a blow-out, but ND wins fairly easily.

Notre Dame 31 Army 17

Jeremy: Notre Dame

So how do the Schizo Irish follow up perhaps the biggest win since 2005?  While there were certainly quite a few things to like about ND’s effort last week, there’s still an enormous amount of work to do to make this a competitive team.  Army might not have the firepower of the Middies, but they can run it and can grind out 1st downs and long possessions with that triple option.  The Black Knights also don’t turn it over much, so the Irish can’t count on Army to hand them the game on a silver platter as the Utes did last week.

On defense, Diaco and the coaching staff must make the proper adjustments to the option and give Irish fans faith that the Navy performance was an aberration rather than a fundamental misunderstanding of the defensive principles required to defend that attack.  Not having Ian Williams to anchor the middle is a big blow, but Cwynar and Hafis Williams have played reliably in his stead.  Brian Smith had perhaps one of his best games in an Irish uniform last week, but has struggled over the years with option offenses.  ND will likely have to rely on Manti Te’o and the safeties to make plays behind the line of scrimmage, or at least keep Army’s gains minimal to give the offense the ball.

On the offensive side, Brian Kelly kept the gameplan simple for Tommy Rees last week with the sloppy weather and the solid defense of the Utes.  I expect to see continued reliance upon the running game to establish a tone early and control the line of scrimmage.  Cierre Wood must continue to mature and Jonas Gray showed his strength and burst in a limited role last week.  If the running game is effective, ND will be able to keep the ball away from Army’s own churning rushing attack. 

The Irish desperately need this win to get bowl eligible and to give Brian Kelly 15 more practices with his charges to continue building for the future.  I think this is going to be much closer than Irish fans would like, but I do believe ND pulls out a W in Yankee Stadium and builds some more momentum for the big matchup in SoCal.

ND 27 Army 24

Jimmy: Notre Dame

Holy Moses was I wrong about the lads against the once "mighty" Utes.  I admit, my faith in the team was shaken.  What a wonder one week will do.  A super opportunity to finish strong in November exists for Brian Kelly and his young guns.  Love the valuable experience these freshmen and sophomores are getting.  This Army matchup is much like turning in an F term paper (Navy), only the teacher hands it back and allows you to re-submit it for another grade.  Too bad the Navy loss still counts against the overall season grade.  

The playbook should expand for Tommy Rees as the passing game could use more game reps in preparation for a high scoring USC affair.  Offense shouldn’t have trouble putting up points with either method of attack.  It’s the defense I’m more concerned with and actually eager to see them continue making strides.  I’ll tell you what (in my best non-verbal Bob Davie voice), it’s nice to have a team actually getting better as the season progresses.  What a novel and foreign concept to ND football the past 10 years.  Two more games to confirm this phenomenon, but all signs point north. 

A strong contingent of the WeIs crew will witness the 1940’s throwback game, so look forward to the real scoop on the latest athletic department cash cow weekend.  I requested that they embrace the nostalgic weekend and attend in full length wool coats with Don Draper hats, like they’re going to a Gatsby tailgate.  You only go to a football game in Yankee Stadium once.  When in Rome. 

Go Irish.  Beat Cadets.

ND 36  Army 16

Matt: Notre Dame
I was pleasantly surprised to see my faith in the Irish last week rewarded in a big home victory – especially on Senior Day.  The Irish defense has quietly put together a pretty solid two game stretch, and now will be challenged again by the triple option.  I’m guessing that there will be a Plan B….and Plan C and D if the defense is shaky early on.  The results simply must be drastically better than they were against Navy, or else serious questions will have to be raised of Diaco.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the Irish as we go forward is that there is a core of young talent finally beginning to emerge on the defense.  It’s no secret that ND has churned out talented QB’s, WR’s and TE’s the past decade.  However, with two more years of Manti Teo and the duo of Schwenke and Shembo looking like difference makers in the opposing backfield, there may be the beginning of a solid defense to go with the offense.  It would be huge if ND can put on a show in front of Ishaq Williams and pick up another piece of the puzzle.  I believe the Irish will do what they’re supposed to, which is take care of business against an overmatched Army team.  I didn’t think I would be saying this a month ago, but I’m looking forward to heading over to Yankee Stadium and cheering on the lads. 

ND 37 Army 17

Mike: Notre Dame

As with many of Notre Dame’s recent opponents, I haven’t seen Army play this year, so I cannot analyze the individual matchups.  Since the Black Knights run a triple option offense, however, it will be very interesting to see whether Bob Diaco can make any sort of adjustments or whether he will be equally flummoxed as he was against Navy.   On offense, I would like to see a similar commitment to the run against an Army team that is, without looking at a roster, undoubtedly undersized and undermanned.  In addition, it will be interesting to see whether the Irish can match last week’s intensity or whether a letdown will be in the cards.

I do believe that the Irish will play better on defense and I expect an honest effort from Notre Dame.  Having said that, the problems that have plagued this team are not going to magically disappear.  Army will be up to the challenge and they have the ability to give Notre Dame all it can handle.  This game will go right down to the wire and, in a reversal of fortunes, the Irish will find a way to prevail.  With any luck, I will be able to survive a full day and night of drinking without getting booted out of the game, unlike last November at Heinz Field.

Notre Dame 28 Army 24

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah well they did magically disappear. We totally shut Army down.