There could have been a lot to discuss with this game. That is, until the injury bug decimated the Tarheels (13 players are out for the season and another 6 are game-time decisions this Saturday). I would have loved to break this game down, but in all honesty, it would be drivel. The reason? Injury and graduation. We’re facing a Tarheel team this week that is a shell of its original roster since the beginning of the season, and when you lose Mitch Trubinsky and Elijah Hood (Starting QB and RB, respectively), you are, as we say, “up against it”.
Oddly enough, though, the Tarheels have been in all the games they’ve played with the “next man in” philosophy. It’s truly been a makeshift offense for Larry Fedora and company. Chazz Surratt has taken over the signal calling duties, and their backup is LSU transfer, Brandon Harris. Harris did not impress during his time with the Tigers, and I doubt we’ll see much of him. As I stated, it’s not as though the Heels have been getting drubbed quarter to quarter at this juncture. In fact, if the ball had bounced their way in a couple games, we’d be facing a team with a quite a different record. Of course, that can be said about every team with a poor record.
Let’s put their record to the side and pay attention to what we already know: They’ll be coming for us, as does every team on Notre Dame’s schedule. A win against us would do wonders for the confidence of this team the rest of the way, and they have absolutely nothing to lose. Expect trick plays, an all-or-nothing defense, and maybe even something special from their special teams.
Jordan Brown and Michael Carter have pretty much split the ball carrying duties, but neither have separated themselves as the number one guy. Therefore, expect to see both of them sharing the load this Saturday. They both come into this game averaging about 5 yards per carry, but I think I’m more apt to give quite a bit of credit for that to the OL. There’s some experience along that line, and they’ve been adequate in their run and pass blocking. The edges have been a concern, and you’ll see them using more than one RT this Saturday.
As for the receiving corps, I think we can sum that crew up as being completely depleted. Anthony Ratliff-Williams, Roscoe Johnson, and Jordan Cunningham round out the first team receivers, and none of them have proven to be a constant threat in any one area of the passing attack.
I simply don’t see this offense being capable of mounting any sort of threat against our new defense, and its coordinator that has done a masterful job at adjusting on the fly. We’re big, fast, athletic, and most of all, hungry. That hunger hasn’t let up since game one, and although we had some lulls last week, I don’t think it will waver this week. North Carolina is, in all likelihood, in for a long day.
I state this, all the while knowing that we could see an entirely different team show up when they see those gold helmets coming on to the field. That’s the team UNC is facing this week: A Notre Dame team that has handled teams like the Heels quite well, and will march into Chapel Hill knowing full well they cannot afford any lapses in intensity and focus. UNC, on the other hand, will see to it that we came to play, and will do their level best to catch us slipping, or looking ahead.
That game we’d be looking ahead to would take on a vastly different meaning if we don’t handle our business again this week.
-James Ketara, Dos Leprechauns and Indiana Sports Coverage Staff Writer
Everyone brings their best game to Notre Dame. In times past, that meant that Notre Dame was in for a close one. In times past, that meant Notre Dame was facing a very real scenario of losing the game.
Notre Dame in 2017 is different. Notre Dame is out to dominate. Notre Dame is out to punish. They’ve succeeded on their way to a 4-1 record. Conversely, the Tarheels are 1-4 while being outscored 195-106.
Their most recent game was a blowout 33-7 loss to Georgia Tech. The Tarheels defense allowed Georgia Tech’s Quarterback to rack up 137 yards. Imagine what the Irish will be able to do against such a defense.
What Can Go Right
The run game is firmly established. Josh Adams puts up more Heisman numbers, adds to his highlight reel and puts another stiff arm through someone’s chest. Wimbush (if he plays) will be restricted to passing more than running (as the plays are designed). Chip Long will be cautious with Brandon’s foot and put the ball in the running backs’ hands to run first. This will not be a problem, as I fully expect all of our backs to shred the North Carolina defense.
The line has their best game yet. Defensive lineman are left flat on their backs, linebackers are tossed like rag dolls and defensive backs are running for their lives. Sound a little over zealous? I think this 2017 Notre Dame team is fully capable of such a punishing game.
What Can Go Wrong
Brandon does not start. Ian Book gets the start and the playbook is limited. If this happens, I expect much more run game. Book can throw, and they will let him throw. Nonetheless, the Notre Dame backs are too talented to not limit his opportunities. By that, I mean Book will look to throw a touchdown pass at some point, but scores could already be made by Adams, Dexter and company.
Honestly, I do not expect much bad from this game. Our team is finally playing with consistency! A word used for 8 years by Brian Kelly. A word we are finally seeing put into action by one of his Notre Dame teams.
What I Expect
Notre Dame wins 63-7. A garbage touchdown will be the result of 7 points on the board for the Tarheels. Notre Dame will decimate North Carolina in all facets of the game.
Adams will get Heisman recognition in this game. I would not be surprised if he does not surpass 200 rushing yards.
I expected complete dominance against Miami (Ohio). I expect it even more against the Tarheels. North Carolina is about to have their worse game of the season.
-Jason Pruitt, Dos Leprechauns and Indiana Sports Coverage Staff Writer