#7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs New Mexico Lobos Game Preview

Share

The return of former head coach Bob Davie to Notre Dame was slated to be the headline story for Saturday’s Fighting Irish home opener against New Mexico, but he won’t be there due to a health scare. Davie hasn’t released any specifics on what happened to him, but the good news is he’s alright in the grand scheme of things.

He also said that he’ll be back coaching the team this season. In the meantime, New Mexico run game coordinator/offensive line coach Saga Tuitele will serve as interim head coach, and he’ll lead the Lobos into South Bend on Saturday.

“I’d categorize it as a very serious situation,” said Davie, who went 35-25 with three bowl appearances during his five seasons leading the Irish.

“The good news is there seems to be no permanent damage of any type. It looks like I’ll be able to make a full recovery.”

SPREAD: Notre Dame Fighting Irish -35

TV: NBC 2:30 EST Kickoff

Out that door Baby bye bye bye…bye bye

It is very odd that Notre Dame would have a bye so early in the season, in week two (Northwestern did as well). Kelly was asked about having a bye between week one and two, and if that helps when you’re in the unique and rare position of having opening game film and then being able to immediately go to the practice field and teach and correct without going immediately straight into the next game prep?

“It is a bit unusual in terms of, you know, the way things are structured for the first couple of weeks where you’re not really in a routine,” Kelly answered.

“Again, I think it affords you great teaching opportunities and it allows you to put together a practice schedule that really drills down on the things that you need to improve on. It is kind of a give/take.”

“You don’t get the routine that you normally have, but you do, in fact, get to really have focused and detailed work on the things that you didn’t get done that you would have liked to have gotten done in the first game.”

Notre Dame Injury Update:

Starting running back Jafar Armstrong is expected to miss at least a month, and likely more after tearing his rectus abdominis in the win at Louisville. Surgery was done to reattach the muscle, which runs vertical on each side of the anterior wall of the abdomen.

Kelly couldn’t provide a specific timeline on when Armstrong would return, but did say that it would be a few weeks. In the meantime it will be running back by committee, with a multitude of backs splitting carried. Avery Davis has been moved back to offense in order to provide depth at running back.

Tony Jones Jr. is the #1 on the depth chart sent out Monday, with Jahmir Smith slotted behind him.

TE1 Cole Kmet has returned to practice, doing some 7-on-7 and team drills. How soon he gets back is day-to-day at this point as he’s been cleared to return to some football activities. He’s in contention for Saturday.

In regards to wide receiver Michael Young, Kelly said that he’s experiencing “good healing” and is about a week behind Cole at this point.

#7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1-0) Preview:

Starting quarterback Ian Book was not satisfied in his performance in week one, as he was less accurate than usual passing the football. He did however accidentally plunk a member of the Ladybird Louisville dance team on the sidelines when he threw a ball way under heavy duress (see tweet above).

Don’t worry about her, she confirmed that she’s fine.

As for Book, and the passing game they have been sharper in the past as will almost certainly look better Saturday against a Lobos pass defense that finished 104th in the nation last season.

Notre Dame’s run defense left a ton of room for improvement too, as they surrendered 249 yards on the ground to UL and got out-rushed by 19 yards. The Irish moved up two slots in the polls anyway.

The defense looked kind of lost in the first quarter and a half, but they did make nice adjustments. By early in the second half, Notre Dame had it pretty much cinched at Louisville, despite starting slow out of the gate. Expect a faster start on Saturday, as the Irish will feed off the crowd.

“At the end of the day, you have to play exciting football and you’ve got to play good football to get everybody enthusiastic,” Kelly said Monday.

“So it is our job to put a great product on the field, one that’s exciting, one that people want to see and our players recognize that. It’s important for them to play well at home.”

“They talk about we talk about protecting our house and quite frankly, it is part of the things we do in our summer work that they want to be in our stadium and they want to play their very best in front of the crowd.”

New Mexico Lobos (1-0) Preview:

Davie was promoted from defensive coordinator to head coach when Lou Holtz retired from ND in 1997. Davie led the program until getting fired in 2001, when he was then replaced by Tyrone Willingham. After a a decade plus stint as a broadcaster and analyst, he returned to the sidelines with New Mexico in 2012.

Davie is just 34-54 at UNM, with a 17-39 record in Mountain West conference play. His team will also be without senior defensive lineman Aaron Blackwell for the rest of the season. That now leaves the Lobos defense with just one returning starter from last season.

He got hurt in the Lobos opener this past Saturday, a 39-31 win over FCS foe Sam Houston St.

It will likely be a very long season for New Mexico, as their defense is very inexperienced and was bad to begin with last season. It’s also hard to have much confidence in their offensive back field and most publications picked the Lobos to be the 12th best team in the 12 member MWC.

Well, now you know why the bio in their official Twitter feed reads: “2016 GILDAN NM BOWL CHAMPS!”

At least the school will get paid $1.1 million from ND for this game.

Prediction: Notre Dame Fighting Irish 56, New Mexico Lobos 30

Look for ND to make it 12 straight at home, but will they cover that massive spread? It all depends on how early they put this one away, and then how both sides respond to garbage time.  Whether you’re getting offered 34.5  or 35, or 35.5 points, it’s still very tricky to bet on games where the line is so huge.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No,  I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

You can follow Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com on Twitter here and his cat on Instagram at this link.

Powered by

Speak Your Mind