2. KEYS TO THE SEASON
Biggest Key To The Notre Dame Offense
Convert on third downs, and keep converting on third downs. It’s easy to fall in love with the home runs the Notre Dame running game can hit – those are what changed games throughout last year and all but put games away – but considering time of possession is no big whoop with this attack, just keeping the chains moving is fine, too.
That’s where QB Ian Book was so strong. Time and again throughout last year he came up with the big throw or the right scramble just when it seemed like the momentum was about to turn – and that’s part of the reason why he took over.
Notre Dame was pushed way too hard by Ball State because Brandon Wimbush couldn’t convert on third downs. When the O hit the 50% mark against good Stanford and Virginia Tech did – and against Florida State, too – there weren’t any issues in blowout wins.
Biggest Key To The Notre Dame Defense
The defensive interior has to be up to snuff. Forgetting the debacle against Clemson and excusing the game against a Navy team that could only run, the shootout against Wake Forest was the lone struggle against the run.
What was the difference over the last two years in Notre Dame’s success? There were several reasons, but the 2016 clunker allowed close to five yards per carry or more five times – all losses. The solid 2017 team allowed five yards or more just twice – going 1-1 – and last year only Navy and Clemson hit the mark.
It all worked around the interior tandem of Jerry Tillery and Jonathan Bonner. They’re gone, and while the defensive tackle situation should be fine with a slew of good options, how they all play on the road at Georgia, Michigan and Stanford should be the difference between a strong year and another special run.
The defensive tackle combination of Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa and Kurt Hinish matters, but …
Key Player To A Successful Season
RB Jafar Armstrong, Jr.
Tony Jones was fine. When Dexter Williams was out for the first four games, Jones ran for 118 yards in the win over Vanderbilt and came up with two scores in the 24-16 win over Ball State. But he didn’t get more than six carries in any of the last eight games – he’s not the big play runner Williams was.
The former wide receiver can certainly catch, and he’s got the wheels to be used on kickoff returns, but he was banged up for a stretch and his carries dwindled to almost nothing as the year went on. The 6-1, 220-pounder might not be a workhorse, but he has to be the flash the running game needs.
Key Game To The Notre Dame Season
at Georgia, Sept. 21
Want to be right back in the College Football Playoff chase again? Win this.
That’s not to totally blow off the opener at Louisville – watch out for this … really – or the date against Bob Davie and New Mexico – no, really, be very careful here in a 2018 Ball State game sort of way – but the road trip to Georgia is the big moment for the Irish.
They can afford a loss and still get into CFP contention, but with road games at Michigan and Stanford still to deal with, losing in Athens would likely be a killer. Win – Notre Dame is 0-2 against the Dawgs – and this gets fun.
– Notre Dame Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2018 Notre Dame Fun Stats
– 1st Quarter Scoring: Notre Dame 115 – Opponents 33
– Field Goals: Notre Dame 18-of-22 – Opponents 14-of-25
– 4th Down Conversions: Notre Dame 16-of-25 – Opponents 13-of-25 (52%)