College Football News Preview 2020: Notre Dame Fighting Irish Keys To The Season
Biggest Key To The Notre Dame Fighting Irish Offense
Run for 100 yards. Ian Book will keep the offense moving through the air, but he gets far too much blame for not being able to come up with with really big win in the really big games.
The bigger issue against the top teams – at least in the losses – has been the absence of the ground attack.
Notre Dame has won its last 23 games when it gets to the 100-yard mark – the last loss was to Stanford at the end of the 2017 season.
When it doesn’t get to 100? It’s 1-8 – it beat Pitt two years ago when running for 80 yards – since beating Michigan early in the 2014 season when running for 54.
Run well, control the game, win.
Biggest Key To The Notre Dame Fighting Irish Defense
Stop teams inside the 20. The 2018 Irish defense allowed offenses to score just 75% of the time inside of the red zone, and out of that only allowed touchdowns 53% of the time. The 2017 D allowed points on 79% of the deep drives and gave up TDs a mere 52% of the time.
In 2019, offense only came away empty on one trip – New Mexico in the 66-14 loss – in 30 chances in the red zone, and scored touchdowns a not-that-bad 57% of the time.
It’s a little bit nitpicky, but it’s also the potential difference between a very good ten-win season, and being nearly perfect and in the mix for the College Football Playoff.
Georgia got inside the 20 three times against the Irish, can came away with two touchdowns and a field goal. Michigan got there five times, and scored four touchdowns – those were the two losses.
To push this further, the Irish are 2-9 in their last 11 games – going back to 2015 – when allowing three or more red zone TDs.
Key Notre Dame Fighting Irish Player To A Successful Season
CB TaRiq Bracy, Soph.
And redshirt freshmen Isaiah Rutherford and KJ Wallace. The corners have to step up and shine in place of Donte Vaughn and new Carolina Panther Troy Pride to boost up what was one of the nation’s top pass defenses.
The safeties will be okay – if not great – but a lockdown corner has to emerge from the pack. The 5-10, 170-pound Bracy made 34 tackles and broke up seven passes, and he has the quickness and skills to do a whole lot more in the bigger role.
Assume that if he’s great – or if one of the other corners is fantastic – the secondary won’t miss much of a beat, if at all.
Key Game To The Notre Dame Fighting Irish Season
Clemson, Nov. 7
Catholics vs. Clemson might just be the gateway game to the College Football Playoff.
There regular season finale at USC is a problem, and going to Green Bay to face Wisconsin is a BIG problem, but as long as there aren’t mistakes made at Pitt or at home against an improved Stanford, the Irish might just be 8-0 – or 7-1 at worst – when Clemson rolls into South Bend for the first time since 1979 – a 16-10 Tiger win.
If the Irish go 12-0, they’re in the CFP. It they’re 11-1 with a win over what should either be the No. 1 or No. 2 Tigers, they’ll be knocking on the door.
– Notre Dame Fighting Irish Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2019 Notre Dame Fun Stats
– 1st Quarter Scoring: Notre Dame 111 – Opponents 44
– Sacks: Notre Dame 34 for 221 yards – Opponents 15 for 80 yards
– Red Zone Scores: Opponents 29-of-30 (97%) – Opponents 51-of-55 (93%)