Guest Blogger: The Blue-Gray Sky
Everyone has an opinion on Notre Dame. I wanted to get one from someone who actually might know something, so I asked Pat from the Notre Dame blog Blue-Gray Sky a few question about the Irish. His answers are below.
1. The offense is coming off a productive second half against Purdue and did enough to capitalize on the UCLA miscues Saturday. Are these baby steps a sign of an oncoming offensive explosion? How do you see them attacking BC?
Pat from BGS: There have definitely been baby steps so far this season, but I think an offensive "explosion" is still a ways off and likely won't come against a tough Eagle defense. Coach Weis did admit to being extremely conservative against UCLA once they lost their starting QB. He basically decided to let them make all the mistakes on offense and that's what they did. That won't be the case against Matt Ryan and Charlie suggested that ND will have to be more aggressive in order to win. My guess is that ND will still attempt to establish a running game early, but we will see more of an intermediate passing game than in games past. At least that's what I hope happens.
2. The blitz proved effective against the Bruins. Do you think you'll risk the same attack against a more polished QB like Matt Ryan? Also, from what you know, how much collaboration goes into the defensive gameplan? I would think that Bill Lewis's familiarity with Steve Logan will be an underrated aspect of this game.
Pat from BGS: I highly doubt you will see the same kind of consistent defensive pressure as in the UCLA game. It's one thing to harass and confuse a third string walk-on sophomore. It's another to do it to a QB that Weis says reminds him of both Tom Brady and Brady Quinn. ND will probably just try to keep everything in front of them and force BC to drive down the field a handful of yards at a time. They will still blitz on occasion, but for most of the game will probably rely on the front three or four for pass rush pressure. If the BC O-line can keep Trevor Laws and the freshmen pass-rushing tandem of Kerry Neal and Brian Smith away from Ryan, it will be a long day for ND. I'm sure that Bill Lewis will be a part of the defensive gameplanning, but I'm also pretty sure that Logan has developed as a playcaller since 1992. There might be a few things he does the same, but it was 15 years ago.
3. The "Perfect Storm" is over. Without getting into assigning blame to Willingham or your AD or your old President for the rocky start, how do you guys feel about Weis now? Do you think he can build an annual contender at Notre Dame?
Pat from BGS: I'm a pretty optimistic guy, so I still have plenty of faith in Coach Weis. Talent and experience excuses aside, Charlie has made his fair share of coaching mistakes this year. The good news, for ND fans at least, is that he has worked to rectify many of them rather than just stubbornly continuing on the same path. He's still a relatively inexperienced head coach so he is going to make more mistakes and I think he's still learning about some of the differences of the college game versus the pros. But overall I still think he has the ability to build ND into an annual contender, especially with the way he has been recruiting recently. Like with most offensive-minded coaches though, he's going to need a top notch defensive coordinator.
4. Finally, what is your prediction for Saturday?
Pat from BGS: I mentioned that I'm an optimist right? I think that Matt Ryan will pile up plenty of yardage, but like it has done before, ND's defense will force a few field goals rather than touchdowns once the ball gets into the red zone. In order for the Irish to win, they will likely need a big defensive or special teams play to either score some points or set up the offense in great position. The Irish will also try and take a few shots down the field in order to keep the BC safeties from creeping up in run support constantly. If the Eagles can stop those passes like UCLA did and give the Irish OL fits, the ND offense will continue to sputter and BC will probably win. If ND can get a few big plays early and get the momentum behind them, then the Irish could walk away with a close win. Since I'm a total homer, I'll opt for the latter.