Guest Blogger: The Blue-Gray Sky
No one knows what to make of Notre Dame and BC. Both enter the game 5-3 and have serious questions on both sides of the ball. We know BC's issues, but what is the scoop on the Irish? To get a better feel for what's in store, I asked Pat from Blue-Gray Sky a few questions about this year's Notre Dame squad. His answers are below.
1. From appearances Notre Dame seems pretty one dimensional on offense. Is that by design now that you have talented WRs or do you still have problems establishing the run?
Blue-Gray Sky: The second half of your question hits on what is currently a big point of debate among ND fans. Is ND bad at the run because they're just not good at it, or because Charlie doesn't worry about establishing the run as much as he does the pass? It's a bit of a chicken and egg scenario, but either way ND has had trouble running the ball when they needed to (Washington game aside). On the other hand, the emergence of Golden Tate and Michael Floyd at receiver certainly make the decision to pass the ball easier.
ND started the year trying to run more, but after the awful offensive showing against Michigan State, ND went more exclusively to three and four wide receiver sets, often with the tight end flexed out wide. The offense definitely improved and I'd expect to see more of the same against ND, especially given BC's defensive strength against the run. So I guess the answer is, ND is somewhat one dimensional by design. But that design is definitely influenced by an inability to establish the run when ND has attempted to do so.
2. BC faced Tenuta last year and he brought plenty of pressure throughout the game. How much influence does he have at Notre Dame? Do you expect the Irish to blitz Crane frequently?
Blue-Gray Sky: Notre Dame will definitely blitz BC early and often. But it won't just be blitzing for the sake of getting to Crane. ND blitzes often to try and disrupt the run game, especially on first down. Notre Dame typically will bring 5 on most downs. Harrison Smith is the most frequent added rusher from his outside linebacker spot. The blitzes haven't resulted in many sacks so far this year, but they have helped rush quarterbacks into bad passes or clogged the holes for running backs. If Crane can make fast decisions in the pocket and get rid the ball quickly, the blitzes will much less effective.
3. A Notre Dame friend of mine actually said that if Weis loses this game, he'll lose the support of the majority of the Notre Dame fanbase. Do you guys agree? And not that any fanbase is rational, but how could everyone go from blaming Ty to turning on Charlie so fast?
Blue-Gray Sky: While the media liked to point out the ND fans blaming Ty for everything last season, there was a definite undercurrent of ND fans growing more and more frustrated with Weis after every loss. A poor showing against San Diego State to start the year and three losses against the three teams that were over .500 at game time have definitely increased the grumblings. After the loss to Pitt, I was pretty surprised how many fans stated on BGS they were ready to move on, or at the very least, no longer confident in Charlie. A loss to BC would only make that number grow as BC has taken a step back from last year's squad talent-wise, in addition to the normal ND-BC passions. As for how fast ND fans can turn on a coach, well, there's a reason even the best coaches only last around a decade at ND.
4. What is your prediction for the game?
Blue-Gray Sky: I'm usually not very accurate at these since I invariably pick ND to win. Still, I think ND's passing game will be enough to put ND on top on this one. BC has piled up solid defensive numbers against lackluster offenses. ND's offense is far from stellar, but has been effective enough and baring any interception filled day by Clausen will put points up on Boston College. The Fighting Irish defense will let up a few long drives and scores, but should do a decent enough job to let ND leave with the win. How's that for a homer pick?
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