Now that we’ve seen the Irish there’s a lot to like and some that wasn’t so good especially on offense.
Against Duke, the running game was so much better in the second half than the first. That might be a combination of things. Offensive line getting used to a new running back and Tommy Rees getting his feet wet as a play-caller. Either way, Brian Kelly had to leave with a sense of optimism with the hope that the running game carries until the passing game gets started.
On the surface, Ian Book’s performance looked very “good enough” but it’s obvious that more time is needed before he has chemistry and trust with his receivers. His red zone interception was a terrible decision and he had another one dropped by a Duke defensive back. Book can expect to see “stacked boxes” to take away the running game. Yes, it’s week one but against the top teams in the conference 19-31-263 yards isn’t going to get it done.
The maturation process for the wide receivers could take some time but the Irish can’t live off of just seven receptions at that position. Kelly and Rees will need to find opportunities during the game to truly stretch the field. But before that, they will need to give the receivers some stuff to give them confidence.
Defensively the Irish was pretty solid against Duke. Of course, they would’ve like to have seen more pressure on the quarterback but the secondary was solid and the defense forced two turnovers. The run defense has gained praise all week. The Irish held Duke to 2.5 yards per carry. Though that’s an impressive number, it isn’t like the Blue Devils line up and challenge your manhood in their run game.
Notre Dame’s defense will not be afforded that luxury against South Florida. The Bulls come in with a big, physical offensive line and they will line up and try to attack Notre Dame early. The Irish depth along the defensive line will be challenged this week. Last week, eight defensive linemen saw time with little to no drop off in the level of play. This week will be a bigger challenge.
The Irish come into the game as a 20.5 point favorite. It would be surprising if this is a blowout considering that Notre Dame is still trying to get all phases of the offense rolling.