Nov 26 | Southern Cal

Irish#1

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I am really interested in the ND defense vs the USC offense. We all believe that the USC O-Line is overrated and soft. Nationally they have been pretty well respected. Which is it? If the ND D-Line wins that battle, ND wins going away.
Their O-line is getting their ranking from playing a somewhat soft schedule IMO. ND will be the most physical team they have faced IMO.
 

Free Manera

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ND defense is going to have to get off the field on third downs. Stroud kept the chains moving where Uiagalelei couldn't.

The above beat writer on the Shamrock podcast also said USC doesn't punt often, but their special teams unit as a whole is atrociously bad. They don't have a dedicated coach. It's a hodgepodge of input from analysts and assistants.

ND special teams, if given the chance, could be the difference makers in this game. Force punts....block punts...win big. GO IRISH!

That part really grabbed my attention too. Their weaknesses seem to be lined up with ND's strengths in two really important places:

1. USC D line vs. ND O line
2. USC kicking teams vs. ND block/receiving teams.

I did hear one extremely alarming thing though: USC has a third down linebacker that it is like 200 lbs but has length like a used car lot inflatable tube dancer. He reportedly bats down passes frequently.

If ND is getting in 3rd and longs they're screwed anyway, but still you don't want to be facing a "pass deflection specialist" with a 5'10 qb.

This ND offense needs to stay ahead of the sticks like the academies. If they can get in 3rd and 4 or less regularly, they could bully USC and wear them out by the fourth quarter. Then let Robert Hughes I mean Audric Estime run down their throats.
 

ACamp1900

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Their O-line is getting their ranking from playing a somewhat soft schedule IMO. ND will be the most physical team they have faced IMO.
Our boys pretty clearly are,... I don't think that's an opinion. How much will it matter is however...
 

BleedBlueGold

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That part really grabbed my attention too. Their weaknesses seem to be lined up with ND's strengths in two really important places:

1. USC D line vs. ND O line
2. USC kicking teams vs. ND block/receiving teams.

I did hear one extremely alarming thing though: USC has a third down linebacker that it is like 200 lbs but has length like a used car lot inflatable tube dancer. He reportedly bats down passes frequently.

If ND is getting in 3rd and longs they're screwed anyway, but still you don't want to be facing a "pass deflection specialist" with a 5'10 qb.

Didn't he say that kid is hurt and barely played last week because his injury is still nagging?
 

irishrb

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My concerns:
Are Joseph, Cam and Foskey truly healthy? I think Foskey will be fine, but Joseph recovering from a high ankle, and Cam with his shoulder could be really tough.
Can ND defend a quarterback that truly is in a zone right now, with one of the best receivers in the nation?
Can ND run the ball effectively with a team that undoubtedly will sell out against the run?
Will Tommy effectively adjust the game plan based on what usc's defense does?
Can Pyne be effective enough to make usc adjust their D at all?
Can ND protect the ball?
I hope I'm wrong, but I think this is going to be a tough game that ends up with ND on the short side of the stick.
 

Whiskeyjack

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From Bill Connolly's Week 13 Preview:

Notre Dame at USC (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., ABC).
I have talked myself into and out of both of these teams repeatedly in recent days.

The case for Notre Dame pulling an upset.
Let's start with the obvious: USC's defense stinks. The Trojans rank 104th in points allowed per drive and 120th in yards. They have been totally reliant on turnovers. Coordinator Alex Grinch is aggressive and attempts to put USC in position to create turnovers where possible, but the Trojans have recovered 16 of 20 overall fumbles this season, an 80% rate that is unsustainably high. National averages for fumble recovery rates and the typical INT-to-breakups ratio suggest USC should have about a plus-4.8 turnover margin right now. Instead, they're at a nation-leading plus-21. That has handed them a huge boost in a season that has seen them win four one-score games. Just last week, USC forced four UCLA turnovers and still allowed 45 points and only won by three.

If or when the fickle god of turnovers turns on USC, the result won't be pretty. The Trojans rank a ghastly 118th in success rate allowed (123rd against the run), and while Notre Dame's offense is limited in explosiveness this season, it's still efficient -- the Irish are 24th in success rate.
This alone paints a pretty clear picture of how an Irish upset would take place: Notre Dame controls the ball with low-risk short gains and third-down conversions (USC also stinks at preventing those), the Trojans' offense remains on the sideline for long periods of time, and without turnovers to bail USC out, Notre Dame clears 35 points for the sixth straight game, et voila!

The case for USC surviving and advancing.
We'll start with the No. 1 reason USC has won 10 games this year despite the defense: Caleb Williams. The sophomore quarterback is up to fifth in Total QBR, averaging an explosive 13.9 yards per completion with a 33-to-3 TD-to-INT ratio. USC ranks first in yards per drive and second in points per drive. Williams and receivers Jordan Addison, Tahj Washington, Brenden Rice and Mario Williams are almost impossible to stop consistently.
Granted, at 32nd in defensive SP+, Notre Dame's is one of the best defenses -- and maybe the best pass defense -- the Trojans have faced, but the Trojans' offense seems to get better every single week, and while the Irish have won five games in a row, they've done so against teams with an average offensive ranking of 78.4. They're poor at defending the red zone, and, well, USC is going to make red zone trips against anyone. If USC can disrupt Notre Dame's efficiency offense a bit and score TDs instead of field goals, things could get out of the Irish's reach.

Current line: USC -5.5 (same as Sunday) | SP+ projection: USC by 10.1 | FPI projection: USC by 5.5
 

Free Manera

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From Bill Connolly's Week 13 Preview:
That summary all sounds about right. The SP+ projection seems kind of wild but I think computers don't know what to do with this ND offense. Is there a metric for the punishment doled out by tight ends, O line, and backs on every run of the game leading to the defense giving up in the fourth quarter?
 

Crazy Balki

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I am really interested in the ND defense vs the USC offense. We all believe that the USC O-Line is overrated and soft. Nationally they have been pretty well respected. Which is it? If the ND D-Line wins that battle, ND wins going away.
USC has yet to face a really good defensive line.

Utah is the closest, and while they're good at getting after the QB, they're not good at defending the run at all, combined with their absolutely atrocious secondary. And in that game, Utah notched 4 sacks in that game.

ND's DL is rated pretty middling, but that's mostly a product of early season ineptitude and blandness from the scheme. They've been significantly better recently. Especially in sack rate, where they rank in the top 10 in both overall and standard sack rate, which is the best USC will have seen.
 

Reaper97

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My concerns:
Are Joseph, Cam and Foskey truly healthy? I think Foskey will be fine, but Joseph recovering from a high ankle, and Cam with his shoulder could be really tough.
Can ND defend a quarterback that truly is in a zone right now, with one of the best receivers in the nation?
Can ND run the ball effectively with a team that undoubtedly will sell out against the run?
Will Tommy effectively adjust the game plan based on what usc's defense does?
Can Pyne be effective enough to make usc adjust their D at all?
Can ND protect the ball?
I hope I'm wrong, but I think this is going to be a tough game that ends up with ND on the short side of the stick.
I think Cam is out.
They said questionable but according to both Sampson & Prister, Questionable from Freeman means doubtful & and word around the program is he is out because it’s a nagging shoulder that’s reinjured.
 

IRISHDODGER

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Didn't he say that kid is hurt and barely played last week because his injury is still nagging?
He’s 6’6” and listed as the starter but not sure about his injury status. The injury occurred weeks ago, so I would suspect he’s finally healthy enough to start.
 

Reaper97

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He’s 6’6” and listed as the starter but not sure about his injury status. The injury occurred weeks ago, so I would suspect he’s finally healthy enough to start.
On a joint USC/ND preview show (The Voice of College Football), the USC guy said he was still hurt against UCLA & was probably going to be limited against ND if he plays at all.
 

BleedBlueGold

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He’s 6’6” and listed as the starter but not sure about his injury status. The injury occurred weeks ago, so I would suspect he’s finally healthy enough to start.

On a joint USC/ND preview show (The Voice of College Football), the USC guy said he was still hurt against UCLA & was probably going to be limited against ND if he plays at all.

Correct. He said he only played one series against UCLA.
 

irishff1014

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ND defense is going to have to get off the field on third downs. Stroud kept the chains moving where Uiagalelei couldn't.

The above beat writer on the Shamrock podcast also said USC doesn't punt often, but their special teams unit as a whole is atrociously bad. They don't have a dedicated coach. It's a hodgepodge of input from analysts and assistants.

ND special teams, if given the chance, could be the difference makers in this game. Force punts....block punts...win big. GO IRISH!

On the hit and hustle video I shared they said the first five games we were in the area of 75% and getting off the field on third downs. I believe they said it was in the 90th percentage in college football. They said the last five games we were at like 23% on third downs and it was top-five in the country. So golden clearly fixed some things and the players are improving.
 

IRISHDODGER

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My concerns:
Are Joseph, Cam and Foskey truly healthy? I think Foskey will be fine, but Joseph recovering from a high ankle, and Cam with his shoulder could be really tough. Most believe Cam is out. ND needs more than BenMo & Bracy to defend all those good WR
Can ND defend a quarterback that truly is in a zone right now, with one of the best receivers in the nation? Rees needs to slow the game down so SC is limited on offensive possessions. Golden needs to scheme the front 7 to be efficient b/c if they’re late getting home, it’ll be a long day.
Can ND run the ball effectively with a team that undoubtedly will sell out against the run? They better.
Will Tommy effectively adjust the game plan based on what usc's defense does? He can’t call plays that he knows Pyne can’t complete
Can Pyne be effective enough to make usc adjust their D at all? Hopefully it will less essential if the run game dominates. If not…
Can ND protect the ball? They can probably survive one pick but beyond that they cannot lose fumbles &/or have multiple picks
I hope I'm wrong, but I think this is going to be a tough game that ends up with ND on the short side of the stick. I hope you’re wrong too but if Williams plays like last Sat, he’s going to get his regardless of how much better ND’s defense may be than UCLA’s defense.
 

IRISHDODGER

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I think Cam is out.
They said questionable but according to both Sampson & Prister, Questionable from Freeman means doubtful & and word around the program is he is out because it’s a nagging shoulder that’s reinjured.
And likely puts an end to his ND career as Sampson noted that word from his sources was that Cam was leaving & the shoulder injury is the final nail.
 

Crazy Balki

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Not saying it won't happen, but so far, USC has played 2 defenses close to ND's caliber all-around and in both games, Caleb Williams did not "get his". He was quite subpar in both games.
 

stlnd01

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Do we really expect Cam to play? I’m doubting it.
He was still in pretty late in the game Saturday, and IIRC he got hurt making an open field tackle in the snow. Seemed dumb at the time to risk injury like that in a blowout in that weather, dumber now. Foskey got banged up in garbage time too.
 

irishrb

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He was still in pretty late in the game Saturday, and IIRC he got hurt making an open field tackle in the snow. Seemed dumb at the time to risk injury like that in a blowout in that weather, dumber now. Foskey got banged up in garbage time too.
Yes..I absolutely thought the same thing...Just no need at that point and time to have those players in...especially with those conditions. If Cam is truly out, and we know Joseph is trying to come back from a high ankle, facing usc's passing game is going to be incredibly difficult.
 

IRISHDODGER

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FiSiWWZUYAEW6SZ
 

MacIrish75

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The thing that makes me the most nervous for Saturday is people actually giving us credit and thinking we have a solid chance to win.

I’d feel a hell of a lot better if we were straight dogs against this juggernaut USC squad, on par with the best teams of the Peter Carroll era.
 

Grahambo

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The thing that makes me the most nervous for Saturday is people actually giving us credit and thinking we have a solid chance to win.

I’d feel a hell of a lot better if we were straight dogs against this juggernaut USC squad, on par with the best teams of the Peter Carroll era.
I thought it was odd last Saturday night when Joey Galloway and Dan Mullen were quick to say that ND absolutely has a shot. Then Mullen followed up quickly with the running game and defense as being the reasons ND can win. They’re seeing something lately with the team that wasn’t there earlier in the year.

On paper, the computers will favor USC because of the early season struggles of ND. As someone pointed out earlier, Caleb Williams is the reason USC is #6 in the nation.

When you look a little deeper, USC’s defense is about average/below average in a number of categories statistically. They give up an average of 4.62 yards per carry which is, well, not the best.

They’re 96th in total defense and give up 6.08yards per play. That’s an old school way of looking at the stats and does lack context but gives an idea as to why people think ND has a chance. About the only thing on defense they are above average in is sacks with 30 (ND has 33).

Let’s remember ND is a safety blitz away from possibly pulling off an upset against OSU. They got humbled by Marshall and lacked identity earlier this year. Logan Diggs took a little while to get moving post surgery. Estime has busted out. Inexperienced WRs now have experience. OL finally gelled. They have the best LT in the game in Joe Alt and Blake Fisher is pretty damn good.

Let us also not forget the young and inexperienced defense is also gelling and flying high. We’ve heard about Ben Morrison’s potential since he stepped on campus and he’s broken out. Guys like Liafu have learned better how to read an offense. Foskey is Foskey again. Even guys like Kollie have seen the field more than ever before. Now we have Jaylen Snead ready to contribute.

ND is a better QB away from being in the NY6 bowl conversation and Top 10.

Win or lose, Saturday should be a good game.
 
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Irish#1

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I’m usually a little nervous about this game regardless of the records, but I’m feeling good about our chances given our lines are better than theirs on both sides of the ball.
 

texbender

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Does coaching staff hang around west coast post game for recruiting visits as was the practice with previous regime? Any special targets?
 

irishtrain

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Would like to be wrong but I dont give the Irish much of a chance in this game-coaching/key guys probably out/first time in the Coliseum for many of theses guys/can a team that lost to Marshall and Stanford win this game?. This series has a history of being one sided under coaches that tip the scales and usc has that edge now-hope I'm wrong but probably not. This will bother many people and I'm hopeful I'm wrong but lets be real. I'll be so happy to post an apology and say hey I was soooo wrong if they overcome these obstacles. I've been watching this game since 1964 and unless Notre Dame has a coaching and talent edge its pretty hard to pull this off. I just hope we dont have to watch 8-10 years of wins by such a hated rival.
 
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