It was not the most well played season opener for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on the road at Louisville last night but they did come out with the W 35-17.
Offensively QB Ian Book looked uncomfortable all night with his "happy feet" in the pocket leading to a lot of questionable reads and inaccurate throws. Book was locking in to his first read and not going through his progressions when given the time. Book often was seen tucking the ball and running instead of letting his receivers get open.
The good news is senior RB Tony Jones Jr. stepped it up with a tremendous game rushing for 112 yards on just 15 touches including a TD. Jones along with WR Chase Claypool and sophomore TE Tommy Tremble (huge TD catch on a seam route) came up with some huge chunk plays to help ease the offense lack of ball movement throughout the game. While Tremble got the ball of the game from head coach Brian Kelly I thought Jones Jr. was the MVP of the game.
Defensively it couldn't have been much worse for the Fighting Irish in the first two Louisville possessions. The Cardinals marched down twice with holes the size of Charlie Weis socks opening up everywhere in the ND defense. The defensive tackles and most notably the linebackers looked like they were playing on skates as Louisville took a 14-7 lead.
But then Clark Lea and the Notre Dame defense made adjustments on Scott Satterfields new offense. After that Louisville could only muster up 3 points in the final 12 possessions as guys like Julian Okwara, Khalid Kareem and Daelin Hayes took over the defensive front. Linebackers Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Drew White started playing more downfield making multiple tackles for loss and the secondary led by All-American candidate Alohi Gilman and freshman sensation Kyle Hamilton asserted their dominance.
Gilman was particularly impressive all game while leading the defense in tackles with 10 and having a forced fumble and fumble recovery on his stat sheet. For his all around performance Gilman earns the defensive MVP of the game.
Alohi with the forced fumble and recovery!— SportsCrack Apparel (@sportscrack) September 3, 2019
Admiral Crunch 11 Shirt https://t.co/hdL6ORCGnS
The most impressive throw of the game might have been this Ian Book throw away that broke a Louisville cheerleader's nose on the sideline.
Hopefully not the last one Book nails this week. Go Irish! https://t.co/Bzd0dkuCjK— SportsCrack Apparel (@sportscrack) September 3, 2019
The Irish will have a bye this week and will hopefully get Book back to his old self before he got injured last season in Northwestern. If ND is gonna hang with the likes of UGA in less than 3 weeks they need Book to step up his game and be poised in the pocket while reading his progressions and making downfield throws with ease.
Now I'm even more ready to run through a wall. It's been a long 8 months for Notre Dame this offseason and what's worse is they don't play until tonight unlike the traditional Saturday game day. Pretty cool listening to Notre Dame captain and senior safety Jalen Elliott narrate the video. This team is absolutely loaded. I just can't see them losing more than one game this season. Tonight they start the journey back to the playoffs with a road game in Louisville.
PREDICTION: Notre Dame 42 Louisville 24
I agree with everything Chris Simms says here except I don't think Notre Dame loses 2-3 games. The floor on this year's team is 10-2. Right now I feel like they go 11-1 with a loss on the road to UGA. Will it be enough to make the playoffs will remain to be seen.
I'm surprised Simms isn't high on Jake Fromm at all. Simms doesn't think Fromm is a high NFL draft pick because the talent level isn't there. I've seen Fromm play live and while I don't think he's on the same level of like an Andrew Luck or Trevor Lawrence I do think at worse he's a 2nd round pick. Fromm beat out two 5-star QB's and basically forced them to transfer. That has to say something in regards to his talent and understanding of the QB position.
The Irish Illustrated guys had some interesting thoughts from Brian Kelly's press conference today. It looks like we don't have much clarity involving Kevin Austin's status for the team other than he is still on the team. Whether Austin is serving a 4-game suspension or season suspension remains to be seen and it looks like we won't find out till October at the earliest. Right now we know Kelly isn't going to tell us more than he has to due to privacy issues.
Here is the depth chart ND officially released for this week's Louisville game:
QB: Ian Book, Phil Jurkovec
RB: Jafar Armstrong or Tony Jones Jr. Jahmir Smith
X Receiver (Wide): Chris Finke, Braden Lenzy
Z Receiver (Slot): Lawrence Keys III, Joe Wilkins
W Receiver (Boundary): Chase Claypool, Javon McKinley
Tight End: Brock Wright, Tommy Tremble
LT: Liam Eichenberg, Josh Lugg
LG: Aaron Banks, Trevor Ruhland
C: Jarrett Patterson, Colin Grunhard
RG: Tommy Kraemer, John Dirksen
RT: Robert Hainsey, Andrew Kristofic
SDE: Khalid Kareem, Ade Ogundeji, Jamir Jones
DT: Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, Jayson Ademilola, Howard Cross III
NT: Kurt Hinish, Jacob Lacey, Ja'Mion Franklin
Drop End: Julian Okwara, Daelin Hayes, Justin Ademilola
Mike LB: Drew White, Shayne Simon or Bo Bauer
Buck LB: Asmar Bilal, Jordan Genmark Heath or Jack Lamb
Rover: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Paul Moala
Boundary CB: Troy Pride Jr., Houston Griffith or Donte Vaughn
Field CB: Shaun Crawford, TaRiq Bracy or Avery Davis
SS: Jalen Elliott, D.J. Brown
FS: Alohi Gilman, Kyle Hamilton
Kicker and Kickoffs: Jonathan Doerer, Harrison Leonard
Punter: Jay Bramblett, Leonard
Holder: Bramblett, Nolan Henry
Long-Snapper: John Shannon, Michael Vinson
Punt Returns: Chris Finke, Alohi Gilman
Kick Returns: Jafar Armstrong, Kyren Williams
Here is the Brian Kelly Press Conference - Louisville (8/28/19)
Finally college football season is upon us. Unfortunately we started off with a dud of a Florida-Miami Saturday night game that resembled more of a prison yard battle than an actual clean football game with all the penalties and turnovers involved.
Even the ole ball coach Steve Spurrier thought it was too painful to watch.
Steve Spurrier watching Feleipe Franks play Quarterback 😂 pic.twitter.com/VsR8B6yKPx— Big Cat (@BarstoolBigCat) August 25, 2019
But I think we all kind of knew Florida (preseason #8) was overrated going into this season and Miami is basically rebuilding from the ground up with a first year coach in Manny Diaz and a freshman QB starting.
This week the hunt for the 2019 college football playoffs begins. It's also why college football is the greatest sport known to man. Every game means something. One single loss in week 1 all the way to week 15/16 can dismantle a playoff run. With only 4 teams eligible for the playoffs it makes every single game intense no matter who is playing. Last year we saw an unprecedented 3 teams go undefeated (Clemson, Alabama and Notre Dame) during the regular season to reach the playoffs. Don't expect the same to happen this season. Undefeated regular seasons are hard to come by and as great as Nick Saban is as a coach he only has one undefeated season on his legendary resume.
Let's take a look at this season with some predictions of what I think will happen.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS PREDICTIONS
1) Clemson Tigers - The only team to ever go 15-0 in modern college football history returns the nation's best quarterback in Trevor Lawrence and one could argue maybe the nation's best running back in Travis Etienne and the nation's best duo of wide receivers in Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross. Simply put the Tigers are gonna put up a shitload of points again this season and nobody is gonna stop their offense except maybe themselves. Lawrence has the benefit of a season under his belt and Clemson has the pedigree to run through a rather pedestrian ACC schedule unscathed. In fact I would be shocked if they lost before the playoffs. Head coach Dabo Swinney will have them ready and hungry. Despite the massive turnover on the defensive side of the ball most notably the front seven Clemson just reloads there with blue chip prospects ready to step up.
2) Alabama Crimson Tide - No one saw the 44-16 thrashing Bama took in the championship game to Clemson coming. Not even Clemson and you sure as shit know Nick Saban didn't expect it. I expect a very mean and focused Bama squad this season. Last year they were being discussed as one of the greatest teams ever (I was leading the argument for it) and got caught up in their own headlines. This year I expect Saban to unleash hell on the SEC like he did all last season. With QB Tua Tagovailoa back and plenty of elite offensive weapons at his disposal the Tide will compete with Clemson for the best offense in the nation. While the Tide face a little more daunting schedule in the SEC I'm not a firm believer in LSU, Auburn or Texas A&M knocking them off. Expect Bama to look to their 2nd string QB in the SEC Championship to again knock the Dawgs out of the playoff picture.
3) Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Coming off an undefeated regular season (2nd in 6 years) Notre Dame again got embarrassed on the big bowl stage, losing to Clemson in the playoffs 30-3. While Clemson players have stated Notre Dame and not Alabama was the tougher opponent in the playoffs it's time for ND to step it up to another level and win a NY6 Bowl game. The good news is the majority of their starters return on both sides of the ball and the entire coaching staff is back minus the upgrade at RB coach (Lance Taylor). QB Ian Book is back and will be looking to build off a tremendous 2018 performance in which he set an ND record completing 68.3% of his passes. Playmakers like WR Chase Claypool and RB Jafar Armstrong should have breakout seasons and with 4 starters back on the offensive line the running game should be stout. Defensively ND has the best duo in the nation in edge rushers with seniors Julian Okwara and Khalid Kareem back as starters and top notch talent such as Daelin Hayes rotating in. The linebackers are inexperienced in terms of PT but the talent is there. The secondary is one of the nation's best with safeties Alohi Gilman and Jalen Elliott back along with CB Troy Pride. This will be Notre Dame's most talented and deepest team since 1993. With road night games at UGA, Michigan and Stanford being extremely daunting I expect ND to win 2 of those 3 and squeeze into the playoffs at 11-1. I'm sure everybody will take it in stride with no arguments.
4) Texas Longhorns - Yes, Texas is in fact back! Last year the Longhorns beat Oklahoma and UGA. Building up the program has been Tom Herman's goal since arriving and with 10 wins last season including a dominating Sugar Bowl performance vs UGA he appears to be on his way. QB Sam Ehlinger returns and should be a top 5 Heisman Trophy candidate. I think Texas beats an overrated LSU squad early in the season and while I see them eventually dropping a game vs either Oklahoma or Iowa State I think they win the Big 12 title and finish 12-1.
National Champion - Clemson Tigers
Yes they got the bulls eye on their backs this season and everybody will give the defending champs their best shot. But in the end the combination of Trevor Lawrence and Dabo Swinney will be too much for Texas in the semifinals and then Bama in the Natty. Lawrence and Swinney will both stamp their college football legendary status with another convincing championship win over Bama.
Most Overrated Team - Michigan Wolverines
I feel like this has become an annual thing with Michigan. They have only won a 1/2 National Championship in the last 80 something years but still get put in the top 10 preseason every year. Last year's Michigan team will be better than this year and that's not saying much. They got blown out by Ohio State and Florida to end the season. Ohio State, Notre Dame and Wisconsin look like losses to me on their schedule and it wouldn't surprise me at all to see Army beat them in the 2nd week. They are not a top 10 team and not worthy of being ranked #7 preseason.
Most Underrated Team - Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame was the third best team in the country last year and look to again be the third best team when all is said and done. This is Brian Kelly's deepest team in his 10th season. It's also a veteran squad with plenty of leadership ready to get ND to the next level. Ranked 9th in the preseason is short changing ND and should provide a chip to their shoulders mentality.
Coach of the Year - Dabo Swinney, Clemson Tigers
I got Clemson going back-to-back and winning their 3rd National Championship in the last 4 years. If that's not Coach of the Year status for Dabo then I don't know what is.
Heisman Trophy Winner - Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
While I think Trevor Lawrence is the better QB I think Heisman voters will have a hard time ignoring the incredible stats Tua will put up this season for a 2nd straight year. Last year it took a remarkable run by Kyler Murray to steal the Heisman from Tua who was leading on most ballots for most of the season. This year Tua edges out Lawrence to get the Heisman to delay Lawrence from getting his first in 2020.
Bold Prediction - Georgia will have a playoff berth all but wrapped up only to see Kirby Smart inadvertently go for it on 4th and long vs Alabama in the SEC Championship. Jake Fromm will get sacked and Bama will score in the final 20 seconds to send themselves back to a 6th straight playoff berth. Meanwhile UGA will be leapfrogged by an one-loss Notre Dame team whom they narrowly beat in September and an one-loss Texas Longhorns team who soundly beats Oklahoma to win the Big 12. Barking will intensify to Mark Richt-er scale levels in the great state of Georgia.
ESPN's Desmond Howard jokingly says does he have to "choke a bitch" on College Game Day at Disney World
If you had Desmond Howard on your "most likely to get fired" on-air personality for ESPN this year the safe bet is you will be collecting soon. This morning on ESPN's College Game Day Howard, who is known for his idiotic predictions and lack of English grammar as much as his Heisman Trophy winning days at Michigan, made the joke he would have to "choke a bitch" in order for Michigan to beat Ohio State this season.
Does Desmond Howard have to “choke a bitch” now to keep his job? https://t.co/W389czVjdC— SportsCrack Apparel (@sportscrack) August 24, 2019
Call me naive but I don't think it's wise to say "choke a bitch" on live air in Disney World in front of millions of impressionable ears. I know Howard is referring to the old Dave Chappelle skit with Wayne Brady high on PCP but you gotta know when to say "choke a bitch" and that's not the right time. The only thing that might save Desmond his job during this whole #MeToo movement we are in right now was he could claim he was saying "Djokovic"...
Nope. No way Desmond survives. He was already horrible at his job. This just gives ESPN another legit reason to fire him. Also that prediction of Iowa State winning the Big 12 was another great "joke" by Desmond.
|Pos||No.||Player 1||No||Player 2||No||Player 3||No||Player 4||No||Player 5|
|WR-W||83||Claypool, Chase SR||88||McKinley, Javon SR||4||Austin, Kevin SO|
|WR-X||10||Finke, Chris GR||25||Lenzy, Braden SO||8||Hart, Cam FR|
|WR-Z||13||Keys III, Lawrence SO||18||Wilkins Jr., Joe SO||80||Jones, Micah SO|
|LT||74||Eichenberg, Liam SR||75||Lugg, Josh JR|
|LG||69||Banks, Aaron JR||76||Gibbon, Dillan JR|
|OC||55||Patterson, Jarrett SO||57||Ruhland, Trevor SR|
|RG||78||Kraemer, Tommy SR||56||Dirksen, John SO|
|RT||72||Hainsey, Robert JR||73||Kristofic, Andrew FR|
|TE||89||Wright, Brock JR||24||Tremble, Tommy SO||85||Takacs, George SO|
|QB||12||Book, Ian SR||15||Jurkovec, Phil SO||7||Clark, Brendon FR|
|RB||8||Armstrong, Jafar JR||6||Jones Jr., Tony SR||34||Smith, Jahmir SO||23||Williams, Kyren FR||20||Flemister, C'Bo SO|
|DE||53||Kareem, Khalid SR||91||Ogundeji, Adetokunbo SR||44||Jones, Jamir SR|
|DT||95||Tagovailoa-Amosa, Myron JR||57||Ademilola, Jayson SO||56||Cross III, Howard||90||Spears, Hunter FR|
|NT||41||Hinish, Kurt JR||54||Lacey, Jacob FR||55||Franklin, Ja'mion SO|
|DE||42||Okwara, Julian SR||9||Hayes, Daelin SR||19||Ademilola, Justin SO||94||Foskey, Isaiah FR|
|BUCK||22||Bilal, Asmar GR||31||Lamb, Jack SO||2||Genmark-Heath, Jordan JR|
|MLB||40||White, Drew||33||Simon, Shayne SO||52||Bauer, Bo SO|
|ROVER||30||Owusu-Koramoah, Jeremiah JR||13||Moala, Paul SO||24||Kiser, Jack FR|
|CB||8||Vaughn, Donte||3||Griffith, Houston SO||4||Davis Jr, Avery|
|FS||11||Gilman, Alohi SR||12||Brown, DJ SO||20||Crawford, Shaun GR|
|SS||21||Elliott, Jalen SR||14||Hamilton, Kyle FR|
|CB||5||Pride Jr., Troy SR||28||Bracy, Tariq SO||20||Crawford, Shaun GR||16||Wallace, KJ FR|
|P||19||Bramblett, Jay FR|
|PK||39||Doerer, Jonathan JR|
|LS||54||Shannon, John SR||65||Vinson, Michael SO|
|H||12||Book, Ian SR|
|PR||10||Finke, Chris GR|
|KR||8||Armstrong, Jafar JR||4||Davis, Avery JR|
|KO||39||Doerer, Jonathan JR|
Injured Reserve- (84) Kmet, Cole TE; (87) Young, Michael WR
NFL Week 3 Preseason Predictions
So far, we’ve made a killing against the NFL Odds this 2019 NFL preseason.
You see, most people think that preseason ball is unpredictable. And to an extent they are right. You don’t know who you are going to see on the field or how much time they are going to get during each week of play. So, it’s nearly impossible to predict the personnel matchups.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t predict the outcomes. Instead of looking at personnel and teams, you just need to look at head coaches, regardless of the team they are running.
Week 2 of preseason saw Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers smash Andy Reid and the KC Chiefs – as we expected because Tomlin was 8-5 in PS Week 2 situations (now 9-5) going against an 8-12 Andy Reid (now 8-13). Bill O’Brien was on our list to win because he was previously 5-1 in Week 2, going against Matt Patricia who, although a small sample size, cares not about preseason victories. We also knew that Baltimore would smash Green Bay and that Carolina would likely get the win over Buffalo … all because of the coaches.
So what about Week 3? Are there any standouts that you should keep your eye on?
Preseason Picks for Week 3
Andy Reid 12-8 vs. Kyle Shanahan 0-2
The Chiefs are worth a good hard look to win in Week 3, especially since they have already followed their standard Reid-trend of a Week 2 loss. Look for Andy Reid to get his token preseason win against Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers at home on August 24th.
Andy Reid loves to win in Week 3, and Shanahan at 0-2 is a small sample size but we have to go with the proven trend. Another factor to consider is the 49ers play on Monday night and then have a short turnaround for Week 3 on Saturday.
Sean Payton 10-3 vs. Adam Gase 1-2
This one is a bit difficult because the Saints squeaked out a two-point win over the Chargers in California. And now, they have another road game in Week 3 where they visit MetLife and face the Jets. Adam Gase is 1-2 during Week 3, and I would think that he would maybe try to get the home win even with his losing Week 3 record. However, he pulled out a pretty solid victory over the Falcons in Atlanta in Week 2, so we should expect Sean Payton to move to 11-3 in Week 3 PS situations.
John Harbaugh 8-3 vs. Doug Pederson 2-1
John Harbaugh likes getting his preseason wins. It’s just what he does. He’s 13-1 in Week 1, 10-3 in Week 2, and 8-3 (soon to be 9-3) in Week 3. Doug Pederson is relatively new as a head coach, and I would lean for him to try and put forth some effort to avoid the loss in Philadelphia; give the fans something to cheer for if he didn’t just already smash the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-10 in Week 1. Put your money on Harbaugh and his preseason ego to go into Philadelphia and get another preseason win before he relaxes a bit in Week 4.
Mike Tomlin 7-5 vs. Vrabel 0-1
Now, this lean isn’t as strong as say Harbaugh’s or Reid’s, but Tomlin is another one of the rare head coaches in the NFL that really enjoys getting his preseason wins in. Vrabel, a defensive mind, doesn’t seem to care either way. He is more concerned with assessing his pieces in play than striving for the win. Plus, the Titans put down the Eagles in Week 2, which was Vrabel’s first-ever preseason win. Understanding the way he coaches leads me to believe that with a win under his belt, he will be more focused on individual players and team cohesiveness than calling plays to win the day. Take Tomlin to win.
These rising sophomores are expected to contribute in a big way for the Fighting Irish this fall.
Center Jarrett Patterson - Patterson made the transition from tackle to center in the spring with no issues. In fact he locked on to the starters job early replacing departing senior Sam Mustipher. Patterson will be the only starter on the line with no starting experience but he's been getting rave reviews all spring, summer and now fall.
WR Lawrence Keys III - Initially Keys was not on my list at all but with the injury (broken collarbone) to starter Michael Young last week and the "suspension" of fellow sophomore Kevin Austin it has opened up a starting spot for Keys. Expected to line up at Z receiver next to starters Chris Finke and Chase Claypool Keys brings quickness and the ability to get open along with tremendous speed. Keys also has a firm grasp of the playbook which has earned him starting reps over fellow sophomores Braden Lenzy and Joe Wilkins Jr.
LB Jack Lamb - Right now it looks like it's a battle between Lamb and returning senior Asmar Bilal for the starting BUCK LB position. Lamb is coming off injuries in both his senior season in high school and his freshman season last year but appears to be fully healthy now. Lamb brings the length (6'4), speed and range rarely seen at the inside linebacker position at ND and I fully expect DC Clark Lea to unleash Lamb this season. He's gonna be a great LB.
DT Jayson Ademilola - Last season Jayson played early on in his freshman season behind Jerry Tillery after Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa was lost to injury. Earning the most snaps out of his class gave Ademilola valuable experience and he is expected to back up MTA this season. But make no mistake Jayson could eventually earn the starters spot because he was highly efficient last season against the run (hint vs Georgia and Michigan).
TE Tommy Tremble - Tremble wasn't on my initial list like Keys III but after starter Cole Kmet suffered a collarbone injury too he is now the projected #2 tight end behind Brock Wright. Tremble brings elite speed (timed in 4.5 coming out of HS) and has already formed a bond with starting QB Ian Book this fall. Tremble reminds me a lot of Evan Engram coming out of Ole Miss. He's basically a WR who can line up inside at tight end but blow past safeties and LBs trying to cover him. If Book can hit him in stride expect a lot of explosive plays from Tremble this season.
Others: CB Tariq Bracy, CB/S Houston Griffith, LB Shayne Simon, WR Braden Lenzy, WR Kevin Austin, WR Joe Wilkins Jr, QB Phil Jurkovec, RB Jahmir Smith
Oh man that catch by #24 Tommy Tremble has me excited about his potential at tight end. With starter Cole Kmet out with the broken collarbone I look forward to seeing more of Tremble on the field at least early on in the season. There's not a lot of big tight ends that can run legit 4.5 which Tremble did before fall camp. And those hands? Oh my. Just need him to get open for Ian Book this season and we could be talking breakout player for the Fighting Irish.