This is the regular season finale for the pre-season pick’em. A season that was supposed to start with Navy over in Ireland, and end with a road trip at USC. The season started with Duke and will now end with Syracuse, instead of a make up game with Wake Forest. There was not one thing that was normal about the 2020 Notre Dame Football season. Then the announcement on Tuesday that the Wake Forest game will not be played at all.
“Following a recommendation from the conference Athletic Director football subcommittee, the league’s Athletic Directors have voted to preserve the integrity of the ACC Football Championship Game by evaluating each of the three teams in contention (Clemson, Miami and Notre Dame) based on a nine-game conference schedule. As a result, Clemson and Notre Dame will conclude the regular season this weekend.”
Coach Kelly Press Conference
“Obviously coming off a really solid win on the road, our guys get a chance to finish up the home schedule, the seniors are playing in their last game, the chance to win a 24th consecutive home game, clinching ACC berth in the championship game. All those are outcomes that are in play this weekend. But I think the most important thing for us is to carry on the play that we exhibited in the second half of the game against North Carolina, I think that’s the focus. That’s what we’ve talked about.
We’re much more interested in bringing that style of football to Syracuse and Wake Forest leading into the ACC Championship. The outcomes that I talked about are certainly important, seniors last game, clinching an ACC Championship, but the style of play, one that I think was arguably our best two quarters of the season, will be what we talk about all week in our preparation.”
“Defensively, playing six freshmen, three true freshmen, three redshirt freshmen, and very impressed. It’s a 3-3-5 base that can get into four down. They’re athletic, they’re fast, they play with toughness, they take the football away, they’ve played their best football against the top offenses in the ACC, they get your attention. You watch this defensive football team and they’re gonna be really good. They have some good players and they have some veteran players. Williams has been there, played us in 2018. Black has been there. Those are good defensive linemen, but their linebackers are young and athletic. The secondary, they got two very good corners. That’s what jumps out to me. Then the special teams, as good a punter / kicker combination in the league. They had a kickoff return for a touchdown.
They are top 15 in punt return, so really good and special teams. We know the offense has not lived up to the expectations, but they lost their best quarterback in DeVito. But Taj Harris had a career game last week against North Carolina State. He’s a legit player. He can hurt you. We’ve got to know where Taj Harris is at all times. The freshmen back is going to be really good, Tucker. Dino, he’s got a young football team.
It’s going to be a process for him, but they play hard on defense, they’ve got some skill players on offense and we’ll have to prepare well. As I mentioned, it’ll be much more about us carrying on what we did in the second half against North Carolina, more so than Syracuse. We respect them and what they’re doing, but this will be about how we prepare and our mindset going into the game.”
Shake Down The Thunder Sports Question
Asked Coach Kelly how do you grow Zeke Correll and Josh Lugg after their first start and get them ready to play against Clemson? Then followed up on how Braden Lenzy is?
“Really now it’s about the ability for those guys to build a relationship with those that are adjacent to them, and what I’m talking about is Lugg and Zeke and certainly Zeke and Aaron, because they’re working so many combinations. When does Josh Lugg push Zeke off the nose so Zeke can work up to the linebacker? When does Banks leave the nose and feel Zeke control the nose, so we can go to the backer? Those are the nuances of playing together. They knew those things with Jarrett, they knew when to leave. They knew when they couldn’t leave the center.
Those are the things that need to continuously be worked on and the things you may not see watching the game at first glance, those are the things that we see. That’s just a matter of practice, trust, continuity, consistency, communication, passing stunts off. Those are the things you get when you got an offensive line that had played together for so many games. There wasn’t anything that was glaring that either one of those guys did that’s said to us, ‘My goodness, they can’t play and play at a high level.’ It’s about how this unit continues to grow together.”
“Braden Lenzy, this should be a week where he can really just let it go. This will be a an opportunity for us to really start to create some things in the offense for him. As I mentioned to you last week when we had this, I thought he was really close. This should be a week where he’s not even thinking about it, he can just let it go. He’ll be very helpful for us. A guy that has fresh legs this late in the season will be extremely helpful to our offense.”
We learned on Thursday that Zeke Correll was going to be a game time decision. If Correll can’t go, Lugg will move over to Center and Dillan Gibbons and would go over to Right Guard.
Keys To The Game
Just play the game. There is no need to play any different. Smash mouth football is what this team has been playing all season there is no need to change the way you play now. They just need to continue to prepare for the ACC Championship.
The Guy’s Picks
The pre-season pick’em was written before COVID 19 and before the school policy sent students home early for the winter break. And of course, you want it to snow in a December football game at Notre Dame. It was a hope that will not happen.
The ‘Cuse come into ND with Coach Dino Babers. We beat them up in the Shamrock Series game in 2018. Syracuse plays spoiler a lot. They have beat Clemson in the past. The play the role of underdog very well. Syracuse will not be bothered by the weather. It will be a snowy day in “The Bend” that Saturday afternoon.
Score 49-7 ND
It will be great to see if there is snowballs in the stands instead of marshmallows. The weather won’t bother Syracuse other than they play in a temperature controlled dome. They are a young offensive and defensive team It will also be Senior Day. There will be emotions in this game. But, it’s all about taking care of business at home. Need to keep the eye on the prize.
Cheers and Go Irish!☘🏈🌩