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Game Day is here

Sep 1, 2012, 5:07 AM EDT

Trey Miller, Manti Te'o

DUBLIN — Looking out the window, it’s hard to believe we’re in Ireland. There’s not a cloud in the sky on this beautiful Saturday morning, and in a few hours Notre Dame will open the 2012 season in Aviva Stadium.

Here are a few questions I’ve been thinking about as the season finally gets underway.

Will Notre Dame show composure and handle their business?

Last season, the Irish’s opening drive was moving like clockwork until Jonas Gray’s goal line fumble short-circuited the team. It was also a harbinger of things to come, with the Irish offense (and on occasion, the defense) making crucial errors at the wrong times.

No doubt, this football team will be fired up and excited to play football. But can it keep its composure and play clean and effectively? If they can, today will go just fine.

How vanilla will Chuck Martin and Brian Kelly keep this offense?

Breaking in a new quarterback and playing a team that can’t physically match-up at the line of scrimmage, how vanilla will the Irish offensive attack be? And if it is, how much of that will be a strategic decision versus the realities of playing a quarterback that’s never taken a collegiate snap and will be learning on the job?

There were valid complaints last year that the offense skewed too simple. With Golson, the threat of a running quarterback is there, which opens things up dramatically. But it’ll be interesting to see how the team uses its multiple weapons at tight end and strengths at running back.

Do all first year quarterbacks make things interesting?

Last night, Michigan State and Stanford fans got to see what young starters look like. After Kirk Cousins and Andrew Luck anchored their respective programs, new starters Josh Nunes and Andrew Maxwell had more modest debuts, with Nunes putting up minimal yardage numbers as Stanford eeked out a victory against San Jose State and Maxwell was intercepted three times before the Spartans rode Le’Veon Bell and good defensive play in their tight win over a rebuilt Boise State team.

If we’re making snap judgments, Irish fans have to feel better about both opponents after last night.

What will we see out of the freshmen?

I’m incredibly excited to see young talent like Chris Brown and Davonte Neal in uniform. Both speedy wideouts will likely make some plays today. It’ll also be good to see what Sheldon Day does on the defensive line and how KeiVarae Russell does out on his island. (Don’t think Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo doesn’t know the Irish have a first-time cornerback in the secondary.)

It has to be quite a surreal moment playing your first college football game in this situation.

How many tackles will Manti Te’o make?

I’m setting the over-under for the senior All-American at 13.

  1. NotreDan - Sep 1, 2012 at 5:40 AM

    Goooooooood morning Irish nation!!!

    Woooo DAMN. Light the fire and crack the eggs boys.

    It’s been too long. Keith thanks for sustaining us through the off season.

    Now… GO IRISH!!!

  2. jommy995 - Sep 1, 2012 at 5:43 AM

    Go Irish!

    Questions I’ve been wondering about:

    1. Will the availability of a 6-7 TE be a difference maker in the red zone? Last year’s struggles there has to make you wonder if Niklas’s move to the offensive side of the ball had something to do with red-zone futility. I’m guessing he’s in the game on most of ND’s snaps in scoring position.

    2. Is the four-man front Diaco’s solution to the triple option? The only obvious schematic difference I could see between last year’s dominating defense and the 2010 debacle was the addition of a fourth big guy at the line of scrimmage. I’m betting we may see a whole lot of the same this morning, to similar effect. If so, I’ll be putting option phobia squarely behind me.

  3. ndgoldandblue - Sep 1, 2012 at 6:57 AM

    Ya know, Keith said something yesterday about this being the year that Brian Kelly proves that he’s as good as advertised (paraphrased). I agree. BK came into South Bend with a considerable amount of hype. All the talk was how Kelly was a master at coaching up his talent, at getting his players to play beyond expectations. It has also been documented that year three in each of Kelly’s stops has been a good one. That was the year that his teams truly understood his system and things just clicked. That’s what I want to see this year.

    Am I saying that I expect the Irish to beat USC and Oklahoma? Nope. But I am saying that the Irish should enter week 3 with a 2-0 record. No more USF’s; no more Tulsas. It’s time to beat the teams that you should beat, win a few of the games where the talent is equal, and possibly upset a team that you should lose to. Coach Kelly has lost a lot of supporters over the last two years (and if you check out some blogs, the guy never had a lot of people’s support), but I have remained a believer. If the guy goes into the MSU game with a loss to either Navy or Purdue, he will have lost pretty much any support he has ever gotten. And I will be the first to say “show him the door”.

    Yes, I know that the guy can recruit, and I know that his staff has done an excellent job of developing the strength and conditioning of this team. But if you don’t win on the field, all of that is simply window dressing. Oh, and after last night, I expect the Irish to beat either MSU or Stanford, likely both. MSU did not impress me at all. But maybe I should wait on that prediction until the first two weeks are over.

  4. gtizzo - Sep 1, 2012 at 7:15 AM

    The offense is vanilla…for now. ND doesn’t need a huge playbook to beat Navy or Purdue. BK will add a tweak or two going into the Purdue game, then some more in each game to follow. Once USC rolls around Golson will have most of the playbook at his disposal. I will take the over on Manti T’eo and his tackle count. I think ND composure will be there as the game goes along. I think Golson will need a series or two before he settles in and executes the offense. I’m sure the defense will be ready to hit someone odds are they have not had much contact in recent practices.

  5. yaketyyacc - Sep 1, 2012 at 7:26 AM

    hey, will you guys n the west coast turn down the victory march, you’re waking your neighbors.
    the world will go a thousand miles to see a winner, it won’t go around the corner to see a loser. in our case, over three thousand miles. and so far winner is only on paper.
    three things learned from the MSU- Boise State game. 1. Bell and no 80 tight end are the only offensive weaons. 2. if you pressure the wuarterback, maxwell, he loses it, 3. MSU has a good defense.
    thought: heck, ND can take them. caution: haven’t seen the Irish play yet, how can I make that assessment? it’s just that feeling, bolstered by Keith’s almost impartiial, reports, and the keen insights of manyf the posters.
    almost 7:30 am, here on the east coast, and getting antsy, come on Irish, give D’Antonio something to worry about. CRUSH NAVY!!!

  6. mtflsmitty - Sep 1, 2012 at 7:44 AM

    Finally here, and I’m speechless…almost.

    My predictions:

    1. Memories of South Florida will be exorcised from the collective memory of the ND blogospere within hours.

    2. 1st quarter will be extremely conservative for the Irish offense. George Atkinson to unseat Theo as Woods’ #2 with powerful running between the tackles and jaw dropping bursts one through the trench.

    3. The playbook in 2nd and 3rd quarters will open up with Golson throwing for 150 yards+, running for another 25. We will leave Dublin feeling very good about our new QB.

    4. Secondary will over-perform today, giving us a false sense of security. Boiler’s offense will burn KR 2-3 times. But the young man may get his first pick today, and possibly in the first quarter. Slaughter with 9 tackles today.

    5. The guy who told us a couple days ago the he was planning to rig his ipod alarm clock with speakers under his bed, and the fight song poised to sound off at level 10 is about to be back-handed by his slumbering wife. But I for one am thankful for his dedication, and thank him for the gift of laughter he’s given me sense he shared his plan with us the other day.

    Enjoy the morning, all.

    Go Irish!

  7. mtflsmitty - Sep 1, 2012 at 7:47 AM

    Since
    (grrrrrrrr)

  8. Tim's Neighbor - Sep 1, 2012 at 7:48 AM

    I woke up earlier than my alarm because I was so excited. Time for a shower beer. Go Irish!

    • irishbornraised - Sep 1, 2012 at 12:44 PM

      Hey, we won. Make that a beer shower

  9. islandsdomer - Sep 1, 2012 at 8:15 AM

    same here tim, woke up ahead of schedule. just after 2am on HI, waiting…..waiting…. GO IRISH!!!!

  10. bearcatirishfan - Sep 1, 2012 at 8:53 AM

    Tim you’re having a beer in the shower? Not that sir is dedication.

  11. bracket5 - Sep 1, 2012 at 9:12 AM

    Rise and shine. Another wonderfully inept and irrelevant season of Irish football is about to commence. Can’t wait for the next beatdown that will hopefully be repeated often.

    Fight On!!!!!

    • 1historian - Sep 1, 2012 at 10:29 AM

      you, sir, are in a bracket of your own

    • islandsdomer - Sep 1, 2012 at 10:49 AM

      you’re sick bracket. sick

  12. 1historian - Sep 1, 2012 at 10:30 AM

    when are they going to post the photos of this year’s team?

  13. loadofwash - Sep 1, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    And the irrelevant trophy goes to……drum roll please…..ND

    • 1historian - Sep 1, 2012 at 12:58 PM

      that trophy, sir has your name on it.

      “THE LOADOFWASH IRRELEVANT TROPHY”

      Has a nice ring to it does it not?

  14. 1historian - Sep 1, 2012 at 12:30 PM

    50-10

    Good start – they kicked ass on an inferior team. Golson did a good job.

    They showed some attitude. They didn’t look like last year’s team at all.

  15. loadofwash - Sep 2, 2012 at 8:34 PM

    Ram it up your azz historian, ND has sucked longer than your mom.

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