Thanks to Patrick of One Foot Down for answering our questions! You can read our Q&A on the One Foot Down site.
1. Last week looked like a particularly tough loss for the Irish against the Georgia Bulldogs. Are fans still on board with Brian Kelly or is the hot seat starting to really scorch?
I think it's starting to really scorch. There was already a not-insignificant subset of Irish fans who were ready for Kelly to go after the disaster that was last season, but then the Kelly supporters trumpeted Kelly's major changes he was making (in year 8 of his tenure, mind you) and how he completely revamped his staff and how this was going to be a whole new program.
Then, the Irish host a good, but not exceptional, Georgia team who is starting a true freshman who's clearly not ready to be the starter yet, and ND can't score more than 19 points at home despite the shiny new "run-pass-option" offense that new offensive coordinator Chip Long brought, and despite the offensive line that had multiple preseason All-Americans. It was another one-score loss, just the same as last year, when ND dropped 7 of 8 one-score games. Same old, same old.
Some people are making the argument that if Kelly still goes 8-4 or 9-3 this season that he should stay, because that shows major progress after the 4-8 season last year. I would argue that isn't progress, considering Kelly has averaged ~8 wins per season in his 7 years at ND, and because he isn't taking over someone else's program that was 4-8 and turning it around. He created the program that went 4-8, so I don't think he deserves credit for making the team mediocre again, instead of the atrocity we saw last year. Simply put, Brian Kelly has to go, and I think most Fighting Irish fans (not all, but most) would agree with me on that one.
2. Quarterback Brandon Wimbush looks to be a dynamic dual threat quarterback. What have you seen so far from him, and what are his strengths and weaknesses?
He's a superb athlete, and if you give him room to run, he will be gone. He's shown that since he was a true freshman.
However, as a QB who has only started 2 games now, he has a long way to go passing the ball. The physical tools are all there, as he has an absolute cannon for an arm. But he tends to hold onto the ball too long, not step up in the pocket, and is still working on his accuracy. He's also still trying to get a grasp on reading defenses and making calls before the snap -- Georgia confused the hell out of him and it led to some of those sacks/QB hurries last weekend.
I think it's way too early to write him off, especially considering we know he has the physical talent. But he isn't a Heisman candidate or anything yet. If BC can contain him on the ground, they stand a chance in this one, especially considering ND really only has one proven receiver right now in WR Equanimeous St. Brown.
3. That Notre Dame defense looked legit against Georgia, holding them to just around 300 yards. What makes them so dynamic and do you see a flaw with them?
The defense has been a huge pleasant surprise for ND fans, considering that was the bane of our existence for 3 years under former defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder. I'd say their biggest strength is in the linebacking corps, where Nyles Morgan, Te'von Coney, Greer Martini, and "Rover" Drue Tranquill are all fast, strong, athletic guys who don't miss a lot of tackles. Defensive coordinator Mike Elko stressed tackling in the off-season and it appears to actually be paying off.
The defensive line is still a bit of a question mark, but they have come a long way since last season, as DTs Jerry Tillery and Jonathon Bonner have been pretty stout inside and DEs Daelin Hayes and Jay Hayes (no relation) have been stupendous in getting into the backfield and wreaking havoc (something no one was able to do for ND last season).
If there's a flaw, it'd probably be in pass coverage with the safeties. Nick Coleman is a converted corner who has been sensational in run support this year, and Jalen Elliott is a first-year starter and sophomore who's still getting things figured out. Sophomore Devin Studstill plays a lot at safety as well, and all three guys are good athletes but have a tendency to get burned deep. Georgia had a couple instances last week where they had the deep ball available, but it failed either due to a drop or to a poor pass. If BC has the ability, I'd say the best way to beat the Irish defense is definitely by going for the big play.
4. How are Irish fans viewing this upcoming game against Boston College?
It's a mix of dread (knowing how the team snowballed into a terrible season last year), hope for the rest of the season (if ND can get back on track and win some winnable games before the USC game in October), and general apathy/numbness as it gets harder and harder to get emotionally invested in a team and program that loses so predictably and so early in the season.
Personally, I'm excited to see ND come out and play an efficient and dominating brand of football, though, as I expect them to be pissed off about last week and want to see them get back to having a winning record. But with this program, who knows what will happen?
5. Prediction time, what have you got?
I think Notre Dame handles BC pretty easily, but has a little more trouble scoring than people think they will. I like ND to win 37-20.