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Notre Dame Game Talk with Rakes Of Mallow

Being Irish, I love this logo a lot.
This Saturday at 2:30pm on NBC is the next football game against Notre Dame, so of course we had to talk to some experts on the Notre Dame Football squad. I asked the fine folks over at Rakes Of Mallow, an excellent Notre Dame blog some questions. Christopher Wilson, the operator of that site was gracious enough to answer them for us.

1. Orange::44: After beating Navy it seems like Charlie Wise can breathe easy knowing he will finish the season. How will this impact the game on Saturday?

Christopher: While Charlie's job is safe, he would probably be much better off to win the game Saturday to placate some of his critics, especially as a 20-point home favorite. Going into this final stretch of games, I think everyone assumed Notre Dame would dust Navy and Syracuse before getting railed by Southern Cal. The Navy game was on its way to being a solid three touchdown win before all hell broke loose, but it would be best for the health of the program if things went smoothly on Saturday (for the Irish, not you folks). As far as a direct effect on the game, if Charlie is up 20 with ten minutes left in the fourth, I don't think he'll be putting the back-ups in.

2. Orange::44: Navy recovered two onside kicks. Were they just executed perfectly by Navy or will Notre Dame really have to take a look at their Special Teams?

Christopher: I don't want to try and glean too much from an oblong piece of leather bouncing at awkward angles three times, but the Irish hands team seemed somewhat hesitant and not overly prepared. Special teams coach Brian Polian has taken a lot of heat, but things were getting a lot better until recent weeks, when a couple of punt blocks and the failure to recover onside kicks raised a few eyebrows. Polian could be gone at the end of the season, but with a few injuries from the Navy game carrying over into Saturday, onside kick coverage will be a minor factor.

3. Orange::44: What one player will abuse Syracuse all day?

Christopher: In games where the defenses are less than stellar – Purdue, Washington, Navy – Notre Dame has focused on running the ball. I imagine that'll be the initial plan against Syracuse unless things go awry, so let's say it'll be Armando Allen, who is a threat both running the ball or catching it out of the backfield. With Michael Floyd out and something off with Jimmy Clausen, Weis will be running the ball, which means a lot of touches for Allen to cause some damage against the Cuse.

4. Orange::44: How do you think Jimmy Clausen will do against Syracuse?

Christopher: I hope really well, but he's been less than sharp over the last month. Even against Washington, a horrendously awful team, he was only for 14 for 26 for 201 yards with one TD and one INT. Syracuse's pass efficiency defense is rated 106th in the nation, one spot above of Navy, who Clausen did not have a great day against. He is playing at home, where he's been much better, but I'm not expecting a monster game through the air.

5. Orange::44: What one player is Notre Dame most afraid of, and will they be able to stop them?

Christopher: I don't know who the team is most concerned with, but I'd be concerned with Curtis Brinkley. If he can grind out a few first downs to keep the Irish offense off the field, or maybe break off a long run that stymies the crowd, the pressure swings to Clausen and Weis in front of a potentially anxious Notre Dame Stadium.


6. Orange::44: What do you think about the dismissal of Greg Robinson from coaching the Syracuse team, and how do you think he will react during this Notre Dame game because of it?

Christopher: I don't understand dismissing him with two weeks to go in the season, but that seems to be the new fad in college football. I guess it gives the program an opportunity to officially start looking for a replacement sooner, but most of your replacements are still coaching and won't say they're interested or do an interview (The Bobby Petrinos of the world obviously the exception). If I were Robinson, and coaching a team I knew wasn't retaining me, there wouldn't be a trick play on the planet I wouldn't be calling. I'd even run the A-11 until the refs stopped me for it being illegal. After wondering when the ax was going to fall, I feel like it would be a huge weight off the shoulders of Robinson to know his fate.

Thanks again to Rakes of Mallow and Christopher for his insightful answers. Now since we all know Greg will be leaving it would be nice to pull out a road win from a team not named Louisville. Stay tuned for some of my answers to his questions appearing over at his site soon.

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