Thursday, October 04, 2007
Notre Dame at UCLA Preview
University of Notre Dame
Fighting Irish (0-5)
Head Coach: Charlie Weis
Coaching Record: 19-11, 3rd season
Last Year: 10-3, Lost to Louisiana State in Allstate Sugar Bowl (#17 AP / #19 Coaches postseason ranking)
Last Week: Lost to Purdue, 33-19
University of California at Los Angeles
Bruins (4-1, 3-0 Pac-10)
Ranking: AP: unranked, Coaches: #25
Head Coach: Karl Dorrell
Coaching Record: 29-21, 5th season
Last Year: 7-6 (5-4 Pac-10)
Last Week: Beat Oregon State, 40-14
Location: Rose Bowl
Date and Time: October 6, 2007 8:12 p.m. (EST)
Series Record: Notre Dame leads 3-0-0
Notre Dame Quarterback and Receivers vs. UCLA Secondary
The UCLA Bruins have an average pass defense, ranking 57th in the country.
Notre Dame's pass offense had been DOA all season until last week's second half against Purdue. By way of comparison, Purdue has a top 25 pass efficiency defense.
If this O-line can continue protecting Jimmy, and if the production of our running game can improve somewhat, the Irish can win this matchup.
Edge: Notre Dame (barely)
Notre Dame Running Backs and Tight Ends vs. UCLA Linebackers
Notre Dame had some success running the ball aganst MSU, but we haven't shown any consistency in the running game. UCLA has the 16th ranked rush defense.
This doesn't look good for us, but I hope that this growing team will rise to the challenge.
Notre Dame Offensive Line vs. UCLA Defensive Line
This doesn't really look good for us, as UCLA is 16th in the country in sacks. However, this offensive line has shown some heart of late, and has begun to play as a unit. That said, there is no evidence that they can eliminate enough of the miscues to win this battle.
Notre Dame Defensive Line vs. UCLA Offensive Line
This is one intriguing matchup. The UCLA offensive line has done a good job of opening holes for their running game, but they do give up some sacks (84th in the country in sacks allowed). Our defensive line, led by Superman Trevor Laws, has been pretty solid this year, and consistent to boot. The rush defense falls more on the linebackers than the D-line, so I'm giving this matchup to the Irish.
Edge: Notre Dame
Notre Dame Linebackers vs. UCLA Running Backs and Tight Ends
UCLA is 27th in the country in rushing, which places their rushing attack on par with Georgia Tech, Michigan State, Michigan and Purdue. And we all know how those games went for us.
Notre Dame Secondary vs. UCLA Quarterbacks and Receivers
A lot of people have said that Notre Dame's 7th ranked pass defense is due to the fact that nobody has to throw against them. There may be some truth to that, but the Irish secondary is better than people realize, and have shown a knack for forcing turnovers. Olsen is an experienced veteran, but doesn't wow you.
Edge: Notre Dame
Notre Dame Coaches vs. UCLA Coaches
Both coaches are in their third seasons, but their paths and situations have been so different that it's really too difficult to compare raw numbers.
Dorrell is erratic as a coach, beating #1 USC last year, then bringing almost everyone back and getting blown out 44-6 by unranked Utah. Weis is a little more consistent, with his team's performance more closely resembling their talent level.
Quarterback and Receivers vs. Secondary: Edge Notre Dame
Running Backs and Tight Ends vs. Linebackers: Edge UCLA
Offensive Line vs. Defensive Line: Edge UCLA
Defensive Line vs. Offensive Line: Edge Notre Dame
Linebackers vs. Running Backs and Tight Ends: Edge UCLA
Secondary vs. Quarterbacks and Receivers: Edge Notre Dame
Coaches vs. Coaches: Edge Notre Dame
Analysis and Prediction
This game is a bad matchup for the Irish. UCLA is a strong running team that is stout against the run on defense. Notre Dame hasn't stopped a running game all year, and has struggled moving the ball on the ground all year.
There isn't a whole lot for the Irish to hang their hat on, except that they have built some confidence.
If Coach Weis isn't too stubborn in trying to establish the running game, our passing game could outgun the Bruins.
The biggest thing that needs to happen for the Irish to win this game is improved run defense. I don't expect it to happen, as that is the one area that has shown no signs of life. However, if this linebacking corps can have a breakout game, this is a winnable game.
7 games left, we need 6 to get to a bowl game (which at this point would salvage the season). USC is almost unbeatable right now, so each game s a must-win from here on. Another loss, and we might lose this team.
First one to 30 wins.
schizophrenia is setting in...
Prediction from the head:
Notre Dame 24
Notre Dame continues to make progress as a team, but just can't muster enough offense to keep pace.
Prediction from the heart:
Notre Dame 30
The Notre Dame rush defense finally steps up, and the Bruins don't make it to their magic number (Dorrell is 19-2 when they score 30). Weis lets Jimmy chuck the ball all over the field, allowing us to score like we used to with Brady at the helm.