With a seemingly endless offseason, the Notre Dame football program has been poked and prodded ad nauseam. Changes have come throughout the staff and we will finally see the fruits of the offseason labor Saturday.
Every publication that covers the Irish have voiced their predictions. Few, if any, have picked Temple to come out victorious, but this preview will be the shortest of any you have read because I, frankly, have no idea what to expect tomorrow.
It would be nice to see all of the positive talk and offseason hype manifest itself on the field, but until that ball is kicked off, it is only talk – the same talk that had the Irish pegged for a New Year’s Six Bowl a season ago.
Early returns say Mike Elko’s defense is much-improved, the players are fundamentally sound and paying attention to details. But, this unit lost there best playmakers on the defensive line and still have major question marks at safety.
Brandon Wimbush has been ballyhooed as the next great Notre Dame QB ever since he set foot on campus. But, the redshirt sophomore has not taken a meaningful snap or been hit since December of 2014. No matter how highly-touted a prospect is, there is always a learning curve for a first-year starter.
Brian Polian is back coaching special teams for the Irish. In theory, ND couldn’t be worse than last year in that department, but Justin Yoon has struggled throughout camp. Plus, can the Irish really trust C.J. Sanders after some of his performances last year?
I can go blue in the face detailing every concern and breaking down every minute factor as tomorrow’s game approaches, but the fact is the Irish have a significant talent advantage and should win easily.
There is so much pent up energy from the players and fan base to put 2016 behind them that the Irish simply need to avoid pressing. As soon as they start forcing things, ND will be in trouble.
While Temple has sustained losses to the NFL, the Owls have won 10 games two years in a row. They are developing a culture of winning that cannot be underestimated. When Temple first played ND in 2013, they came into Notre Dame Stadium wide-eyed – that won’t be the case tomorrow, even with the new videoboard.
If the Irish start fast, they will attain some much-needed confidence and cruise, but if Temple can hang around and put game pressure on the Irish, the advantage goes to the program that has one 20 games in the last two years.
With all that being said, if you cannot be optimistic this time of year, what’s the point of being a fan?
So, I’m gonna go ahead and buy into the offseason hype, I’m gonna drink that Kool-Aid, throw logic out of the window, and get chills when the Irish run out of that tunnel tomorrow because that’s what being a fan is all about.