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Irish Insider: Staff Predictions

| Friday, April 20, 2018

Tobias Hoonhout — Managing Editor

When it all comes down to it, Notre Dame’s season will live and die by the quarterback.

Maybe it’s cruel, but it’s also football. While both senior Brandon Wimbush and junior Ian Book showed glimpses of their potential last season, neither signal caller has yet to come up with a consistent product. And they’ll have to come up with something fast — the Irish open up against Michigan on September 1st in what could be the biggest game of the season.

If the Irish can set the tone early, they could cruise into the playoff hunt. A slip up against the Wolverines, though, and we could be in for a long season.

Luckily, I’m an optimist.


Elizabeth Greason — Assistant Managing Editor

I honestly don’t know what to expect out of this Notre Dame team. Sure, a lot of the old stalwarts are back, but enough of the integral members of the squad have gone their own way — Quenton Nelson, Mike McGlinchey and Josh Adams — that this team is a bit of a wild card, especially starting the year with a marquee matchup against Michigan.

That being said, I have faith in the players the Irish have left. Miles Boykin is coming into his own as a senior, the two running backs remaining in junior Tony Jones Jr. and senior Dexter Williams have both proven their worth and whichever quarterback is under center — I predict it will be senior Brandon Wimbush, at least to start the season — should move on from the struggles of last season.

The defense is strong — there is competition at every position, and with each player knowing the next man up is ready to go, Clark Lea’s unit should be in position to continue what Mike Elko started last year.

However, I think the Irish will fall into some of the same traps as last season, struggling against some of their perennial rivals in Stanford and USC.


Charlotte Edmonds — Associate Sports Editor

This is a make or break season for the Irish — at least for the near future.

Last season showed glimpses of a contending team, but Notre Dame will need to prove it can do more than just win easy games to shed its reputation as an almost-but-not-quite program. No more excuses for Brian Kelly; a November meltdown (or last year’s three-minute meltdown at Stanford) is unacceptable.

Luckily, with the exception of the Michigan season opener, Notre Dame’s schedule allows ample time to work through growing pains over backfield vacancies and the continuing quarterback narrative. That said, I trust the Irish will rise to the occasion, winning their first nine. A potential trap game? Pittsburgh has a history of giving Notre Dame trouble, with six of the last seven matchups decided by one score; but I trust the Irish will make it through unscathed.

I hope to be incorrect, but I’m not convinced the Irish can hang with their elite competitors, likely losing to Florida State and USC.


Connor Mulvena — Associate Sports Editor

Notre Dame’s defense is very solid, and the combination of senior Dexter Williams and junior Tony Jones Jr. in the backfield is promising. There shouldn’t be any problems at wideout — junior Chase Claypool and senior Miles Boykin are poised for big seasons, and sophomore Michael Young has a ton of potential. That being said, quarterback play could become a problem. With even decent quarterback play, I’d be confident in a 10-win season, maybe even 11. But there are definitely questions surrounding the passing game, and senior Brandon Wimbush will need to prove he is able to utilize Claypool and Boykin through the air. Without a reliable passing attack, Florida State, Michigan and Stanford will be big problems. Overall, though, the Irish will put on a decent performance this year.


Joe Everett — Sports Writer

Notre Dame began 2018 on a positive note by defeating LSU in the Citrus Bowl, and it appears ready to carry that momentum through spring and summer practice and into its regular-season campaign. The defense will have most of its starters back — aided by the returns of seniors Jerry Tillery and Te’Von Coney as well as graduate student Drue Tranquill — and the secondary should improve with the infusion of new talent. The offense carries more questions. How good will the offensive line be without Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey? Will the thin running back corps hold up? Who will be the quarterback, and will the passing game improve?

Schedule-wise, the Irish face a gauntlet. Half their opponents should be preseason top-25 teams, including rival Michigan to open. Everything comes down to quarterback play. I think senior Brandon Wimbush improves and wins the job. Notre Dame wins every home game, but it can’t get it done against Virginia Tech and USC.


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