Staff Predictions: New Mexico
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, September 13, 2019
Charlotte Edmonds — Managing Editor
While I do think last Monday’s game gave some cause for concern, especially regarding the Notre Dame defense’s shaky start, I think the first half was largely a reflection of Louisville’s improvements rather than Notre Dame’s shortcomings. Granted, they’ll have to be better against Georgia, plain and simple. But New Mexico isn’t Georgia.
The Lobos gave up an average of nearly 37 points against a field of teams that hovered around .500 last season. I anticipate Ian Book and his running back corps to have their way with this New Mexico defense. That said, I’ve learned not to trust a Notre Dame blowout at home against a seemingly easy opponent. Notre Dame gets the win but they don’t reach the 37.5-point spread Vegas has them at.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 44, New Mexico 13
Connor Mulvena — Sports Editor
Despite my pessimistic tendencies when it comes to Notre Dame football, Monday’s game doesn’t worry me too much. Clearly, the pass rush was not where it needs to be or where we expected today. But that unit is still filling the holes of a lot of key guys who left for the draft, and some week one kinks are to be expected. Book didn’t look like the beacon of accuracy he was last year, but again, week one, everything is okay. I’m just thankful it was Louisville. The Irish offensive line is strong, as per usual, the defense is loaded with athleticism and Tony Jones Jr. proved that he could make some noise when it’s needed.
New Mexico won a bit of a tight game against the Sam Houston State Bearkats last week, and quite frankly, they just don’t have the pieces that Notre Dame has. It’s no secret New Mexico’s talent isn’t too much of a threat. I think the Irish will jump out to an early two-score lead, and then really try some things out to address the problems from the Louisville game and this week of practice.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 38, New Mexico 10
Hayden Adams — Associate Sports Editor
If Notre Dame had collapsed under the pressure once they fell behind Louisville 14-7, then I would worry a little about this game. But let’s be realistic — New Mexico went 3-9 last season, losing their final seven games of the year. The Lobos gave up over 200 yards rushing per game and over 250 yards passing per game last season. They are coming to Notre Dame Stadium for the first time ever, without Lobos head coach and former Irish head coach Bob Davie accompanying the team due to a health scare.
Offensive coordinator Chip Long should and will try to get the passing game going after it struggled against Louisville. While this may bring back flashes of last season’s close call against Ball State, this offense is inherently different than one under Brandon Wimbush. With Jafar Armstrong out indefinitely, as well as with Cole Kmet and Michael Young still out, Book knows he needs to bring his A game to Athens next week, so he’ll use this game to get back on track.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 56, New Mexico 7
Ellen Geyer — Sports Writer
In all honesty, the Notre Dame offense looked pretty lackluster in week one. Book’s passing game left much to be desired, but a poor inaugural performance isn’t necessarily a red flag for college quarterbacks — look at Trevor Lawrence’s one touchdown to two picks in Clemson’s opener against Georgia Tech. With the absence of Miles Boykin, the Irish pass game certainly looked like a work in progress, but the rush proved to be a source of surprising consistency. After a couple of years at second string, Tony Jones Jr. took advantage of Jafar Armstrong’s injury, leading the ground game with 110 yards on 15 carries. Book even showed that he has legs of his own, even if he did scramble a bit early.
Regardless, New Mexico simply doesn’t have the tools to pull off this upset — they barely escaped their game against Sam Houston State alive. Add in the absence of head coach Bob Davie and the fact that this is Notre Dame’s first home game? I can’t fathom that the Irish find a way to throw this one away.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 42, New Mexico 6
Jack Concannon — Sports Writer
While the Louisville game was a mixed bag, I expect the Irish to roll over the Lobos this week. This is a team that went 3-9 playing in the Mountain West last season and was beaten handily by the only power five team they played in a 45-14 loss to Wisconsin. Book will need to take more chances moving the football down the field because if he cannot find open receivers on vertical routes against New Mexico, he will definitely have a tough time finding them in Athens.
Despite concerns about the Irish, there is just too much of a talent discrepancy. I expect the second half of this game could turn into an opportunity for New Mexico to sneak some points onto the board as the Irish try to find the 11 defensive players that are going to give them the best chance to beat Georgia. Expect the Irish to take a commanding lead into the locker room and stay around that margin in the late stages of the game.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 45, New Mexico 14