The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are just a little over two weeks away from hosting the Michigan Wolverines to open the 2018 season. It’s going to be a battle, and the Irish are going to have to bring their “A” game to get the win.
It’ll have to be an “A” game without the services of Notre Dame’s best running back, Dexter Williams.
Obviously we are all working under the assumption that Williams will be suspended for the first four games of the season — much like Kevin Stepherson last year. We are about 99 percent sure and it sucks. Make no mistake about it, the absence of Williams on the field is a great one, and I’m not here to sugarcoat the situation.
What I can do is offer some possible positives that Notre Dame can use to help them win football games in 2018 with Dexter gone for a quarter of it.
BEAT MICHIGAN AND KNOW THY STRENGTH
If the Irish beat Michigan without Dexter Williams, they will know exactly what they have at running back. A strong performance will still be needed at the position, so one or both of Tony Jones Jr. and Jafar Armstrong will have to step up and have a good game (insert another name as a possibility). If that’s the case, we can have a lot more confidence in the season moving forward.
THE NEED LESSENS AFTER WEEK 1
The three game stretch after Michigan against the Ball State Cardinals, Vanderbilt Commodores, and Wake Forest Demon Deacons is not one where the Irish should really need Dexter Williams to play. So... that’s pretty cool.
FRESH LEGS ARE ACTUALLY FRESH
Starting the season off in week five isn’t the same as week eight, but having four games off (for a running back) without healing or rushing playing time from an injury actually means FRESH legs. For a back as dynamic as Williams (one that can average 9 yards per carry) bursting onto the scene can give him that extra edge.
BACK FOR STANFORD
Week five is the night game against the Stanford Cardinal. No other Irish opponent has been as merciless to Brian Kelly in his time at Notre Dame, and a prime time game in South Bend would be the perfect game to turn the tide against David Shaw and his “mean gentlemen” (or whatever the hell he calls them).
Like I said, I’m not trying to blow smoke up anyone’s — you know. Not having Dexter Williams for Michigan is a blow, but WHEN the Irish win that game, they could actually be sitting in a much better place than what we are imagining at this moment (well NOW we are imagining it). If this all comes about the way we hope, then it was all worth it. If not... it’s just another “what if” in a long series of “what ifs” during the Brian Kelly era.