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Notre Dame Football: Vanderbilt Commodores Preview

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Pat Rick previews ND’s big game tomorrow against the Jay Cutler University Fighting Jay Cutlers

Denver Broncos Mini Camp Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

WHAT’S UP PARTY PEOPLE?!?!?!?

Defying all logic, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team has yet ANOTHER game tomorrow, this time against the 2-0 Vanderbilt Commodores, who I will henceforth and forever refer to as the Jay Cutler University Fighting Jay Cutlers, because of course I will.

Chicago Bears v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Fighting Jay Cutlers come into this one as the #23 team in the country in S&P+, having outscored their first two opponents 76-17. Notre Dame, meanwhile, enters as the #8 team in the country in the AP Poll and as the 17th-overall team in the S&P+ rankings, having defeated the Michigan Wolverines in a fairly impressive opener before looking flat and uninspiring last weekend against the Ball State Cardinals in an 8-point win despite being 30+ point favorites.

Now, the Irish hope to get back on track against a team that seemed like a pushover in the preseason but who could potentially pose a legitimate challenge.

So, without any further discussion, I say we dive in to check out how the two teams match up, what I think will happen tomorrow, and to peruse more Jay Cutty content than you’ve ever seen in one place before.

Let’s. Go.

Jay Cutler U Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense

The Jay Cutler U offense enters this one as the #80 team in the country in total offense, but they have made very few mistakes so far and certainly have some talent.

Everything starts with QB Kyle Shurmur (son of New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur), who has been extremely solid this year to the tune of 428 yards, a 67% completion percentage, 4 TD, and no interceptions to-date. He leads a Fighting Jay Cutler offense that is 54th in the country in offensive efficiency and is similarly middling in terms of total production (77th in passing offense, 58th in rushing).

NCAA Football: Nevada at Vanderbilt Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Shurmur’s not really a running threat like Brandon Wimbush, nor does he have a laser rocket arm, but he takes care of the ball, manages the offense, and has the experience to get things done.

He has a few decent weapons to throw to at receiver, led by wide receiver Kalija Lipscomb, who has already hauled in 14 passes for 145 yards and 3 TD this season. The 6’1”, 201-pound wideout is joined by TE Jared Pinkney (7 rec, 130 yds) and Donaven Tennyson (2 rec, 61 yds), who both have ~50-yard catches already on the year, showing strong big-play potential.

NCAA Football: Middle Tennessee at Vanderbilt Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

WR Chris Pierce has also chipped in with 3 catches for 38 yards and 1 TD, and freshman Cam Johnson was highly-rated coming in and could be a wild card in a positive fashion for that offense.

If there’s one way for Jay Cutty U to move the ball on defensive coordinator Clark Lea’s defense, it’s probably through the air, as the Irish are just 71st in the country in pass defense.

With that said, the Fighting Jay Cutlers haven’t played anyone this year with talent anywhere close to what the Irish have in their secondary. CB Julian Love (9 tackles, 4 PBU) is a possible All-American with as good of ball skills as anyone in the country, his fellow corner on the other side Troy Pride Jr. (11 tackles, 1 PBU, 1 TFL) is a speedster who’s really coming into his own, and safeties Alohi Gilman (16 tackles, 2 PBU, 2 TFL) and Jalen Elliott (12 tackles, 2 INT) have shown a knack for making big plays on the back end of the defense, along with safety/nickelback Nick Coleman (5 tackles, 1 PBU).

NCAA Football: Ball State at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The Irish pass rush only complicates things for Jay Cutty U, as DE Khalid Kareem (11 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 PBU, 3 QBH) is the most unblockable guy in an athletic and effective pass rush that also includes Julian Okwara (2 tackles, 4 QBH, 1 INT), Daelin Hayes (2 tackles, 1 QBH), and Adetokunbo Ogundeji (2 tackles, 1 PBU, 1 QBH).

The Jay Cutler University offense excels more at running than passing, as they’ve got a stable of talented runners who can do a lot of damage. Ke’Shawn Vaughn was originally thought to be the workhorse back who got the majority of the carries, and while he’s run very well so far (130 yards, 6.5 ypc, 2 TD), his fellow RBs Jamauri Wakefield (99 yards, 5.5 ypc, 1 TD) and Khari Blasingame (80 yards, 5.3 ypc, 1 TD) have also been stellar early in this season. The offensive line, with a few questions, has also performed pretty well to-date.

NCAA Football: Nevada at Vanderbilt The Tennessean-USA TODAY NETWORK

Like in the passing game, though, the Fighting Jay Cutlers have yet to face a run defense like Notre Dame’s. The Irish are 39th in the country in total rushing defense, led by a front seven full of talented, experienced veterans. LBs Te’von Coney (24 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1 sack, 3 QBH, 1 FR) and Drue Tranquill (16 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 QBH) are the big-time tacklers, capable and fast and strong enough to contain backs like Vaughn, Wakefield, and Blasingame.

Rover Asmar Bilal’s athleticism (9 tackes, 2 TFL, 2 QBH) added in with strong, immovable guys up front like DT Jerry Tillery (6 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 1 FF) will add to Coney and Tranquill’s versatility to make a very tough defensive group to run on tomorrow.

Guys like Jonathan Bonner and Kurt Hinish and Jayson Ademilola add depth up front and help solidify the run defense that is the biggest factor in ND having the #4 defense in the S&P+ ratings.

Overall, the Jay Cutler University offense has been pretty efficient and has scored a lot of points in the first couple weeks of the season. But, that group will certainly come down to earth against one of the better defenses in the country tomorrow, and although the Fighting Jay Cutlers might put together a couple drives for points, I think the ND defense will, for the most part, give the Jay Cutty U offense way more trouble than it’s used to dealing with, slowing it immensely.

Offensive Fighting Jay Cutler to Watch

WR Kalija Lipscomb

Lipscomb is the biggest playmaker on the Jay Cutty U offense, and considering the likelihood that JCU won’t be able to move the ball at will on the stout ND defense, it will be up to Lipscomb to get behind Gilman and Elliott and make some big plays that keep them in the game.

Defensive Irish to Watch

DE Khalid Kareem

Kyle Shurmur has not thrown an interception this season and has been smart and efficient this season. To force turnovers and flip the script, ND will need a ruthless pass rush. Kareem will certainly lead that charge, and him bringing his A-game is crucial to Shurmur being forced into making bad decisions with the football.

Halftime Fun Facts!!!!!

Best Names in the Game

  1. Notre Dame RB C’Borius Flemister
  2. Notre Dame TE Tommy Tremble
  3. Jay Cutler U DL Dare Odeyingbo
  4. Jay Cutler U CB Joejuan Williams
  5. Notre Dame LB Ovie Oghoufo
  6. Jay Cutler U DB Max Worship
  7. Notre Dame LB Asmar Bilal
  8. Jay Cutler U DL Dayo Odeyingbo
  9. Jay Cutler U DL Stone Edwards
  10. Jay Cutler U OL Egidio DellaRipa

FAMOUS ALUMNI

Considering this is a matchup of distinguished, proud academic institutions, I figured I would dive into each school’s Wikipedia page of notable alumni and pull out some key names to consider.

Notable Jay Cutler U Alumni

Jay Cutler

Honorable Mention:

  • Monk Malloy: an ND grad and former president of ND, Malloy got a PhD in Christian Ethics there in 1975
  • Cleanth Brooks: this guy is some literary critic and professor...his name was fucking Cleanth, so I had to include him
  • James Dickey, author of Deliverance: He got his degree in English and philosophy with a minor in astronomy in 1949, then got an M.A. in English in 1950
  • Actor Zack Norman: never heard of this guy, but he was in The A-Team AND Baywatch??? Heck yes.
  • Author James Patterson: has sold more than 300M copies of his books, was the first to sell 1M e-books, and topped Forbes’ 2016 list of highest paid authors for the 3rd consecutive year...his total income over a decade of writing was estimated at $700M...He got his M.A. in English from Jay Cutler U
  • Jordan Rodgers: The Bachelor and stuff
  • Thomas Schulman: This guy wrote Dead Poets Society...he got his B.A. in philosophy at Jay Cutty U, and his biggest accomplishment BY FAR was when he was tasked with turning Honey, I Shrunk the Kids FROM A DRAMA INTO A COMEDY IN A SEVEN DAY SPAN!!!! Rick Moranis’ career thanks you, Thomas
Celebs Attend SuperSkate 2002 Hockey Charity Event Photo by George De Sota/Getty Images
  • Mack Brown: Former Texas coach — he did not graduate, but attended the school for a bit
  • Lynn Bomar: I don’t know who this guy really was, but the last line of his Wikipedia description is so amazing: “later became warden of Tennessee State Prison and executed several men”
  • Slim Embry: Some Chicago White Sox player from 1922...included because “Slim” is an incredibly cool name and SO 1922
  • Roy Kramer: Former Jay Cutler U AD and SEC commish who is credited with being instrumental in creating the BCS lolololol
  • Ed McCaffrey’s brother Billy
  • Dick Plasman: Last NFL player to go without a helmet...bonus points for having a link to the Wikipedia page for football helmets, which has to be FASCINATING
  • Bo Rowland: description said “football coach at Henderson State and elsewhere. for many years.” and I applaud the ambiguity and typos
  • Sir Henry Worth Thornton, highest-ranking American born officer in the British Army during World War I; President of the Canadian National Railways; Vanderbilt’s football coach during the 1894 season (7–1); the only American football coach to receive a knighthood
  • Dierks Bentley: played a country concert in Miami before the 2013 national championship...Flo Rida’s concert on the beach was better
  • Joe Bob Briggs, B-movie critic: big, if true
  • Kim Dickens: Matt Saracen’s mom in Friday Night Lights
  • Bill Boner, former Mayor of Nashville, Tennessee and owner of a very unfortunate name
  • Al Gore: Inventor of the Internet
  • Skip Bayless and Clay Travis: Oh no
  • Buster Olney
  • Grantland Rice
  • Norman Shumway, performed with his associates the first heart transplant done in the United States — dope
  • George Arthur Buttrick, Christian scholar: I just love the idea of a “butt trick” and trying to figure out what that means

Notable ND Alumni

Me

Honorable Mention

  • Theodore Hesburgh: holds world record for most honorary degrees received
  • John William Goodwine: didn’t even write down who he is, but he loves wine
  • Julius Nieuwland: inventor of neoprene
  • Max Siegel: President of global operations for Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
  • Brendan Bayliss and Joel Cummins and Ryan Stasik and Mike Mirro: lead singer and keyboardist and bassist and former drummer, respectively, for Umphrey’s McGee (of course)
  • Brian Kelly - actor best known for his role on Flipper...not to be confused with #61 in the front row of this St. John’s Prep football team pic, a future purple-faced leader of Right Kinda Guys:
My dad’s high school yearbook
My dad’s high school yearbook
My dad’s high school yearbook
My dad’s high school yearbook
  • Regis Philbin: EVER HEARD OF HIM???
Greenwich Film Festival 2015 - Changemaker Honoree Gala Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images fo Greenwich Film Festival 2015
  • Austin Swift: Taylor’s brother — why is he listed as a notable alumnus?
  • George Wendt: Norm from Cheers, did not graduate
  • Jason Zimbler: played Clarissa’s little brother on Clarissa Explains It All
  • Ernesto Pérez Balladares: former president of Panama*
  • Adolfo Calero: leader of the rebel Nicaraguan group Contras*
  • Abraham González: Governor of the Mexican state of Chihuahua during the Mexican Revolution*
  • José Napoleón Duarte: Former president of El Salvador*

*Editor’s Note: What??? Had no idea ND alums have been this influential in Latin American politics

  • Condoleezza Rice: best known for her role on the College Football Playoff Selection Committee...got her Master’s in political science at ND in 1975
  • Mike Golic: the embarrassing oaf to Mike Greenberg’s pathetic nerd
  • Hannah Storm: ESPN!!!!!!
  • Nicholas Sparks: Ryan Gosling and stuff
  • Frank Leahy, Knute Rockne, Charlie Weis: Three equally great coaches
  • Steve Bartman: Poor, poor soul whose life was ruined by Moises Alou acting like an asshole and Alex Gonzalez making multiple errors
  • Vincent Meli: Apparently a Detroit mobster and an “underboss” in the Detroit crime family who attempted to gain control of the Detroit coin machine industry...was an associate of Jimmy Hoffa
  • Hubert Schlafly: designed and patented the teleprompter
  • Edward Montgomery (fictional character): Greg’s father on Dharma & Greg
  • John Smith (fictional character): Mr. Smith in Mr. & Mrs. Smith
  • Li’l Sebastian (fictional mini horse): greatest miniature horse in Pawnee, Indiana history...held an honorary degree from Notre Dame
  • Josiah Bartlet (real person): former US president

Jay Cutler Variety Hour

Let’s just bask in Jay Cutler content for as long as we can, before returning to the preview below. We’ll start with the brief news story on the time Jay got in a fight with an emergency telephone.

Now that we are all aware of that, let’s dive into more picturesque Jay content.

Jay With the Quick Hands

Jay With The Rocket Arm

You Know

Mic’d Up Jay

Jay Being Fleet of Foot

Jay with the Perfect Toss

God Dammit

TOO MANY JAYS

Jay Has Diabetes

Jay is Tired

Very Jay

How Excited is Jay? Hard Pass.

Jay Tries to Catch a Chicken

Jay Checks in on His Wife’s Business

Jay and His Boys Talk About Goats

Jay Talks More About Goats and Uses Binoculars

Jay Cuddles a Baby Goat

Jay Sets Things on Fire

Jay Wearing a Backwards Hat at a Dinner Party

Jay Has No Game

Jay is the Best Reality Star of All-Time

Jay Does Spirit Fingers

High School Jay

Remembering Jay

Folks, there are countless other great Jay videos, pics, and memories that I just didn’t have time to find and include here. PLEASE post them in the comments so we can all properly honor my guy Jay Cutty. PLEASE.

Notre Dame Offense vs. Jay Cutler U Defense

Okay, back to non-Jay Cutler content (much to our chagrin).

The Notre Dame offense has been much less efficient and powerful than last season, when the Irish wielded a top-10 rushing attack to steamroll the majority of their opponents. Without guys like Quenton Nelson, Mike McGlinchey, Josh Adams, Equanimeous St. Brown, and Durham Smythe, ND has failed to score more than 24 points in a game, with QB Brandon Wimbush being asked to pass way more than he should be and opposing defenses finding plenty of faults to exploit.

Wimbush has been predictably inconsistent and error-prone so far in 2018, throwing for 467 yards so far, but only completing passes at a 54.7% clip while tossing just one TD compared to 4 interceptions.

NCAA Football: Ball State at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Wimbush has appeared to be handcuffed to the pocket by the play-calling so far this season, as the deadly-mobile dual-threat has just 52 yards on 1.7 yards per carry with no TD this season, being sacked 6 times.

The Jay Cutty U defense, meanwhile, has proven to be a very good group so far this season, ranked 20th in the country in total defense (51st against the pass, 18th against the rush) and tied for 7th in scoring defense.

The pass defense will need to bring their A-game to cover receivers like Miles Boykin (7 rec, 147 yds), Chase Claypool (6 rec, 83 yds), Chris Finke (5 rec, 95 yds, 1 TD) and Alizé Mack (3 rec, 49 yds), but certainly has some guys up to the challenge in DBs like junior Joejuan Williams (9 tackles, 1 INT, 1 TFL), senior Alim Muhammad (9 tackles), freshman Allan George (6 tackles, 1 INT, 1 TFL), and seniors LaDarius Wiley (6 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL) and Donovan Sheffield (6 tackles, 3 PBU). Tae Daley and Frank Coppet add strong depth, and the group overall is capable of making some plays on the ball — especially Joejuan.

NCAA Football: Middle Tennessee at Vanderbilt Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Sophomore linebacker Kenny Hebert (7 tackles, 3 sacks, 4 TFL, 1 FF) headlines a decent pass rush that also includes guys like Josh Smith (14 tackles, 1 sack, 4 TFL) and Jordan Griffin (14 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFL). If Wimbush is given more leeway to scramble and take off running, I could see this group getting very little in terms of effectiveness of the pass rush. However, if he tries to stand in and make throws, their pressure, especially on the outside against struggling tackles Liam Eichenberg and Robert Hainsey, could force him to make more mistakes and turn the ball over.

Wimbush will be without big, talented tight end Cole Kmet, who is out with a high ankle sprain. Expect to just see a little more of Nic Weishar and of starter Alizé Mack because of this.

What ND offensive coordinator Chip Long will likely try to do is really establish the run early on against the #18 run defense in America. Even with the tackles’ struggles, running backs Tony Jones Jr. (106 yds, 4.8 ypc, 2 TD) and Jafar Armstrong (101 yds, 3.6 ypc, 3 TD; 5 rec, 72 yds) have proven to be very capable runners who can follow All-American interior linemen Sam Mustipher and Alex Bars to consistent chunks of yardage.

NCAA Football: Ball State at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Furthermore, Wimbush is still one of the most dangerous QBs in the country on the ground, and so more designed runs for him would likely be another way the Irish can really gash the Fighting Jay Cutlers for big gains.

Smith and Griffin and LB Charles Wright will be the guys tasked with containing that running attack from the linebacker position, and will be helped out by a defensive front anchored by brothers Dayo Odeyingbo and Dare Odeyingbo (4 tackles, 1 FR TD, 1 QBH combined) and including other contributors like DLs Louis Vecchio (4 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 1 QBH) and Drew Birchmeier (4 tackles, 1 FF).

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

That group has been good so far this season, but ultimately I think the ND offensive front will wear the 28th-ranked defense (in terms of efficiency) of Jay Cutty U down, and bulldoze their way to a win (assuming Brian Kelly doesn’t call for a pass-happy NC State hurricane tribute, which I guess is a pretty huge assumption).

Defensive Fighting Jay Cutler to Watch

LB Josh Smith

Smith is the team’s leading tackler and a key leader on the defense. For Jay Cutler U to keep up with Notre Dame, Smith will need to execute nearly flawlessly on his assignments and really corral the Irish running game, forcing Wimbush to throw more than he or ND fans would like.

Offensive Irish to Watch

QB Brandon Wimbush

He looked bad against Ball State, and plenty of people are calling for Ian Book to take over. Any informed football fan, though, knows how dangerous Wimbush is on the ground and how fatal his running and scrambling can be for a defense that cannot contain it. If Chip Long calls a game more suited to Wimbush’s strengths, we could see a Lite version of the 2017 ND rushing attack begin to develop — that would easily be Notre Dame’s greatest hope (instead of a backup QB with a penchant for throwing pick-sixes).

Special Teams???

Not much to say here, per usual. Jay Cutler University’s kicker Ryley Guay is 10-for-10 this season on extra points, but has missed the only field goal he’s attempted from 30+ yards out. ND kicker Justin Yoon is certainly a better kicker, but even he has already missed a field goal this season (his was from more than 40 yards, however).

Alright, Let’s Predict the Result of This One

Notre Dame 31, Jay Cutler U 20

Why: The ND coaches have realized they can’t force Wimbush to throw so much — it nearly cost them against Ball Freakin’ State. Look for Chip Long to call a more conservative, run-the-damn-ball-esque offense tomorrow that uses the Irish’s strengths to overcome some surprisingly talented Jay Cutler U players and win the game, improving to 3-0 on the season.

Agree? Disagree? Chime in below in the comments to tell us your own predictions for the game and its happenings!!!!