Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 2, 2019

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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8 NOV. 2, 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED UNDER THE DOME Yes, But It Likely Will Have At Least One Major Scare By Lou Somogyi There has been much conversation about how the five-game November slate is a detriment to Notre Dame's strength of schedule and how it should run the table with relative ease. That's somewhat bemusing when you consider that Vir- ginia Tech (Nov. 2) and Duke (Nov. 9) both won in their most recent appearance at Notre Dame Stadium in 2016, while Navy (Nov. 16) also pulled off the upset that year and took the Irish to wire in 2017 before losing 24-17. Speaking of recent history, Boston College (Nov. 23) al- most always saves its best for Notre Dame — including a 3-9 Eagles team taking the playoff contender Irish down to the wire in a 19-16 defeat in 2015 — while Stanford (Nov. 30) has defeated them five straight at home. Regardless, this Notre Dame program is in a far different place than three years ago. It has established home-field dominance with 15 straight wins (third-longest streak since the edifice opened in 1930). On the road, Duke's Wallace Wade Stadium (40,004 capacity) is not a snake pit, and the worm is turning in the series with Stanford, which ranked 115th in scoring during its 3-4 start. The first four November foes, Virginia Tech, Duke, Navy and Boston College, all will be coming off a bye week, so there will be a fourth-quarter scare or two forthcoming. Still, Notre Dame's talent and depth will prevail en route to getting invited to a New Year's Six Bowl and ending a 26-year drought of winning one. I Used To Think So, But Not Anymore By Todd D. Burlage For full disclosure, nobody has been more critical of the lack of power on the Irish schedule this season than me, especially the five games in November. But after watching Notre Dame fall behind Virginia at halftime and then let USC back into a game it had under control, the Irish appear vulnerable and ripe to lose at least one of these final five games. Of these five November opponents — Virginia Tech, at Duke, Navy, Boston College, at Stanford — only Stanford entered last weekend with a losing record, and Notre Dame has to play the Cardinal at Stanford Stadium, a venue where the Irish have lost five straight and head coach Brian Kelly is 0-4. Virginia Tech and Navy both have turned their fortunes around after difficult years in 2018. In fact, Navy has been just outside of the top 25 rankings most of this season. Duke provides a difficult road test for Notre Dame. After taking over a program left for dead in 2008-09, Blue Devils head coach David Cutcliffe has taken his team to a bowl game in six of the last seven seasons. And we all know that Boston College is going to give the Irish its best shot. What seemed like a cupcake stretch for the Irish about a month ago now looks to be loaded with legitimate upset candidates. Not only will Notre Dame lose at least one of these five, it very well could see its season slip away by dropping multiple games this month. Point ✦ Counterpoint: WILL NOTRE DAME HAVE AN UNDEFEATED (5-0) NOVEMBER? A mainstay along a terrific offensive line at Mis- sion Viejo High School in California, Irish sopho- more Jarrett Patterson came to Notre Dame rated as one of the top offensive tackles in the 2018 recruiting class. But with a group of talented, NFL-caliber vet- erans already secure in their starting positions along the Irish line, Patterson's only choice and chance if he wanted to become a starter this season was to learn the center position. With huge shoes to fill after the departure of team captain and three-year starting center Sam Mustipher, Patterson went to work, secured the job, and has thrived as a first-year starter. He recently was named by The Athletic to its midsea- son Freshman All-America Team. BGI: As a standout tackle in high school, what was your initial reaction to being moved to center in college? Patterson: "I was perfectly fine with it. What- ever it takes to help the team win is what was really going through my mind at the time, and it was a really smooth transition as well. I feel like I can move pretty well laterally. "I think that is the biggest thing that has served me well playing center." BGI: You had never played center before, so what went into learning the position? Patterson: "In the winter, they told me I was transitioning to center in the spring and to get with the quarterbacks and just start snapping, just a daily thing just to build a habit. "Obviously, it's a little tougher when you have to do it live and start moving. Just repetition over and over really helped me get a lot better at snap- ping shotgun." BGI: You faced very little adversity through the spring and summer at your new position, but what was switching to live game action like? Patterson: "You go through studying the oppo- nent but just being able to put that in person and just getting used to the game speed. "After every game I've started, I've started to gain a lot more confidence and ability and defi- nitely trusting my technique more." BGI: You originally committed to Arizona State early on, then switched to Notre Dame. What went into that decision? Patterson: "I really liked Arizona State and then there was a little bit of coaching turnover, and then, obviously, I had a really good senior year and that gave me an opportunity to come here. "And when I checked it out, I really liked it so I decommitted to explore my opportunities." BGI: With the departure of a terrific Notre Dame line coach in Harry Hiestand and coach Jeff Quinn not yet named as his replacement, what pulled you here? Patterson: "It just felt right. The biggest thing for me was when I visited here and Coach Quinn wasn't hired yet, just hanging around all the guys really did it for me, and just kind of sold the school really." — Todd D. Burlage Five Questions With … SOPHOMORE CENTER JARRETT PATTERSON Patterson has thrived as a first-year starter at center despite never having played the position before making the switch from tackle in the spring. PHOTO BY MIKE MILLER Duke — which won 38-35 at Notre Dame in 2016, the most recent matchup between the schools — is among the teams that could upset or at least put a scare into the Fighting Irish in November. PHOTO BILL PANZICA

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