The following is a guest post written by Stephen Kahn.
In order to save his Notre Dame coaching career, Charlie Weis might have to pull off an upset victory at Heinz Field — the site of his college coaching debut. At about 8:00 pm on September 3, 2005, the Fighting Irish ran onto the turf at Heinz Field with an unproven quarterback in Brady Quinn and an inexperienced head coach in Charlie Weis. By midnight, ND Nation, and a large population of sports writers around the country, were hailing Charlie Weis as a genius.
Funny how things come full circle. Like in 2005, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish make the trip to Pittsburgh as underdogs. That being said, I think this could simply come down to who has the ball last.
The key for the Panthers offense will be sophomore WR Jonathan Baldwin. On the season, Baldwin has 35 catches for 698 yards and four scores. He lacks explosive speed, but at 6’5″ 225 lbs, I’m not sure he needs it. The average height and weight of the four cornerbacks in the Irish rotation is 6’0″ 190 lbs.
In last season’s four overtime classic, Pitt threw four straight fade routes to Baldwin from the five-yard line. Note that in order to run the same play four times, it must have failed the first three, yet the Panthers were not afraid to try again; the fourth attempt was successful. Do not expect things to be any different on Saturday night. Baldwin has matured as a receiver and the Notre Dame secondary has done nothing to prove that they can stop a legitimate playmaker.
On a more positive note for Irish fans, junior running back Armando Allen and sophomore right guard Trevor Robinson are both expected to return from injury and play this week. Aside from that, no more analysis of the Irish offense is necessary because they have three consistent performers in Jimmy Clausen, Golden Tate and Mike Floyd. The Irish will throw early and often and put up a lot of points; assuming Clausen has time to throw.