We saw ruthless, brutal physical domination. After establishing that, Brian Kelly’s 2015 Fighting Irish used a remarkable array of skilled players and a stunning performance by Malik Zaire to dehorn Charley Strong’s Texas Longhorns 38-3. 38 points? Was it an homage to the 38 scored on January 2, 1978 by Montana, Ferguson Heavens and that bunch? Regardless, Kelly’s minions waltzed across Texas like they were Ernest Tubb.
Brian Van Gorder’s Defense was magnificent. Certainly, the Texas Offense was young, more calf than steer. Certainly they got their ears boxed. Texas generated two plays of more than 20 yards. EIGHT (8) first downs. The defense established tone early with the chilling three and outs on the first two Texas’ series. This allowed the offense time to unfold, while Harry’s Hammers, Stanley, Nelson, Martin, Elmer and McGlinchey, played an anvil chorus on Longhorn defenders. By season’s end, the Texas defense may be the best in that fantasy league which calls itself the Big XII. By the third quarter Prosise was adding yards whlle Harry’s Hammers pushed the pile as if it were a rugby scrum. That is seldom seen against a Charley Strong/Vance Bedford defense.
Malik Zaire was expected to be a dazzling runner and an adequate passer. That was incorrect on both counts. In the offseason, Mike Sanford kept muttering about Zaire getting his base right. Zaire must have listened. Differing from some of his predecessors, Zaire seems to have a fetish for throwing to open receivers. Thus: 19-22-313-3-0.
Goodness gracious! He has been fully weaponized, and Van Gorder and Elston may soon get a visit from the folks enforcing the Geneva Conventions. He is doing things on the field that have not been seen around Michiana before. Is it sacrilegious, and a blasphemy against Buoniconti, Lynch, Crable and T’eo to harbor the thought that Jaylon Smith might be the greatest Notre Dame linebacker of all time?
Next Man In
Ther is nothing so pharisaic as a slogan decoupled from the commitment to honor it. But Notre Dame walks this talk. Jarron Jones, and it was joyous to see the hulking 94 on the sideline, goes down and Daniel Cage steps up and in. Yes, Cage has a backup, more about him within. Tarean Folston leaves the game, glumly after 6 minutes. Prosise steps up and Josh Adams steps in.
Newcomers of the Match
Jerry Tillery-ah, so that’s what all the fuss was about? Big, quick, eager, hot in pursuit. The best thing about him is that Daniel Cage starts, preserving Tillery from traveling a bridge too far, too soon.
Josh Adams-it is poignant that Folston was the domino that fell to give Adams the opportunity, but his touchdowns were not flukes. Great vision in the hole, and a patience beyond his class year. He will not score two TDS per game, but he will score a lot before he departs du lac.
Against Georgia Tech, Navy Clemson, USC and Stanford, (well at least the first four) the defense’s mettle will be tested, but the Van Gorder defense was more than solid in its first outing.
Player Development Wizards
- Quenton Nelson-Harry’s pipeline spits out another gem, and Alex Bars is only a smidgen behind.
- Romeo Okwara-at last, the child becomes the man.
- Daniel Cage-fat and winded as a frosh, he is good to go.
This is some kind of mature team. Only two underclassmen started, Quenton Nelson and Cage.
- The Irish will not finish the season winless. And that is the only definitive conclusion we can reach at this point.
But as Aesop began and Steven Covey magnified, it is about the goose, production capacity. more than about production, the golden egg. So far we have one golden egg, apparently anathema to people wearing burnt orange. But, you know, it may be from a very healthy, fertile goose.
Kelly Messes with Texas
We are Notre Dame and we mess with Texas whenever we please. While not for those squeamish about sadism or mental cruelty, Kelly’s two time outs to ice Nick Rose were cold-blooded magic.
What Will We See Against Texas?
- A dead man walking, Mike London.
- The dreaded “sandwich” game. Human nature is seldom defeated. After the emotion of the home opener against Texas and the upcoming battle royale between Van Gorder and Paul Johnson, this game is a textbook sandwich game.
- While UCLA drubbed UVA the Cavs usually have one decent home game in them each year. It is realistic to expect that Virginia will play better than its potential while Notre Dame will underperform its potential. (This section is not entitled “What do we want to see?” but “What will we see?”)
- A game in sunlight, an increasingly rare setting for the Fighting Irish
Don’t Forget This
On September 3, 2016 Notre Dame will travel to Austin to play Strong’s third edition of Texas. Strong, and all of us, know the potential for improvement in the third year. Texas, simply, is a team on the make, and playing defense the way they will in one more year probably violates the code of the Fantasy League disguised as the Big XII. Please do not assume that the 2016 game will be a replay of the 2015 game.
Who dem Hoos?