Notre Dame, with the usual and perplexing ebbs and flows, moved to 8-1 with a 42-30 win over the Pitt Panthers.
The Irish start was as easy as 1-2-3.
- Prosise around left end
- Prosise up the middle
- Flag pattern to Fuller for a touchdown
The Irish defense kept Pittsburgh bottled up and moved to a methodical 21-3 lead at halftime.
Pitt inducted Jimbo Covert into its Hall of Fame at halftime and assembled the Panther Legends: Iron Mike Ditka, Tony Dorsett, Johnny Majors, Bill Fralic, Dan Marino and Jackie Sherill. Cool story, bro! Pitt won the battle of the archives, Notre Dame the football game.
Pitt took the Second Half kickoff and scored. After the Irish answered Pitt countered to make it 28-17.
Narduzzi Went All In: Coney Won the Hand
After Pitt scored to close it to 28-17, Pat Narduzzi called for an onside kick, and while it eluded the Irish front wave, future star Tevon Coney pounced on it. Notre Dame pushed it in to make it a temporarily comfortable 35-17. An insurance touchdown on a Kizer keeper made it 42-17. The Panther fans strolled out of Heinz, and the focus strolled out of the Irish.
Failure to Finish: “Georgia Tech Syndrome”
The Irish finished poorly with KeiVarae deciding to criticize Redfield during a play rather than selling out to chase down Tyler Boyd. Boyd scored, and then Brandon Wimbush handed Pitt a final touchdown. The Irish, in an eerie deja vu of the Georgia Tech game, don’t quite close games.
He will not have a good career at Notre Dame. He will have a GREAT career. He plants and plows between the tackles, has great vision, some elusiveness and fine speed.
The pass rush is quietly improving. Redfield, despite the brain cramp against boy, is close, very close. But Joe Schmidt is deteriorating before our eyes. Schmidt now specializes in getting caught in traffic, stuck on blocks and late arrivals.
Red Zone Problems?
Hunter, Fuller, Adams and Kizer contend that there are no red zone problems. Pat Narduzzi declined comment.
At press time there was an unconfirmed rumor that Fuller was being detained in Pittsburgh for questioning regarding potential arraignment on charges of “Aggravated Cornerback Abuse” against Devonte Maddox.
Notre Dame Against Pitt by the Numbers
Coming into the game Pitt was scoring 26.1 ppg. The Irish allowed 30, with Wimbush pushing Pitt over the top. The Panthers were averaging 364.9 ypg total offense. The Irish allowed 398.
The Panthers had allowed 22.1 points per game. The Irish lit up the Heinz scoreboard for 42. The Panthers defense, with architecture by Pat Narduzzi, had been allowing just 325.9 ypg. The Irish amassed 437.
The last time he missed a field goal was in his second game in a Notre Dame uniform against Virginia in Charlottesville.
Notre Dame Plays Two Opponents Each Week
There is the listed opponent, Pitt earlier today, Wake on the 14th and BC in Fenway on the 21st.
“You don’t play against opponents. You play against the game of basketball.” Robert Montgomery Knight
Team 127 is also playing against its own potential each week to become the kind of football teams it needs to beat Stanford in Palo Alto (something Kelly has never accomplished) and a game, or even two, after that.
There are many areas that need improvement: power running between the tackles, red zone efficiency, defensive line depth and pass rush, the linebacker issue and the safeties making everything safe. Notre Dame is now 8-1 but it is neither close to its potential nor close to the level it needs to be to survive on November 28th and New Year’s Eve. Coaches know it, players know it. This is rare, intoxicating air: Team 127 both has a great record and a rarer hunger for so much more.
Notre Dame Senior Day, November 14th
This bunch was recruited during 2011 and their signing day was in February 2012. They came before the 2012 unbeaten season, so they had faith in Notre Dame before Notre Dame had warranted it. They came before the recruiting classes gave themselves clever nicknames. But they sure made a difference.!
Remember one thing. Kelly once said “We’ll never get respect until we beat an SEC team.” Well, these guys did that against LSU.
This class, and this is the way we count these things, has 36 wins before they take the field against the Demon Deacons. They are the winningest class since the class after Jeff Burris, Aaron Taylor, Bryant Young and Tim Ruddy.
Here they are:
Nicky Baratti – Klein Oak, Spring, TX. Nicky showed flashes as a frosh in the 2012 run, with 8 tackles and an interception. But shoulder injuries robbed him of his athleticism and strength, and he will finish as a backup.
If you see Nicky at a game 20 years from now, go easy on the handshake. He will have both a Notre Dame degree and an arthritic shoulder.
Chris Brown – Hanahan High, Hanahan SC- had 2 catches as a frosh, including a gem against the Sooners in Norman. He morphed from a one trick fly pattern pony to an every down receiver, the yin to Fuller’s yang. And, oh yeah, Brown can block.
Scott Daly – Downers Grove South, Downers Grove IL-The gold standard for a long snapper is anonymity and Daly accomplished that, though he became memorable in 2015 for the post-kick bows with Justin Yoon and non-anonymous holder Deshone Kizer.
Sheldon Day – Warren Central, Indianapolis, IN two year captain, four year stud, he is the straw that stirs the drink of Gilmore’s defensive line.
Mark Harrell – Charlotte Catholic, Charlotte, NC a squadman but always ready. Sometimes the best “next man in” is the one who never gets in.
Jarron Jones – Aquinas Institute, Rochester, NY-took a while to get going but arrived in 2014 before the injury. Became some kind of run stopping stud in the middle. While he could not play with his buddy Day in 2015, he will be a teammate of little brother Jamir in 2016.
Romeo Okwara – Ardrey Kell, Charlotte, NC-too young and underdeveloped to play as a frosh but roster challenges forced him to burn the redshirt. Has matured into a solid defensive end as a senior, keeping the precocious Andrew Trumbetti on the bench. As he leaves the graduation stage he passes the mystical baton to little brother Julian.
C.J. Prosise – Woodberry Forest, Petersburg VA-Ath-uh-leet. First rate, explosive slot man and migrated to be an outstanding outside runner. Whatever elite speed is, Prosise has it.
KeiVarae Russell – Mariner High, Everett WA-H.D. Thoreau wrote about him, as KeiVarae marches to the beat of a different drum. Went from male lead in the Notre Dame school play as a sophomore to banishment to Tacoma a year later, to leaping on crates to astounding 4th quarter interceptions, when it mattered most, against USC and Temple.
Elijah Shumate – Don Bosco Prep, East Orange, NJ –Effective as a nickel as a frosh, then took time to find his niche. Ultima hombre, the last man standing, who stood his ground for 13 tackles against USC on a tough afternoon in the Coliseum last November. Solid senior season.
Ronnie Stanley – Bishop Gorman, Las Vegas, NV-an RKG, the first drip of liquid gold from the Gorman pipeline. Best ND OL since Zach Martin. And isn’t it nice that our “best since” time frame is now compressed to two years.
John Turner – Cathedral, Indianapolis, IN-moved from safety to OLB back to safety never found his niche.
And a special appearance from a guy who wasn’t around for his originally scheduled senior day:
Ishaq Williams, Abraham Lincoln Railsplitters, Brooklyn
Let’s be honest, with all the emotion, there may be two other guys with a tear in their eye. The Notre Dame way is that you don’t get a Senior Day unless you are a senior. But if these two juniors leave for the NFL and collect paychecks instead of playing for the Irish in 2016, who can blame them: Jaylon Smith and Will Fuller.
We are aware that while you play for our Irish, you are first and foremost people and God’s children. Fare thee well, lads!
What Will We See Against Wake Forest?
(1) Dave Clawson a good young coach who has picked up the Wake program after Wake alum Jim Grobe suffered program atrophy after he began fading into the sunset (it’s a familiar syndrome, ask Steve Spurrier, Norm Chow and George O’leary)
(2) A Demon Deacon squad that is sound defensively
(3) Another well-rested team, as they last played on October 30th, the eve of Halloween.
(4) An anemic offense. In Power Five games they only scored more than 20 once, by hanging 24 on the defensive juggernaut from Indiana.
(5) A chance for an unbeaten home season for the Irish, the second in Kelly’s regime, the second since Bob Davie’s masterpiece of an unbeaten home schedule in ’98!