Notre Dame Football: Temple Game Post Game 6-Pack

Well now, sometimes being wrong is really awesome.  I thought the Notre Dame offense would be a bit sluggish out of the gates until it got its timing down in today’s season opener.  It took Notre Dame two plays to go 70 yards and score the first touchdown of the season.  The Irish didn’t slow down too much from there enroute to a 49-16 victory over a Temple team that has won 20 games the last two years.

There was a lot to like today but there also were a few causes for concern despite the easy victory.  Here are my first few thoughts on today’s win brought to you from the Irish Express Chicago to South Bend bus that was my chariot for today’s game.  Highly recommend them by the way and that isn’t just the Goose Island talking.

Wimbush showed he can be elite, but will have growing pains

The future is very bright for Brandon Wimbush at Notre Dame and that was very evident in his starting debut on Saturday.  Wimbush made some nice throws and made a lot of plays with his legs.  He accounted for three touchdowns (2 through the air and 1 on the ground) and led Notre Dame to 49 points on the day.  At the same time, Wimbush showed his inexperienced with a couple missed throws and a bad decision on his lone interception on the day.

In the fourth quarter Wimbush had Equanimeous St. Brown behind the Temple defense and wide open for an easy score.  He put just a bit too much air on it though and St  Brown ended up not coming down with the ball.  St. Brown could have made a better effort on the ball but even if he laid out, it should have been a walk in touchdown and it wouldn’t have been.  His interception was just a bad decision.  Should have never thrown it and in time, he won’t make that throw.

We saw what we thought we would from Wimbush today.  Elite athleticism and skills but some inexperience.  Unfortunately he will need to improve a lot in a short period of time with Georgia coming into town next weekend.

Running for 400+ yards was pretty awesome

I thought Notre Dame would be able to run the ball on Temple, but I never imagined that the Irish would rack up 400+ yards on the Owls today.  It was a bit of an odd 422 yards if that is even possible with Notre Dame ripping off big chunk plays but struggling in short yardage situations and getting stuffed at the line a bit.  Still, 422 yards.

Notre Dame had three players top 100 yards thanks to Dexter Williams ripping off a 40 and 66 yard run.  He finished with 124 yards on just 6 carries.  Adams checked in at 161 on 19 carries.  Wimbush was the third Golden Domer to top 100 yards with 106 on 12 runs.  All three scored – Adams twice – and sophomore Tony Jones Jr scored his first career touchdown as Notre Dame ran for 5 total touchdowns.

Temple was trying to take away the run a bit so it’s not time ot get concerned that Notre Dame got stuffed a number of times – especially when they ran for freaking 422 yards.

Mike Elkos’s Notre Dame debut felt a bit vanilla

Notre Dame’s defense was OK on Saturday and that is a good thing.  The defense – for the most part – eliminated the big play, tackled well, and made stops when they needed to.  We didn’t see Elko dial up a whole lot of exotic blitzes though.  Who knew you could play good defense by just being vanilla and being fundamentally sound?

All that said, it did feel a little like Elko was holding somethings back.  We didn’t see a lot of blitzes but we did see Notre Dame get some pressure and that is VERY encouraging.  Notre Dame sacked Temple three times with Julian Okwara, Daelin Hayes, and Tevon Coney doing the honors.  Coney even paid an homage to Jaylon Smith after his sack by celebrating with Smith’s signature swipe.   If Notre Dame can keep getting pressure this year without blitzing much, this defense will be pretty good.

Now I don’t think Notre Dame or Elko was purposefully “holding back” for Temple but I do think he came into this game knowing he didn’t need to blitz Temple to get pressure and the Irish did just that.  Next week, that probably won’t be the case though so expect to see many more wrinkles next week for the Bulldogs.

Notre Dame can’t rely on Wimbush to run that much every week

While it was great seeing Notre Dame run for over 400 yards and seeing Wimbush mkae plays with his legs, I couldn’t help but think that on a couple of those runs, Wimbush would have gotten lit up by a better, faster defense like say Georgia’s.  Coach D of Blue & Gold said something really smart this week – he does that often – stating that Notre Dame will run Wimbush each week as much as they have to to win.  This week that was 12 times.  And it worked.

If Brandon Wimbush is running 12 times each week and taking as many hits as he did today every week though, we might see Ian Book in more than just mop up duty.  For today though, it was hard to watch Wimbush run like he did and not think back to some of Notre Dmae’s better running quarterbacks like Tony Rice and Jarious Jackson.

Wide receivers after Equanimeous St. Brown are a concern

While there was a whole lot to like today, the wide receivers after Equanimeous St. Brown were a definite concern.  Seeing Freddy Canteen and Cameron Smith as starters on the first depth chart should have given us a hint that maybe the young wide receivers weren’t quite ready.  Today did not do much to dispel that notion.  Notre Dame needs another wide receiver to step up opposite St. Brown.

The only wide receiver other than Brown to have more than one reception was Cameron Smith and his three catches yielded all of 10 yards.  Canteen had one catch for seven yards, Chase Claypool had one for 16 yards.  Miles Boykin, Chris Finke, Javon McKinley, CJ Sanders, and Kevin Stepherson had none.

Notre Dame will need another wide receiver to make some plays next week.  Now, I was concerned that the timing of the passing game wouldn’t quite be there this week since Chip Long‘s offense is based on a lot of quick passes and screens.  We saw Notre Dame try to run a few wide receivers screens today.  Those did not go well.

I was also concerned with the Temple secondary today though to be fair so let’s see how this unit performs throughout the season.

Justin Yoon is a concern too

I listed Justin Yoon as a concern going into the game and he didn’t too much to calm those concerns.  He made all seven extra point attempts but he missed both field goals – one from 44 and another from 48.  Now, neither miss was all that bad.  The 44 yarder hit the upright and and the 48 yarder was just wide right.  Still, you don’t want to see you place kicker miss his first two attempts on the year.  The good news is both had plenty of leg so hopefully he just needs to work out a few kinks.

This week it didn’t matter, but next week it might.  Notre Dame needs to be able to count on Yonn for field goals in the 40-49 yard range next week when Georgia comes to town.

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  1. WR – the answer is Chase Claypool. The Irish do not have another player beside EQ that has that combination of size, strength, speed, and athleticism. I’ve said it all offseason and fall camp.

    Not sure what Stepherson did to get in the dog house, but he needs to get out.

    My starting 3 would be EQ, Claypool and Stepherson.

    Yoon – I’m very concerned with this. The former #1 high school kicker in the nation who has posted a video of making a 40 yarder in practice with his left foot (he’s a right footed kicker), seems to have lost all his mojo. I hate to say this but if he’s not up to it then ND needs to play Kohler, a walk-on who made FG of 42 and 46 yards and all 5 PATs in the Blue Gold Game.

  2. What I did see that I haven’t seen for awhile at ND:
    – ND played nearly 40 positional players before halftime, including 7 OL and 5 TEs all with playing time, and all of that in the 1st half. ND seems content with their two new WRs, Smith and Canteen; not many (were there any?)opportunities for Boykin, McKinney or C.J Sanders or Finke. At least another 20 position players in first half alone on D’, and much better pressure, even without many blitzes.
    – Enjoy watching WR E. Brown for ND while you can; he’ll be in the NFL next season.
    – The DEs provided pressure and even sacks. Daelin Hayes was involved big time, moving with Wimbush from future star to current star. Coney played as well as any of the LB starters. Studstill seemed more productive than Eliot at safety.
    – Wimbush is dynamic; he made far more great reads, passes, and runs than the few mistakes already mentioned. Would love to see Dexter Williams get more touches- he explodes through the hole, and speaking of the OL
    – more gaps to run through from the OL than I’ve seen in awhile. But Wimbush did get hit too many times after releasing the pass- and he definitely needs to slide more to protect himself. It’s a long season.
    – Great to see ND finish strong

    Next up: Georgia, running right at ND with two big-time RBs.

    1. Nice take/coverage MTA on the game and insertion of numerous players through out. Gonna need all whether freshmen or seniors. Nice game senior tight end Nick Weishar. Also center Mustapher played a mistake free game — and helped in busting open some running plays.

  3. I’m not concerned about Yoon. I feel like Kelly tried those field goals because he didn’t really need the points. If the game had been closer, he would have punted and tried to stick them inside their 10-yard line. Those were pretty long FG attempts, and Yoon needed the practice. If I remember it correctly, the first one was just wide to the left and the second one hit the right post. So, he bracketed the target. It looked like his PATs were a bit wayward as well, but he wasn’t far enough away for that to cause a miss.

    So, he has to dial it in after being a bit rusty from resting his knee. I feel pretty confident he’ll be able to do that.

    1. 1. Last week I wrote that I was a huge Yoon fan, and I am…but I have to state the obvious here – Yoon is a problem right now. I hope Coach Kelly continues to take threes on fourth down, that is almost always the smart play, but I would understand it if he starts going for it on fourth instead if Yoon continues to miss. That could cost us dearly. 2. The secondary has some major problems to address quickly…a quarterback with a little more “touch” would have completed 5 or 6 of those midrange passes that were open for Temple but ended up incomplete. Their QB threw some passes that were just a little high and really hard throws…almost bullets, to open receivers. Don’t expect that next week. Also, Georgia likes to throw slants…QB pressure doesn’t often help there. So come on secondary…come on Coach Elko…let’s tighten up a just a bit!
      3. Everyone is scared of Georgia’s run game with Chubb et al. I am too, but a bit less so than last Friday! I doubt they’ll make a living going at Hayes and Tranquill…they had monster games…also – great tackling across the board on “D”…low, at the lower legs or ankles with the head up and a good wrap…saw it all day long. Nice! Really nice. 4. As for the “O” – you made some rookie mistakes here and there, but with the usual improvement from game one to game two, Georgia has its work cut out for it. Nice to see the “I” formation on third and goal and fourth and goal…a thing of beauty…over the RIGHT side of the line,,,not the All American side! NICE!

      Now, to paraphrase HANS SOLO – “let’s try it against the living!”

      Bruce G. Curme
      La Crosse, Indiana

  4. Biggest issue I seen was the linebackers aside from Coney, who played well. Greer Martini HAS to learn how to break down and tackle. His arm tackling will not get it done against Georgia.

    1. Ryan,
      I agree. It seems that everybody wrapped up lower legs, ankles, or hips except GM. And I don’t just mean the linebackers – I mean everybody, not just the linebackers. Greer needs to join the team!
      Bruce G. Curme
      La Crosse, Indiana

  5. The game plan coming into was pretty obvious, run the ball, short passes, and fundamental decense. All we are a check. Brandon might need to slide a bit more imo. Yoon concerns me, but a couple of makes can turn around his confidence. Main concern is, receivers. More Claypool please and Steph needs to.get out of the dog house adap.

  6. The difference tween this team and last years, is this team finds a way to win. Last years team found a way to lose. They are hungry after being humiliated last year week after week. Winning is a good habit to get into. I liked they didn’t start loafing when comfortably ahead.

    1. I had to follow the game remotely but I was checking regularly. I like the fact that they really played all four quarters. No coasting. At least that’s what it looked like from a distance.

      1. Same here Brad…..I was concerned that after jumping out to an easy early lead the Irish would revert to form and lose momemtem…didn’t happen. I’m not sure if Temple is the same caliber of teams that won 20 games the last two years, but they are not a state hyphen team.

    2. Couldnt agree with this more. Teams of old seem to allow opponent to get back into the game. It seems we kept to our plan and kept it rolling. Temple might not be as strong, but not terrible. A complete game imo.

  7. I wasn’t happy with Temple being able to run easily on ND. They better get it together for next week or it will be a long night. Georgia has issues with throwing the ball, but their defense is really goid

      1. Sitting in the stadium, it *felt* like Temple was running well against ND – but the stats didn’t bear that out (in YPC), even counting sacks. D seemed to get better as the game progressed.

      2. Agree 100%. I want to dive into the numbers a bit but just from sitting in the stands it felt like Temple had good success running on first down and then the defense clamped down in short yardage. If I can find an easy way to pull in each play and do that analysis I’ll post something about it.

      3. I wouldn’t downplay Temple too much. They lost some talent to the NFL but they have good players at WR, RB, and in the secondary. This is a pretty good team and might have been the perfect type of week 1 opponent. For once, almost everything worked out well for Notre Dame in an opener.

    1. ND gave up 82 yards rushing and it APPEARS that Jauwja will be missing their starting QB for the ND game. Stack the box and make a true Frosh beat you, in his first start…..on the road……@ night.

      1. I personnaly dont think this bodes well for us. Seems that quarterbacks play the game of their lives against us in that scenario smh. Hope this year is different. The dawgs have a serious 2 headed monster that will be our focal point. After yesterday, do you all think our secondary can make enough plays? A bit of suspect coverage and tackling.

      2. I wouldn’t be too ecstatic about Jake Fromm replacing Jacob Eason. Georgia wasn’t getting much done until Fromm came in and lit it up. There are plenty of freshman QBs out there who can do more than get the job done, and Fromm looks like one of them.

    2. Run easily? On one possession, yes. Their guy ran savagely, and it seemed like our guys weren’t ready for it. All other possessions – we adjusted very quickly and very well…you must have been watching a different game than me! Did your cat step on the remote?

      Bruce G. Curme ’77 ’82

    3. I just felt like they had a lot of 5 yard runs on first down. They need to stop that because with Chubb and Michel, you miss a tackle and it will be a 40 yd gain or TD. I also saw some time where Temple missed 3rd down plays. It was good win, but there is still work to be done.

      1. Jack,
        Well I partly agree with that. We want to put their quarterback in second and seven or worse if we can, of course, and you are right…sometimes we gave too much on first down. I’m not sure why that happened though…maybe Elko wasn’t looking for the run on first down so much as we saw it, or maybe something else was going on, or maybe our guys just screwed up first game style…I don’t know. But you can bet on this – in passing situations that young man from Georgia is going to see some stuff he never saw in high school, and never saw in the film room against Temple! The trick, of course, is to get them into passing situations, and not to be burned by a pass on first down stacking the box so obviously that even a “Rookie” QB sees it. Simple, right?

        Bruce G. Curme
        La Crosse, Indiana

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