Beyond the Box Score: Notre Dame 19, Georgia 20

An offense that is still in the midst trying to get its footing that was facing a defense that was that seemingly everywhere when it counted. That unfortunate convergence might help explain why the Notre Dame Fighting Irish came up one point short in their 20-19 loss to the Georgia Bulldogs. Brian Kelly’s squad had their chances, yet could only manage one touchdown on the night.

What worked against a Temple team that was in the midst of change was quickly found to be highly ineffective. Also, what did work only came in bursts.

Deserting the Run

Unlike last week’s running game that racked up over 400 yards on the ground, the Irish were forced to rely on their pass offense to move the ball. During the first half, Notre Dame managed just 27 yards on 18 carries, with a trio of big passing plays helping set up the team’s 13 points. The second was really no better, with the night’s work showing just 55 yards on 37 carries.

Wimbush ended the night connecting on 19 of 39 passes for 211 yards. While he didn’t notch any touchdown passes, a trio of key first half receptions helped send the Irish into halftime holding a 13-10 advantage.Cameron Smith’s 29-yard grab on the first series of the game set up a 40-yard Justin Yoon field goal and a 32-yards screen pass to Josh Adams set up the first touchdown of the game. Finally, Wimbush and Alize Mack connected on another 32-yard catch for Yoon’s second three-pointer.

Third Down Troubles

Both teams were woeful when it came to delivering on third down, one indication of the tough defensive battle that took place. During the first half, Notre Dame failed on all eight third down tries and ended the night converting only three times in 17 attempts, though Georgia was equally bad by delivering on just four of their 18 efforts for the evening.

Circus Time

Two plays that ultimately spelled the difference in the game were an indication of the athleticism that Georgia has on their roster. The first came on an amazing one-handed grab in the end zone by Terry Godwin that knotted the score at 10 midway through the second quarter. The call was originally called an incomplete pass until replay reversed the call.

The second dagger came during the Bulldogs’ go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter. In this instance, a first down pass from Fromm to Javon Wims saw the wideout outleap Irish defenders to come down the ball. Wims made a similar play last week against Appalachian State that turned a potential pickoff into a touchdown.

Staying in the Game

Losing by one point is just as costly as a blowout defeat, though Notre Dame was able to avoid starting the second half in deep trouble instead of being up by three points. Georgia’s string of first half self-inflicted wounds began when they got their hands on the ball for the first time. What would have been a 90-yard kickoff return was reduced to a mere 23 by a holding call.

Notre Dame’s first touchdown was then set up by a fumbled handoff that Bulldogs’ quarterback Jake Fromm tried to pick up instead of simply falling on it. Another penalty wiped out an impressive run by Georgia running back Nick Chubb and a near-interception would have given them the ball in prime Irish territory. In the second half, Irish fans took a deep breath after a second half bomb by the Bulldogs that looked like six points was dropped.

A Penalty Party

Some early-season sloppiness was evident on both sides after both teams combined to get flagged for 20 times throughout the game. While some of Georgia’s most costly blunders have already been noted, Notre Dame also paid the price for their eight stumbles in this area,

In the third quarter, they held a 16-10 lead and had Georgia facing third-and-16. With Fromm racing to get out of bounds and short of the first down marker, Irish lineman Julian Okwara delivered a late hit that allowed the Bulldogs to maintain possession. Just two plays later, a 40-yard run by Georgia was compounded by a flag because of Devin Studstill’s horse collar tackle that put the ball at the Notre Dame 6-yard line. One play later, the Irish trailed again.

Special Teams Highlights

While the Irish punt return team had their struggles, managing minus three yards on three returns, there were different facets of the Special Teams unit that thrived. On a busy night, punter Tyler Newsome averaged 47.1 yards on his nine kicks, dropping it into the Georgia red zone on two of three occasions, with a 59-yard boot his best effort.

Kicker Justin Yoon rebounded after his struggles against Temple, staying within his range to boot four field goals. The longest of those was for 42 yards, while the last one gave Notre Dame a temporary lead in the final quarter.

Next Up

Brian Kelly seeks to keep his undefeated streak against the Boston College Eagles going when the Irish travel to Chestnut Hill next Saturday. Kelly’s teams have won four times against BC, with the last victory taking place in 2015. The Eagles are coming off an ugly 34-10 home loss to Wake Forest in which they coughed up the ball four times.

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  1. Well, I’m back from Mass and the annual parish picnic…and I feel a lot better. So are you ready for a tale told by an idiot? Well, OK, if not an idiot, at least told by a bipolar retired guy (diagnosed young and expertly treated by Madison Center)…just as my “old dad” was bipolar before me (diagnosed fairly late in life and never treated) and most probably my grandfather before him (never diagnosed and never treated though he died young…10 years before I was born). Here it comes…if you don’t want to hear it, stop reading now.
    Once upon a time, many years ago, somewhere in the National Catholic Research Institution’s athletic offices, a tough talking guy arose and said to the press “we’re going to go after the scalpers and we really mean it this time…if we catch anyone, his ticket privileges will be revoked…so you better not do anymore.” He also told the same to University employees of all levels and the contributing alumni. And pretty soon the net was set, and a few dozen scalpers were caught red handed. And lo and behold, the first one caught, and I mean the very first one, happened to be a prominent secretary of a well known HEAD coach (non-football) in the men’s athletic department. Well, back in those days, communications went through copper wires, not quite the speed of light through vacuum or glass, but still pretty darn quick. In seconds everybody on campus knew about it. We all knew exactly who she was, of course. Now I don’t pretend to know what that head coach thought about it all, I never met the good fellow. But I do know what I thought about it (and I was not alone). I thought “Halleluyah, this is the perfect example to put the fear of the Lord in these scalpers at last.” And we all waited for her ticket privileges to be revoked by Mister Hard Ass. And we waited. And we waited some more. But the whole Administration was quieter than a musty old pigeon skull way up in Sacred Heart Church’s bell tower. And then Mr. Bad Ass started to speak again…at least his mouth was moving…I’m not sure if they were actually his words, maybe, but he was speaking again one way or another. And he wasn’t a hard ass at all! He was such a nice fellow, and he told us about all kinds of things we’d NEVER heard of before…special circumstances, first time as opposed to second time offenders, and a previously unknown double secret appeals process open to everyone who got caught! And wonder of wonders…”revoking ticket privileges” did not mean for life…it only meant for the season (maybe) or next season (maybe). I should never have been surprised by it…I mean how many invertebrates have hard asses anyway? Can you say SCOFF LAW (iterum iterum iterumque)? Of course they continue to bust a pittance of people every now and then, even to this day (I mean they had to do something to save face, right?)

    But let me give you two examples from today, that I know to be true, because I know the very people. The first one, let’s call him “friend of the family” to protect his identity, has a wife who works a lower level food service type job (probably hourly) at the University. He finances her guaranteed season tickets as a university employee every year. Neither are sports fans of any sort. He simply augments their income a bit by getting as much for the tix as he possibly can every year, except for one pair each year that he gives to someone as a birthday gift, never to a premier game, of course.

    Example two: We have another family friend who is a career secretary out there: much higher up the food chain, but still she only gets one pair guaranteed per year. She works (broadly speaking) in athletics (again, non-football). So how does she show up with a deck of twenty five tix in her hand? ANSWER: She’s selling them for a dozen faculty, staff, and other employees, along with her own, of course.

    CJ – you might say “so what?” Except if you multiply this by unknown thousands of employees, and the South Bend season ticket holding families as well, and grad students and research faculty who don’t care a rats ass about anything but their area of study (except money, of course)…well you get the picture I think. Anyone who isn’t so color blind that they can’t tell the difference between green and red should have gotten the picture last night. And university employees are BY FAR the worst offenders. Always have been.

    But I’m crazy, right? It really isn’t that way at all out there at the Catholic Disneyland, is it?

    1. The school is now actively encouraging the resale of tickets, via their partnership with VividSeats. And, I’m quire certain a large number of long-time season ticket holders are no longer season ticket holders.
      I canceled this year after 20 years, due to the exhorbitant increase in price. (went from $6000 to 10,000 for our four seats.)
      Many of those around us in our section did not renew.

  2. A lot of talk about the other team “taking over” Its all about Big Time $$$$. The Notre Dame/South Bend culture got sick and tired of having day games and opponents running out of town without helping the infrastructure. Hence, the night games and you have a captured customer.

  3. Why on earth didn’t Dexter Williams play? He was the most talented back in the stadium (for either team) as he is most weeks. What has he done to get into Kelly’s doghouse? Something similar to Stepherson? Up until now I’ve tried to give Kelly the benefit of the doubt, but no more. Even last week, he barely played
    Williams and all he did was play like the all-pro he’ll become once he gets under a good coach in the NFL. Not playing him or Stepherson last night was nothing but criminal, and Kelly has a history of leaving his best players on the bench.
    Something is going on with this and I wish someone would come forth and reveal what his problem with certain players is. Just maddeningly frustrating to see great players parked on the bench, year after year.

    1. Les , that is the question I’d like answered of why didn’t Dexter Williams play ? As CJ poster pointed out —Josh Adams , had to be tired and if not — a different look/spark in the back field by a different kind of runner such as Williams—would give Georgia D something else to adjust to.

    2. Les/Southside,

      It is very frustrating that Williams didn’t get one freaking snap. I thought for sure that maybe they were just saving him for fresh legs in the 2nd half or something but no, benched. Either Kelly is seriously stupid or maybe Williams did something to prevent himself from being able to play on offense. My guess is the former considering it was Williams at gunner blowing punt returners up. Is that really where Kelly and Polian think Williams talent is at is gunner and not RB? These are the types of things that make you unsuccessful as a coach. Adams could not and should not handle the load himself for the entire game. He was clearly wearing down in the 2nd half and Williams is basically just as good of a back. Here you have an opposing coach using his two stud RBs interchangeably all throughout the game to keep fresh legs, even deep into the game. But our stupid coach plays one back the whole game who is just getting killed by that fast GA defense and you just keep running him out there. I don’t remember this but I heard that Adams missed a key block at one point late in the game and Wimbush got drilled. Was it because he was too tired to get there? Maybe…

  4. Look at the replay of late 3rd quarter and 4th. Look at Wimbush’s eyes. You see a look of frustration and a lack of belief. Golson had that look his final year and what Kizer started to have it. Tommy Rees having gone through the Kelly grinder isn’t going to know differently when coaching quarterbacks. I predict this team will rebound during September but as the season wears on that look will return and they will drop games other than to USC and Stanford. Look for two other losses.

    8-5 or 7-6. That’s what this team has.

    Kelly is not happy and it is showing.

    The school still doesn’t understand what it takes to reach the pinnacle. In actuality Ara came in after only about 6 or 7 years of futility. The next “Ara” has to come in after 25 years of futility. That combined with a football culture that celebrates “ghetto” and celebrates the fact that athletes aren’t really students at 99% of the schools.
    The next “Ara” isn’t showing up.

    1. C-Dog , Damian , Bruce G—and others , this debate/argument about Kelly has been going on for many years now. Kelly got hired –his resume was okay–not a coach well known — funny , a lot of folks thought Chip Kelly from Oregon was hired. But , let’s face it when Ara was hired he wasn’t famous like a Woody Hayes or Bear Bryant. Lou Holtz when hired wasn’t one of the marquee coaches across the college football land. Both Ara and Lou came into to revive the program’s drought. Kelly has not done that pure and simple. How has Kelly stayed on so long with an average of 8 wins a season? Well , after 8 win mediocre seasons — Irish go 12-0. Now that will get you carte blanche as any coach would get after a 12-0 season for new contract and even after 2 following years of horse shit —Kelly can’t be fired cause of that 12-0 season –right ? So , they bounce back in 2015 with 10-2 record barely losing to Clemson and Stanford. Kelly certaintly is not going to be fired. Despite BVG led defense — which was detiorating in the melt down of 2014 and continued in 2015 despite the 10 wins. So , again like 2012 , Kelly get’s off the hook. I was okay with the 10 wins and a Fiesta Bowl. We all looked forward to 2016 and hoping program was heading to 11 win season or 10 —anything better than mediocre 8 win seasons. But turned out to be a disaster — 4-8. One of the worst season in ND history. Surely Kelly would be fired—but he was not. So , here we are in 2017 , supposedly a new change in staff , training –and Kelly a new kind of coach. Well , if Irish don’t win 10 games this season — Kelly has got to go. I’ve had enough of his getting off the hook. As far as some of you saying there are no other coaches out there —well , the coach we have HERE ain’t cutting it either. Remember Ara and Lou weren’t famous coaches when they got hired. Sorry , I just can’t accept another 8-9 wins as moving forward — been there/done that under Kelly’s regime. I don’t think a marquee coach like Urban Meyer , Saban , Snoops is essential. Ara and Lou weren’t marquee when hired. Who then ? Well , call me crazy — but Mike Elko is the guy. Good day and God Bless .

      1. Yeah, the 12-0 season back in 2012 bought him a few years, even from me I admit. Up until last year’s Duke game (a watershed loss for me personally) I thought we were almost there.

        I admit, I am astonished that BK didn’t turn things around at ND. When he was hired I thought, ND finally got it’s guy. After past misfired (O’Leary, Meyer anyone), I thought, this time they got the guy. Here’s a guy that got Cincinnati to a BCS bowl. A team that in years past was lucky just to get to A bowl, period. If he could do that will Cincinnati players, what will he bring to ND with our recruits. Then 2012 seemed to indicate a turning point. We finally have a good defense, and the offense was only going to get better, so I thought. Alabama showed we had some work to do, but we were finally on the right track. Then EG gets kicked off the team for a year, BVG takes over as DC and everything falls apart. Then we have a 10-2 year in 2015 and it seems things are starting to come together again, then we go 4-8.

        You know, in the beginning, there was concern BK couldn’t recruit. But he maintained the level of recruiting of Weis (IMHO the one thing Weis did do well was recruit). It ended up being coaching, the area I thought he’d be ok at.

        Well, all that being said, ND could still exceed expectations this year. I am pleasantly surprised that the defense is progressing as well as it has. There’s weaknesses to be sure, but by games end I was no longer nervous when our defense took the field. When they decided to punt with under 6 minutes to go instead of going for it on 4th and long, I actually believed our defense could get a 3 and out. It’s been a long time since I felt that way. Special teams was ok, at least the FG and punting unit. The punts were what we needed, good distance and hang time.

        I’ll be perfectly honest. I’d rather win out and win a NY Day 6 bowl this year. Even if it means BK stays. It’d be easier then starting all over again with a new coach. I’d rather win now.

  5. I wonder how many of those recruits that were visiting we lost. I’m not even really talking about the final score. Just the ineffectiveness on offense. But ND will still have 10 more games to redeem themselves. I’m frustrated, esp. since the defense did come through for the most part.

    But they basically let Georgia take over ND stadium. It was almost a home game atmosphere for the Bulldogs. ND CAN’T LET THAT HAPPEN. You can’t let an opposing team, esp. on such a huge game like this take over your stadium. I can only imagine what the recruits must be thinking. “Gee, on one of their biggest games of the year, the fans don’t even want to see them.” I’d find that embarrassing. I wish I didn’t live halfway across the country or I’d have been there. Just sad.

    1. The old time fans don’t believe in Kelly. And most traditional Domers and subway alums aren’t impressed with a Jerry Jones inspired stadium renovation. That’s not Notre Dame. Finally folks are fed up and beginning to give up their tix.
      But before everyone jumps to conclusions about who sold tix to Georgia fans, we should find out the mechanism. Notre Dame is traditionally hard on scalpers. But they do allow people wth season tix to sell back one game at a time at face value. Is it possible the University is allowing anyone to pay “the going rate” on stub hub, etc.? For all anyone knows the University itself sold those tix.
      For the last 25 years it’s been a freak show yet the money has rolled in. So don’t be surprised if the University would find a way to make money from turning the stadium into a paradise for opponents. “For the low price of $1,300 you can watch your favorite SEC hick school kick the ass of the Irish and put those Catholics back in their place!” I wouldn’t be surprised.

      1. You really believe Georgia kicked ND ass??

        If Georgia is #14 in the country then ND is #14.5!

        No excuse for losing, just an observation on your comment.

      2. It will be interesting to see. I never really noticed other fans taking over ND stadium like that before. This was really the first time I felt like a home game was more like an away game. I just don’t understand it. Even if you wanted BK fired after last year, this was still likely their biggest game of the year (against a team we’ve played once, and the first regular season SEC opponent in over a decade). It was huge. And after last week’s romp their was some optimism coming into this week. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense.

      3. For those of us who were alive and closely watching the old Notre Dame, this program pales in comparison. Holtz saw issues in 87 and in 88 the team looked marketedly better immediately. Holtz kept that program in the hunt until 1994. You could see the difference.
        Tickets were far less expensive. Students could get the 1989 Fiesta Bowl ticket / national championship game for $35

        So for the fans who may have been used to Parseghian, Devine, and Holtz teams, the price the University charges for admission is way above the value of the team based on the last 25 years.

      1. Absolutely true Southside. I just feel it sends an awful message to our potential future recruits, that on what is probably our biggest game of the season, against a team we only played once before, against a conference we haven’t played in the regular season in over 10 years, that the stadium was painted in the opponent’s colors. It sends them the message that the fan base really doesn’t give a crap about the team. I can understand the frustration and lack of support for BK, in fact I share it. You can support the football players and still be critical of BK.

        I really do think that more than anything, that lack of support at home for this particular game will do more damage than the final result can to this weekend’s recruits.

      2. Damian,
        It’s not the fan base selling their tickets. Most of the fan base don’t get any tickets from the University. For the most part, it’s not the contributing alumni either, though there are exceptions. It is mainly season ticket holders from families that bought them prior to c. 1966 all the way back to 1930, and no longer have any attachment at all to ND, and even MUCH more so, University employees WHO ARE NOT FANS as you or I would understand the term, but ALL of them are GUARANTEED one pair of season tickets as part of their employment package. YES, you read this correctly…ALL of them. Now, many don’t buy them…they are costly for low level working families. And there are certainly professors and administrators at the high end of the salary pile out there who don’t care about football at all, and are not so hypocritical about that “position” that they still buy the tickets and scalp them. But there are plenty of hypocrites who are “more academic than thou” and publically pooh pooh football as ‘sub-academic’, BUT still buy their pair and scalp them! But the worst, and most chronic offenders are the clerical and support staff out there – not a small army of them anymore – a huge army of them, and they DO have the money to buy their pairs. HECK, THERE ARE NOW SO MANY RESEARCH INSTITUES AND DEPARTMENTS OUT THERE THAT I DOUBT ANYONE REALLY KNOWS BY WHAT FACTOR THEY’VE INCREASED BETWEEN THE 1977 Campaign for Notre Dame and today. But too many of them sell their tix when the price is high enough. I don’t know of any other University where EVERY university employee is guaranteed a pair of season tix if they want (and can afford) them. The service academies, maybe. I don’t know. Not Georgia – that’s for sure. And they boast about how much money they make off a big game!

        Bruce G. Curme ’77 ’82

    2. Not to mention the fact that some of the recruits at the game (notably Jamaree Saylor (spelling ?) are also Georgia targets….

  6. Kelly didn’t look like he had much to do with ANY of the ways that game was played yesterday. Literally.

    Whenever the camera was on him, he looked either lost or indifferent. Heck, almost medicated.
    Like a VIP with a sideline pass watching the game.
    And splitscreen shots showing Kelly statue pose vs. Kirby Smart’s engagement and sideline energy were just sad.

    If it wasn’t for him losing his cool in the PC and storming out, I wouldn’t know whether he cared about any aspect of any of this anymore. So at least he still cares about himself. Hooray.

    1. I observed the same thing….perhaps he is/was trying to hard to be the CEO coach he said he was going to be. Guy can’t win – pun intended…at least as it applies to close games and games against ranked opponents.

  7. First of all ND’s defense is improved and Winbush is a QB making his second start against an experienced defense. Kirby Smart took a pahe from Bellicheck and Saban, take away your strength and beat us with your weakness. I’m not worried about Winbush or the running game, I’m worried about the wide receiver play. Kevin Stepherson needs to see the field, his speed eould have made Georgia respect the deep ball. They doubled EQ and ND had no other answer. Aliz Mack looks rusty and where was #2. They will rebound and I think they ho 9-3 this year eith loses to SC, Miami and Georgia. The defense is much better and they are young at the skill positions. Most schools are mot losing QB’s to the NFL after their junior year. I think the coordinators and strength coaches were a great hire and will pay dividends. Look at the turnovers and sacks in thr first two games, olis no one yet has scored over 20. People need to inderstand this is a top 25 team, not a top 5.

    1. I agree, Jack, with everything you say. This is a good football team that should win 9 games. The biggest disappoint for me is that Notre Dame didn’t run the ball better. It seems under Kelly we can never run the ball against really good defenses despite many times having herlded running backs and o linemen

    2. Jack,
      I like most of your comment – but as a former HS teacher, I’ve got to say – do a little spelling check just before you post buddy. We all make typos, but wow – clean them up a bit!

      Bruce G. Curme ’77 ’82

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