Notre Dame improved to 2-1 on the season on Saturday with a 49-20 victory over Boston College in a game that saw Notre Dame have some historic rushing totals. Still, the Notre Dame offense didn’t also throw for 500 yards so there is a good contingent of the fan base acting like Notre Dame lost today. It wasn’t always pretty out there today and the Irish let Boston College hang around too long, but in the end, Notre Dame beat down a team that generally plays its best game of the season against the Irish.
So just’ crack open the post game 6er shall we?
1. Let’s get this out of the way, the passing game is a mess. It’s a mess.
The Notre Dame passing game was pretty brutal to watch today. Brandon Wimbush didn’t look comfortable, rarely had receivers open, and when he did, he missed them more often than not. He completed just 11 of 24 passes for 96 yards and an interception. Needless to say, Brandon Wimbush the passer is still very much a work in progress to say the least. That said, the passing game woes are not all on him,
Notre Dame’s wide receivers did not do a good job of helping Wimbush out today. They dropped a couple passes that could have been caught and no Notre Dame receiver has shown the ability to make contested catches so far this year (or last year). Notre Dame doesn’t have a wide receiver that Wimbush can throw the ball up to and expect him to come down with it – and that includes Equanimeous St. Brown at this point. Brown had just one catch for three yards out there today.
A lot of people will be all over Chip Long for the play calling early on today, but I think they forced the pass early to get Wimbush going because they knew they could run. Once it was clear the passing game wasn’t getting it done, they went to the ground game and well, that worked out alright.
Notre Dame’s passing game HAS to be better for this team to be more than mediocre at the end of the season, but for today, it was able to lean on the ground game. Hopefully we see improvement in the air next week because the Irish have a much tougher task on their hands with a road night game in East Lansing.
2. But Notre Dame did run for 500+ yards
Ok, so now for some of the good. Notre Dame ran for 515 freaking yards – the most in any game since 1969. Yes, that means that today Notre Dame ran for more yards in a game today than they did in any game that Lou Holtz ever coached at Notre Dame. Let that one sink in for a second.
Josh Adams led the way with 229 yards on 18 carries, but Brandon Wimbush wasn’t far behind with 207 on 21 carries with four rushing touchdowns – both of which are records for Notre Dame quarterbacks. Oh yeah, and Dexter Williams carried 6 times and scored two touchdowns on 50 yards.
Let’s focus on the good first. Adams was a beast today. He was patient in the hole and had multiple long runs that he wouldn’t have had without displaying that patience. Wimbish as a runner was dynamic too. As his passing game develops Notre Dame is going to have to lean on his legs.
The only negative was Williams only getting one carry before mop up duty time. All the kid does is score touchdowns when he touches the ball. He needs to be involved in the game plan earlier.
3. Shaun Crawford is an absolute beast
After his back to back major injuries, you would have to be heartless to not feel great for Shaun Crawford after his monster performance this afternoon. Crawford created three turnovers for the Irish with two interceptions and one fumble recovery. One of those interceptions was a gift, but the other was anything but. I won’t do it justice with words so just watch.
Straight robbery by the defender pic.twitter.com/m4ITlUEkXF
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) September 16, 2017
It was wise to wonder what Notre Dame coudl expect from him this season after the injuries, but so far, it looks like Crawford still has a knack for finding the football and making plays.
4. Notre Dame’s been on the wrong end of questionable end-zone catches in back to back weeks
Speaking of Crawford, while he had a hell of a game, he did get “beat” for a touchdown in the 4th quarter. Whether or not that was actually a touchdown though its highly questionable. Charlie Callinan possessed the ball in the corner of the end-zone momentarily, but he didn’t maintain possession through coming to the ground and the ball laid on the turf as the official signaled for a touchdown. Replay officials reviewed the play and upheld the ruling on the field. In today’s game, I just don’t know how that is a catch. I couldn’t help but think of Michael Floyd having a touchdown taken away in 2010 for the same reason.
Luckily it wasn’t as costly as last week when replay officials overturned a call on the field of incomplete thus awarding a touchdown to Georgia. That play was also questionable as the receiver appeared to bobble the call, but it was overturned.
Anyone want to guess if the play in question today would have been a touchdown if the receiver were wearing a white jersey instead of a maroon one?
5. The pass rush was a disappointment this week
Overall the defense was solid again this week. I expected it to be a lot better than it was actually, but it wasn’t bad. The pass rush, however, was disappointing this week. Mike Elko rarely dialed up any blitzes this week so any pressure had to come from the front four. Not much ever came. Notre Dame registered just one sack against a quarterback making his third career start.
I really don’t want to question Mike Elko yet but I’ll just say I was surprised that we didn’t see more blitzing of a young quarterback. In the end, Notre Dame did get him to commit two turnovers with Crawford’s two interceptions, but the time he was given to pass let him get comfortable early.
6. But after all of that, Notre Dame won on the road by 29, relax just a little
If you read the forum or scroll through Twitter, you would have thought that Notre Dame lost this game. Are there some clear problems with these team that need to be fixed? Absolutely. Will they all be fixed next week? Not a snowball’s chance in hell. That’s OK though. To all of the “this won’t work against USC or Stanford” tweets though, guess what? Notre Dame doesn’t have to play them for one and two months. All that Notre Dame needs to do next week is beat Michigan State. Then beat Miami of Ohio. And so on.
This team isn’t going to go from where we are at now to a high flying passing attack by USC but they have three games and a bye week to get a lot better by then.
A 29 point win should be fun though. Iit shouldn’t feel like a loss and shouldn’t be a reason to be all doom and gloom. Notre Dame has work to do, but they just went out and didn’t play their best and still won the damn game by 29 points. After last year, I’ll take as many more 29 ugly wins as I can get.
Bonus Shot #1: What the heck was that weird PAT gimmick?
Seriously. What the hell was that? I had Ty Willingham swinging gate flashbacks watching that unfold. This was a bad Boston College team you were playing. Leave your gadget and trick play stuff at home and just line up and beat them. That ended up happening in the end, but that weird PAT gimmick really annoyed me. It didn’t deserve a full place in this week’s 6-pack, but you’re seriously going to run that against Boston College?
Bonus Shot #2: How bad was that ESPN coverage crew?
I am not talking about any anti Notre Dame bias or their opinions either. I mean just how bad were they at their jobs? Here’s just a few of the down right errors they had throughout the game.
- On Brandon Wimbush’s first touchdown Steve Levy proclaimed Wimbush went in untouched. Wimbush was touched in the backfield.
- On one play in which Brandon Wimbush had 10 seconds to throw Brian Griese said that Notre Dame triple teamed Boston College’s Harold Landry. Then on replay it showed Landry dropping into coverage.
- They got players names wrong often.
- On a BD 4th down LEvy emphatically said it was close. Boston College was stopped a full yard short.
- Toddy McShay told those two to hold his beer though and got into the act on Crawford’s ridiculous INT when he said that it wasn’t so much Crawford as it was the ball the bounced out of the receivers hands and fell into Crawford’s. That isn’t what happened.