Notre Dame Football ’17 Stock Report: Week 9

First, it was nerve racking. Then it was a romp. Finally, it was (somewhat) a disappointment. Notre Dame found the let down (defensively anyway) everyone has been talking about for weeks, in its 48-37 victory over now 5-4 Wake Forest.

There was no such let down on offense, even after losing Heisman candidate Josh Adams early in the game to some sort of ailment. No, they racked up 710 total yards on 8.5 yards per play and as head coach Dave Clawson noted, it could have been 900 if the Notre Dame receivers didn’t do them the favor of dropping several passes in which they were headed for the end zone.

The defense, though, left a lot to be desired. 587 yards given up on 6.7 yards a play and 37 points surrendered. Disgusting. Of course, a hefty portion of that came in the latter stages of the third and fourth quarter. We saw something similar from Michigan State late in that game, with Notre Dame leading 35-10. The only difference was they didn’t find the end zone as often as Wake Forest did to end that game.

Here’s the thing: if you’re the type of person who gets upset about garbage time yards and points, then you had reason to this week. It was pretty ridiculous at the end with Wake basically being ok to run the clock out, except they were picking up huge chunks. If something is bad, it’s ok to say it’s bad. Noting the defense couldn’t stop a nose bleed doesn’t mean they suddenly stink and the sky is falling. Enjoying the victory and wanting better from the defense isn’t mutually exclusive.

For the record, I’m not too upset about the end of the game. Football is weird and sometimes you can’t play with an edge on a given day. We’ve basically been daring this team to let down since just prior to USC. And lets not forget, in 2012 the let downs were a 17-14 win against BYU, and a miracle in triple overtime against Pitt. This game was close for about a quarter. Even the let downs aren’t really let downs.


Durham Smythe

It’s close to criminal negligence that he wasn’t in this category last week, so he makes it this week following another solid performance. He’s been excellent for a better part of the season with his only poor performance coming against Georgia, but, there are a lot of people in that boat.

Finally healthy, he’s been able to be something of a safety valve for Brandon Wimbush, and the Irish quarterback definitely has a rapport with Smythe, especially in the last few games. After catching just four balls in the first five games, he’s caught eight in the last four, for 130 yards and a touchdown. Modest numbers in the modern game, but he’s been effective enough to where the defense has to honor his presence and it opens up things for the receiving core that is also coming on as of late.

Smythe’s strength has always been in the run game, and as we all know, that part of the offense has been quite excellent this season. Can’t happen without blocking at tight end, and Smythe has been the best on the team out of this position.

Wimbush The Passer

We all know the Irish signal caller can run the ball (he averages 80 yards a game with 13 rushing scores), but his passing has really opened up lately with the addition of Stepherson and Claypool to the regular receiving rotation. I no longer have that cringe on the stomach when he lets the ball go, for fear it will be picked off or widely inaccurate. He actually had a chance for much greater passing numbers this week, if Claypool and St. Brown wanted to help him out a little bit. But, the important thing is those passes were on the money and I’m willing to count on those guys making those plays more often than not.

Colin Cowherd said a dumb thing a few weeks ago, talking about how Notre Dame had peaked and it was downhill for them the rest of the way. Not that he was thinking about the ability of the Notre Dame passing game to evolve when he said that, but anyone who might have bought into that notion should look at what Notre Dame has got going in the air the last three weeks. It’s not that Wimbush can beat defenses through the air, but he can gash them. And with an offense as good running the ball as they are, the ability to get deep is lethal. And now Wimbush is getting more comfortable. Look out, folks.

Te’Von Coney

I’ve mentioned him in this space before, but I’m just going to put him here again. He’s playing great and I’m glad he has another year in this defense. That’s all I’ve really got.


Rushing With Two And Using The Nose Guard As A Spy

So, what was that? That had to have been something Elko daydreamed one time and implemented it in garbage time as a thought experiment right? I’m not really interested in questioning the magician in this space, but that was bizarre and it went as well as one would expect. Let’s tuck that one away and never see it again until VanGorder steals it and makes it a feature scheme in a game that matters.

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  1. With regard to the Wake Forest Offense, kudos to their 3 year starter at qb and their head coach. They ran the rpo to near perfection on a slippery field which always favors the receiver that knows where he’s going vs the defender. At times, db’s we’re in great position other times not. Will be interesting to see how they bounce back vs Miami. Definitely need our A game.

  2. As if to prove the validity of C-Dog’s objections to the whoring out of this once proud site to market and sensationalist interests, I just noted these likes and dislikes.

    Somehow I missed this until now.

    I wonder which pimp-whore monger thought this up. Frank?

    Further emboldening a few anonymous cowards on here to feel their opinions stand for something.

    Thankfully I notice not too many here are buying into this BS.

  3. Thanks, GK.

    Actually, I’m suggesting some bit of psychological warfare here.

    What I’m suggesting, GK, is to in fact (for just this game) ridicule Miami’s “TO chain.” In no way am I saying imitate the Canes in this stupid ritual.

    On the contrary, by making fun of it in an over the top manner, I’m saying use it against them by making fun of it.


  4. SFR, oh, we could get nasty on this one and make a lot of inappropriate suggestions. But, to keep it clean, a nice huge gold shamrock Should be dangling around BK’s neck after he gets doused with green Gatorade. When I get into towns Looking for the tap room I always go to the one with the big Green Shamrock. No one can outdo our Golden dome.
    Mrp, I checked again and it says PSU is 7-2. Could Sagarin be PSU alum.

  5. How about this for a little “one upsmanship” or “gamesmanship”: Just for this game, have the ND staff (totally in secret like Devine’s “Green Jerseys”) come up with a “Big Play Necklace” to counter Miami’s bit of gaudy jewelry (and putative psychological weapon)?

    This is strictly for psych ops purposes, mind you. Just for this one game. If done right, it would both be a great motivator for our lads and a psychological shock to the Canes’ players.

    The design would mimic Miami’s except that instead of a gaudy “U” the Irish bling could sport a leprechaun, shamrock, gold helmet, or traditional intersecting “ND” logo.

    The chain could be given by the coaches to players making splash plays on O, D, and STs throughout the game. I mean really overkill it!

    Just a random/idle thought to kill time before the kickoff of this huge game.


    1. And should the Irish win, BK could be seen wearing the necklace and prancing after the game like he did with the Megaphone trophy!


  6. ND is fine and will be hyped to play at Miami this weekend. I think we’ll play our best game of the year down there and come away with another convincing win.

    But I have to ask…how does Yoon get weaker in his 3rd year as our kicker? He was making 50 yarders no problem as a freshmen. I’m not sure I understand that one.

  7. The great thing about the committee is that they actually watch the games and aren’t just looking at box scores.

    ND beat a good Wake Forest team without playing Wimbush in the 4th Quarter and Adams for any of the 2nd half.

    ND was up 41-16 deep in the 2nd half and led for 18 most of the 4th quarter. The committee saw ND dominate a good team without playing its best game. They will not fall out of the Top 4.

    Margin of victory doesn’t matter anymore. Wins and wins against top competition are the only thing that matters. Win out and it’s playoffs.

    1. The Committee has been very lucky the past three years. Year one had the Ohio State pick over TCU pan out. Year two had the Irish lose to Stanford in the final second of the season which solved their dilemma with Oklahoma. Year three was looking insoluble for them when everyone who was causing a “problem” lost in the last two weeks! They’ve either been really lucky or maybe their hard work has paid off with a few “lucky stars”.

      I do not think it’s going to be so clear cut this year, though the Big Ten certainly cooperated last weekend. Unfortunately, I believe that this year may be the inevitable year that two teams from one conference make it [unless luck strikes again, and one (or both) drop a regular season game]. That will open the door for an eight team playoff (actually, a thirteen team playoff – 10 teams in the conference championship games…reduced to five winners with auto bids…and three at large bids to clean up the most egregious omissions).

      BGC La Crosse, Indiana

  8. Penn St. #3 in latest Sagarin rating system. Damian, perhaps you can explain that. Irish moved back a notch to #4. Bethune- Cookman, one of the wins Miami is claiming on their unblemished record is #202 in latest Sagarin ratings chart.

  9. My first thought after the game was OMG, we’re going to fall out of the top 4, it’s over and so on. But then I started reading some game analysis and reports and they still think ND is in if they win out, so I started to realize it wasn’t as bad as all that. The general consensus appears to be that our defense had a down day, that they gave up points in garbage time, that Clawson knew Elko really well and took advantage of that, and that the game was never in doubt.

    Perhaps this will be a wake up call for the defense. They have been pretty dominant thus far, they were even one of the few bright spots against Georgia. Sometimes you can get overconfident. Maybe this will help make them realize, no they are not invincible. They have to continue to work hard.

    Offense has improved considerably game to game, a big difference between this team and the 2012 team that did just enough to win. This offense is starting to dominate. I credit the assistant coaches for addressing weaknesses week to week. They don’t rest on their laurels.

    Not much talk about ST’s. I did think they were more solid this week. They weren’t lighting the world on fire, but it does seem to be a work in progress. The only miss was a missed FG, but Yoon’s aim was spot on, he just didn’t have the leg to get it 50 yards.

    If our defense gets back to form, our offense continues to improve and ST’s is at least dependable we got a shot at going undefeated. Miami looked impressive this past weekend, but they haven’t looked impressive all season. In other games they were just getting by, hence the reason they are not already in the top 4. They are our toughest remaining game, and they are playing for a playoff spot too, which makes them very dangerous. But ND is also playing for a spot and we need style points too, so I figure ND will be dangerous for them too.

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