Notre Dame 4 Horsemen of the Week: Navy 2017

Notre Dame got back in the win column this weekend with their 24-17 Senior Day escape against Navy.  It wasn’t pretty, but there were a few players who made the difference between sending the seniors off with a win and a wild week speculating about Brian Kelly’s future.  Here’s the last 4 Horsemen of the Week following a home game of the 2017 season.

1. Kevin Stepherson

The sophomore wide receiver had his best game in a Notre Dame uniform after serving as Brandon Wimbush’s go to target following the injuries for Equanimeous St. Brown and Chase Claypool.  Stepherson topped 100 yards for the first time this season and scored two touchdowns against the Middies after scoring just two all season coming into the weekend.  Stepherson and Wimbish have not been connecting deep when Stepherson has gotten behind defenses, but they did this week.  When Notre Dame needed someone to step up and make plays, Stepherson was there.

Given the tumultuous season Stepherson had with his mysterious non suspension-suspension to start the season perhaps the most encouraging sign from Stepherson came after his first touchdown when he immediately pointed to the name on the back of his jersey – “ROCKNE” – following the score.  Kevin Stepherson can become a big star in this offense if two things happen: 1) he keeps his head screwed on straight and avoids a similar start to next season and 2) either Wimbush solves his passing woes, or Notre Dame finds someone who can get Stepherson the ball.  Both Stepherson and St. Brown could each have an additional 4 or 5 touchdowns this year if Wimbush had been able to hit them deep.

2. Drue Tranquill

Greer Martini racked up the tackles, Julian Love moonlighted at safety, and Troy Pride held contain on the edge, but Drue Tranquill had two of the three tackles for loss that Notre Dame had in the game.  Not many players were making plays at or behind the line of scrimmage for Notre Dame last weekend, but Tranquill was one of the few who were. This was one of the better games of the season for Tranquill and the first time we’ve seen him in this column since the Georgia game in week two.

There’s been some Twitter chatter that Tranquill might not come back for a 5th year.  If that is the case, this defense is going to sorely miss him.  In fact, he might be the most missed starter on the defensive side of the ball should he not return.

3. Greer Martini

Just because we gave the nod to Tranquill for 2nd place this week, it doesn’t mean Greer Martini’s 16 tackles weren’t impressive.  Martini has made almost a season’s worth of tackles in four career games against the Naval Academy now.  His play earned him the game ball from Brian Kelly and some props from the other sideline in the post game.  It was a very fitting and storybook ending in his final home game in his collegiate career.  Was tempted to go with Khalid Kareem here since he was one of the only defensive linemen who got into the Navy backfield consistently, but Martini’s tacklefest got him the nod.

4. Quenton Nelson

Could have gone with Love or Pride here, but it didn’t feel right not having Quenton Nelson in here after in all likelihood, the final game of his collegiate career.  I hope everyone realizes just how special of a player Nelson is and how lucky Notre Dame has been to have him in the lineup the last three years.  No player will be tougher to replace on either side of the ball for Notre Dame next year than Nelson regardless of what happens with any of the 5th year decisions.  Notre Dame didn’t have one of its signature 300+ rush yard games like they did so many times this year, but Nelson has done more than enough the last three years to show up here one more time.

Yearly Standings

Even after three straight weeks off the board in this column, Josh Adams still has the top spot in the standings.

Player1st Horseman2nd Horseman3rd Horseman4th HorsemanTotal Points
Josh Adams1500190
Brandon Wimbush2120150
Quenton Nelson2012120
Tevon Coney1014100
Shaun Crawford200080
Drue Tranquill110070
Jerry Tillery010140
Deon McIntosh100040
Justin Yoon010030
Jay Hayes001130
Julian Love001130
Chase Claypool010030
Greer Martini001130
Equanimeous St. Brown010030
Nick Coleman001020
Julian Okwara001020
Sam Mustipher001020
Dexter Williams000110

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  1. This Stepherson saga is instructive in many ways.

    This young man is a remarkable Notre Dame story.
    With all his talent, it would have been easy for him to put the negative portion of the Notre Dame experience behind him, and move on with his life and transfer to another school. For recruitiniks, it is worth noting that Stepherson has VASTLY exceeded his star ratings.

    But something in Kevin, and in the Note Dame people he was talking to, convinced him to stay. TRUST is an easily spoken word. But TRUST is hard to earn. Potter Stewart said about obscenity “I know it when I see it.” But trust only arrives when someone is actually trust-WORTHY and when the perceiver sees and FEELS that.

    Stepherson felt he could TRUST something or some people and stayed with it. He is on the brink of stardom.

    Now think about his ability to mentor one of next year’s underclassmen who is having a struggle of one kind or another
    next summer or Fall. Stepherson can speak FROM EXPERIENCE of what it is like to have that struggle, own the results, and trust the people who are trying to help the struggler.

    It also shows that despite all the paysites lurking and skulking about, they most often misperceive what is going on behind the scenes. And the greatest misperceiver of all is that Nebraska Numskull Mike Frank. In his tape podcasts he continually AND continuously misread the Stepherson saga. He was wrong, DEAD wrong, in observation, facts and judgements.

    Third, the fans misread the situation.

    And I must share an anecdote. It is the day I finally wrote off fans’ criiticisms. Like FOREVER

    A small cadre of hoop fans, of whom I was sort of the organizer, were attending NCAA first round games in South Bend and Dayton in ’85.

    It was a Friday night in Dayton, and Villanova was playing the host team, the able Dayton Flyers.

    Ed Pinckney stepped to the free throw line late in the close game and missed a free throw. Right in back of us we heard the voice “That’s the trouble with Pinckney’ he has no heart>” We, in shock, turned around and saw Biff with his Villanova sweatshirt. He looked the oblivious, clueless part. And he fulfilled the prophecy of the guy who said this about the Main Line White Bread that populates the Villanova campus:

    “Not Smart enough to get into Penn
    Not tough enough to negotiate North Broad and handle Temple.”

    The Pinckneys of this world are worth our attention; the nattering White Bread nabobs are not, neither are nattering Black or Brown Bread, to close the loop.

    Nova beat a tough Dayton team that night. Then they beat Michigan and Tarpley on Sunday, Maryland and North Carolina in the regional. Then they went to Lexington and beat Memphis State and Georgetown to win the Title.

    To that knucklehead with the Nova sweatshirt, Pinckney had no heart.

    Give me Pinckney. Give me Kevin Stepherson.

    Let the devil take both the hindmost and the whining fans.

    Cheer cheer for Old Notre Dame.

    No more whining’; whine never again.

    1. Ranko, old boy, EASY on the all caps. Between Positive Pete’s excessive use of emojis and your all caps, I am starting to feel insulted that you think this forum needs that to understand your points of view.

      My takeaway from your post here: 1) You like Kevin. I do too, quadrupled his productivity this year. Your view on trust is a bit cheesy. He is settling in. Period. And your Potter Stewart quote is misplaced. 2) Who is Mike Frank? Take a page out Positive Pete’s point of view, do not listen to these nay-sayers. 3) Speaking of nay-sayers, Pinckney scored 20 points that night, played 40 minutes and shot 60% – leading his team. EVERYONE (you like that?) knows and sees the Biffs at the game or on the forums – everyone has an anecdote. Ignore them. Being a collegiate or professional athlete is hard. The great ones thrive after settling in. We see that with Kevin and we saw that with Pinckney. Enjoy the competition.

      1. one other thing.

        This Stepherson deal is very Notre Damey. It is the very core of the University and its mission. As was last year when Corey Robinson, retired from football due to incipient indicia of CTE, was Student Body President.

        Kelly gets no credit for that kind of stuff, but he enabled it.

        Wins are nice, but wins, fame and rings are all mammon.

        Notre Dame serves something higher. I cherish that, and love those priorities.

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