Notre Dame Weekly 4 Horsemen: ’18 Citrus Bowl

Notre Dame limped into the Citrus Bowl losing two of their last three games with four players suspended and one of their starting receivers getting injured in practice.  To snap their January bowl losing streak they were going to need some players who haven’t done that much this year to step up.  Well, the Irish got just that along with some characteristically great performances from some of their star players and as a result beat LSU 21-17 to win their 10th game of the season.

Here are the top four players from Notre Dame’s Citrus Bowl win over LSU in the final Four Horsemen of the Week post of the year.

1. Quenton Nelson

Ian Book and Miles Boykin provided the theatrics.  Tevon Coney was a tackling machine.  Quenton Nelson was still the best player on the field for either team today.  Today Nelson played like the best offensive lineman in college football because he is in fact the best offensive lineman in college football.  Case in point.

Here is big Q flat out destroying someone on Josh Adams’s two point conversion.

And here he is throwing around a big bad SEC defensive lineman like a rag doll.

We have been lucky enough to watch one of the all-time greats play for the last three years.  In fact, we won’t even be writing about how Notre Dame will attempt to replace him in the lineup next year because that would be impossible.

2. Tevon Coney

Again, Book and Boykin will get the headlines (rightfully so) but the only reason that Book and Boykin had the opportunity for their 4th quarter magic was because of the job the Notre Dame defense did throughout the game.  Tevon Coney played like a man possessed today with 17 tackles.  Coney’s 17 tackles give him 116 on the season.  Drue Tranquill was right behind him with 11 today and he played a whale of a game as well, but Coney was just on another level.

Notre Dame fans should be praying now that Coney’s game wasn’t enough to get him to leave for early for the NFL.  Should he return for his senior season, he’ll almost certainly move to the MIKE to replace Nyles Morgan and will very likely be an All American.  On Monday, he was the best linebacker on the field for either team.

3. Ian Book

Boykin took home the MVP honors, but Book turned in a pretty remarkable performance considering he started the game on the bench and got second team reps for much of bowl preparations.  When he came in the game, the Notre Dame defense showed some signs of life and while everyone will point to his 73% completion percentage for why he played better than Wimbush, but it was in the running game where Book really excelled.  Wimbush had not been making good reads on the zone-read over the last few games and that continued today.  On more than one occasion Book kept the ball and found wide open space to run by making good reads.

The difference between Book and Wimbush throwing the ball was very apparent.  While Book made one really bad decision that resulted in an interception, Book made throws that Wimbush wasn’t making.  Case in point came in the first quarter when Wimbush had St. Brown running wide open on a short route and couldn’t connect with him 5 yards from the line of scrimmage.

Book led Notre Dame on four scoring drives in five attempts.  The lone exception was his interception and even that occured in the red zone so Book had the Irish moving.  If Ian Book can eliminate the bad plays, he has a chance to win the starting quarterback position for 2018.  Can’t believe I actually just typed that.

4. Miles Boykin

Boykin made the headline grabbing play with his amazing one hand grab and run that gave Notre Dame the victory.  That wasn’t his first great catch of the game though.  Earlier in the 4th quarter Boykin hauled in a perfectly placed pass from Book between two defenders.  Boykin got lit up on the play but he made the catch and most importantly – he held on to the ball.

With Chase Claypool out with an injury and Kevin Stepherson suspended, Notre Dame needed a young receiver to step up. Boykin did just that.  With his breakout game, Boykin will now head into the off-season with a starting position in his sights.  It’s hard to imagine Stepherson ever playing for Notre Dame again and it’s still possible that Equanimeous St. Brown leaves for the NFL.  Even if St. Brown returns though, Boykin should be in the mix.

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  1. It was Awesome to see ND win the way they did yesterday. But lets not kid ourselves here. It took a couple of missed field
    field goals and a miracle catch and run by maybe the slowest WR on the ND roster. And to top it off we now have a Quarterback
    controversy heading into next season. Not only has Wimbush lost his way but I believe Adams has as well. Is Jurko an early
    enrollee? If so maybe he will be the guy but its not very likely that true freshmen start at QB and play well. Georgia’s has but
    there roster and coaching staff is much better than ND’s. Notre Dame will not run that Gauntlet next year. 8-4 maybe.

    1. You can throw me into the quarterback controversy briar patch anytime you want.
      Let the internet idiocracy blather on but Wimbush, Long, Rees, Book and even Kelly
      and Avery Davis will work this thing out.

      Years when Nd had a qb controversy?

      Well, ’66 and ’77 and ’93 come to mind.

      Georgia’s staff is much better than ND’s?

      You don’t have a clue, son………

    2. If Georgia’s coaching staff is “much better” than ours, how is it that we hung in with their team (20-19), giving them all they could handle, when we have maybe 2/3 the talent they have (or even less!)? The only thing Georgia’s coaching staff has going for it that really is “much better” than ND’s staff is their wallets young man.

      BGC ’77 ’82

  2. Hey Southside…10 wins and the New Year’s Day Bowl drought is over and multiple wins over ranked teams…meets my “minimum” standard for a good season…how about you? Yay or Nay?

    BGC ’77 ’82

    1. BGC, YAY ! Irish were even using a 2 man back field , I formation included. But , But — let me just say ND’10 win during regular season can better lead to playoff spot or Major Bowl. For now , Irish finishing with this Citrus Bowl win hopefully leads to 2018 next step up.

      1. I’m sure that’s the plan Southside…it remains to be seen how many guys will follow it, and how well!

        BGC ’77 ’82

  3. Excellent play by the team. But Book and Boykin saved Kelly’s bacon. Book reads the play quicker than Wimbush. Wimbush plays slower when the choices pile up. And why not more Dexter Williams. Having him tandem wish Adams would make both more effective. I hate the run read option. They have a slim chance in 2018 but a killer schedule could do in a great team. Game time play calling will need to be dynamic

    1. C-Dog , you and others did point out the slow developing read option in previous articles. Book was much quicker and there were more pitch outs , hand offs from center snap. Williams most effective in this “old fashion” style of running from behind line of scrimmage–he’s at almost full speed.

  4. Glad you have the courage to write that. I was a non ” Book” learner. I’m tickled that Book will know how to ” read” the Cardinal in our 5th game next season. Get that monkey off our back once and for all.

    1. Wimbush can make those reads too. He was making them earlier in the season. Over the last four games though, he hasn’t been and it’s one of the reasons the offense looked unstoppable in October and pedestrian since then.

      1. The big question remains “What Happened” that made Wimbush, and the O for that matter, digress? Even the D struggled from Wake Forest on. Did the Team just run outa gas? Hopefully Balis will figure this out by ‘18. GO IRISH!!

      2. A68Domer,
        I think there were several things – but one of them was that the “fear of God” that was instilled in the late September and the October opponents by BW’s passing attack at MSU wore off by late October and certainly by November (since it never seemed to make another appearance). That allowed those November opponents to play their game without having to make the passing game the major concern that it needs to be. But I also suspect there were other causes as well…including having to run a gauntlet from USC to Stanford (6 weeks straight) that I think no team this year could have navigated without at least one loss, and possibly some fatigue as well, as you yourself surmise.

        BGC ’77 ’82

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