Notre Dame capped off a rollercoaster season on Monday with a rollercoaster performance against LSU in the Citrus Bowl. Playing without four suspended players and missing one of their top wide outs, Notre Dame pulled off a miraculous last minute win with a circus catch that will be remembered in Notre Dame history for a long, long time. The Irish snapped their January bowl losing streak at nine and their losing streak in the state of Florida at six in the process.
Let’s crack open the post game 6-pack.
1. This Was a Very Big Win for Notre Dame
Winning 10 games for the second time in three years is a big deal for Notre Dame given they won just four games a year ago. Beating Michigan State, USC, NC State, and LSU in the same season is big. It would have been pretty nice to be able to include Miami, Stanford, and Georgia in that mix too obviously, but let’s not take for granted that all of those teams I listed that the Irish did beat won at least 9 games this year: USC (11), NC State (9), LSU (9), and Michigan State (10).
Now, there is still work to do for Notre Dame to get to the playoffs obviously, but winning the 10th game was big for Notre Dame and it should help them really close out this recruiting class strong. There are still a few spots open and if they can fill them with Nicholas Petite-Frere and Julius Irvin and then really anyone else this will be the best class from top to bottom of the Kelly era.
Winning the bowl game should pay off in the off-season as well. The team now heads into the off-season being able to look back at how far they’ve come since last January and trust the process.
2. It Wouldn’t Be the Brian Kelly Era Without Some QB Controversy
It looked like Brandon Wimbush was going to have a pretty good day the way he started the game with a nice downfield pass to Equanimeous St. Brown on the first play of the game and then breaking a long run on the second drive of the game. Every time the Irish moved the ball with Wimbush in the game though, something would happen to stall the drive. With no points on the board and just two minutes left in the game though, Brian Kelly turned to Ian Book because Notre Dame had to pass. Wimbush never came back in the game.
Ian Book wasn’t the second coming of Joe Montana on Monday but he was efficient and once he settled in he looked in command of the offense. Book led Notre Dame on two fourth quarter touchdown drives including the game winner to Miles Boykin on one of the most ridiculous catches in Notre Dame history.
We are now headed for a full on quarterback competition in the spring and it’s not crazy to wonder if we’ve seen Wimbush throw his last pass as the starter for Notre Dame. Book made throws and reads that Wimbush just hasn’t shown the ability to make yet. Book also, however, made some decisions that make you realize why he was the backup like his 3rd quarter interception. Add in Avery Davis and incoming freshman Phil Jurkovec and the quarterback position is anything but settled for Notre Dame heading into the off-season.
3. Notre Dame will be fine at wide receiver next year
Speaking of Miles Boykin, the Notre Dame receiving corps should be fine next year even without Kevin Stepherson (assuming he is dismissed) and Equanimeous St. Brown (should he choose to leave for the NFL). Boykin had three catches for 102 yards and that touchdown against one of the best secondaries in the country. Michael Young scored the first touchdown of his career today as well and could be Notre Dame’s starting slot receiver in September.
Notre Dame played today without three of its top four receivers and when it mattered most, they were still able to move the ball through the air. Boykin specifically made two catches in traffic – we haven’t seen much of that this season. Based on what we saw from Boykin today, if the starting receivers for the Irish when they play Michigan are Boykin, Claypool, and Young; no one should be worried. Facing the LSU defense, the last three completions of the game went to Miles Boykin, Chris Finke, and Michael Young.
4. Will Dexter Williams Ever Play More?
Dexter Williams didn’t get his first carry of the game until there was just over 11 minutes left in the game. He ran back to back plays picking up 36 yards including a 31 yarder that highlighted his athleticism. The next play, however, highlighted his struggles in pass protection as he did not do much to slow down the LSU pass rush resulting in an intentional grounding penalty on Ian Book. We didn’t see Williams get another touch in the game.
Even with his struggles in pass protection, it is really mind boggling that Williams does not get more carries or touches in the pass game. He’s an electric athlete who can add a lot to this offense. Hopefully he uses this off-season to focus on that aspect of his game if that is all that’s holding him back. If Josh Adams leaves for the NFL as expected, Dexter Williams should be a focal point of the offense next year.
5. The Safety Position Needs an Overhaul in the Off-Season
The Notre Dame defense played a pretty game on Monday, but the safety position as a whole had a rough afternoon just as they have all season long. The position did not produce a single interception this year and could have changed that today with better ball skills. Jalen Elliott was in position to make a couple big plays but he just wasn’t able to make them. Elliott also allowed a few third and long pass completions when it looked like he could have just knocked the ball away.
With the struggles on the back end of the secondary, Notre Dame turned to freshman Jordan Genmark Heath for some extended action in the fourth quarter. Genmark Heath looked solid in his action and will be in the mix next year.
Brian Kelly already said that Alohi Gilman would have started this year if the NCAA would have granted his eligibility and the Irish are adding the best safety they have recruited in a decade in Derrik Allen and there is talk that Houston Griffith could play safety too. It shouldn’t surprise anyone if both safety positions have new starters the next time Notre Dame plays a game.
6. Special Teams Gaffs Cost the Irish Again
On the positive, Justin Yoon kicked a 46 and 49 yard field goal in conditions that were anything but ideal. Just ask LSU’s kickers who missed two much more makeable attempts. On the negative, Notre Dame turned the ball over on a punt again when a gunner – in this case Isaiah Robertson – let the ball hit his foot. LSU went on to score their first touchdown of the day with that lifeline. We have seen entirely too many turnovers in the return game this year and all have come back to haunt Notre Dame.
Brian Polian has done a pretty good job with the special teams this year considering how much of a train wreck they were last year, but he still has a lot of work to do this off-season. The return game has also not been a factor for Notre Dame at all this year after CJ Sanders was electric the past two seasons.
Parting Shot #1: Tevon Coney Was An Absolute Animal
Technically this is the 7th point of the 6-pack post, but it was worth mentioning. Coney was an animal with 17 tackles today. Start praying now that the game wasn’t enough to push him to the NFL because Notre Dame really needs him back next year to build on this season. Notre Dame can’t replace both he and Morgan with the talent and experience they will have on hand and Coney will be an All American if he comes back for 2018.
Parting Shot #2: What the Heck Was Orgeron Thinking Kicking?
I still can’t believe that Ed Orgeron decided to kick the field goal with the ball just inches from the goal line with just over two minutes remaining. Thankfully he did because Derrius Guice was running pretty well in the 4th quarter and it allowed Notre Dame to win the game with a touchdown which they ultimately did. Thanks for the late Christmas present Coach O!
BW absolutely cannot return as the starter. He has been in the program for 3 full years with 1 full year as a starter. He is who he is and we all can see it. The guy just cannot make accurate throws with any consistency. He seems like a great kid and competitor but he simply cannot be the QB. I rarely would point at 1 player in a loss but he was absolutely the reason we lost to GA and Stanford. Just the honest truth. I hope there is a role for him but Book (or the young guys nobody has seen yet) is simply a better option right now. ND lost the ability to run the ball against good D’s because every team stacked the line knowing BW was likely to not be able to make them pay.
Schedule is brutal next year but I love a lot of the returning pieces. Irish only go as far as the QB takes them. We could see a repeat of this year with average quarterback play or we could see a leap forward if the right guy is under center
Ed O made the decision to kick after the D stuffed
The run behind the line of scrimmage. That D wasn’t about to give up a TD and Ed O saw that. Was it a
horrible decision? He was doomed either way. ND
holds on 4th he’s a donkey as well.
ND can has and will continue to play the top teams
to the wire. FSU, Clemson and Georgia in recent
years. Crazy to say Georgia would destroy them on neutral site if they played now. If BW could throw a
ball ND wins that game and Stanford.
Book has to be the future. He’s way more polished
then BW. Even the average observer can see that. He can throw and run. BW needs to slide to the slot or play wild cat from time to time. He’s a athlete and a athlete will always have a position.
The future is bright in South Bend, GO IRISH.
It’s about 5am and 6 degrees above zero–my truck won’t start. I could use some jumper cables. Speaking of “jump starts”–great performance by Book , Boykin , Young , Williams providing spark to a “dead battery” offense. The dreaded read option by Wimbush/Adams came to life under a scrappy Book at QB. Is he the QB for ’18 ? Well for now , he pulled off a Joe Montana bowl win–Irish got 10 wins , descent recruits coming in. Stay tuned.
One more thing, Frankie girl, read my posts, I was one of the first to post a gutsy win by the Irish.
I guess, lassie, your reading skills are as pedestrian as your prose and so-called analysis.
But keep up the good job of selling ads and click bait. That’s about the level of your acumen!
And yet, you still continue to come back to the site and comment. Now that is logical. Thank you for your continued patronage of the website.
Frank give this grocery clerk a quiz:
(1) Ask him how many games he has attended at Notre Dame stadium?
(2) Ask him how many classes he has attended at Notre Dame?
(3) Ask him how many ND players he’s ever had a beer with, had rib tips with, had a conversation with?
Frank, you actually have more to be busy with. With Philly and Red Bank now leaving the OL, how ya gonna put the
local Flav on the “BEST 25 ND players?” Nahhhhhh, you ain’t reaching up to Nawt Joisy, are ya?
All I can say is thank God ND didn’t make the POs by some dumb luck.
The talent level between ND and the PO teams is abysmal. Today UGA would kill ND on a neutral field, at S. Bend, between the hedges.
Not to mention Bama would beat the Irish worse than they did in 2012.
You mean like the team that Notre Dame played down to the wire this year that is playing for the championship next week?
Like you mean way back in September with a QB making his first road start?!
Doing much cherry picking your facts of late, “Positive Pete,” er, I mean, Frank?
Bottom line is do you seriously believe that ND is on the same plane as Bama, Clemson, OU, or even UGA today? If so, then I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you!
Just now looking at Tom Hanks on CNN. In the immortal words of Forrest Gump: “Stupid is as stupid does”!
What a difference three months make! Apparently you have your head so far up your keister you think both ND and UGA are the same teams now they were in Sept.!
I guess you settle for winning second tier bowl game rather than playing like a NC contender.
Your logic and prose embody the mediocrity surrounding ND football. With so-called fans like you who needs David!
Doubtful ND is on the same plane today as those teams. Can’t envision a scenario where they would connect through S. Bend.
I remember you and others on here making the same idiotic claims about ND being on the same level as Bama before the NC game in 2012.
How’d that work out?!
ND wasn’t then or isn’t now anywhere near the level of a PO team.
Way back in September? That was three months ago. Did you know that Notre Dame won a bowl game today? You seem to be more concerned with talking about how bad Notre Dame is instead of enjoying the victory.
You do realize, Frank, that ND beat a team that lost to Troy at home, right?!
Yeah – and Alabama just beat a team that lost to a team that I don’t think was even bowl eligible! How “elite” a win was that for BAMA? Try that against “the living”…like a conference USA champ for instance…and see how “elite” these guys are then.
BGC ’77 ’82
Apparently you think that LSU is the same team now they were in September.
LSU beat Auburn who beat Bama and UGA and also beat Syracuse who beat Clemson
Additionally, Ed Orgeron was in the Blind Side with Sandra Bullock who worked with Kevin Bacon in Loverboy.
nobody makes the PO,S by dumb luck!! 10 win season! excellent recruiting class! The rebuild started this year! Why cant u accept that! You badmouth a team that played its ass off this year against a brutal schedule, give the kids some credit! THEY DONT HAVE THE TALENT OF A GEORGIA OR ALABAMA!
Heck, Bama’s D linemen look like WRs!
I’ve said this in two other posts, and I’ll say it again – put in a COMPLETE single wing series (not just the two play Stanford series from several years ago, or the red zone bulldozer play that Texas ran on us last year) with a jumbo package and an unbalanced line for Wimbush…it totally matches his skill set and would be a great red zone twist, or a great spark whenever we need one from even deeper than the red zone. That guy has too much talent to keep off the field all day.
As for our regular offense, the spread, let Book and Jurkovich (and any other comers) settle that on the practice field in August. If we do these two simple things…1. There will be no QB controversy, and 2. We will go from where we were on offense during November to a certifiable nightmare for opposing “D” coordinators. And all we will have done is to put the right pegs in the correct holes.
BGC ’77 ’82
I am hoping someday we finally get the right fit at QB. I know it’s a broken record for me but time and again we here this is the QB that fits BK’s system perfectly, and every time they fall short, or fall apart. I have a feeling Wimbush is through as a regular starter at ND. He’ll either end up transferring, just like EG and Zaire, or he’ll get some snaps but then be pulled at the first sing of trouble next year and we move on. Frankly at this point, I have no reason to believe Book or Jurkovec will fair any better under BK.
But with that being said, Book reminds me a bit of Rees in his tough attitude. Wimbush didn’t collapse like EG did after the FSU lost. But he was slipping as the lack of big plays mounted. I’m not sure Book is capable of being an elite QB at this point, but there’s no denying he’s a tough kid. After the interception which was a rookie mistake, he picked himself up the next chance he got and didn’t let it get to him. Learn from the mistake and move on. I liked that about Book.
Also kudos to Elko for not going prevent in the last series. The defense had its ups and downs, though for the most part they played a decent game. But I loved that Elko stayed aggressive to the last down. That definitely had an effect, you could see LSU getting frustrated and try to force things.
You have a bad memory. Golson played pretty well against Navy after Fla State. and brought us back pretty well against Arizona St. except for a certain catch was popped up in the air by Corey Robinson and returned for a touchdown that killed any hopes for a comeback. Golson’s biggest mistake was screwing himself up for 2013.
Plus turning the ball over more than Sam Darnold did his year!
BGC ’77 ’82
Golson did bring back ND against ASU, but he also was a major reason we were down in the first place because of the turnovers he had before the Corey Robinson play.
Perhaps perhaps not. I won’t disagree on his biggest mistake, but I think it is a sustainable hypothesis that Golson’s biggest mistake may have been
hooking up with that unabashed self-promoter George Whitfield. Whitfield, lately MIA. I wonder why…………..
Parting shot #3 BK telling Boykin He would be MVP. In my old mans last years He would tell me to wake him up in the last two minutes if the game got exciting. He woke up today.
I am very proud of Notre Dame today. The big question now is the quarterback situation. I really don’t think Notre Dame could have won today if Winbush played the whole game. Did you notice how Notre Dames run game picked up with book in the game.
Sweet are the uses of adversity.
This may, in a weird way be good. Perhaps, now, Wimbush can exhale and merely compete for the job. There are 9 months until the Maize and Blue come in.
Kelly and Long along with Book have lifted the thorny crown of presumptive starting quarterback from Wimbush. Now he “merely” has to compete for the job.
I’ve always like Wimbush’s calmness and drive, including his job on Wall Street after his frosh year. He’s a good guy and can feel that Long, Rees and Kelly want him to succeed.
And Rees has a lot of stories he can tell to both Wimbush and Book.
It could be a very good off season.
You see, once upon a time in America, right there where the St. Joe River turns South, we had a quarterback who had a strange end to his third year in South Bend. He was even on the outside looking in
when his fourth year began. He was from Ringgold high school in Monongahela, PA. Somewhere round ’bout the mid 70’s if I recall. He turned out OK.