Beyond the Boxscore: Brandon Wimbush, Notre Dame Seniors Go Out with Style (Points)

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish entered double-figures in the win column for 2018 by easily handling the visiting Florida State Seminoles by a score of 42-13. The victory wasn’t a surprise, but at this stage of the season, Notre Dame is content to simply get the job done and close out the regular season with two more wins.

Editor’s Note: Apologies on the late posting this week but Frankie V who handles all the posting of articles came down with a nasty little bout of food poisoning yesterday and wasn’t able to get online.  We’ll be back to our normal publishing schedule now. 

Coming on Senior Night, the Irish broke out their green jerseys following a request from that contingent of players. This contest had a much better ending than last time Notre Dame had worn them in front of the crowd at South Bend. That was in 2007, when they were on the receiving end of a 38-0 pounding by the Southern Cal Trojans.

Below are some of the key aspects of the victory over Florida State:

A Change Behind Center

With Ian Book nursing some injured ribs, Brandon Wimbush once again handled quarterback duties after being benched the last seven games. His performance was a mixed bag that saw him throw for three touchdowns and get picked off twice. He finished 12-of-25 for 130 yards and also ran for 68 yards.

Given that lengthy time off, some rust was expected to accumulate on Wimbush, which was why an emphasis on the running game was the focus of the Irish game plan. Still, the fact that they scored on each of their first five possessions to take a 32-6 halftime lead shows that the quarterback did the job that was required.

Clamping Down

Given the uncertainty about the quarterback situation, the Irish needed a strong defensive game and got it early in the game to set the tone. In the Seminoles’ first three drives, they collected just eight yards on six plays. On just the second play of the game, Notre Dame’s pick set up an easy touchdown, while a fumble two series later added three more points for a quick 17-0 lead.

The first of Florida State’s two touchdowns then followed on a 16-play drive, but special teams killed any momentum on Ricky Aguayo’s block of the extra point, which Julian Love then converted into two points. The latter score came early in the third quarter when a tipped pass gave the Seminoles the ball at the Irish 30. Florida State finished with a misleading 322 yards on offense, a good portion coming with the game decided.

Weather or Not

November weather in South Bend can sometimes be difficult to predict, but the 27 degree temperatures probably worked against Tallahassee-based Florida State in the early going. An interception on the second play, a three-and-out and a fumble on the first play of the subsequent drive offered a hint that the climate change helped ice the win for the Irish.

The Williams Effect

Though Notre Dame managed to win their first four games without running back Dexter Williams, it’s now abundantly clear that he’s added a needed jolt to the offense as a whole and the running game in particular. He shredded Florida State for 202 yards on 20 carries and reached the end zone twice. That yardage marked the first time since 1982 that the Seminoles had allowed an opposing runner to break the 200-yard threshold.

Those two scores by Williams were what’s seemingly become a standard routine in Notre Dame contests this season. After Florida State scored their first touchdown, he broke off a 58-yard run for a touchdown. In the fourth quarter, he closed out the scoring on the frigid night with a 32-yard end zone dash.

Size Matters

Some of the passing success enjoyed by Wimbush can be directly attributed to his corps of receivers that are tall enough to out-leap their defenders for the ball. The Florida State secondary had been torched in recent weeks, though the duo of Miles Boykin and Alize Mack combined for three first half scores largely by taking advantage of their height.

Both players stand 6-foot-4, with Boykin using his height to win the battle for a Wimbush toss and score the first touchdown. Mack then combined that height with fancy footwork to make it a 14-0 contest. Following up as the half was ready to close out, Mack relied on his leaping ability to give the Irish a 26-point lead at intermission.

Next Up

For the first time since Thanksgiving 1963, Notre Dame will take on Syracuse at Yankee Stadium in New York. While this locale is technically the second generation of that storied facility, there’s still plenty of mystique playing there, especially with the Irish still in contention for a national title.

Notre Dame will be facing a resurgent program that’s coming off an impressive 54-23 rout of Louisville. The Orangemen entered that game ranked 13th in the latest poll and have an 8-2 record on the year, sporting a four-game winning streak. Their only losses coming in back-to-back weeks in a four-point loss at Clemson and an overtime defeat at Pitt.

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  1. Saying Notre Dame plays in South Bend is like saying Northwestern plays in Chicago instead of Evanston. South Bend is a terrible place,

  2. This was a nice win for both the Irish and in my opinion the most of all, for Brandon Wimbush. He made a lot of nice plays both with his arm and legs. There were a couple of bad throws mixed in there but Book has had those as well so it happens. Overall, I thought Wimbush played pretty well. If you haven’t seen this video yet, please watch it. Very inspiring young man considering the situation and adversity. Even bigger Wimbush fan now.

    Credit Chip Long and Brian Kelly for calling a great game on offense for Wimbush. FSU was set out to take the run away so they let Wimbush throw, throw, and throw some more. I think that kinda shocked FSU, especially the downfield throws and fades (more on that later). Once we started really moving the ball well in the air, they backed off and then Dexter F Williams went off. What a freakin beast! This guy has to get drafted next year. I’m going to miss him the most of any ND player that has played for a while because not only is he really good but he has always played with a high passion and is very emotional on the field. You can tell his attitude is he wants to take it to the house on every single carry highlighted by him slamming his hands together on the ball while sitting on the ground after a shoestring tackle. I love that in Dex!! And if Kelly hadn’t screwed him over, not considering his suspensions but this mysterious “doghouse” he was in for most of his ND career, I think Dex would have shattered every ND running back record there is.

    Our defense is really good and once again, they played a great game.

    ST was a lot better this game as well even though Yoon wasn’t kicking it out of the endzone but all around better. Finke is so close to breaking one on PR. I think it’s going to happen eventually and hope it does for him. From walk on to one of our most reliable receivers. He had some big catches in this game as well.

    And lastly, I know I’ve been slaying Chip Long for some of his stupid playcalling but this was a really well called game. We utilized ALL of our players talents to the best of their ability with these calls. Finally…FINALLY…fades near the goalline to our massive receivers called. I couldn’t believe it when we threw the first one to Boykin. And then two more to Mack, who for the first time in his ND career that I’ve personally seen, actually realized that he is 6’5″ 260 and these little DBs shouldn’t be able to guard him and was confident in going and getting the ball in the air. That high point catch he had in the endzone is exactly what Mack was recruited for and why he was a 5 star. That catch reminded me of Eifert and exactly what we will need from him going forward into these next few games. Great job Alize!!

    1. “And if Kelly hadn’t screwed him over, not considering his suspensions but this mysterious “doghouse” he was in for most of his ND career, I think Dex would have shattered every ND running back record there is.”

      Yawn. So tired of this. Shame on the coaches for holding the players to a high standard in order to see the field.

      Can you imagine if coaches had the attitude “I know you aren’t doing what we are asking you to do, but you are too talented, so the rules and standards don’t apply to you”

      1. BC,

        C’mon man. Kelly suspending Dex for doing stupid things off the field is perfectly ok and deserving. But I don’t recall an “in trouble” or unhealthy Dexter Williams when we played Georgia last year, do you? And not one single carry. Tell me BC…yawn…so tired of people defending Kelly, like you, when this was plain and simple stupid to not play one of your best players in the biggest game of the year after he just torched Temple or whoever it was the week before. Good call Kelly.

  3. Just eight more quarters to reach The Playoffs. The competition will be tough. But, the Irish are tougher. Maybe we’ll see Yankee Doodle Dandy dancing with our Leprechaun this weekend. Oh, I forgot one important thing, X, in honor of Bruce Gregory Curme.

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