Notre Dame Football’s Homework with No Game Today

Reminder: Notre Dame does not play a football game today.  Thanks to the weird Monday night start to the season, the Fighting Irish have an even stranger week two bye today.  Considering how they played on Monday night, the early bye is either a blessing or couldn’t come at a worse time since the Irish have a lot of work to do.  Here’s what Notre Dame needs to be working on on their day off.

Don’t sit at home eating cheeseburgers

First thing Notre Dame needs to do this weekend is WORK.  To quote the infamous Charlie Weis, they can’t just be “sitting at home eating cheeseburgers” this weekend while almost everyone else is playing football.  Notre Dame was too sloppy, too undisciplined, and too sluggish on Monday not to be putting in as much work as all of their opponents who are playing this weekend.

Some of Monday could be chalked up to week-one kinks and the weird practice schedule (since none of them have ever played on a Monday night), but at the same time, this is a team saying publicly their goal is to put to bed the narrative that they don’t belong with the elite teams.  Monday wasn’t a good start towards reaching that goal, so this weekend the Irish have work to do.

Find someone who can be a change of pace back

With the news that Jafar Armstrong is likely out for over a month, the Irish need to find a change of pace back to pair with Tony Jones Jr. Jahamir Smith is a nice back and can do good things, but he isn’t that change of pace back.  He isn’t shifty or fast enough.  If anything, he is more similar to Jones than complimentary.

That leaves Notre Dame without a lot of options right now.  C’bo Flemister is the only back on the roster who looks like he has the top-end speed to take advantage of some of the holes the Irish line was opening early.  Whether or not he is ready for a significant role in the offense with Armstrong sidelined is another story.

Don’t forget about Kyren Williams either.  He is not a burner, but he is a complete back who could emerge here.  Remember back in 2004, Darius Walker did not play as a true freshman in week one.  He emerged as Notre Dame’s best back in week two against Michigan.  Williams might not have the same trajectory, but it’ll be interesting to watch what Notre Dame does with him this week.

Make Ian Book uncomfortable in practice all week

Seeing Ian Book look skittish and nervous in the pocket against one of the worst defenses he will face this year on Monday night was discouraging, to say the least.  Whatever Notre Dame did to make Book feel uncomfortable in practice over the off-season doesn’t look like it was successful.  Brian Kelly and Chip Long have to find a way to make him feel that discomfort in practice or that trip to Athens in two weeks is going to be more than uncomfortable.

This team is going to go as far as Ian Book takes it.  The defense is going to keep teams for scoring a lot of points, but to reach this team’s published goals, they are going to need Ian Book to play more like a Heisman candidate than a game manager.  Teams with game managers at quarterbacks don’t win championships in today’s college football.

Notre Dame needs Ian Book to be a game-changer.  He wasn’t on Monday.

Try to find more stability at linebacker

Notre Dame played a lot of linebackers on Monday, but there is still instability in the linebacking corps.  It seems like the best group for the future is some combination of Drew White, Shayne Simon, Jack Lamb, and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.  White showed the good and the bad with his game on Monday with some good instincts and then some limitations in coverage.

Is Shayne Simon ready to start at MIKE?  After being recruited as a ROVER and still checking in at 230 lbs, that’s a tall task for a sophomore with the trip to Georgia on the horizon.  After that game, it’s not as unrealistic since there are pass-happy teams on the schedule after Georgia.

Clark Lea needs to find a way to get some stability at linebacker that gets the best players on the field but doesn’t make Notre Dame too vulnerable to the run in the middle of the defense.

Practice some pressure kicking situations

Jonathan Doerer made every one of his extra points against Louisville, but he didn’t get a single field goal attempt.  It would be wise of Notre Dame to end their practice today with a kick or two with some pressure applied.  Does Notre Dame feel comfortable sending Doerer out for say a 42-yard field goal, down two points, in the final minute in Athens as of today?  We don’t know that yet.

It was encouraging that Doerer did make all his PAT’s and that freshman Jay Bramblett looked pretty good punting as well on Monday, but both are still wildcards for Notre Dame right now.  Hopefully, Brian Polian works in some pressure situations for the Irish this weekend.

Keep unleashing Kyle Hamilton

This one is for Greg, but Lea and Terry Joseph just need to keep doing what they are doing with Kyle Hamilton.  He looked every bit as good as advertised on Monday night and it’s impossible not to be excited about his future.

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  1. Looks like all the BRANDON WIMBUSH lovers on this site can finally jump off the band wagon!! Replaced last nite by a true freshman QB !! All this talk about how he wasn’t getting good coaching or developing correctly can now be thrown out the window!! HE”S just not a starting college QB!! SAME LAZY UNDERTHROWN PASSES, SAME LOUSY FOOTWORK, AND ” NO ” ABILITY TO READ AND RESPOND TO DEFENSEIVE ADJUSTMENTS!!

  2. I doubt very much that Louisville will be the worst defense that Notre Dame will face all season. Last year’s Louisville defense isn’t this year’s, any more than the 2017 Notre Dame defense was the 2016 one. Perhaps we forget how quickly our defense improved following the departure of BVG.

    I expect Bowling Green will be the worst defense that Notre Dame will face this season.

    Also, I’m not as down on our linebackers as some of us seem to be. This game was basically one where ND was caught by surprise by an option offense. Option offenses are known to run the ball well against stronger teams. Army put up 200 against Michigan today, when Michigan knew darn well that Army was playing an option offense. So I’m not too worried.

    We’ll see what happens next week. If it’s another Ball State-like game, then I’ll be worried.

  3. It appears to me that on defense Notre Dame’s biggest concern is the lack of experience and physical maturity among the inside linebackers. This could be a big problem against a team that runs the ball like Georgia. I wonder if the defensive coaching staff had ever considered moving a guy like Daelin Hayes into the buck or mike position just for the Georgia game. On the surface, he checks off all the boxes: he is experienced, physically gifted, and seems to be around the football when he is in the game. Perhaps, there are limitations with pass coverage that prevents this from being a viable option.

    1. No disrespect to DTs #95 coming off a major injury, or #41, but having #9 inside( and maybe with #57) more often might indeed result in having your four best DLs out there.
      A no-huddle O’ will limit the rotation of our LBs & DTs. It won’t be long before other opponents will employ that. So go for playing your best 11regardless of the situation, with young Hamilton in the mix regularly.
      Any of those speed guy WRs ready for an end around or three? Why not rotate #6 as a receiver now that Jafar is out? Suspecting a vanilla O’ plan vs NM, saving a few new wrinkles for Georgia, although I’m not anxious about ND going to Athens in two weeks! I’m still suffering from Bear despair.
      Hopefully it will be less anxiety this week vs. NM without Coach Davie, though. I’ll be there.

      1. MTA , enjoy the game. Wow what a weekend of high scoring production. 60 points plus by numerous teams. Hey Big Ten —watch out for Maryland. Hope Irish put up huge numbers versus NM. Sorely needed from the O going into ATHENS. Da Bears ? Never expected that outcome. 3 points !

  4. agree with a lot of what you said.I would also add Long and Kelly need to coach a lot better on the offensive side of the ball.Yes Book was not very good in a lot of areas but where were the draws and screens to slow down the pressures.Where were the downfield passing game to open up the runs.Also need better play calling on third and fourth at short yardage situations.Being in a shot gun with the running backs 4 yards behind the line of scrimmage won’t work.Lineman can’t hold their blocks that long.

    1. I agree too, Pete et al. But remember that in BK’s offense, to work as well as it can, the single back must be a good blocker. In addition, the receivers need to know how to run the routes (assuming they get off the line clean). So what we need, guys, is for some of the young guys step up and play right consistently. Then they become the starter. We can assume that Tony Jones is the first guy we’d look to in the backfield, and Claypool is of the receivers.
      As for the linebackers we may as well go with the new guys. They play with fire in their bellies, so does JOK…so I don’t mind some out of position plays. Gilman needs to be on the field at all times.

      Book ran a lot against Louisville. Take what they give you, right?

      BGC ’77 ’82

      1. Hey Bruce, I think Book took what he was given when what he was given was room to run. But he definitely missed a lot of open receivers on plays where he opted for a run and got stuffed, as happened on some of those third down stuffs. So, he needs to do a better job of taking what he’s given than he did in that game.

      2. I agree but he should no if it hasn’t worked in 10 years it’s not going to work now.Kelly even said we have to look at the playcalling on the short yardage plays.So maybe he will change up some things.Notredame has good skilled talent you just have to design plays and an offense to get them the ball.If Scott Satterfield Louisville coach was coaching Notredame Monday night Notredame would have scored over 50 points imo. His offense was much more creative than Notredames

      3. 50 pts with SATTERFIELD?? REALLY? The same coach who after the first 2 drives of the ” first qtr ” couldn’t figure out a way to score a TD in the next 3 qrts !! Where was the creativity?

      4. I agree about missing open receivers Bob. Book could have hurt them with the pass more than he did. I don’t see the trust in these five eligible receivers that Ian had for last year’s five…Claypool excepted. Book needs to trust them to be able to run BK and Longs offense correctly again. Just like in the Cotton Bowl it seemed like he lost trust in his O-line, it looks like he does not fully trust his receiving corps. The needed attitude adjustment may be in his own head. We’ll see Saturday.

        BGC ’77 ’82

    2. Pete/BGC , I totally agree with the problem of 3rd and short yardage–by way of a shotgun snap from center. Especially between the 20’s. It’s the RPO era—all college team seem to do it. One QB and One running back in the back field. I’m old fashion — but I think the shot gun snap from center started in the Pro ranks to give QB more time in the passing game ? But , QB’s still used the under center snap mostly. Maybe it was Fran Tarkenton , I’m guessing who popularized the shot gun ? But , it’s a way of life now– the RPO , a Qb and one Rb in the backfield.

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