Notre Dame Football: Grading the Irish Offense Vs. Georgia

Notre Dame TE Cole Kmet

Before we get into the individual units here, a word on the game plan offensive coordinator Chip Long put together seems appropriate.

Long came into this game with one hand tied behind his back. Without a realistic threat of a running game and lacking a high powered passing game or a dynamic running quarterback, Long had to be near flawless to keep his offense in the game. I really think we need to appreciate the degree of difficulty here. This is the best defense Notre Dame will play, and the offense was without two of their top three running backs, a starting receiver, and the next in line receiver. Not ideal when trying to win against the #3 team in the nation on the road.

Grading Long, I’d give him a B+. He was able to incorporate Cole Kmet nicely, he was able to get Lawrence Keys the ball on jet sweeps a couple of times, and he schemed Chase Claypool open on a couple other occasions. The flea-flicker was obviously a low point; beyond that, it didn’t work; it didn’t even appear to be a touchdown play with Claypool running a corner route to the short side. I feel like if you’re taking a shot, then take it to where it ends the drive. Georgia blitzing and forcing a Book interception made it a nightmare. Overall, he did the best with the weapons he had, but it wasn’t enough to win.

Quarterback

Grade: B- 

Could have been lower, but extra points for the way he kept playing. After they went down 23-10 in the 4th, there was a feeling that the game was starting to go in an uncomfortable direction, and the predictions of a blowout might be coming to fruition. Instead, Book engineered a scoring drive and had Notre Dame at the Georgia 38 and a chance to take the lead. Something to be said for that.

Neither interception was really defensible, and although the pass to Finke really should have been caught, it was still behind him. The interception on the flea-flicker came on a first down play, which is simply unacceptable. He did make some nice reads and solid throws, but he still tried to escape too soon at times, missed receivers who were open, and was errant on some other passes. I’m giving him a bit of a break because of the competition, and being the quarterback in this game without a credible rushing attack is real tough. The game was indeed on his shoulders. Hopefully, as his weapons return to the lineup, his game returns to form as well.

Running Backs

Grade: B

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Listen, it’s not Tony Jones fault that he had to be the lead back in this game. That is outside of his capability, but there he was doing whatever he could, and that’s all the coaches could ask for. The best part of his game on the day was in the pass blocking department. His quarterback attempted 47 passes and was not sacked. Clearly, as the guy who seldom came out, he had a hand in that. There were some pretty soft tackles that he needs to be getting out of, that’s his value to the team, but I’m not going to knock him when there is a talent deficiency.

Notre Dame could not afford to lose Armstrong for this game, and they did, with Jahmir Smith also having to sit.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Grade: B-

Chase Claypool was fantastic all around, while Cole Kmet was great in the passing game and not very good as a blocker. Too many mistakes, too many misses. It’s forgivable as it was his first game this year, but it was a weakness. The same goes for Tommy Tremble, although he had a nice reception on a cleverly designed play.

Lawrence Keys played admirably, snaring three passes including a jump ball to set up a field goal, and was used in the running game as well. Two solid games in a row for him.

Chris Finke is just not finding much traction right now, and the lack of chemistry between him and Book so far is stunning. The play where the ball goes off his chest and into the arms of a defender is not ok for a 5th year senior, let alone a captain. Hopefully, there are better days ahead for him.

Offensive Line

Grade: C+

On the one hand, Ian Book threw 47 passes, and he was never sacked. That’s good. On the other, the false start penalties at the beginning were really bad, as was the snap too soon on 4th and 2. Those all seemed to be related to Georgia shifting the line right before the snap, not so much the crowd noise, although I’d guess it didn’t help. Liam Eichenberg taking a 15-yard penalty on the games 2nd play was pretty poor. He played well, but people will remember the antics.

Too many errors and not enough holes on the ground, but no sacks is no sacks, so that has to be considered a victory. This line is currently playing below its potential (I’m sure the return of better backs will help their potential be reached quite a bit.)

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On the main, this was an overall average game against a powerful opponent. They were a minute and 38 yards away from winning outright. So lots of positives with places to grow.

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5 comments

  1. Subway Alum 2 months ago

    Any offense begins and ends with their OL play. The OL play begins and ends with their preparation, namely the coaches.

    I’ve witnessed from the start that ND’s OL is prepped to either protect the QB or open holes to establish a run game. Apparently, they are never capable of both in the same game. They appear to have been prepped to run the ball
    vs Louisville, pass the ball vs NM and Ga.

    They did a nice job in not allowing a sack, yes, but how many ‘hurrieds’ were there that impacted the offensive scheme and how many sacks were avoided by Book’s scrambling

    Anyway, for the first two games, I put any failings, passing/running, on the OL. Not vs Ga however. The O was set to pass the OL did a not perfect but an admirable job. The failure in the passing game to me now lies at Book’s feet.
    He’s not the QB who should run this team. But, neither is Jurkovec. No, from what I saw in the blowout of NM, was that the QB of the future should be the QB of the now, Brendon Clark a true freshman.

    Book should be replaced immediately by Clark but Kelly will not do that. Mostly out of respect for the work to date of Book and the prepping to date of Jurkovec. However, it doesn’t appear that Book can handle the pressure of the ‘big’ game
    and that Jurkovec is just not capable. So, to avoid an early (next year) transfer by Clark, I’d put him in Saturday. Too early? No I don’t believe so. Wasn’t it Fromm’s first game starting against us on the road two years ago?

    Even if Book and ND go undefeated for the remainder, how many times do we need evidence that Book ain’t the guy to deliver a championship.

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  2. Bruce Gregory Curme 2 months ago

    SPECIAL TEAMS

    Grade A+

    Who were those masked men anyway?

    BGC ’77 ’82

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  3. Mathis 2 months ago

    Where was #88 Javon McKinley?

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  4. Thomas OBrien 2 months ago

    If you have been paying attention you would know that the false starts were mostly on Book
    who kept clapping and not lifting his foot to start the snap count. Mark QB down and the line up.

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  5. ChrisJ 2 months ago

    Greg, you have lost all credibility with me by grading Chip Long a B+.

    The rest however were pretty decent 🙂

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