5 Things I Guess I Liked from Notre Dame’s Loss to Michigan

I do this column every week, and I have to admit, I almost skipped it this week.  It was tough to find anything that I liked in what was one of the most embarrassing losses in recent program history.  And there’s been a bunch of them in the last 20 years.  But, you know what, look at us.  Who’d have thought?  Not me, that’s for sure.

I contemplated publishing a two-word article for this that just said, “absolutely nothing,” but figured I would try to get creative and tough this one out.

Note: for those of you who don’t know, this is a weekly column I have been doing for year’s.  I didn’t really want to write thism but a column is a column. 

1. Other than one bad shank,  Jay Bramblett was solid

A freshman punter who had a shank is the first thing on my list.  Oh boy, here we go.  Bramblett did play pretty well considering the conditions he was kicking in, though.  He averaged 42.3 yards punt and had a long of 61 on the night.  That’s pretty good considering he was kicking in a driving rainstorm for the first half of the game.

He also had to punt a lot because of how bad the offense was.  He punted ten times.  10! Kudos to the young kid for his leg not getting tired after all that punting.  I thought about listing Notre Dame’s own blocked punt here too, but considering it ended up getting botched and was a microcosm for the game, I left it off.

2. Phil Jurkovec Threw a Touchdown

Notre Dame’s sophomore quarterback didn’t have a great start to his garbage time cameo (which probably should be more than a cameo moving forward), but he settled in and did look ok throwing the football.  He completed 3 of 4 passes for 60 yards with a touchdown.  That’s an average of 20 yards a completion.  When was the last time Notre Dame averaged 20 yards a pass (without glorified runs counting as passes ala New Mexico?).

I don’t know if Jurkovec is the short term or long term answer for Notre Dame at this point, but I do know he has a skill set that opens up a lot more of the playbook than they’re able to run right now.  He looked awful in the Blue-Gold game, but remember how bad Deshone Kizer looked as a redshirt freshman in the Blue-Gold Game before lighting it up at times in 2015?  It might be time to give the kid a chance.  A game after averaging less than 2.0 yards per play, can he do any worse?

3. Notre Dame’s 3rd Quarter Defense

So for a little while there in the third quarter, we did have a slight glimmer of hope.  Notre Dame’s defense tightened at the start of the 3rd quarter and delivered three straight three and outs.   Now, Notre Dame’s offense did hardly anything with those opportunities, but the defense did give the offense a chance to get back in the game.  At one point, Michigan ran 24 plays over six drives between the 2nd and 3rd quarters.  Notre Dame scored a total of seven points during that stretch.

For as awful as last night was, it was only a 10 point game with more than 20 minutes remaining because the defense played well during that stretch. Now, the wheels ultimately came off for the defense with Michigan scoring 21 points in the 4th quarter, but at that point, we knew the offense wasn’t going to put up enough points to win even if the defense had kept forcing three and outs.

4. We can stop scoreboard watching for the rest of the year and get back to just hating everyone

With Notre Dame out of the playoff picture entirely with the calendar still saying October, we can at least stop scoreboard watching and get back to just hating every other team.  No more compromising morales by rooting for enemies to enhance strength of schedule.  No more lying to ourselves about Notre Dame’s chances that we all should have known weren’t great after Notre Dame struggled so much against USC.  No more looking at schedules and scenarios needed for Notre Dame to sneak in.

We all spend our Saturday’s rooting for chaos and hoping our rivals lose in painful, excruciating manners like we just did to Michigan.  And hey, our Tuesday nights are free from having to watch the College Football Playoff Rankings show.

Yup, this was that kind of game that this is one of the positives I found in it.

5. I spent the day in a new stadium

So there wasn’t anything else left to say positively about that nightmare of a game, but during the day on Saturday, I did get to see a new stadium.  My wife is a Texas A&M alum and went to my first game in Kyle Field.  I came away very impressed with the A&M gameday experience and that stadium.  It was loud and lively for an 11:00 AM CT start time, and seats we had were pretty great, including access to a club level that served beer and had a stellar bathroom situation – which was essential considering the beer was flowing.

I highly recommend making plans to attend that road game in 2024 if you’ve never been.

After the game, we hung out at the tailgate we attended with another couple and watched some of the afternoon games before we headed out to watch the Notre Dame game with some of her family.  It was an awesome experience and a great Saturday.  Then the Notre Dame kicked off.

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  1. Anyone go watched this game knows it was won by Michigan’s no.25. Haskins was miraculously undeterred by the conditions w/cringeworthy runs everytime he got the ball. Neither qb had over 100 yards. Fairweather friends/critics seemed to have missed the (game analysis) boat-maybe they’re busy reserving space on next year’s bandwagon.

  2. i like the fact that Jimbo inst our coach as his players do go to real classes or graduate and he is generally a bad person 🙂

  3. Frank , liked your 1st paragraph , especially the highlighted words. I missed the game cause of wedding, but watched replay this morning. Bramblett’s effort in the down pour was pretty good. Jurkovec , yeah put him the like column. Hope he starts a few games. There are 5 remaining. What was once called the easy part of schedule–isn’t anymore ! Irish path to a top tier program took a huge hit. Book has reached his ceiling — maybe some coaches too. Chip “horizontal” Long needs to overhaul his play book for Jurkovec in 2nd half –insert speedsters Lenzy and Keys. With recruits arriving at the WR position–Book will not do. I like Book , he tries hard with the talent he has. I don’t blame him for the beat down up north — all departments had a hand in this. Ahead is 5 games– hopefully to a 10-2 finish and a bowl win. Anything less is back to the old Kelly mediocre regime.

  4. You could have added Doerer into the mix with Bramblett for the first thing you liked. 2 for 2 on XP and didn’t kick the ball out of bounds on kickoffs.

  5. I think we all agree finding basically anything to like about this game tough to do. Some major points really came out here.
    1. Book’s limitations as a top level QB – he cannot throw downfield – all the other side has to do is crowd the line and apply
    pressure – does not work the pocket well.
    2. Can’t handle pressure – takes off too soon – doesn’t check for options after first choice
    3. Besides not having the arm he has no accuracy for longer throws
    4. I will give him a break in that there does not seem to be a receiver that is a downfield threat.
    There also seems to a lack of a game breaker in the backfield. A QB change may be the answer to get set for the future.

    Just a bad embarrassing Saturday all around for everyone concerned

  6. To be fair, Frank, we’ll give you at least 10 things you “didn’t like” about the game with that next column.

    1. Will 10 even be enough?

      5 things he didn’t like might be hard too because there were so many things not to like–how do you distill that into 5 things?

  7. I like the way Bo Bauer has played on Special Teams all year, and especially last night. It’s hardly his fault that the play ended so badly.

    BGC ’77 ’82

  8. The mighty, historic ND Fighting Irish are now (generously) ranked 16.

    Appalachian State —-from tiny Boone NC, Div1-AA slayers of Michigan at the Big House in 2007, and playing in FBS division only since 2014 —
    are ranked 20.

    1. Yes David, and if I remember correctly, the University of Michigan’s knee jerk response to that game was to fire Lloyd Carr…and replace him with a whole litany of “elite” coaches. Lloyd closed his career with a bowl win over Florida, if I remember correctly…the last time that has happened at Michigan. Perhaps Jim can try it again at the end of this year. Go Gators Go.

      BGC ’77 ’82

      1. David, I think I get a lot of “stuff” about what kind of a man you are…but what would be the value to the University, or even to you, in telling you publicly how I feel about you personally?

        BGC ’77 ’82

  9. Kudos to Frank for trying to find 5 things he liked. Granted two weren’t directly tied to the game, but I can’t blame him.

    The only other thing I can think of is we didn’t have to listen to Flutie gushing over an opponent whooping the Irish.

      1. True. I guess since I don’t see Fowler as much it was a bit easier to ignore. With Flutie it’s like picking at a scab everytime he’s on.

        Herbstreit seemed surprised ND was getting as manhandled as they were. A couple times he indicated ND should be playing better.

  10. I may watch another Notredame game if Phil starts.I won’t with Book.I can find way too many other things to do on Saturdays than watch that crap.Speaking of crap how about when Notredame had a 3rd and 12 on their own 26 yard line and Book threw the bubble screen to Armstrong for a 2 yard gain.Even our local high school coach wouldn’t have called that play.

      1. Kelly won’t start Jurkovec because it would cause dissension and emphasize Book’s regression and the team’s poor performance to the team and Book himself. But Jurkovec will see meaningful minutes whenever possible now that it is clear that the Book era has come and gone. I’d say second half with 14 point lead.

      2. I’M afraid your right JEFF, Kelly benching Book now as a senior and captain probably won”t happen yet! But at some point in these last 5 games a step towards next year HAS TO HAPPEN, KELLY knows this and must find out what he has in PHIL ! JURKOVECS arm strength is legit and much better than BOOKS, and will force defenses to play the deep ball instead of the mid-range/3 yard passes on 3rd and 9!!

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