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.