Overreactions from Notre Dame Finally Beating Navy Like They Should

Notre Dame unleashed the kind of whooping on Navy on Saturday that we used to be used to seeing.  Over the last decade, though, we’ve rarely see Notre Dame handle the Midshipmen with as much ease as they did in Saturday’s 52-20 drubbing.

Note: apologies for the late posting.  After spending the week on the road for work, I spent the weekend away celebrating my wife’s birthday, so time was not on my side for posting.  

Ian Book finally unleashed the deep ball, and it was glorious

We’ve been waiting a long time to see Ian Book unleash the deep ball.  We heard about it all spring and summer, and then we waited.  And waited.  Book wasn’t missing deep throws to this point in the season; he just wasn’t making them.  Whether it was play calls or Book being gunshy, he wasn’t uncorking them.  On Saturday, he did, and he showed a glimpse of what is possible when this offense features the deep ball.

Braden Lenzy is really, really fast, and Book hit him on a line with 50+ air yards on the ball for a 70-yard touchdown.  We’ve all been waiting to see Lenzy get behind a defense like that, and when he finally did, Book nailed the throw.

Book’s 47-yard pass to Chase Claypool was a think of beauty too because its a throw Book either wasn’t seeing or just wasn’t throwing earlier this season.  If the Ian Book we saw on Saturday is the Ian Book we see the next two weeks, Notre Dame will finish the regular season with ten wins.

The Broyles Award Committee are idiots because Clark Lea is a hell of a defensive coordinator

The Broyles Award Committee announced its nominees for this year’s award given to the nation’s best assistant, and their list featured 41 coaches, none of whose names is Clark Lea.  Sorry Broyles Award, but y’all are a bunch of idiots because the job Lea has done this year has been remarkable.  How many other coaches could install opponent specific defensive packages that stray from their base defense at least three times in a season all with success?

Against USC, we saw Lea implement a 3-man front that kept USC from getting its speedy receivers behind the defense.  Against Virginia Tech, we saw some 5-man fronts on defense with Notre Dame daring the Hokies to beat them through the air.  Then this past weekend, Lea got his defense ready to play an offense that is radically different than what they are used to seeing.

Now, I’ve argued before that the option shouldn’t give Notre Dame trouble because they see it every year, but even I expected the Midshipmen to have more success early until the defense settled in.  Instead, the defense was on point from the start and never let Navy get comfortable on offense.

Pray Clark Lea is in South Bend for a long time.

Notre Dame’s young wide receivers flashed

Braden Lenzy wasn’t the only young receiver to make some plays this weekend.  We saw some really nice things out of Lawrence Keys as well.  Keys caught two passes for 32 yards, including a beautiful sideline grab that would have been a catch in the NFL.  Well, maybe, who knows if the NFL would get something so obvious right.  Still, he added 11 yards on the ground as well.

Notre Dame loses Chase Claypool and Chris Finke after this year, and both Keys and Lenzy will have golden opportunities to start in front of them next year.  Between these two, Kevin Austin (who Notre Dame gets back from suspension), Javon McKinley, and incoming freshman Jordan Johnson; the Irish receiving corps could be better in 2020 even with losing what they do.

Chase Claypool continues to dominate

Speaking of Claypool, the kid just keeps on dominating.  We’ve seen him make sideline circus catches all year long, but on Saturday, Ian Book finally made it easy on the Canadian native.  Book looked for Claypool early and often including a Notre Dame single-game record-tying four touchdowns.

With two games and the bowl game remaining, Claypool needs just 232 yards to eclipse 1,000 yards on the season.  He has 332 yards and five touchdowns in his last three games.

It’s been a long time coming, but Claypool has become the player that everyone has seen flash for the last three years, and it’s been a lot of fun to watch this year.  He had his ups and downs at times, but the transformation he’s made this year is remarkable, and it will earn him a lot of money on the next level.  The 2020 NFL Draft class is LOADED at wide receiver, so I’m not sure how high he will get drafted, but he is going to make some NFL team extremely happy.

Howie Roseman, if you’re reading this, please draft Chase Claypool in April and undue the mess you have made with the Eagles wide receivers.  

No one should get upset about backups giving up points to Navy

There was some Twitter-angst about Notre Dame letting Navy score some points at the end, but no one should be upset about that.  The kids who were playing at the end have a legit excuse that they could have very likely been seeing the option for the first time in a live situation outside of practice.  And no scout team that doesn’t run the option week in and week out is going to run the option like a team that lives off of it.

The important thing here is that those young kids got a taste of the option, so for the ones who will be starting next year in place of this year’s departing starters, now they have some experience against it and will be better prepared for next year.

Yeah, I would have liked to see Notre Dame’s backup offense score a touchdown or two and would have loved it if the backups didn’t give up those last ten points, but in the end, this was the most dominating performance Notre Dame’s have over Navy in a long time.

Enjoy this one.  There is no reason to not enjoy this one.

Khalid Kareem had his best game of the season

In the first game of the year without his former starting linemate Julian Okwara, Khalid Kareem took his game up a notch and played his best game of the season.  When Navy was moving the ball a little bit early on, it was Kareem who forced two early fumbles that put Navy in a hole they were not capable of digging out of.

With Okwara done for the year, Notre Dame needs Kareem to play like that the rest of the season to get to 10 wins and have a chance for a New Year’s 6 Bowl Game.

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  1. Lord, what a bunch of defeatist whiners! Thank God it was my father and my uncles and my aunts who squared off against Hitler and Tojo in 1941! If it was you bastards, I’d be writing this in German (or never born to begin with). Have you ever achieved anything in your lives that required hard work, training, confidence and perseverance? You all remind me of Neville Chamberlin, or the “pre-Grant” Civil War generals for the North. Nothing but endless whining and crying about how we can’t win a NC, we can’t throw deep, we can’t beat anyone good…on and on and on. Aren’t you ashamed? Watch this team win a NC in 2020, the way you would have watched WWII from your post in Nebraska, were you alive then. I swear to God Almighty, if my dear old Dad’s generation was the greatest, and mine, the Kennedy generation, was the most idealistic, your’s is the wimpiest, most limp wristed “can’t do” bunch of negative vibe breathers I’ve ever seen in my life! To summarize, as your Commander and Chief might say, “SO SAD.”

    Irish to VICTORY; you all to the stinking hell of your own making. I’m tired of hearing you whimper. Grow a pair, like my uncles (or at least some breasts, like my aunts).

    BGC ’77 ’82

    1. Wow Bruce can you do a pre-game or halftime speech to get the guys pumped up!?!?!? That would be amazing because they sure need some fire and passion like you just brought in this post!!! I’m sick of ND football being soft too!

  2. Get back to me when ND/Book does this against someone who is actually good. Those predicting NC next year is laughable. Book will be the QB next year. ND will win 9-10 games beat the teams they should and lose to every good team on the schedule (Wisconsin, Clemson, maybe USC with a different coach). PJ will transfer. Which would be a travesty and complete mismanagement.

  3. Next season, Notre Dame will get into the playoffs at 12-0. But even with one loss, Notre Dame will still make the playoffs, as long as we sweep November. In other words, if our only loss is in September or October, and we beat everybody in November, including Clemson and USC in the Coliseum, we should get in. The toughest games are spread out pretty well over the season, nobody can complain about our SOS next year, and we’re loaded with talent. This will be our best shot at a Championship since midway through LOU’s era. If not next year (and possibly 2021) it won’t happen. It’s Brian Kelly’s time…one way or another.

    BGC ’77 ’82

  4. Here is a question for everyone…Does Book come back next season and who hope he does and who hopes he doesn’t? Go Irish

    1. I think Book comes back. Nobody really thinks he’s bound for the NFL (if he has any hopes for that he’d have to come back next year to build up his resume–but I’m not sure if that’s a goal of his or not).

      I’m still skeptical. Since the final drive of the VT game he has looked good. But one game was against Duke, who while better than say New Mexico, is hardly a defensive juggernaut. And the other was against Navy, a team I’m not sure was as strong as their ranking indicated.

      I need to see more. I’m not sure how much we can read against BC and Stanford, neither team is particularly impressive. But if he continues to play strong it will still play in his favor. How does he do in the bowl game then? And against who?

      I think most ND fans want a NC. And I want the QB that gives us the best chance. Which one is it? If Book plays out the season strong, despite who the opponents are, BK will have a hard time switching QB’s. He has. He pulled Wimbush even though he won his games last year. But it’s a huge risk. Is Jurkovec the real deal? I know he came in highly touted–he’s supposed to be the next big thing, for whatever that’s worth. I’d hate to see him sit on the bench yet another year if he really is that talented, or worse, decide he may never play, transfer elsewhere and we find out he was the real deal.

      But, that’s a decision the coaches can put off. Book should finish out the year, esp. if he continues to play like he has. As the opportunity presents itself they should put Jurkovec in and let him run the offense. So far that’s been mixed (as far as how the coaches have used him that is). If ND is blowing out BC and or/Stanford put him in and let him run things for the 4th quarter or longer. See what he has. You get so few opportunities to ‘practice’ against opposing teams.

  5. I was reading an article in the ND Insider talking about how the Irish might not get a good bowl invite even if they win 10 games. A lot has to happen for them to be in a New
    Years 6 game. Then I’m watching Georgia celebrate winning their conference against Auburn. If ND was in the ACC Coastal, they would instantly give that division credibility and they would would probably win it most years.
    Then they would have a showdown with Clemson each year in the conference championship game. This would seem to put the Irish in a better position for Playoff talk and bowl games.
    Other than the NBC contract, why is being independent so important?

    1. One is the NBC contract, yes. And don’t underestimate the value of that. Also bowl money is a factor, since ND can keep its share as opposed to having to share it. Most years ND goes to a bowl game.

      But it’s also scheduling. Being in a conference would greatly limit ND’s ability to schedule the games it wants to schedule. Granted we have to schedule 4 to 5 ACC games a year, but that still leaves us 7 to 8 games to schedule as they see fit. If they joined a conference forget playing USC, Stanford and Navy every year.

      I also believe there is a certain prestige in being independent. We play nationally, are on national TV almost every week (every week if you count the ACC Network) and ND schedules who it wants for the most part.

      Join a conference full time and ND would quickly just become another name in the pool. Eventually there would come games where we might not even be on national TV. A ND-Syracuse game for instance may only be on regional TV.

      ND does pay a price for its independence, yes. We pretty much have to go 12-0 most years to get in the CFB playoff. 10-2 could leave us out of the NY Day 6 bowl schedule. But I still think it’s worth the price. We schedule nationally and recruit nationally. I think that makes it worth it.

      1. I agree with a lot of what you are saying, but we haven’t won anything in 30 years. Also, what happens when NBC doesn’t want to pony up the money anymore. Just food for thought.

      2. There may come a time when ND has to reconsider its independence. Right now ND is better off without a conference. Should they have difficulty securing their own TV contract like they have could someday be a tipping point. Money is a big reason they are still independent.

        Scheduling could be another tipping point someday. I think the conferences are secure for the moment, but ND has experienced some difficulty in scheduling (i.e. the Michigan series won’t resume again for years, and I’m not sure when we play MSU again…I think Purdue is coming up soon). But we’re still ok for the most part. But if there is another conference shake-up and they go to some sort of mega-conference configuration (such as 16 team conferences that looked like we were headed towards a few years back) that could also back ND into a corner.

        I think as long as we have the NBC (or another exclusive TV contract), and they can still fill out their 12 team schedule I think we’ll be ok. Our agreement with the ACC bought ND some breathing room (esp. the bowl tie ins we have which was huge). There are some things I don’t like about Swarbick, but that agreement was a big deal. Not only did it find a good home for basketball and many ND’s other sports, but it protected our independence. While we have to play more ACC games then maybe we would like, we still have a lot of flexibility and I don’t think anyone can overstate the importance of the bowl tie ins. After the Big East imploded ND was in danger of being outside looking in. And again, it gave ND some breathing room for the time being.

  6. I agree with those who think 2020 could be the year that ND finally captures
    another NC. The schedule is set up perfectly for a title run. The key is
    how explosive the offense will be in huge games, like Clemson at home. That
    has been up the reason I wanted Jurkovec to play and see if he could
    provide the type of offense needed to beat the big dogs in the pack. Let’s see more deep throws
    from Book the last three games of the year to see if it was just Navy or a “new”

  7. I posted this on another article but want to post it here as well as it is a bit of an overreaction but a factual one…

    More impressive than anything Book did was Jurkovec’s very first throw to Lenzy from the right hash all the way to the wide side of the field on a 15 yard hitch all while standing tall in the pocket and taking a hit right to his chest from a blitzer coming full speed right as he was throwing the ball. The ball had some serious zip and Lenzy made the catch just outside of the DB coming over for a really impressive completion. That’s an NFL throw and more importantly, it was a throw that proves that Jurkovec has a higher upside than Ian Book.

    Does anyone think Book could have made that throw because I sure as hell don’t!? We all know Book would have seen that pressure coming right in his face and would have just tried to scramble away from it rather than hanging in there and making the hard throw on a longer developing play. The point is these throws are open if Book just stays in the pocket and lets them develop like Jurkovec did. Against good teams, there are going to be times where you have to take the hit to make the big play. Book won’t do it, ever, guaranteed. AND…he doesn’t have the arm strength to make that throw period anyway.

    Is anyone really impressed with Book beating up on might Duke and Navy? I myself can throw a ball 50 yards through the air to a guy who has 10 steps worth of space on a DB in Lenzy. Chase Claypool could have caught 8 TDs if the coaches would have wanted him to and that could have been with Finke throwing to him. There was nobody that could cover any of our guys in the last two games. I’m not impressed by Book and think this is a turnaround of our offense in games against two of our weakest opponents on our schedule.

    I’m not sure why this article says “Notre Dame Football Is Finally Who We Thought They Were”. We knew this right after the GA game and the Michigan game confirmed it. To sum that up…we have a good defense, decent special teams, and an offense that can score against garbage opponents but against good teams will be shut down. Welcome to 2020 ND football as long as Book is the starting QB. Oh btw for you stat guys…Book is at a 58% completion percentage for the season. Wasn’t this supposed to be his strength?? Hmm….

    1. Honestly that’s a fear I have. Is Book and the offense really improved or is it that Duke was an inferior opponent and maybe Navy was overrated?

      Book will still get chances to prove himself. BC and Stanford are still coming up. And if they win out they should get a pretty decent bowl game opponent so we should get some inkling at least.

      Now I’m not saying they aren’t better necessarily. I just don’t want to get carried away and say ND is some kind of juggernaut on offense now. I personally think the jury is still out.

      But I can’t help but feel Jurkovec has the tools to potentially take the team to the next level if they are developed properly. If Book finishes with wins (including the bowl game) I have no doubt he will be the starter next year. And I just don’t think Book has the capability at this point of going next level. If Book starts next year I think maybe we can go 10-2, 11-1. But I just don’t think he has the skill set to beat top of the line defenses.

      Maybe I’ll feel differently if they get a NY Day 6 bowl and Book dominates our opponent. But for now I’m not ready to jump on that band wagon.

      1. Damian,

        You’re feeling the same thing I am brother. Even an opponent from a NY 6 bowl is still going to be a team from the 2nd tier of the conference. Book will play fine against BC and Stanford who are both trash this year. And because of the strong finish, like you said, he will be the starter 2020 and we will probably experience the same thing when Clemson shuts Book completely down.

        The best thing we could all hope for is for Book to be a grad transfer to a competing school like Oklahoma or something.

      1. Thanks Ron! I had a lot of fun throwing to our receivers at practice this year for our local high school team and them saying to me “Wow Coach…I bet you can throw the ball longer than Ian Book!” 🙂

    2. You’re right, Book doesn’t make that throw from the right has across the field because it’s too risk – off just a bit and six the other way. Yes, it was impressive throw, but I am not ready to throw Book under the bus because of one very good throw. There’s a lot more to quarterbacking than arm strength and Book is proven winner. He had terrible game against Michigan, yes, but got little support from his linemen and running backs.

  8. The key next year is for Book to consistent ly perform at a very high level every game.Also the young receivers need to become big time playmakers which I definitely believe the potential is there. They just have to stay healthy and develop. One other thing is Notredame needs for Chris Tyree to come in and start and hopefully live up to the hype.I feel that Notredame has the coaching and talent on defense and special teams to be a national title contender. To take the next step they need a great offense.

  9. Whether it’s fair or not I wonder if Lea is being excluded due to their flop against Michigan. I do think the defense tried to make a stand early in the 3rd quarter and the offense did them zero favors in that game but when people outside Irish land think of ND in 2019 they are going to think of the Michigan drubbing. Most fans want to move on but unfortunately that’s what most people are going to think of first when they think of ND this year.

    It’s up to ND to make sure they keep Lea around. In this date and age when you get an assistant like that you need to pay them, or someone else will. ND has lost a few too many assistants over the last 10 years to lateral moves. That means ND is no longer a destination for assistants, but a proving ground for more lucrative jobs.

    Perhaps the lone bright spot of the Michigan drubbing is since that is what people are thinking of with ND this year that may keep some other teams at bay from trying to poach Lea this year. Though perhaps not because other head coaches are not like the public and will see Lea’s entire output and are more likely to dismiss one bad game. But in any event, ND needs to be aware that if ND’s defense keeps getting better other schools are going to come calling for Lea’s services and ND has to be ready to compete or they are going to lose him. And for those that may think good riddance? Well, one major reason Nick Saban has won so many championships over the years is because he had great assistants working for him.

  10. I told you all Claypool was better than Boykin and Eq St Brown but was never featured. This year he IS the guy and wow is he going the hell off! So much fun to watch!

    1. Yeah last 3 games 20 catches for 332 yrds and 5 td’s ! The 7 games prior 29 catches for 436 yrds and 4 td’s ! 6 of the 9 td’s against NAVY & BOWLING GREEN ! 1TD vs. GEORGIA & MICHIGAN

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