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.