Notre Dame Football 2019 Plays Of The Year

It’s awards season, folks!

Forget the Heisman Trophy and the college football awards show and all that other fluff, the UHND awards are where it’s at for the Notre Dame football team. Even the team banquet; sure, it’s nice to be the team MVP and things like that, but to be a part of the official UHND plays of the year? Prestigious doesn’t even begin to describe it.

I’m going to break this down by group, so plays of the year on offense, defense, and special teams, plus a couple of fun ones, like “whoa play of the year” and “TV call of the year” and “most consequential play”. I don’t want to waste words in the lead up, so let’s just get to it.

Honorable Mention

Ian Book Game-Winning Touchdown Against Virginia Tech

Pretty big moment! If Book doesn’t get in, the team is out of timeouts, it’s fourth down, and they are scrambling to get a play off, let alone design a winning play. It was a gutsy call by Chip Long, he’d be in some deep doo-doo if it didn’t work out, but the play was executed to perfection, with the run and cut by Book and the blocking of Javon McKinley. Probably the single most exciting moment of the year and the single biggest feeling of relief.

Johnathan Doerer Kicking Four Field Goals Against USC

This isn’t a single play so it doesn’t really qualify for an award, but I felt it should be mentioned. We throw around phrases like “it won Notre Dame the game,” and sometimes it’s exaggerated, but in this case, it’s probably true. They won by three, and he kicked a 52 yarder to make it two scores at 23-13 when USC was really cooking on offense, so things never truly got tense. Huge performance in Notre Dame’s best win.

Most Consequential Play

Ian Book 4th and 10 Completion To Chase Claypool Against Virginia Tech

So much was riding on the success of this play late in the fourth quarter. Notre Dame is out of timeouts, and there is under a minute left. If it goes incomplete, the game is over. If Notre Dame drops the game, it’s two straight losses, the career of Book is up in the air, there is no chance for a double-digit win regular season, and the season could have turned very ugly for the rest of November.

Book stands strong in the pocket and fires a bullet to Claypool, perfectly in stride for a 23 yard gain, and Notre Dame went on to score the winning touchdown. The rest is history. Ian Book did build off of that drive and that throw, Notre Dame went undefeated in November, and things feel close to right again. The biggest single fork in the road moment of the season and the players involved.

Best TV Call

Javon McKinley 69 Yard Catch And Run Against New Mexico

The nice thing about Mike Tirico calling the games is there are a lot of candidates for this one. There were numerous on the final drive against Virginia Tech,  and the Lenzy run against USC come to mind. This one sticks out, though, because it was so unexpected, and there was no preparation for the moment or tension in the stadium. McKinley is rumbling down the field, and Tirico is letting the verbs and adjectives fly out of nowhere. Snakes his way to the 20? It’s a real fun listen.

“Whoa, Whooa, WHOOOA” Play Of The Year

Braden Lenzy 51 Yard Touchdown Run Against USC

This is the title of the award because this is the sound I made as he made his way down the field. Even Mike Tirico let out a “Whoa! He’s fast!” after the play. Notre Dame had been such a blah team up to that point; methodical drives, but they always lacked that big, exciting play. When the ball is pitched to Lenzy, the first thought is “get around that corner” and he gets around the corner, and you think oh good, this is working out. Then it hits that “wait, there is no one there. Wait, he’s flying. He’s going to score!” It was such shock how fast he was, and again, it was so unexpected. Big plays like that just hadn’t happened. The good news is this was just a preview of things to come for Lenzy the remainder of the season.

Obligatory Kyle Hamilton Post

4th and 2 Tackle For Loss Against Navy

Choosing my favorite play of his is like choosing your favorite child. I love them all the same. But, I think this one resonates with the fans the most. It was a big play, just him and the quarterback who no one could stop, and it was total dominance. It was just no dude, you don’t actually have a chance, this is a different level here. Like a lion chasing the gazelle.

Special Teams Play Of The Year

The Hold And Kick Against Virginia Tech

The hold by Bramblett is fantastic, the calmness of Doerer to wait and beat then boom it through. Just sublime. Both of their minds had to have been racing. How long does Bramblett have to get this ball down? One second? A second and a half? And Doerer sees all this happening on his approach. He has to go through his entire motion not totally knowing if the ball will be there when his foot does. Such a clutch play by two players on one of the most routine plays in the sport.

Defensive Play Of The Year

Jamir Jones Strip Sack Leading To MTA Rumbling And Bumbling Down The Field

First of all, big man running with the football, always a good time. Second of all, this play swung the game into Notre Dame’s favor. They were down at the time 17-14, and Virginia had the ball in Irish territory, mid third quarter. Jones, who had been planning to redshirt this entire time, comes up with a huge sack and strip just on its own, and MTA plucks it out of the air and takes off towards the end zone. He doesn’t quite make it, but Notre Dame later scores to take a lead they’ve never relinquished, against the eventual 9-3 and ACC Coastal Division champions.

Offensive Play Of The Year

Chase Claypool Toe Drag Against Virginia Tech

The catch was difficult, the toe drag was sublime, and the reactions afterward brought it all together. It was a huge play in the game, it came on 2nd and eight on the game-winning drive, and with just one minute and 10 seconds left, time was of the essence. They needed to get moving. Book leads Claypool way too far, he’s wide open, and in bringing the ball in, Claypool has the wherewithal to drag the right foot even though the natural move is to land first with the left foot, which would have made the pass incomplete.

He hauls it in, Shaun Crawford goes wild, and Jamir Jones shows everyone how Chase just dragged that foot. Best play of the year on offense.

You may also like


  1. “If we were in the ACC we’d still be going to the Camping Bowl…our CFP ranking was too low for the Orange Bowl”…Damian, are you SURE it was LOWER than Virginia’s CFP ranking?
    Or would it be Virginia that goes to the Camping Bowl, not us, if we were in the ACC? BTW: The Cotton and Citrus can take us regardless of our ACC ranking. The CFP ranking you refer to is there to guarantee us a NY 6 slot if we are ranked high enough (either top 10 or top 12…I’m not sure which). It also has nothing to do with our ACC ranking. That’s why it is so curious that as we blew 4 teams in a row out, some of them ranked, we went from 15 to 16 to 15 to 14, or some such nonsense, as if we were CFU.

    BGC ’77 ’82

  2. Chris J – “That’s what happens when you go to play one of your rivals and get smacked” – Then explain to us morons who are incapable of understanding how a 9-3 Notre Dame team played a good team in the Citrus Bowl on January 1, 2018 after getting “smacked” at MIAMI?
    Is THREE losses in 2017, one of them a smackdown by a rival, somehow better than TWO losses, one of them a smackdown by a rival, in 2019. How is three losses better than two, Chris? Or is it that the anti-Notre Dame forces were simply afraid we’d beat a tough team in the Citrus, or Cotton, or even the Camping AGAIN just like we beat LSU in the Citrus Bowl?
    The simple answer is this: Let’s forget that ND is 10-2 and play them against a 7-5 (soon to be 7-6) unranked team in the bowl, just to make sure we don’t get another “LSU” situation. I mean, why risk UTAH, or BAMA, or a half dozen other two or three loss teams against ND when they don’t have to, right? And why not – if I was totally corrupted by money and power like they are, and as intellectually dishonest as they are, I might do the same thing to an institution or person who would not bow to my will. How about you Chris?

    You know, the only real consolation in this is the GRETA T. consolation: They don’t bother to go after you if they are not afraid of you. And they ARE afraid Chris, like all corrupt dictators, or wannabe dictators.
    BGC ’77 ’82

    1. Just kidding about the “how about you, Chris”…I don’t make you out to be power hungry, greedy, or corrupt at all! But the NCAA…those roots are so deep, the power grabbing, the money grubbing, and the basic corruption, that I doubt they can ever right that ship – and anyway, it’s clear they have NO interest in playing a clean game on a level field anyway.

      BGC ’77 ’82

      1. Bro chill LOL! I don’t get why we aren’t in a better bowl other than it’s the same ol ND being pretenders over and over and over again. We are quickly turning ourselves into the Central Floridas and other non power 5 schools who won’t get shots at an NC by continuing to not show up for big games. We barely beat everyone on our schedule last year, even the garbage teams AND it was a weak schedule on top of it. Then we get smacked by Clemson like we didn’t even belong on the field. We held our own with GA but they got exposed this year as not being too good either. But even before them getting exposed like that, we lay an egg at MI. It’s embarrassing and the more we have showings like this the more scrutiny we will get when it comes to the committee picking a top 4 OR those that select bowls like this year. Past years shouldn’t play into rankings for the next year but everyone knows they do. Why do you think it’s the same teams at the top regardless of what they have been doing that season? Because they make it to the playoff every year and actually show up to play unlike ND who doesn’t show up at all. We have to start showing some consistency or you can bet this will continue

      2. Chris,

        Agree that Michigan game has been an albatross. Combined with last years smackdown by Clemson we just got no respect. In fact, one week after smacking a team ourselves, Duke I think it was, we actually fell a spot in the polls. And I think after all the beat downs we only moved up one spot–probably because some higher team lost a game and fell down.

        ND already had a high bar after getting the crap beat out of us by Clemson. They can say last year doesn’t matter all they want but it’s a lie. Of course it does. Frankly how could it not. They’re disingenuous when they try to insist otherwise.

        Then add in the embarrassment against Michigan….who like Miami a few years back….is not an elite team. Yet again they themselves got exposed by OSU. So we got smoked by a team that was not elite. So that hurt us.

        I can’t honestly say we deserved a NY Day 6 bowl. We beat a bunch of inferior teams and got shocked by a team we shouldn’t have. When people outside ND land think of ND this year the only thing they think is the Michigan drubbing. That’s it.

        But I agree with Bruce that we should have drawn a better opponent. We’re better than a 7-5 team. It’s a game that gains us nothing, yet there is a lot to lose should we lose.

  3. Damian…we were left out of the Cotton against Memphis, the Orange (which I would not want because it would have been a rematch against a 7-4 team), we were left out of the Citrus, which we qualified for two years ago after a 9-3 season with a close home loss against Georgia and a road blowout at the hands of MIAMI, and played , and beat, LSU on New Year’s Day, and we might have been left out of the Gator Bowl as well (I don’t know if we could have played that one under the rules). So we end up, at 10-2, in a tier three bowl…which would be OK with me, IF we were playing a 9-3 or 10-2 team. But we are to play a 7-5 unranked team there. This is a game that if we win it, we gain zero. They simply say, “yeah, Notre Dame won, but they didn’t play anybody, as usual,…they played an unranked team that finished the season with 6 losses.”
    If we lose they say, “you see, Notre Dame isn’t any good, just as we said.” It is not possible for Notre Dame to come out a winner in this bowl…and that’s exactly what our enemies were thinking when they put us in this situation. And why not? They can’t figure out a way to overpunish us and negate our undefeated season, like they did 2012, they are afraid of what is going to happen next year with all our retuning talent…so why not make sure we have no launching point for next year, neither in morale nor in the polls? Meanwhile, Louisville, another criminal university in athletics, is voted #1 in basketball while the great moral authority of the NCAA just looks the other way, just as they do with everyone the FBI busts for athletic department corruption, unless that should happen to Notre Dame, of course. The NCAA is a beautiful organization.

    BGC ’77 ’82

    1. Def a no win situation playing this trash team but this is what happens when you go play one of your biggest rivals and get smacked. You don’t belong.

    2. Yeah, I for one am not happy with our bowl game. Some are trying to play up our opponent but they’re 7-5.

      Part of the reason I was really hoping for a good bowl draw was to see if Book is really better, or is it just a mirage because we played several overmatched opponents since Michigan? I’m open to the possibility Book has gotten better, but I’m not convinced. Not until I see him go against a rock solid defense and come out on top. And we’re just not going to get that in the bowl game.

      And I’m just having trouble getting excited for this bowl game. I read articles about why I should but I’m just not. Part of that is since Michigan I’ve totally lost my enthusiasm. I still rooted for wins. But it’s more meh. Glad they won…what are my other teams doing

  4. The spin you guys are jamming down the throats of the gullible on this being a good bowl for ND is exceeded in violence only by the spinning of the ceiling and floor after a fifth of vodka – consumed quickly. But they both make me want to throw up about equally.
    On another site, some guy named “Farmer” lays out the reasons why this is a great matchup and wondrous bowl for ND to play in. I used to wonder if that guy was related to Bill Farmer, who I occasionally bought or traded football programs from. He was an architect who repeatedly called out the ND Administration for decades when they claimed that it would be structurally impossible to expand the stadium. I see now that there is no relationship between those two Farmers!
    Jim Frick used to say “Shame the devil kids: Tell the Truth.” This bowl matchup is nothing more than an unveiled PUNISHMENT…it’s just that simple.

    BGC ’77 ’82

    1. Yeah, honestly I’m not excited about this bowl game at all.

      I wanted to play a top tier bowl, a NY Day 6 bowl, against a really good team to see if the team is really playing better or did we just play several really weak teams to close out the season after Michigan.

      I want to know if this is really a new an improved Book or is it just bad defenses.

      I can’t say the Camping World Bowl will tell us a whole lot.

      Book will come back next year….and he will be the starter. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Jurkovec transfers to try to get playing time elsewhere. I’m not convinced we won’t be in the same place next year. 10-2 outside looking in again. I’d love to be wrong. But I’ve been fooled before by ND so people will have to forgive me if I remain skeptical

  5. Hopefully Notre Dame can win against a tough Iowa State team. Oklahoma, Baylor, and Iowa did struggle with them. It seems like Brian Kelly understands that Iowa State is a very good team.

  6. The problem of being an INDEPENDENT is unless ND goes undefeated, these BOWLS all have commitments to teams in a conference! We knew the opponent would be weak so no surprise there. But if ND joined the ACC we would most likely be playing FLORIDA in the Orange BOWL, for a lot more $$$ ! I don’t want ND to join a conference, but this might be the first time their giving up a big payday and higher ranking to stay INDEPENDENT!! Agree with everyone THE CAMPING WORLD BOWL SUCKS, as does playing a 7-5 team not even ranked! NO BIG WIN THERE!!

    1. A 7-5 team that lost to three top 20 teams by a combine 4 points. Iowa by a point, Oklahoma by a point, and Baylor by two points. This Iowa State team is a very good team. This will not be an easy game for Notre Dame.

      1. Wow! That’s all I can say. Talking up Iowa State like they are a very good football team. Great job losing all those games and then beating mighty FCS opponent UNI (what does this even stand for) in 3 overtimes. This team sucks and if we don’t smoke them something is wrong!

    2. ND is tied with the ACC for bowl games. That means we get what the ACC gets. Meaning joining the ACC would gain us absolutely nothing with bowl games because we already get what the ACC teams get.

      So even if we were in the ACC full time we’d still be going to the Camping World Bowl. We weren’t eligible for the Orange Bowl because our CFB Playoff ranking was too low. It had nothing to do with not being in a conference.

      1. IF ND was in a conference like the ACC they would have lost 1 game tops!! Meaning a higher ranking, meaning they would have played CLEMSON for ACC TITLE! The loser of the ACC title game ( virginia ) got the ORANGE BOWL they were 9-4 and ranked 23!! ND is right now #14 higher than any ACC team yet not getting the ORANGE BOWL, we’d be going to the orange bowl if we were in the ACC!! Our ranking never moved up after Mich. even though we won our last 5, and PENN ST. , BAMA, MINN. , WISCONSIN, MICH, FLORIDA all lost after us some lost 2 games after us!! BOTTOM line ND not getting moved up so CONFERANCE teams get the big $$ ! IT has everything to do with not being in a Conference!!

      2. A lot of that is speculation. And ND would give up a lot to join a conference, not the least of which is there NBC contract. And their scheduling flexibility.

        There may come a time where ND has no choice to join a conference. If the major conferences ever go the 16 team route and ND can’t schedule the teams they want anymore for instance. But they’re not there at this point. ND gains more from being independent IMO, from money, to scheduling, to being on national TV every week.

        But my primary point was that ND does have bowl ties, that to the ACC. Whatever an ACC team gets in a similar situation we get. That includes their tie ins to the NY Day 6 bowl. If we have a higher ranking than other ACC teams we’d get their NY Day 6 bowl. And that also includes all their tie ins to the lesser bowls. And we get the same consideration for the Playoffs and NY Day 6 bowls as the major conferences too.

    1. David,

      What’s funny is this will definitely be merchandise and ND fans will actually buy it. I didn’t even buy the undefeated season T-shirt because I would be too embarrassed to wear it around town knowing we got absolutely destroyed by Clemson. But it’s all about the money!

  7. College football viewership on CBS averaged 7.103 million viewers this season, the network’s best mark in 29 years (since 1990).

    The LSU vs. Alabama game had 16.7 million viewers. For comparison, that’s more than 2 entire seasons of ND football home games on NBC these days (…probably that awful Doug Flutie…?).

    Congrats on your ‘plays of the year’.

  8. Seriously man. How disappointing to get such a crappy opponent. Not even worth it. We will not be challenged by this garb team.

  9. Very pleased you rightfully acknowledged Kyle Hamilton. I look forward to seeing him for the next two
    seasons before he books for the NFL as a top five pick taking at least one Heisman with him.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button