Immediate Overreactions to Notre Dame’s Frustrating Win Over Florida State

Notre Dame was back in action last night and played how you would expect a team to play after three weeks off – sloppy. The Irish lacked the execution we saw in week two’s blowout of South Florida and instead made uncharacteristic mistakes that made the game much closer than it needed to be. The Irish prevailed 42-26, but it’s clear the Notre Dame coaching staff has a lot of work on its hands over the next few weeks. Here are this week’s overreactions.

I expected a sloppy game, but…

In my prediction post, I said the game would be frustrating, and Notre Dame would probably be sloppy after the three-week break, but that didn’t make it any less frustrating to watch. It’s tough when you know that Notre Dame is so much better than its opponent only to let them be in the game from their own mistakes.

The fumble by Kyren Williams, the muffed punt, the penalties, the dropped passes, the missed throws. All week one type of problems I predicted. All issues that occurred that was still frustrating to see.

Luckily Florida State is so bad that it didn’t matter, but Notre Dame has to play a lot better a month from now to have any chance against Clemson. Luckily they have three more games before then and hopefully won’t have anymore unplanned breaks in action before then.

Notre Dame’s passing game still is a work in progress

I hoped we would see the Notre Dame passing game look better last night with Kevin Austin back in action and the rest of the Irish wide receiving corps back to full strength. Well, we are still waiting for that. Ian Book did look better than we’ve seen him in a while at times but he finished the night just 16 of 25 for 201 yards and two touchdowns. He didn’t need to do much more because the rushing attack was so good, but it still would have been nice to see him connect on one of the deep shots he took.

Javon McKinley ended up leading the Irish with five receptions for 107 yards including a nice 38 yard gain on a beautiful throw by Book. The rest of the Irish receivers caught just four passes for 42 yards. Tommy Tremble wasn’t featured much this week either with just a single catch for six yards.

Book’s stats would have looked better had he connected on a third quarter screen to Kyren Williams that was setup perfectly. Similarly to the missed screen against Duke though, the ball was too high and fell to the ground. Williams might have scored on the play it was that well set up.

There’s still time to fix the Irish passing game, but through three games, Book has just 608 yards and three touchdowns.

Brian Polian needs to fix the punt return unit… NOW

The punt return unit was a but of a trainwreck last night. Lawrence Keys muffed one punt that let Florida State back in the game after the Irish had built a 14-3 lead and looked like they would run away with it early. Then later in the game, freshman Ramon Henderson ran into Keys nearly causing another turnover and shortfield for Florida State. Against the Seminoles it was okay, but again, those kind of plays won’t fly next month when Clemson comes to town.

Notre Dame ended up turning to walkon Matt Salerno later in the game. It would be nice if the punt unit could be a weapon and not a liability, but we may be headed towards the territory of the punt return unit being a fair catch factory like it had been in the past.

Notre Dame hasn’t had a back like Kyren Williams in a long time

I don’t think enough could be said of just how good Kyren Williams has been for Notre Dame. Sure, the yards and big plays speak for themselves, but it’s the four and five yard runs that he is getting that are the most impressive to me. Notre Dame simply hasn’t had a back that can make people miss and bounce off tackles like Williams in a long time.

There were numerous plays last night where he should have been stopped for no gain or a loss that he tuend into four or five yard gains or better. Those plays are not only critical for creating better down and distances obviously, but they are are demoralizing to a defense.

Williams doesn’t have the speed of Josh Adams or Dexter Williams where a small hole could be exploited for a home run, but he is just so damn effective at every other run that he could turn out to be much more impactful than either of them.

Williams finished the night with 185 yards on 19 attempts and two touchdowns. He did have a costly fumble on the second play of the game, but he atoned for it and then some. Oh, and Chris Tyree ain’t too shabby either.

The Irish offensive line is legit

Part of the reason both Williams and Tyree have been so effective is because the offensive line is opening massive holes for them. On Chris Tyree’s 45 yard touchdown run, he wasn’t touched. Williams wasn’t touched on his 47 yard touchdown run either. While Williams has made the line look even better by those aforementioned “nothing into something” runs, they have also benefited from some great blocking.

Notre Dame ran the ball for 353 yards last night – Book added 58 yards of his own via sme designed runs and a few scrambles.

Even when Liam Eichenberg had to leave the game with an eye injury, the line didn’t miss a beat with Aaron Banks sliding over to left tackle in his place. It’s take this line a little while to get to this point, but it is playing some dominant football right now. If they keep playing like they have, the Clemson defensive line will have their hands full with them.

Clark Lea might be human after all

Again, I expected some sloppiness last night but more so from the offense, not the Irish defense. Clark Lea’s unit though was uncharacteristically sloppy last night. They were set up poorly a few times because of turnovers, but they still gave up 405 yards to an offense that was starting their third different quarter in four games.

One alarming stat from last night was the Seminoles fourth down conversions – they were three for three. They were just 2 of 14 on third downs, but perfect on fourth downs on the night.

We can chalk some of this up to lost practice time, limited availabilities of players over the last few weeks, but it didn’t make it any less surprising to see the Irish defense on its heels at times.

Jeremiah Owusu Koramoah and Kyle Hamilton provided some big hits at times, but the Irish defense line which had been dominant the first two weeks, didn’t have quite the same push last night. Ade Ogundeji did, however, pick up another two sacks last night.

Given the layoff and all of the practice time missed while players were in isolation and quarantine, last night’s performance isn’t worth freaking out about just yet, but if we see Louisville do the same, it will be.

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  1. Rhonda,

    I barely recall the Bama game in the OB, clearly remember the 78 Cotton Bowl, can practically give you a play-by-play of the 89 Fiesta Bowl, and of course perfectly recall what should of been another NC after the 93 season.

    The point is that unlike some who have come to accept mediocrity as the new ND standard, and any claim to greatness a “ridiculous standard,” I perfectly recall thinking ND should compete for a NC every year.

    But we know reading literacy is not your strong point, Rhonda, thus the tired need for inane comments.

    Stay classy, Rhonda!

  2. The irish looked like they were playing with people out of position or like they had only one week to get prepared for Florida State. Defense giving up way too many yards and points. Offense should be a lot better than it is. 3 weeks off people. They were practicing these 3 wks weren’t there. Well they didn’t play like they had 3 wks to get ready for a game. Thank god it was Florida St. That’s all I can say. Coach Brian Kelly better get back to the drawing board and while he’s at it put the word out to his special teams coach as well as his defensive coordinator that they better get into the film room stay after practice do whatever they got to do but Improvement is a must. It’s just how bad are we going to lose to Clemson is what I’m thinking now. That was a pathetic showing last night. And while we’re on that subject I put all the blame on Kelly. Never been a fan of his at all. Be a good time to get rid of him Urban Meyer’s right around the corner. That’s an opportunity he never pass up and in the end we would benefit as in championships. I’m sure I’ll hear about it but I’ll own it. Every time we get to the playoffs he looks scared. If your coach looks scared your players we’ll play scared. My opinion only and it showed each time. We were blown out. Thanks for your services Kelly you can show yourself out. Three weeks off you’re players come out and look like that and play like that that falls on you. You better come up with a different game plan in 3 weeks and we’re going to need it. Dabo Swinney gets players that want to play and buy-in from day one. Much more disciplined. The coach doesn’t play in the game, he coaches the game. The players play like they practice they always say. We have the talent to get there, I’ll coach them like they need to be coached. Prove me wrong I’d like nothing better than to eat my words and see you win a big one and put Notre Dame back where they belong and that’s a championship winner not just a contender.

    1. No, they were not practicing during that entire 3 weeks. Perhaps you have heard about this pandemic going on that shutdown Notre Dame football for a while? Notre Dame was missing 39 individual players at one point over the last three weeks due to quarantine/isolation. That’s a lot of players.

      Ironically you started off your post with exactly the scenario that Notre Dame was in – they had a week to prepare, not 3. And yes, players were out of position because they moved players around to handle the lack of availability during preparation at certain positions. Also, sorry to break it to you, but no, you would not coach them like “they need to be coached”.

  3. Yard points don’t matter. I’m not concerned about Clark Lea or the defense. If the offense and special teams don’t spot the noles 10 points off of 2 turnovers this game is a 42-16 laugher or more likely 49-16 or 56-16. Williams I can live with because he killed it the rest of the game – and all season so far for that matter. Keys is another story. A non-factor at WR and now a liability at PR. If ND scores after that stop which was a great series by the defense, then the game would’ve gotten out of hand real fast for the noles.

    This is all fixable and understandable after 3 weeks off, but like everyone else I was disappointed there was so much rust to shake off.

  4. You cannot make any mistakes against the better teams or they will capitalize on them. It is the reason they are one of the better teams.

  5. My immediate overreaction is that it’s unreal that NDCrazyMike said that Chase Claypool was not an elite receiver LMFAO!

    4 TDs today and should have been 5 if not for a garbage OPI call. Beast! Set franchise rookie record!

  6. I have been an Irish fan since grade school. I don’t know any other program in college football that is held to the same ridiculous standards. If they lose a game, it’s they shouldn’t even be in the top 25. They’re overated scrubs. Then they win and it’s sloppy, they needed to throw it more. Yes the turnovers were sloppy, the missed field goal sucked but they ran the ball up and down the field and put it in the end zone. They should have scored 63 pts. But they beat FSU up. They played tough, hard hitting ball. I guarantee you no matter who your team is you would take a 42-26 win over FSU anytime and not whine about how you got it..

    1. I don’t know when you were in grade school, Jeff, but the “ridiculous standard” for the ND football teams I grew up watching was the national championship.

      I guess much younger ND fans just think greatness is a “ridiculous standard”!

      Has ND won a NC in your lifetime, Jeff? Do you personally recall any of them, if so?

      I have watched all three FSU games. ND should’ve put up over fifty easy and limited the Noles to under twenty even with turnovers. The FSU O line looked like it was playing on ice skates its first three games and yet held their own against ND’s vaunted D line.

      And, unlike the NFL, style points count in college football. Don’t be surprised if somehow it comes down to ND and Miami as Clemson’s opponent for the ACC title if the bottom line is who gave the Tigers the toughest game the first time they played.

      When will ND fans finally realize style points have always mattered in college football.?! ND wins a NC in ’77 because they blew out #1 Texas in the Cotton Bowl. In fact, ND was trying to score one more time at the very end of the game but time ran out on a non-working clock.

      Perhaps Jeff is too young to remember that game or when ND playing for national titles was the “ridiculous standard” of the Fightin’ Irish fan base.

      GO IRISH! Beat Louisville!

      1. There’s been 4 in the last 70 years so not sure how many people on here can really recall many of them.

  7. very true Michael, cant worry about Clemson. Upsets happen every week and you better show up ready to go every week. I’m not sure how many snaps Austin was targeted. Book played pretty well, dropped in some nice throws into tight coverages. Never heard Skoronski name. or sure he even played. Book has to hit the layups as Kelly likes to say.Again he missed William’s on a well set up screen that could have went for a touchdown or huge gain. Book also missed a short pass over the middle on a third and three. I’m not sure if he threw it too hard or inaccurately. The receiver was wide open and it would have been a first down.Again those misses will hurt against better teams on the schedule. Finally I would like to see Notredame get Tyree involved in the passing game like Ohio got JK Dobbins and Clemson gets Eiteme involved.

  8. Morning after first impressions:
    * Let’s worry less about Clemson and more about next week, and those that follow, with four road games in the next five weeks! One never knows how well a team consistently plays on the road – especially during a plague.
    * Great second half adjustments by Lea . . .why this Fla. St. QB wasn’t starting since week one is an indictment of Norvell, not Lea. He’s a great athlete and would be difficult to simulate when preparing for him.
    * If you throw more to Mckinley (5/5), he’ll catch more. So much for Austin and #11 ready at WR-
    more kellyspeak. Re: injuries and who’s ready, he’s been talking that “he’s ready to go” crapola for a decade.
    * OL outstanding or FSU D’ awful- or both? Pretty impressive #74 played OT with one eye for an entire half !
    * I love the attitude #6JOK and #52 Bauer bring to the D’
    * Kyren Williams was the best RB ND had last year, too. Where was he?
    * Great pick by Crawford in/near the EZ at a critical time in the game (shades of that forced fumble vs. Mich. St. years ago)
    *More Foskey, please
    * Hamilton quietly led the team in tackles

      1. Not really. You feel better if I used the word pandemic?

        “There’s a whole ocean out there! Don’t drown in a glass of water”. Your reply is based on one word? What about the other points I made?

  9. A good win. The positives are Book took shots down the field. I would have liked to see Austin targeted more than once but I’m not sure how many plays he was in for. William’s, Tyree are really impressive. O line playing really well but they have not faced a great dline Pitt, Clemson let’s see what happens. Nottedame needs to tight up their run defense. Need Kiser and Myron in there. Hopefully Notredame can keep winning but more importantly show improvement every week. Can they beat Clemson. Possibly but they have to play lights out in all facets offense, defense , special teams.

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