During the lead up to any game week, we analyze the game on paper. We look at each teams relative weaknesses and strengths, put them together in our little heads and come up with a prognostication.
In the lead up to Florida State week, there was a lot of talk about how bad they were. And when facing a bad team, “what we ought to do” is punish them. Blow them away. “That’s what good teams do.”
I don’t really like to do that, mostly because games aren’t played on paper and as we’ve seen so far this season, any sport can get a little whacky, especially college football 2020. And while Florida State is in fact not good, they are good enough to take advantage of fumbles and dropped punts and busted coverages. So, all in all it’s a “disappointing” 16 point victory that when you peal back the oddities, Notre Dame was as dominant as we’d have wanted them to be, especially on offense.
Running Game Still Works
When we saw the running game work in the first two contests this season, you want to keep seeing it. Especially because it is set up to be the reason Notre Dame is anything on offense, or as a team, this year. And to our eternal delight, they showed us exactly what we wanted to see. The running backs were spry and elusive, the holes were large and plentiful. Even when star left tackle Liam Eichenberg went out with…whatever was going on with his eye, the train kept chugging.
It got to the point where NBC was doing the thing they did in 2017 when they paused the replays to highlight just how large the holes were.
And it’s not very often that not only is the back untouched on a 50 yard touchdown run, but also the pulling player, as Tommy Tremble was on Kyren Williams first touchdown jaunt to make it 14-3.
All in all, 42 carries for 353 yards and four touchdowns plus a clean sheet in pass protection for good measure. Exactly what we wanted to see coming out of the hiatus and hopefully it continues.
Kevin Austin Break Out Week Will Have To Wait
Brian Kelly said Austin would see about 10-15 snaps, which was true if you move the one in the tens place to the ones place. I’m a little disappointed (actually, make that medium disappointed) he didn’t see more time on the field later in the game, even in a blocking role. Everyone knows how long it’s been since he last played in a live game. We did see him for a couple of plays though, and while not much was shown of his post route, he had an in route late in the third quarter where he beat the corner inside and was very much open, Book had already released the pass to Kyren Williams, however. In any event, it was good to see him out there running around, even if it wasn’t as much as I would have liked.
Simon And Liufau Open The Door For Jack Kiser At Buck
We now have a three game sample size at the Buck linebacker position, where co-starters Shayne Simon and Marist Liufau shared the spot against Duke and Florida State while Kiser sat, and Kiser got all the snaps against USF while the other two sat. The result is six combined tackles for Simon and Liufau through two games, and eight tackles, with two tackles for loss, for Kiser in his lone game against USF. Kiser also received the game ball from Brian Kelly.
There is a bit of a team strength disparity, but the proof is in the pudding on this one. Kiser has simply played better in his game on the field than the other two. At the very least, he needs to be in the rotation. Kelly loves to talk about playing the best guys no matter what, and Kiser looks like the best guy.
Javon McKinley Raises His Game
We’ve seen Javon McKinley play well before, but not against an opponent the caliber of Asante Samuel Jr. of Florida State, who many picked as an all-ACC first teamer in the preseason. McKinley notched 5 receptions for 107 yards, got separation down the field, and showed strength in going after the ball. This is a classic “we need to see more” before penciling in this type of contribution from game to game, but it was certainly a welcome development for the Notre Dame passing game.
Combining a legitimate receiving threat to his abilities as a blocker, McKinley emerging would allow the offense to play any way they want without having to break out of their base offense or two receivers and two tight ends.