5 Things I Didn’t Like in Notre Dame’s Win Over Florida State

Games like Saturday’s 42-26 win over Florida State are perfect for this column. There’s a lot of good in them to like, and there’s plenty of material to fill up a column of things I didn’t like. Notre Dame won comfortably, but not overly convincingly over n inferior opponent. They did some things really well, and they did some things not so well. Here are the five things I think they didn’t so so well.

Florida State’s ability to move the football

During the game, I tweeted that I thought Saturday was the worst we’ve seen a Clark Lea defense perform, and that wasn’t just the IPA’s talking. The Seminoles offense isn’t very good, and they were on their third starting quarterback of the season already. That is usually a recipe for a defensive beating from Clark Lea’s unit.

The three-week layoff, the missed practice time, and the limited player availability certainly impacted the defense more than the offense. However, it was still surprising to see FSU rack up over 400 yards of offense.

On Monday, Brian Kelly said that what we saw Saturday isn’t the kind of defense they expect to see, and I agree. Clark Lea has proven to be one of the best young defensive coordinators in the country over the last few seasons. I suspect we’ll see a return to normal this weekend, but with a mobile quarterback in town again this weekend, Notre Dame has to play a lot better of the game will be closer than most expect.

Single coverage on Tamorrion Terry’s long touchdown

While the defensive performance as a whole was concerning, one play, in particular, stood out. Lea had single coverage with no safety help for Shaun Crawford on Tamorrion Terry’s 48-yard touchdown on 3rd and 4 that briefly gave the Seminoles the lead.

Shaun Crawford is great, but why do you have a guy who you had moved to safety earlier this year in one on one coverage against a 6’4” speedy wide receiver who was the only real deep threat Florida State had? The outbreak ravaged the secondary, apparently which limited practice time for many of its members, but that would make even all the more reason to give Crawford help over the top.

Terry had nine catches for 146 yards. Only one other Florida State player had more than one catch in the game. Florida State’s one chance in this game was mistakes by Notre Dame, and big chunk plays like that. It was no surprise then that the score was 17-14 after Terry’s touchdown before the Irish pulled away.

Notre Dame’s punt return unit

Speaking of turnovers, what in the heck has happened to Notre Dame’s punt return team? The Irish lost their reliable return man in Chris Finke this year, but sheeeesh, that unit was a nightmare on Saturday night. Lawrence Keys muffed one punt that set up Florida State for an easy score, and he collided with Ramon Henderson on another that nearly resulted in another turnover.

At the time of Keys miscue, the Irish held a 14-3 lead and had marched down the field on their previous two drives. If he fields that cleanly, there’s a good chance Notre Dame does the same there, goes up 21-3 and takes away Florida State’s will. Instead, the Seminoles got a short field and cashed it in for a touchdown.

Brian Polian has a lot to shore up in a short period of time right now. Notre Dame turned to walk-on Matt Salerno to only fair catch later punts and has Kevin Austin on the depth chart as a possibility this week.

On a positive, it looks like a matter of time before Chris Tyree pops a kick return for a touchdown. On a negative though, it looks like each punt return is an effort right now.

Only three snaps for Kevin Austin

We knew that Kevin Austin wasn’t going to get a starting nod and rack up a ton of targets in his first game back, but after Brian Kelly said he could get 15-20 snaps against the Seminoles, it was disappointing only to see Austin on the field for the three snaps. Notre Dame did make it a point to dial up Austin’s number on a deep pass on one of those snaps, but he ended the game with just that one target and no catches.

Brian Kelly is notorious for easing players back in like this when they are coming off an injury, but I still thought we’d see Austin play more than he did. Seeing the deep ball called for him was nice, and hopefully, we see more of them in the future.

Kelly hinted that Javon McKinley’s rise up was part of why Austin was so limited, but it seems more likely that Kelly and the training staff wanted to see how Austin responded to the real reps before increasing his workload. Hopefully, that happens this weekend.

Only seven 2nd-half points

It was enjoyable watching Notre Dame gash the Seminoles for over 350 yards on the ground and rip off long run after long run, but it would have been even more fun to see the Irish score more than seven points in the 2nd-half. After scoring 35 my half time, I expect the Irish to hang a 50 burger on the Seminoles. Instead, the scoring stopped for Notre Dame after their first drive of the second half.

Notre Dame did a lot of good things on Saturday offensively, don’t get me wrong. Still, for this team to take the next step, they need to start putting away these teams and not letting off the gas.

It was mildly concerning seeing Jonathan Doerer miss another field goal on Notre Dame’s second drive of the second half as well. Doerer is now 3 of 5 on the season after hitting 85% of his field-goal attempts a year ago.

Hopefully, like the defense, the offense just needed a week to get its feet back under itself, and we see a full 60 minutes this weekend.

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  1. Don’t agree totally with author’s 5 worst things especially those that had to do with the Defense. First, after watching their #3 QB play, I believe they sprung him on our D. He may have been the third QB they used this season, but I’m guessing they believed him to be the best of the bunch. That kid was good, especially running but passing as well.
    Regarding the score, taking away the two fumbles you take away 10 unnecessary points. Also, it was obvious, Kelly was not gonna run up the score inside 4 minutes. Assuming he was a Big 10 coach we could add another 7 points to our column. Final score 49-16. If so, the 33 point differential qualifies as a blowout.

    I’m usually very critical of both OL and QB play, but not this week. I thought this was by far both their best games. I look less at stats, but instead look to see Book’s presence during the game. With OL protection, he looks great. Also, we rightfully laud our 4 RB’s, but if the OL is not doing their job, they can’t do theirs.

    All the conjecture is for naught. What they bring in the Clemson game, will decide their season.

    1. “…Also, it was obvious, Kelly was not gonna run up the score inside 4 minutes.”
      Kelly hasn’t run up the score in 11 years. Too many wins and losses being too damn close is why ND is unprepared to step on the field with the teams that will stomp on your throat.
      And that’s why I now watch other games.

      (PSA: Rhonda will soon add narration, in her best K-Li McInanee voice.)

  2. Jonathan Doerer missing another field goal attempt is another negative. He only has two misses, but he isn’t looking automatic like last season.

    Also, on the drive that Doerer missed the field goal, Notre Dame’s drive stalled near the 30 yard line and it should have never happened. On the second down play near the 30, Tommy Tremble swiftly ran a go route and passed the linebacker rather easily. Tremble looked back to receive a pass from Book once he passed the linebacker, but the pass did not come The pass came much later when the safety help had already appeared and Florida State could’ve had an interception. Ian Book does need to work on delivery the ball quicker to players when they get open. It was frustrating to see Tremble do everything correct and not get awarded.

  3. Going to sleep with a lead has become a vexxing character trait of ND football. And the earliest opportunity when it MIGHT possibly change is with a change in the head coach.
    That clearly ain’t happenin’.
    And it’s why I watch other, more entertaining games.

  4. While I think Williams has been impressive, I do wish that Tyree would get more carries than he does considering he brings the element of having breakaway speed once he clears the defense. The holes have been so massive that I think that Tyree breaks a lot of those for TDs where Williams has been caught from behind. Williams does look like the overall better back but is this because Tyree hasn’t been given the same opportunities? Tyree broke one last game and nobody caught him even though the defender appeared to have the angle on him. Speed kills and when we play legit teams (because we have played trash so far), we might need those big plays. This is only assuming Tyree would be as consistent as Williams has though. We just haven’t been able to see that because of the difference in the number of carries. All I’m saying is that Tyree appears to be able to take it to the house on any given play where Williams will probably get caught. I like homerun backs but that’s just me. I think we need to give Tyree more carries to see what he’s truly got and to prepare him for the harder part of the schedule coming up.

    1. Totally agree Chris. One of the Notredame writers did a review of Notredames offense over the first 3 games and he talked about 3 areas he wanted to see and I agree. 1 he wanted more touches for Tyree but also get him involved in the passing game. 2 throw the ball down the field more to Austin and Lenzy. 3 keep feeding McKinley the ball. A couple of more things I would add are hopefully get Skoronski back and get some playing time for Jordan Johnson. Kid was a 5 star. Let’s see what he can do. Your not restricted with eligibility issues.

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