5 Things I Didn’t Like: Notre Dame Penalties, Injuries, and What Was Pitt Wearing?

Notre Dame had an effective business trip to Pittsburgh over the weekend. The Irish tamed the Panthers 45-3 on their way to their fourth win in four tries in conference play and fifth overall in five attempts. There was a lot to like from the Irish output on Saturday, but even in a 42 point win on the road against a tough defense, there’s always room to find a few things that weren’t the most likable.

Penalties on Notre Dame

Notre Dame came into the game averaging only three penalties a game for just under 30 yards. Against Pitt, the Irish tallied 7 for 63 yards, more than doubling their season average. They came early in the game, too, and they weren’t cheap ones.

On Notre Dame’s first touchdown drive of the game, Aaron Banks was flagged for a face mask penalty that wiped out that turned a 2nd and 6 at the 25 to a 1st and 21 from the 44. Ian Book helped erase that flag with his 34-yard touchdown to Bennett Skowronek, but that could have been a drive killer.

After getting to their own 48 on their second drive of the game, a personal foul penalty on Liam Eichenberg set the Irish back and put the offense into a 1st and 24. The drive stalled – more on this later.

I’m not going to count the pass interference penalty on Kyle Hamilton because that was just good defense. We can forgive the referee for never seeing a safety be able to run and cover as well as young Kyle before.

It was a bit of a sloppy afternoon penalty wise, and something Brian Kelly and staff need to clean up, all kidding aside.

Tommy Rees play-calling after Eichenberg’s personal foul penalty

Overall, Tommy Rees had a pretty good afternoon calling plays. The Irish scored 45 points – and should have scored more. Notre Dame finally threw for over 300 yards, and Ian Book doubled his touchdown total on the year in a single afternoon. Overall, not bad.

But can we talk about the second drive of the game and what Rees did following Eichenberg’s personal foul?

Notre Dame faced a 1st and 21 from the Pitt 38 yard line after moving the ball down the field and scored a touchdown – despite a similar 15-yard penalty – the drive before. Rees proceeded to call three surrender runs in a row, and the Irish punted three plays later on 4th and 31. Three runs netted a total of -6 yards.

Notre Dame was moving the ball well at the time. I get not wanting to force a turnover, but maybe a screen instead of a couple of draws and pitches into the teether of the nation’s top-ranked run defense?

Pitt’s alternate uniforms

I thought we were getting past some of these uniform monstrosities, but apparently not. Whoever approved those Pitt jerseys might need an eye exam because they were dreadful. I didn’t even realize that there were names on the backs of the jerseys until late in the game because the grey nameplates on grey jerseys made them illegible.

Pitt’s traditional blue and yellow uniforms with the script “Pitt” on the helmet are iconic and would have been fitting for a rivalry game where the programs have met over 70 times. I get wanting to do something special for a big game for the program – Notre Dame’s forced some bad uniforms too over the years – but those unis need to go into storage and never see the light of day again.

Braden Lenzy’s injury

The afternoon started with the news of Kevin Austin’s injury. Notre Dame lost their presumed number one receiver for the year before he ever got going this year to a foot injury. Bennett Skowronek emerged as the big-bodied, sure-handed threat we all thought Notre Dame was getting when he transferred from Northwestern. That was good. However, the bad was having Braden Lenzy running go routes in the 4th quarter up 40 points.

I can see some of the logic of having Lenzy getting some more reps since he’s missed a lot of time with hamstring issues. That said, the logic backfired horribly with Lenzy pulling up lame on a go route late in the game.

There hasn’t been an official update on Lenzy’s status other than Brian Kelly saying they are hopeful he just pulled some of the scar tissue from the injury. Still, it’s hard to imagine him suiting up this weekend after getting helped off the field. Even if here is miraculously available in two weeks for Clemson, how effective will Notre Dame’s lone speed threat now be?

Lenzy and Austin were supposed to be Notre Dame’s 1-2 punch at wide receiver this year. We might not see either impact this season the way things are going with Lenzy’s hammy.

No targets for the freshman wide receivers

Jordan Johnson reportedly did not travel with the Irish to Pittsburgh, and while Xavier Watts did, he didn’t get into the game. Johnson not traveling with the team suggests some sort of internal disciplinary action, but that is just speculation at this time. Brian Kelly hasn’t confirmed anything of the such, but it’s hard to imagine a healthy Johnson not making the travel roster for any other reason.

With Austin out for the year and the potential loss of Lenzy for any period, Notre Dame could use some explosiveness to pair with Skoronek and Javon McKinley right about now. Lawrence Keys should be back at full strength next week, but just once, it’d be nice to see the Irish have an impact freshman receiver.

Turning on the Michigan game on Saturday night, AJ Henning was in the game for the Wolverines in the first half. He only ended up with 1 catch for 6 yards, but that’s more than Notre Dame has gotten from the combo of Johnson and Watts so far.

With the incoming trio of Lorenzo Styles, Jayden Thomas and Deion Colzie, Kelly, Rees, and Del Alexander will have to find a way for freshman receivers to play sooner rather than later.

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  1. Very little playing time for Tyree. He needs to get more touches than three. Kelly had most of the third quarter and all of the fourth to get Brendan Clark some meaningful reps and it really didn’t happen. Notre Dame still doesn’t have the right QB to get them over the top. Book is good not great. Will win most games with him at QB but wont beat Clemson and might not beat NC.

  2. ….and What was Pitt Wearing?
    Bitch, please.
    Leave the petty, frat girl Burn Book slams to Rhonda.
    If you steal her shtick, she’ll be devastated.

  3. * Calling a timeout your fourth offensive play? Then, later, second and two at the goal line, up 28-3- two passes. Really? With Kyren Williams and C’Bo and one of the best OL in football? If they stopped you twice, go for it on 4th down and give it up at the one or two, and see if Yellen can go 95+ yards against NDs D’. If NDs O’ didn’t score a TD at that goal line, the ND D’ probably would have. In two weeks, learning on the job will not be OK. Having said that, there was an improvement on the game plan and downfield passing scheme vs. a pressure Pitt D’.
    * As far as not having a “lone speed threat” with Lenzy reinjured, the few practices they had during the lead up to game one, I heard several times (from Kelly) how Frosh WR Johnson was hauling in deep passes. Not making the trip and not injured- will this play out as another D.Williams, K, Williams, Kevin Austin scenario when one of your top recruits and supposedly best players doesn’t see the field for whatever reason ? I’ve seen this scenario played out too often. The TEs and #11 and #88, and #18, if he ever gets thrown a pass, will be enough until Clemson, when really what will be enough?
    * Foskey’s punt block was impressive, as is most of what he does when on the field. But the PR and KR units remain unimpressive, and the KR defense wasn’t very special either, with the exception of Lamb and Bauer. Special teams coverage and returns remain meh! Doerer gets it done, fortunately.

  4. Again, good list agree on all fronts.
    However, we now turn our attention to Ga Tech week. For those of you that may have forgotten, Ga Tech week in 2015 was a big one on this message board. It was the week we learned of the Plan B (how to create one and when to use). We also learned that you should not watch ND games yet comment on everything that happens during the game. And finally, we saw the absolute worst prediction in the history of ND football.
    Look forward to sharing these bits of gold with all of you during this game week.

    1. re: #confirmAmy
      GOP Court Haiku / Merrick Garland blues

      No Merrick Garland
      Too close to election time
      Hypocrisy rules

      Learn to pronounce
      the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense (see: Moscow Mitch for further explanation)

      1. Don’t interrupt Rhonda when she’s on a tirade. She’s got so much blood in her eyes that can’t even read her file of old clippings.
        And lookout.,…she might start hemorrhaging out her well-used vajinn. High five!

    2. Barrett’s entire ND education and career is now reduced to political pawn/whore.
      And Jenkins thought it worth his life to attend just one meeting of Monty Burns’ Stonecutters society.
      Self-flagellation masturbation. Oh…Oh…Opus Deeeei!
      Spread your legs, Rhonda….the spirit of the lord be with you!

  5. I was surprised that McKinley and Skoronski are pretty fast. They made some big yards after the catch. It would be nice if Kelly would play Watts and Johnson just to see how they would do. Other teams seem to play their freshmen receivers receivers and they look good. Would like to see Reese get Tyree the ball more both running and passing. Thos kid can go the distance on any given play. Finally, I’m puzzled about Lawrence Keys. Every spring and fall practices reporters rave about how great he looks and no one can cover him. But I’ve rarely seen it in games on Saturdays.

    1. AS has been said about Fr. WR Jordan Johnson, and WR Joe Wilkins . . .
      Have to wonder how players who reportedly look so good in practice do not see game action.

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