Delayed Overreactions: Notre Dame Tried to Be Who They Are; It Wasn’t Enough

I usually post this column either right after the game or the morning after. In the immediate aftermath of Notre Dame’s 31-14 loss to Alabama, though, watching the second game with a few 12% abv bourbon barrel-aged stouts seemed like the better option. And yesterday, I just didn’t have it in me.

Notre Dame didn’t take nearly enough chances

In my preview, I wrote that Notre Dame needed to take more chances than they are comfortable with taking to have any hope of pulling off the upset. They didn’t do that. For the most part, Notre Dame ran its offense. That’s fine when you’re playing Pitt or Boston College, but not when you’re playing Alabama or Clemson.

Alabama was going to score points in this game no matter how good the Irish defense was, so the offense had to score points to keep pace. Ian Book rarely ever fired the ball downfield, even when he had one-on-one coverage.

They didn’t try to get any of their faster receivers involved at all. Lawrence Keys was targetted for the first time in the 4th quarter with the outcome long decided. Braden Lenzy didn’t touch the ball. When Notre Dame did run a jet sweep to a receiver, it was to Bennett Skowronek, who might be the slowest receiver on the roster.

Year one of Tommy Rees was mostly successful until the last two weeks when Rees looked overmatched against elite opponents. Rees and Kelly have to find ways to get this passing game jump-started in the offseason all while finding a new quarterback and rebuilding the offensive line.

The defense mainly did its job again.

While the offense was disappointingly predictable, the defense mainly did their job. Yeah, DeVonta Smith made highlight-reel plays, but the guy is a Heisman finalist and AP Player of the Year for a reason. He’s really damn good. Najee Harris posterized Nick McCloud, but Harris was just on the cusp of being a Heisman finalist as well.

Considering all of Alabama’s firepower, they scored 31 points, their lowest total of the year. Some will argue that Alabama let up, but they had their starters in until the end, and Nick Saban was getting sideline penalties for having a tantrum, so it’s not like Alabama was running backups out there.

Just like in the ACCCG, the defense did enough for Notre Dame to win. They didn’t force the turnovers that Notre Dame desperately needed, but overall the defense did enough to give Notre Dame a chance.

I knew it was over when that punt didn’t hit any Alabama player

Watching the game live, I knew we had no shot after that Jay Bramblett punted miraculously bounced through like four Alabama players without touching a single one of them. Are you kidding me? How does that happen? What kind of deal with the devil does Nick Saban have that even when they have so much more talent than an opponent, they also get the lucky bounces?

Notre Dame needed one or two bounces like that to go their way, and they didn’t. It’s incredible now how in 2012, 2018, and 2020, some weird kick/punt non-fumble play went against the Irish. It’s like fate is just taunting us Notre Dame fans in these big games. Like, hey, we know y’all need one of these to go your way, so we’re just going to keep giving you a play like this in each of these big games to torment you.

Notre Dame held up in the trenches, unlike 2012

The biggest positive for me in this game was Notre Dame’s performances in the trenches. In 2012, the game was over in pre-game warmups when Alabama looked like the varsity and Notre Dame the JV in warmups. That was not the case on Friday. Notre Dame’s offensive line held up against Alabama. Ian Book had time to pass – he didn’t always take advantage of it, but he had it. Kyren Williams had room to run and, for the most part, maximized his runs.

Defensively, even when the backup defensive line was in the game, they were getting a push. At one point, Notre Dame had Howard Cross and Rylie Mills in the game in crunch time, and they got a push. That is very encouraging for the future because it shows that while the Irish are lacking at some positions, they have their lines pretty well figured out.

Talent AND coaching are equally responsible for the outcome on Friday

Alabama has a lot more talent than Notre Dame. No one can argue that, and if they try, any other argument they make is invalidated. That said, talent was the only reason that Notre Dame lost the game. Talent is why Harris could jump over McCloud, and talent is why DeVonta Smith made all the plays he did. Talent isn’t, however, why Notre Dame didn’t take chances on offense. It isn’t why Notre Dame came out thinking they could just run their offense against Alabama and have a chance.

In watching the Sugar Bowl, you saw Ryan Day and Ohio State dial-up different wrinkles for Justin Fields to scheme up advantages for the Buckeye offense. And that is a Buckeye offense loaded with enough talent that they could have just tried to run their base offense.

The one play that summed how little gambling the Notre Dame offense was going to do was the 3rd and 7 quarterback sweep the Irish called in the first quarter near midfield. I still don’t know how you call that play without planning on going for it on 4th down.

It wasn’t the end of the world, but Notre Dame still has a lot of work left to win one of these games

In Brian Kelly’s spicy post-game press conference, which I loved, by the way, he said one thing that stuck with me. The problem he and Notre Dame is facing isn’t unique to Notre Dame. It’s the same problem all but like three programs in the country have right now. The gap between Clemson, Alabama, and Ohio State, and everyone else right now is massive.

There are some things Notre Dame can do to close the gap and be more competitive in these games with their current roster, but they have to be willing to do some serious self-scouting this off-season. If Notre Dame looks at this game tape and says to itself, “you know what, we just need to keep on doing what we’re doing, and we’ll breakthrough,” the outcome the next time Notre Dame lines up against one of these behemoths, the result will be the same.

I’ll dive into some of this more in another article, but the most significant change Notre Dame needs to make is at receiver and quarterback. The talent is there. It just hasn’t always been utilized.

All this said Friday could have been worse, folks. Let’s reload and do this all over again in 2021.

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  1. I’m not really a Notre Dame Fan (so feel free to bash me), but I have been a college football fan for very many years now, and believe me, college football needs Notre Dame to be better. Yes, Notre Dame got pushed around by Alabama in 2012, so the Irish needed to get more physical, and they have. Although the statistics and score don’t show it, the Irish had made advancements in getting more physical by the 2018 Cotton Bowl against Clemson. However, it didn’t matter to Clemson if a receiver was covered by an Irish defensive back, for example, they just made the plays anyway. They had playmakers. Now we see ND looking just as physical as Alabama, but with a bigger gap in skill, something they needed to do after Clemson dismantled them.

    The problem is that Alabama actually decided to get less physical but faster and more skilled. They are not afraid to do that, given almost unlimited access to talent. So the Irish are a better physical match now for Alabama in 2012, but Alabama had already changed. The point I want to make is that Alabama becomes whoever they want to be. They have a 2020 team that’s attractive to the best 2020 college athletes. Notre Dame looked pedestrian in the Rose Bowl not just because of the talent gap, but also because they seemed focused on replaying the 2012 Crimson Tide. I don’t think Notre Dame, being the academic University it is, will ever be able to completely close the talent gap, but for God’s sake, don’t make it look so obvious.

    Kelly has done a fine job, but the Irish need to stop reacting to what Alabama or Clemson are and become the best versions of themselves. Otherwise you are always chasing behind the curve. I think of Boise State against Oklahoma in the famous 2006 Fiesta Bowl. The talent gap between those two teams was wider than what we saw in the Rose Bowl, but Boise State knew that and so they used innovation, guts, and some degree of spontaneous smarts to outplay their opponent in that one important game. As Kelly said, the Irish are not going anywhere, but please figure out what to do with those opportunities. It’s just become too painful..Football needs Notre Dame to be Notre Dame, not a second rate Alabama.

  2. It wasn’t the “d” it was the lack of “o” that lead to this outcome. Against Georgia, it was “we can’t run against them.” Maybe not. ND didn’t try. We lost a winnable game. Against Alabama, no deep attempts. No attempt at deep ball. Even Lou Holtz, who hated to employ the forward pass understood balanced offense against West Virginia in the Fiesta bowl. Alabama had 11 possessions against Florida and had over 50 points. Against Notre Dame 9 possessions 31 points. We needed more offense. I like kelly. He will never win a national championship.

  3. Jeff – I guess I can’t reply anymore to that last one. I agree those are all worthwhile coaches to consider – if we were without a coach – and maybe that’s the premise for your comments. But we’re likely not seeing Kelly go anywhere and I guess my question is are you honestly willing to trade a coach who is 43-8 over the past 4 years with 2 trips to the playoffs for one of these guys who MIGHT have a chance of being that good or better? Are you willing to part with Kelly just to see if one of these guys doesn’t become the next Faust, Davie, Willingham, Weis? If you are, then I’ll respect your opinion and we can agree to disagree – I’m not willing to take that chance.

    With regards to Chris’ comments, I actually responded to him as well. I honestly struggle to see how you can question Kelly’s decision making and player development when you have access to about 1% of the information he does. It sucks Phil left but that’s on Phil too, not just Kelly. Salerno fielding punts is frustrating to me as well, but for all we know he’s the only guy in practice that can do it consistently. Also, it’s not Kelly’s fault that Book doesn’t pull the trigger and find open receivers, as Chris describes about missing the open throw to McKinley on the post play. That’s Book’s fault – I love what Book has done but I do believe he is too cautious in some cases and hesitant to pull the trigger. The premise of this article from Frank was that Kelly and Rees didn’t try to take chances – the play Chris describes is exactly what we all wanted to see, but Book missed it or didn’t pull the trigger. How is that Kelly or Rees’ fault? All in all, this is a fan blog comment post so we’re just offering our take on things. I try to be positive and see both sides and offer a counterpoint when I think its valid. I appreciate all the back and forth insight from everyone.

  4. We will see just how good of a coach Kelly and Rees are next year. Going into next season with HUGE QUESTION MARKS at quarterback and complete rebuild of the O-line . Maybe a grad transfer comes in to play QB but doubt it will be a difference maker. Pyne, Clarke, and Buchner have no meaningful gametime experience whatsoever and with the end of Covid19 seemingly no where in sight maybe no Spring game to help sort that out. Offense will be a complete mess next year. Defenses will be pinning there ears back next year. Heres hoping Kelly understands that and moves on to the NFL by this March 2021.

    1. Who should we go after if Kelly was to leave? Who do you have confidence in that would absolutely come in and do better than Kelly at this point? I have criticized him myself in the past and I don’t think he’s done as good as he could have in some areas but we as fans see about 1% of what is actually going on. We don’t see practice, we don’t have a view of anything behind the scenes. My question is would you prefer the current Top 5-10 team we have (agree next season will be a challenge with all the losses but the trend is still very strong) or would you prefer to take a chance on bringing someone else in in which there is a better than average chance they will not be as good as Kelly has been? Who out there are you supremely confident will do better? The simple answer is you don’t know. I don’t know. All we can do is guess and hope but chances are if Kelly left we’d be wishing again for his level of success.

      1. Irishinsc, Graham Harrell, Steve Sarkisian “to late”, Todd Grantham, Dan Lanning, Marcus Freeman, and Jim Leohnard would be worth looking into as young enthusiastic new coaches. Then you have the obvious guys like Urban Meyer, or maybe the former Boise st / Washington coach Pederson just to name a few. Look below at what ChrisJ had to say about Kelly. I agree with him 100%

      2. “if Kelly were to leave’….bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!! Post of the Year, and it’s only Jan. 4.

  5. We all talked all year long how Ian Book was limited and will beat the trash teams and won’t compete with the elite. This is EXACTLY how it turned out. It’s Brian Kelly’s fault, not Ian Book’s. I don’t blame Ian for anything. He is simply limited and is playing to his best ability period. He deserves all of the recognition for all the wins and any records he may have set. But the truth is, Brian Kelly is at fault for sticking with Ian Book rather than going with the QB in Phil Jurkovec with the higher ceiling. You HAVE to play your stud recruits. They are who are going to take you to that next level. Book had a play against Bama where the rush came from the outside, he stepped up into a clean pocket with man coverage across the board and McKinley running a deep post route behind the entire defense and instead of keeping his eyes downfield and staying in the pocket, he bails out and gains two yards on a scramble. If you watched Phil Jurkovec this year, he proved all year long that he keeps his eyes downfield, even when feeling pressure, and hits big play after big play downfield with his huge arm and unfortunately took big hits in the process but was very effective. Can you imagine Jurkovec with our O-line? Anyone with a brain knows Jurkovec had a higher ceiling than Book but was never given a chance. He was the best QB recruit Kelly has ever brought in. It’s decisions like these in which makes Kelly to blame for having the lack of talent at QB. There is no comparison from Book to Lawrence, Fields, and Jones. If we had Jurkovec, at least he fits the part from an athleticism standpoint. Stupid decision by Kelly and it was once again proven this year. Skill players and our line are NOT the problem here folks. It’s the QB. Myles Boykin is playing for the Ravens and doing well. Chase Claypool is killing it for the Steelers right now. We had a dropoff this year at WR but I’m telling you right now, these guys WERE open. Our RBs have been pretty good the last few years as well. Book’s MO is only throwing to a WIDE OPEN receiver and more protecting the football because that is his skillset. I feel like we wasted these last two seasons by playing Book when we had a QB who would have exceeded what Book did.

    And I could write a Book about the stupid decisions Kelly has made with personnel but I want to point out one thing that may seem small in the grand scheme but it’s just another thing that adds up to why we won’t ever compete with the elites as long as Kelly keeps making these decisions. If you noticed Bama, they had Devonte Adams returning punts for them (Heisman candidate). If you noticed Clemson, they have Travis Etienne returning kickoffs for them (Clemson’s most dynamic player). Kelly on the other hand plays a walk-on at punt return who literally did nothing in the return game all season. Kelly at least has Tyree returning kicks BUT….the kid has absolutely no vision whatsoever and even though he has the breakaway speed to be a gamebreaker at return, if you lack the vision and literally run into defenders who are right in front of you without even attempting to run around them, then you don’t belong as a returner. So there is no way I’d ever let Tyree return kicks. I’d put Williams back there instantly. He is fearless, has great vision, and decent speed. Field position and or TDs from dynamic returners on special teams can make huge differences in the games. Kelly’s decisions show me that he is too clueless to even consider this important and puts guys there that don’t belong. It’s embarrassing actually. The other playoff coaches put their most dynamic guys in these spots but not our coach. Why?

    It sucks that I’m this negative about ND football. I’d love to be more positive. I really wish I could feel like I did when we played USC in 2005 when I was all in with the team that we could win the football game. It sucked being heartbroken all the time but I always had a positive feeling and poured my heart out into the team. It’s a different feeling now under Kelly. I wasn’t hyped at all for the Clemson game or the Bama game knowing what was going to happen. It’s normal now. And that really sucks. It’s tough being an ND fan. I’m glad we beat the bad teams now but it’s just a mirage showing that we can’t stay with the elite. And I just feel like it’s the coach, period. We recruit in the top 10 every year. We have elite players. We just don’t coach them up properly, play guys who have the highest ceilings, etc. I’m ready to move on from Kelly. People always say “Well who could do it better than Kelly?”. I think there are plenty of coaches out there who could. It’s just a matter of getting them to ND. The point is…give Saban, Swinney, Day, Meyer, etc. our roster and I guarantee they make more out of it than Brian Kelly…guarantee it!

    1. I agree that losing Jurkovec was a big blow and I certainly wish it wouldn’t have happened but at the same time (as I mentioned in a reply above) we as fans see about 1% of what is going on behind the scenes. What do you think the narrative would have been if Kelly had decided to roll with Phil in 2019 for the “upside” and we went 8-5 instead of 11-2. Would you have accepted that just to get the upside for 2020 and 2021? How do you not go with the guy who has proven he can win games (Book) when your job is to coach a team that wins games? When you have experience like Book it’s a fine line to walk and if Phil wasn’t ready to wait, that’s on Phil too. He could have waited one more year, gotten the playbook down like the back of his hand and stepped in to a great situation in 2021 with 2 years of eligibility left. He chose not to.

      My response to your suggestion that Kelly doesn’t recognize the talent and doesn’t play the ‘stud recruits’ is Brandon Wimbush. I think we would all agree that Wimbush compared to Boom was a much better recruit, better athlete, better arm, better upside. Kelly went with the better recruit until he recognized that Wimbush’s limitations at reading coverages and recognizing the game around him were actually hurting the team. He gave the better recruit the chance and the better recruit ended up not being the better player and winner.

      Yes, I am the guy saying “Well who could do it better than Kelly?” Seriously…….give me some guys not named Saban, Swinney, Day or Meyer that would do better. I’m sure you’ll offer some names but you know as well as I do that you are really just HOPING those guys would do better than Kelly but you also know there is just as good a chance 3-4 years from now we’d be wishing we were back to having a chance at the playoff, even if we were to get blown out by Alabama.

      1. IrishinSC,

        Wimbush actually got a chance. Jurkovec did not because Book had some success after replacing Wimbush so it was the easy choice then to let Book keep going. However, after the Clemson disaster in the playoff in 2018 where Book got exposed AND through the first half of 2019 where Book didn’t play very well, why wasn’t Jurkovec given a chance to prove himself on the field? In the small amount of backup time he did play in, he looked pretty good to me. Kelly is quoted when recruiting Jurkovec “I would put him up against any QB recruit in the nation” which included Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields. Dabo took Lawrence as a true freshman and let him share time with Bryant because of his talent, even though Bryant just took them to the playoffs the year prior. Lawrence outplays Bryant in 4 games and takes over and the rest is history. Saban put his backup in at halftime during the national championship game over Hurts who just led them to the freakin national championship. Wow! The rest is history on that too. You see where I’m going here? Book may have been “good” at the time but it was obvious, even to us fans, that he was limited in his abilities but more managed the games. This is NOT why Phil Jurkovec was brought into ND. Go watch Jurkovec’s high school recruiting tape and watch how impressive it was him throwing all over the field. But what does Kelly do? One, he tries to change the kid’s throwing motion when he first comes in to ND. Hmm…looks like he could throw the ball pretty damn well from his recruiting tape so why mess with it? And then two, he doesn’t even give him a chance to show what he can do in meaningful games even though he was comparable to Lawrence in his talent level per Kelly’s words. Dabo handled his great QB recruit a little better, wouldn’t ya say? Jurkovec said he was “losing love for the game” under Brian Kelly. That was his statement after leaving. Wow! Sorry but that speaks volumes to me. Everyone is always critical of QB development under Kelly. Well his best QB recruit he ever brought in says he lost love for the game under Kelly’s leadership. Unreal.

        And you’re right that we don’t get to see practices. I get that and won’t even argue that. But us as fans aren’t blind either. We see enough in games to get a pretty good idea of who produces on the field and what talent levels they have. While that percentage of what we see is low, it’s still what really matters. Every ND fan can easily see the punt returner is a waste of a player in a key spot. I don’t care who can or can’t catch punts at practice. This is a waste and bad talent evaluation on Kelly and/or Polian.

  6. The problem is nothing will change next year. Kelly doubled down on his scheme after the game. Saying it was a lack of talent. The talent is there and they either are too stubborn to use it or aren’t great at developing it. If the young talented players aren’t ready then it’s on the position coach for not developing it. The dream of getting Keys Lenzy Johnson Watts into the rotation next year with Buchner and really trying to open things up isn’t going to happen. I read somewhere Avery Davis is projected to come back. Which means there is one of your starters. I bet ND gets at least one grad transfer QB and WR. And back to the ball control offense that is good enough to win some games but not good enough to beat anyone good. This is who ND is. 9-3/10-2.

  7. I’m not 100% sold on the fact Kelly and Rees didn’t have some “chances” called out there. I have not rewatched or anything but I recall thinking Book was tentative pulling the trigger a few times that could have been planned deep passes. Of course it’s rare you actually get to see what’s happening down field when he ends up checking down or trying to get away from pressure. I love Book and the career he has had is difficult to complain about – 30 wins is pretty impressive. But in one of the pregames I watched they mentioned Book’s inability to ‘throw receivers open” like the elite QBs do and I think we saw that this game. Clearly Book doesn’t have that elite ability Jones, Lawrence, Fields, etc have. The one “chance” he did take was that terrible interception he threw. Not blaming Book necessarily but also not sure they were trying to be predictable – maybe he was too hesitant to let it rip.

  8. This game was decided long before they took the field.
    ND will never again beat Alabama until at least both Saban and Kelly have moved on.
    And even then, quite likely not.

    In 2020, Kelly got his “graceful retirement” contract extension, and ND banked coin getting into the playoff as roadkill….
    win-win, as far as losing goes.

    Let’s do it all again next year.

  9. Team wasn’t prepared to start strong.
    Defensive game plan adjusted OK and was decent enough. They should have figured a way to cover Smith. Pass coverage was soft.

    Offensive game plan wasn’t dynamic. Blocking was OK, but blocking scheme was weak. I hate the Run Read Option, just run a counter or quick counter trap.
    Blocking on pass plays did not form a pocket or control the space around Book. And as great a playmaker as he can be, he’s not a great passer. He’s got happy feet, he’s too short to see over the line easily, and he runs his progressions a tad slow. Plus he doesn’t use his peripheral vision to see open receivers not directly in the field of his progression number.

    This was frustrating because the talent is now on par. It’s still game coaching from a bygone era.

    Now a new DC is needed. And there may be other help needed if Reese doesn’t grow over the next 5 months.

    It’s gonna be tougher if the Senate Bill passes and players are compensated.

  10. I like Kelly but I think his refusal to play some of these young receivers really hurt Notredame. Why not try to stretch the field with Lenzy, Johnson,Watts, etc. We saw what Lenzy did last 5 games last year. Yes he was hurt but Kelly said 3 ot 4 games ago he was 100% and good to go. He also hinted at Johnson and Watts getting playing time and never saw them. Next year Lorenzo Styles Junior who is electric is coming in. I’m from Ohio and watched this kid play. Runs back kicks, punt returner plays in the slot. Watch this kids film. He is an early enrollee. Kelly needs to start this kid.

  11. Spot on, Frank! Darell Royal line “you dance with who brung ya” did not apply for ND against Bama, or Clemson two weeks ago. The Irish coaches should have realized that doing the things they did to get ten was not near enough to try against Bama.

  12. Kelly is not elite. Period. ND administration doesn’t actually want to win every year like the top schools do. It’s an arrogance about their academics and general snobbery. They will be content with 9 wins a season and the ALL TIME WINNINGEST COACH in ND history who has never won a championship

  13. ND fielded a team meant to compete with the 2012 version of Bama. Unfortunately, that version no longer exists.

      1. Not intelligent at all. Alabama 2012 would have pancaked this ND team just as bad, maybe worse.

  14. Case in point : The Florida-Oklahoma game. Florida put up 46 against Alabama in SECCG. Many of Florida’s playmakers opted out for the Okl game and the production dropped off rapidly- Only 20 points. This is with Heisman candidate Trask at QB. The college game today is about offensive firepower. This is where ND needs to up the ante. If the defense gives up 34 points and you can score 46….well you win the game. It comes down to getting the playmakers at QB, WR and RB. I would start Buchner right from Day 1. Let him get the experience, get up to speed for the college game. Have him work w/ Williams, Tyree,
    Johnson, Lenzy, Mayer , Styles and get the OFFENSE moving . 2021 will show some growing pains but, if Buchner can flash some offensive moxie then the future looks promising. Its all about Alabama, Clemson and Ohio St. Its painfully obvious that ND needs to adopt this style of play to compete at the top.

    1. Agreed.
      Held Bama to its lowest point total and lost by 17.
      It’s time for BK to re-invent himself on O’, with a new QB, (maybe fifth year transfer, they’ll be out there) OL and WRs
      change the current WBs position (Wide Blockers) into WRs Wide Receivers.
      (and they might already have them on the roster + Incoming recruits)
      It’s 2021; the wing T is dead. Welcome to the 21st century game of football.
      I liked the last BK reinvent after 4-8 better than the original model
      time for BK3 model.

    2. I agree. Alabama,Ohio State and Cltmson definitely have more talent than Notredame across the board. But that’s not the problem. Why those teams are better and beating Notredame is they are far superior with their skilled talent. Imo if you put Book, Davis,Skoronski and McKinley on Alabama and put Jones, Smiyh Waddlf and Beacham on . Notredame who wins. Notredame.

  15. Speaking of punts missing Alabama players. Didn’t the same thing happen in the 2012 Championship game where it did touch the Alabama player but our recovery was over-ruled?

  16. Your post is spot on, Frank.
    ND talent-wise isn’t among the elite three.
    But their offensive, and I do mean offensive, predictability and unwillingness to add needed wrinkles and the unexpected when playing against a team with elite talent prepared for what ND does foreshadows more of the same during BKs remaining years. Go with what got you there won’t work with games like these. NDs only speed at WR was never used. And we and Saban knew it wouldn’t be. No one wins in NY6 games, let alone the playoffs without stretching the field. Either be content with 10 wins and watching ND “execute its offense” and then get executed vs. the elite or develop a plan B for future games when a Kelly-led team plays against the elite. He “re-invented” his outlook a few years back but his insistence on “executing his (predictable) offense” isn’t likely to change. Nor will these end of season results until he does.

  17. I agree with this article
    Book, good solid college quarterback, great kid, just not elite. I cant figure out what is going on at receiver for Notredame. They seem to recruit highly ranked kids, Austin, Lenzy, Keys,Jordan Johnson,Watts. I know there are injury issues and off the field issues but even when these guys have played outside of the last 5 games of 2019 for Lenzy they either haven’t played, played very little, weren’t hardly ever targeted. Dont know if the problem is Reese, Book, Del Alexander, Kelly, the offensive system or a combination of all of the above. I do know unless Notredame can put an offense out there that can average 45 to 50 points a game and put up a lot of points in these playoff games or big regular season games they wont win them.

  18. I agree that talent is not being utilized. Book missed a lot of open receivers. The game planning/prep was not sufficient.

    Kudos to the Irish for getting this far.

  19. The play calling was frustrating – the run you call out was number 1. As I watched the Ohio State game the other day and watched Field’s roll left and take everyone with him and then throw back to a TE who was standing by himself and then ran into the end zone, I remembered ND running that play after a TO against Stanford a few years ago and Mack scored a TD. I was begging for that call at multiple times during the ND game – throw back to Takics, or Wright and no one on Bama would be expecting it. Get an easy first down and make them then defend the entire field.

    1. Yes the playcalling at times was bad but overall this year Reese I feel did a really good job. The problem is you are so limited without a down the field passing game due to limitations of both Book and the wide receivers.Look at Ohio State vs Clemson. Fields going to Olave and Wilson deep opened up the running game. Venables couldn’t bring more guys in the box to stop the run without leaving his dbs on an island against Ohio States blazing fast receivers. Same problem Notredame had against Alabama. You put more attention on Devonta Smith and Harris runs wild and vice versa if you bring someone up from the secondary to stop Harris it frees up smith, Beachum. Lord can you imagine if they would have had a healthy Jaylen Waddle? Lord help us.

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