This week’s “5 Things I Didn’t Like” comes to you all later than normal for a few reasons: 1) I was dealing with some food poisoning on a vacation earlier this week 2) the day job was hectic coming back from vacation and 3) there really wasn’t a whole lot to not like last weekend. Notre Dame beat up Florida State 42-13 on Senior Day and finished off their home schedule undefeated pushing them within two wins of the playoffs.
This was the easiest one of the bunch because it was the one blight on an otherwise dominant performance. Brandon Wimbush turned the ball over twice officially, but it could have more had one not been called back and if the Florida State defense had better hands. Wimbush made some nice throws on Saturday, but he also made a few that made you scratch your head.
Without the turnovers, the outcome would have been even more lopsided than it already was. This was the fourth week in a row in which the offense was sloppy with the football and is something that needs to be cleaned up. It seems like it doesn’t matter who the quarterback is lately for turnovers to pop up. Against Pitt, Navy, Northwestern, and lowly Florida State; it was fine. Notre Dame can’t do that again the next two weeks. And they most definitely can’t do that should they reach their goal of making the playoffs.
2. Lack of Vertical Passing Game
One thing I thought we’d see a lot more of on offense that we didn’t see was the downfield passing game to take advantage of Brandon Wimbush’s cannon. Notre Dame didn’t need it, but that aspect of the offense is something that the Irish have only had success with in brief spurts this year.
Florida State’s secondary is bad. Really bad. They have let wide receivers run loose all season long. Notre Dame didn’t take advantage of that when they could have. Mind you this is the first in my list this week that is a nit pick.
3. Sudden Change Defense
Ok, here’s another nit pick. After Brandon Wimbush’s first interception of the game, Florida State took over at the Notre Dame 30 yard line. Normally that would be reason to worry, but this year the Irish defense has been so good at sudden change defense, you expect them to bail out the offense. In this case the Seminoles scored in 4 plays to cut the lead to 32-13.
After Wimbush’s second interception the Noles were once again in Notre Dame territory at the Irish 48. This time they marched down to the 3 yard line before eventually turning it over on downs since the field goal did them no good at that point.
It’s not that Notre Dame was really bad in this department, they just weren’t great in it like they have been all year. Notre Dame’s defense has excelled in these situations all year long so expectations have been set. But again, still a bit pick.
4. Rushing Defense
It was very clear that Clark Lea was worried about the Florida State receivers running loose and making big plays. Notre Dame was playing with six defenders in the box most of the night almost daring Florida State to run the football. Amazingly, Florida State didn’t take advantage. That is why the Noles are cruising towards missing a bowl game for the first time in 30 years.
Cam Akers had his moments – specifically two touchdown runs – and he averaged 5.3 yards per carry but he only carried the ball 12 times.
Again, Notre Dame wasn’t bad in this department by any means. They just weren’t as good as they normally are.
5. That We Still Have to Deal With Flutie One More Time
Notre Dame has no more home games in Notre Dame Stadium, but we still have to suffer through Doug Flutie’s commentary one more damn time this year. Flutie wasn’t as insufferable as he normally is on Saturday since Notre Dame was so dominante. Still, we have to listen to him one mote time and you know he is going to gush over Eric Dungey and Syracuse’s uptempo offense.
On the flip, props to Mike Tirico, a Michigan fan, for definitively stating that in no world should Michigan ever jump Notre Dame in the rankings if the Irish keep winning no matter what happens with Michigan the rest of the way. We all know how much talking heads lover to discredit Notre Dame’s win over Michigan on September 1 right now because “it was so long ago” and Michigan has suddenly transformed into the ’85 Bears. Tirico wasn’t having any of it.
For a column that was really tough to find material for though, you can’t go wrong with listening Flutie as something that wasn’t likeable about a Notre Dame home game.
Notre Dame, please keep making these columns really hard to find material for.