Last week I said it was hard to find five things I didn’t like in Notre Dame’s blowout of Wake Forest. Well this week this column felt like mission impossible when I first sat down to write it. I had to get a little creative to find 5 things I didn’t like in a resounding win over the 7th ranked Cardinal of Stanford, but I think I found five things most of you will agree with. I know at least two of them, everyone will agree with any way.
1. The Injuries
Winning didn’t come without a cost for Notre Dame. The Irish suffered several injuries in the game but none were more serious than losing 5th year senior and captain Alex Bars for the year. As soon as Bars got completely bent backwards everyone knew it was a bad injury. When he limped off the field on his own we may have fooled ourselves into hoping it wasn’t but 300+ lbs men were not made to bend the way Bars ended up bending. Devastating end to Bar’s collegiate career that saw him ascending up the draft boards this fall.
Notre Dame will move Trevor Ruhland into the starting lineup to replace Bars. Ruhland has played well this year so in place of Tommy Kraemer at times for injury and at times for ineffectiveness. In fact Ruhland started the Wake Forest game with Kraemer out last week. He doesn’t have the size of Bars, but he does bring some more quickness to the line. Kelly said sophomore Aaron Banks will get more work now as well. Still, no way to sugarcoat losing a 5th year senior, captain along the offensive line.
It sounds as though the injury to Tony Jones Jr isn’t as serious as it looked thankfully but the Irish will be without Jafar Armstrong until after the bye week most likely.
2. Doug Flutie
I haven’t complained enough about Doug Flutie in this column, so we’ll devote an entire section to him this week. He is awful. Especially if you are a Notre Dame fan. We all know that NBC wants to be impartial and not look biased towards Notre Dame even though they pay Notre Dame millions of dollars to be the exclusive broadcaster of Notre Dame home games. Fine. Flutie isn’t impartial though, he fawns over the opposition week in and week out and generally glances over Notre Dame’s big plays.
I tweeted about Flutie twice this week and this one got over 200 likes.
Honestly, @DougFlutie is the worst thing that NBC Sports has ever done to Notre Dame football. He makes our blood boil on a weekly basis.
— UHND.com (@uhnd) September 30, 2018
So Notre Dame fans tend to agree. Amazingly some in the comments didn’t like Mike Mayock either apparently. Personally, I loved Mayock because of the level of detail he provided and didn’t get any bias at all from him. Flutie though, is just awful. Mike Tirico on the other hand is pretty good as the play by play commentator in my opinion. I know that might be sacrilegious given his Michigan ties, but that also just goes to show you that my thoughts on Flutie aren’t just fueled by me disliking anyone who isn’t a Notre Dame homer.
3. NBC’s Coverage in General
While there isn’t a lot to write about not liking given the beating Notre Dame gave Stanford, let’s stick with the NBC coverage for a minute. There were multiple instances of NBC not showing replays of some critical plays/penalties. Take the block in the back on the Chris Finke for instance. I’m not saying it wasn’t a block in the back, I’m saying I have no idea if it was since NBC never showed it. How is the fan at home supposed to know whether or not they are supposed to angry about the call if there’s not replay. The penalty wiped out a 33 yard punt return too so it was a big gain negated. Show the damn replay.
In general it seems as though NBC puts very little effort into the broadcasts these days. Remember all of those memorable intros back in the 90’s when the NBC contract was still new? And remember when they occasionally did a pre-game show? With both teams in the top 10, how about a pre-game show on NBCSN? I get that most years Notre Dame didn’t give NBC a whole to work with, but it would be nice to see NBC invest a little more into their coverage.
4. The continued lack of hold calls on Notre Dame’s opponents
Maybe it’s just me but it seems like this is happening at the NFL and college level this year, but it’s like offensive holding is barely getting called anymore. At this point I am giving up on it getting called with any consequence against a Notre Dame opponent this year. They did call one defensive holding on Notre Dame’s touchdown from Ian Book to Chase Claypool and there was one Stanford offensive holding penalty that was declined because they didn’t get the first down on the 3rd play it occurred on, but in general it just feels as though every week there are multiple pretty egregious holds that go uncalled.
5. Notre Dame & Virginia Tech’s wins getting next weekend the primetime slot
This is part me getting old and part me wishing Notre Dame could have avoided Lane Stadium at night when it will be even crazier. With both teams winning this weekend, ESPN/ABC decided to make this game an 8:00 start time on ABC after they placed the game on a hold last week after Tech’s embarrassing loss to Old Dominion. The Hokies won this weekend though and snuck back into the top 25 at #24 after beating Duke. Pollsters must have forgotten that loss to Old Dominion already.
Anyway, I generally don’t mind the late start times but three primetime games in the first half of the season is just a bit much for my liking. Additionally, I would have loved for Notre Dame to avoid Lane Stadium at night. That stadium is a bit less hostile during a day game, but at night it is going to be rocking. We all remember what happened the last time Notre Dame went on the road at night in such an environment.
I get it though, with Notre Dame 5-0 fresh off a beating of Stanford and Virginia Tech bouncing back, it makes sense for the game to be an 8:00 kick-off. It doesn’t mean that I won’t complain about having to stay up late writing about the game after another late start though.
That’s it. That’ all I got this week. There were things Notre Dame did wrong that I could have mentioned here, but you know what? Notre Dame just beat the 7th ranked team in the country by 21 points. The same team that has been a thorn in Notre Dame’s side for too many years, so we’ll let Brian Kelly and his staff worry about all that for this week.