I saw a tweet yesterday that I thought perfectly captured the moment for Notre Dame football fans.
Feels like Christmas but I can’t open my presents until all the family is here on Monday.
— Bridget (@bridgetgoirish) August 31, 2019
We all had to watch a full days slate of games with teams opening their new presents; new quarterbacks at Ohio State, Washington, and Missouri (ouch), new offenses at USC and Michigan (meh), and a fresh running attack at Georgia (yikes). And while it’s fun to make fun of Michigan fumbling on their first play and subsequently going down to Middle Tennessee State 7-0, really I’m just ready for the boys to go out there and do their thing. I don’t really care about anyone else, or how they look or what problems they represent–except that Georgia team–I want to see Book and Claypool and our defensive ends.
Waiting is terrible, and we are in for one more day and then most of Monday. There are a lot of things to dislike about the Monday kick: a short week for the team following up, no Thursday press conference, having to go to work the next day, but I think the worst is the wait. I don’t want to wait. As Veruca Salt would say, I want it now.
What Are You Most Excited About?
This is a tough one. I mostly go back and forth between seeing our third-down defense in all-out attack mode and the offense run by Ian Book*. I’m going to lean towards the offense and Book on this one. I was trying not to buy the hype over the offseason with all the work he’d done and the changes being made to his game and his body. His good but unspectacular camp helped me temper any manufactured enthusiasm, yet the last time the media saw him, he looked like Jimmy Clausen circa 2009.
And the word is Chase Claypool looks to be on a level only reached by our former first-round picks at wide receiver. And now I can’t help myself. There are visions of a player totally in command, a guy who USC and Michigan wish that they had, and an offense that will break the school record for points per game. If Notre Dame is to turn the corner and achieve a double-digit win season for the third year in a row, this is what the offense has to be. And I think that just might be what we’ve got.
To be clear though, the first time Julian Okwara, Khalid Kareem, Daelin Hayes, and Ade Ogundeji put their hands down together to get after the quarterback, with Wu Koramoah, Alohi Gilman, Jalen Elliot, Troy Pride, Shaun Crawford, Donte Vaughn, and Kyle Hamilton behind them, I might get a little emotional.
It is quite fortuitous that the moment our main rivals, Michigan and USC, decide they want to open up their offenses to throw more, it coincides with us being able to trot out our best pass defense in a long time. Quite lucky, indeed.
*None of this is true, I’m most excited to see Kyle Hamilton and everyone knows that.
What Makes You The Most Apprehensive?
It has to be the kicking game, right? And it doesn’t help that we got to watch a, now former, walk-on kicker at Nevada nail a 56 yarder to win, a freshman kicker at Northern Iowa who looks like he might never miss a field goal in his career, and Rodrigo Blankenship at Georgia who a.) has to be at least 30 at this point and b.) might be good from 60 yards.
I’ve been encouraged by the reports of the last couple weeks at kicker, but let’s be honest we’re sweating the first couple extra points, let alone field goals, am I right? Those first few kicks, whatever they are, will be crucial for this season. I’m less concerned about punter; I’m not sure why. Probably because they don’t have to be as precise, but it’s not quite total confidence either.
Besides Hamilton, What New Toy Do You Want To See The Most?
Lawrence Keys, Jacob Lacy, and Jarrett Patterson are easily the most important and throw Wu Koramoah in there if you think he qualifies for this category. Those three, or four, will play a ton for Notre Dame on Monday and will be big keys to the season overall. For most, the skill guy is the most exciting, and Keys has been said to have the skillset of former receiver Kevin Stepherson in that he can catch the ball without breaking stride.
Freshman running back Kyren Williams has always been intriguing to me as a player, I think Notre Dame wants to get him in this game to see how he performs with the ball in his hands against real competition. The concern about him was always top-end speed and burst. If he can flash that, then Notre Dame really has something, but the rest of his game is there to be an effective player.
It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
It’s been so hard to wait the last few days and thankfully it is almost over. It’s around this time, when there are endless possibilities that I like to remind myself that this is supposed to be fun. It’s college football, these are young men out there, and to be thankful that it appears Notre Dame has become a program to be proud of again. Maybe it’s age, I don’t know, but a little perspective is always nice.
This sentiment will go away at the first dropped pass or missed tackle of course, but it’s a nice thing to say, isn’t it?