Duranko’s Digest: What did we see in Tallahassee?

Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Everett Golson (5) during pre game warmups before their game against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Jameis Winston led three excruciating, Heisman-quality drives of 70 yards or more to lead Florida State to a comeback 31-27 victory over the Fighting Irish, extending the Seminole win streak to 23 games and leaving them as one of just four unbeaten major college teams. The Fighting Irish, big enough for the potentially unforgiving moment ended the game on a late drive which got them to the Florida State 2 before a penalty erased what would have been the game winning touchdown catch by emerging star Corey Robinson for the Irish. As if a momentary glimpse of the afterlife, we all enjoyed a few seconds of the euphoria of victory before that cursed yellow rag ended the reverie. Scoreboard rules: Florida State 31- Notre Dame 27.

Brian Kelly stated that he wanted to start the game fast, and, but for an opening three and out, the Irish did so on both sides of the football. The Irish defense, dominating the Florida State veteran offensive line, forced the Seminoles into three rare three and outs in the first half, and a one and out, when Jarron Jones bench pressed the Florida State center back into Jameis Winston, forcing a wobbly throw that Joe Schmidt intercepted. In the first half, the Irish outgained the Seminoles by 284 yards to 110, the fulcrum for which was the Irish running attack, keyed by the ever-improving offensive line, which led the way for the Irish to outrush the Seminoles by more than 100 yards, 157 to 50. Yet at halftime the Irish lead was 17-10, less than commensurate with the yardage differential, and a warning sign for the second half.

Florida State played the second half like a defending national champion trying to protect its house. Notre Dame had many great moments, but two especially gutsy responses in answering challenges. The first was, after Golson’s interception, Jones’ remarkable pass rush which compelled the interceptioon by Schmidt. In two plays the Irish had a touchdown. Then, after Florida State, and Winston’s magic, tied the score to start the second half, the Irish responded with a touchdown drive of 75 yards in 7 plays to regain the lead 24-17. Alas, it was the last Irish touchdown of the evening. After that, the Irish defense forced two three and outs but they were layered between two touchdown drives by Florida State.

Football games are about football, not sainthood or the Nobel Peace Prize. Jameis Winston is a great football player. He took repeated hits and repeated pressure from the Fighting Irish defense.

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Florida State won the football game and to the unbeaten victor go the spoils (and the pole position for the Final Four). Florida State did not prove that they were the better football team. Nor did Notre Dame.

A STAR IS BORN.

You know the cliches. Pressure makes diamonds. Football does not build character, it reveals it. Corey Robinson, just one week after his fellow soph Tarean Folston, “arrived.” Somewhere between 2 and 3 touchdowns, give or take a penalty. And Robinson did it ow what has been college football’s biggest stage thus far this year. Does he reap benefit from the threat of Will Fuller? Does yin need yang? Does hydrogen need oxygen to make water? Robinson’s biggest improvement is his running after the catch; while not a blazer he has good vision and squeezes for the extra yards.

Notre Dame’s offense has, at last arrived. We will not face defenses of the same magnitude as Stanford’s and Florida State’s for the rest of the regular season. 21 soaking wet First Downs against Stanford, 26 against FSU. One final flag from red zone perfection. Notre Dame’s defense is getting better as the season goes on. We will not face a better offense in the regular season, and we may not face as good a quarterback as Winston in the next Olympiad. The continued offensive improvement, keyed by the offensive line, will only help the defense, and vice versa. The defense has tradeoffs. Pressuring the passer creates openings and opportunities. Winston took advantage of the opportunities. Reynolds (Navy), Bercovici (ASU) Siemian (Northwestern) Gardner (Louisville) and Kessler (USC) can not. A postseason game, or, perhaps, two, may be a different kettle of fish.

What did we learn about the Notre Dame team on Saturday:

(1) They can play a quality opponent on the road, even with flamin spears on horses and perpetual tomahawk chops

(2) The moment was not too big for the team, not even with the youth. And it was certainly not too big for Golson.

(3) The offensive line is improving weekly since the reconfiguration. Doubled Stanford’s rushing yardage, tripled FSU’s rushing yardage. Quod erat demonstrandum.

(4) 2012 was not a fluke, 2013 was

(5) This Irish team is much more athletic than in 2012. When we played FSU after the 2011 season, FSU had the vast majority of the best “ath-uh-leets” on the field. Not any more! That situation gets better all the time.

(5) The Irish are not yet at the mountaintop, but they can see it and smell it from where they are.

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BENEFITS OF THE SATURDAY WITHOUT A GAME

(1) avoid a letdown spot

(2) re-acclimate Eilar Hardy, needed for the stretch run

(3) get Hunter into the WR rotation, get Bryant closer to Folston’s level

(4) Continue the development of the frosh on defense: Trumbetti, Cage, Hill, Blankenship and Tranquill.

(5) get one or more of the backup tight ends ready to play.

(6) two more weeks of coaching and advancement of the complex defense.

WHAT WILL WE SEE AGAINST NAVY?

(1) A Navy team that is uncharacteristically below par, with a 3-4 record, with the wins against Temple, Texas State and VMI. Part of the reason is that Keenan Reynolds has not been as explosive as anticipated.

(2) FedEx field, which, following Lucas Oil and MetlIfe is the third NFL stadium in which the Irish have plaed this year.

(3) the fun of watching Brian Van Gorder’s defense and what will be a different approach against Navy. It will be aggressive, with Jaylon Smith, James Onwualu, Cole Luke, Elijah Shumate and Max Redfield flying around making tackles. A great game to get Eilar Hardy back up to speed.

The extra week of preparation will only help the Irish with the assignment football necessary to play an academy. We may give up a long play or two, but we will not play into Navy’s strategy of “death by a thousand cuts.”

(4) A Navy defense that can not stop the Irish offense. Can not. Notre Dame has only punted 4 times in the four games against Navy in the Kelly regime, including the 2010 nightmare in broad daylight in the Meadowlands. We will move the ball and we will score.

(5) Injury risk from cut blocks.

(6) A realistic chance for Malik Zaire to get some snaps and some passing plays. It will help the team and his career if he can have some significant snaps in this game. 6-1. Nearly 7-0, but 6-1. There is still much to play for this year.

Up your game lads; the team sure has

Go Irish!

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61 comments

  1. RICK ROBINSON 5 years ago

    HEY, JA. ALL CAPS ARE NOT MEANT TO SHOUT. I BROKE 4 FINGERS ON MY LEFT HAND. NEVER REALLY HEALED RIGHT. HAVE TO USE MY RIGHT HAND ONLY, MAKES IT EASIER AND FASTER TO TYPE, THAT’S ALL. RON, YOU BETTER DOUBLE UP ON THE ZOLOFT!, BUT HEY WE ARE ALL IRISH FANS, RIGHT!

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  2. ja4nd 5 years ago

    Rick is on a roll. But why are you screaming bro?

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    1. ja4nd 5 years ago

      Or at least look up while you are typing to see your ALL CAPS are on. Geez!

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  3. RICK ROBINSON 5 years ago

    HEY, RON, FIRST TRY USING YOUR REAL NAME, NEXT TRY A ZOLOFT, SINCE YOUR COMMENTS MAKE ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE. OH, I FORGOT ONLY YOU GOT THE CALL RIGHT, ORIGINALLY. EVEN THOUGH THE ACC CHANGED THEIR MINDS , TWICE. MAYBE YOU CAN GET A JOB AS AN ACC REFEREE!

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    1. Ron Burgundy 5 years ago

      It’s been a week Rick, please get over it. They called pass interference. Did I like the call, no, but by the letter of the law it’s a penalty. I’m as shocked as anybody they threw the flag in that moment. But it happened, move on. When I heard Lou say it was a penalty that was really all I needed to hear.

      And for the Pete of sake, learn to type with normal capitalization rules.

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    2. Ron Burgundy 5 years ago

      As far as my real name is concerned. People call me the Bri-man. I’m the stylish one of the group. I know what you’re asking yourself, and the answer is yes, I have a nickname for my penis. It’s called the Octagon. But I also nicknamed my testes. My left one is James Westfall, and my right one is Dr. Kenneth Noisewater. You ladies play your cards right, you just might get to meet the whole gang.

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      1. ja4nd 5 years ago

        TMI my man. TMI!

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      2. Ron Burgundy 5 years ago

        Three Mile Island????

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  4. ja4nd 5 years ago

    Justin Brent at Knicks with a porn star is a way you fellas can transition from this madness.

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    1. Ron Burgundy 5 years ago

      Easy on the cough syrup

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      1. ja4nd 5 years ago

        I think what the folks are really saying Ron is I SURRENDER! HOLD YOUR FIRE!
        I find your comments quite humorous. Keep up good work.

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      2. Ron Burgundy 5 years ago

        Roger that.

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  5. RICK ROBINSON 5 years ago

    HEY, RON. YOU ARE OBVIOUSLY NOT A NOTRE DAME FAN. GO TO ANOTHER WEBSITE ASSHOLE. TRUE IRISH FANS DON’T NEED YOU HERE. YOU SOUND LIKE A BROKEN RECORD , SAYING THE SAME THING OVER, AND OVER. THE FACTS ARE THERE WAS NO OFFENSIVE PASS INTEREFERENCE CALL. THE REFS MESSSED UP. GET IT THROUGH YOUR THICK SKULL!

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    1. Ron Burgundy 5 years ago

      Mr. Robinson, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone on this site is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

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  6. duranko 5 years ago

    patrickm, liked your post but I am completely bumfuzzled, in two parts.

    Perhaps it is a regional patois, but I’m a little fuzzy on
    “water under the tree.” Been there, done that with “water off a duck’s back” (indifference or immunity or psychological exemption) as well as “water under the bridge”, the past is the past, there are no dovers in life its own self. Hopefully you can elucidate.

    Of greater concern is the reference to Tombston: if that script is now our new scriptural text, who, precisely is who’s huckleberrry???????

    I got’s to know!!a

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  7. ARMAC 5 years ago

    The only way it makes sense to dwell on a bad call is if it motivates the team to win the next five games in order to force a rematch.

    After losing a big game due to poor officiating, a team can lose heart. In this case we may see an improved and more focused Irish team.

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  8. LafHoosier 5 years ago

    What I saw at FSU was a royal screwing by the refs to take the game away from the Irish. Maybe I should get over it but that ain’t happenin’ anytime soon.

    The argument that ND had other chances to win this game is just silly.They did just what they had to do to win this in the last quarter. Kept FSU in check their last possession and did exactly what championship teams do. Drove the field under 3 minutes and put the game winning touch on the scoreboard. The call was chicken shit at best especially at that point in the game. ND nation should be outraged with the call.

    It may have cost ND a shot at the playoff not to mention a cost to EG for the Heisman. It would have been his fourth TD for the game and he would have been thrust into the national conversation as a leading candidate.

    ND was the better team hands down. Simply they got jobbed, big time.

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    1. Ron Burgundy 5 years ago

      If they were the better team hands down it wouldn’t come down to a bad call. They could’ve scored on the other 3 goal to go downs and also could’ve given up less points.

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      1. NDFanCanada 5 years ago

        Yup; and Prosise could have caught the pass to him on second down to make it all academic. Life.

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  9. bruce johnson 5 years ago

    time to clean navy’s clock, 55-0

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  10. RICK ROBINSON 5 years ago

    HEY, RON. YOU MUST BE A GENIUS. THE ANNOUNCERS SAID THE CALL WAS ON PROSISE ORIGINALLY. EVERY REPLAY FOCUSED ON HIS BLOCKING THE F.S.U. CORNER BACK. KELLY HIMSELF ADMITTED THAT THE REFS TOLD HIM THE CALL WAS ON PROSISE. ONLY YOU KNEW IMMEDIATELY AFTERWARD THAT THE CALL WAS ON FULLER. NEITHER ONE WAS A PENALTY, RON. AS AN IRISH FAN YOU NEED TO TONE IT DOWN A LITTLE. OBVIOUSLY WE MUST ALL MOVE ON AND HOPE THE IRISH WIN OUT THE REST OF THE YEAR. THAT STILL DOES NOT CHANGE THE INCOMPETENCE OF THE REFS. DOES IT , RON?

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  11. Jerry Seppanen 5 years ago

    The call was a disgrace, no question. All the other non calls etc just
    shows what the situation was.

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  12. Ray Ivan 5 years ago

    Exactly and it was called by an official who had the least visibility to see the play, the furthest one from the play, and the one who has a history of questionable calls against us, Tuitt ejection and Michigan 2013 on Bennett Jackson interception. It was also not called by the officials with the best angle and near the play who did not throw flags. Also I am tired of hearing how one call should not make a difference in outcome, but when one call is made at the end of a game with two and I am being generous here To Florida State, evenly matched teams it does make a difference.

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    1. Ron Burgundy 5 years ago

      It’s over Ray, move on.

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