Extended Highlights from Notre Dame’s Narrow Victory Over USC

Notre Dame beat rival USC last night for the third year in a row in a game that was closer than many people expected it to be.  The Irish were 11+ point favorites but had to hold on to a three-point victory that was not sealed until Brock Wright recovered USC’s onside kick attempt with just over a minute remaining.  The win improved Notre Dame to 5-1 on the season but left lingering doubts about how good this team can be in 2019.

Once again, Notre Dame struggled to do anything with its passing game.  Chip Long didn’t call for any deep shots and USC smothered the short passing attack.  Luckily for the Irish they were able to rack up over 300 yards rushing to power an otherwise sluggish offense.

We’ll have plenty more on this one as we start our normal weekly breakdowns, but for now enjoy the highlights.

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  1. The tackling was dreadful all game long. The whole lot of them were coming in too high…wrapping up on the chest or the shoulder pads? Who taught you guys that stuff…not Elko or Lea, that’s for sure. There was a great example of “silly” tackling (for want of an appropriate expletive to describe it) about midway through the second quarter. The USC running back is engaged after about a three yard gain by a couple on defenders, both high. The USC runner did not run through them, he did not need too. He simply plodded along, while collecting about four other defenders, all wrapping up around the shoulders or the chest. Plodding for about 10 more yards. I had to laugh by the end of the play. If the USC runner had a gold helmet on, it would have looked like he was being congratulated with backslaps and shoulder slaps by a bunch of happy teammates, as if after an ND touchdown! I mean, they were not even trying to tackle this guy (at least in any sense of tackling that I understood). And it was that way all game long. Watch the tape! It’s real Pop Warner stuff.

    I’m not too worried about it though. It happens once in awhile even to good defenses…in fact, yesterday, for some reason, there was some pretty poor tackling in a lot of games all across the country. It’s nothing Coach Lea can’t fix Monday for the rest of the season with a little film review followed by an ad hoc one hour intensive practice session on the basics of tackling. Kind of like when Rockne brought his team together following a crapshit performance and started the practice session by holding up a football for all to see…and glibly saying “this is a football” and then thoroughly drilling them on the fundamentals of the game.

    1. Meanwhile, in the sic Conference, the team with the highest payroll for defensive coordinators in the known universe, and one of the highest for a head coach, evened its record at three and three, self-eliminated from any New Year’s Six bowl consideration for the second year in a row. They are looking at a five loss season…but who cares? Public college money grows on trees in the taxpayers back yards, right? And in Athens, Mr. Fromm throws more interceptions in one game than Ian Book has thrown all season, ironically eliminating not themselves, but Notre Dame, from any realistic hope for a playoff spot.

      BGC ’77 ’82

  2. ND didn’t take any deep shots because SC was playing two deep safeties. When a team does that you run the ball.

    The defense had issues in 2nd half not only with the receivers but that running back. All in all in was a good win and showed how they handle adversity

  3. Long needs to throw more deep passes.Also Notredame needs to start and play the whole game with Lenzy Keys Young Armstrong.Get your playmakers and speed on the field. I just dont think Book is good enough to lead Notredame to win a national championship.He is not on the level of Tua Fields Burroughs Hurts Lawrence.True those teams have more speed and explosive playmakers than Book has.Book plays well in spurts but he is not consistently good every game for 4 quarters like the qbs I just mentioned.

    1. Best game NDs OL played all season, and they needed it. Jones was outstanding and Book,not an elite passer as Pete stated, made enough plays with his feet to secure the victory. And his receivers made enough great catches to score 30 and complement the best running game ND has featured since . . ? I was disappointed in the lack of pressure NDs D’ applied. There was no doubt when ND went into the “prevent us from winning D’” late that SC would score, allowing their QB to play catch with his world-class receivers. But the strategy held up, thanks to that 6+ minute fourth quarter drive and securing the onside kick, despite their coach being out on the field waving and shouting frantically. Hey, Coach, a simple word of advice for the future. Prepare your team for onside kicks during practice, not while their kicking off late in a game. I said earlier this week that point spreads won’t matter- just win. And they did. Onto the Big House, and win there.

      1. Agree with both comments. Book not elite. No doubt he is scared to death of throwing a pick and feeling the wrath of Kelly. He’s clearly hampered mentally by the pressure. Would rather see Long and Kelly cut Book loose and risk more interceptions. We need to score in bunches going forward in order to impress the committee. What else are we playing for? New Years Six bowl should never be the goal.
        I’m going to give Lea a pass on the 2nd half scoring. His game plan worked so well in the first half that he just continued with the same strategy. Hard to blame him. It’s counterintuitive but sometimes its better to get challenged in the first half so that you can make adjustments and clamp down in the 2nd. USC was the team forced to make adjustments, and it paid off for them. Still, I would have rushed 4. Our DEs had little chance to create pressure being double teamed.
        Still waiting for this offense to be fully unleashed. Frustrating that we now have an improved O line that’s starting to get a push, an elite TE and elite #1 receiver, healthy speed back (Armstrong), and complimentary speed receiver.. yet we’re stuck in 2nd gear.

    2. Pretty sure Long isn’t enrolled, nor has eligibility.
      But Brian Kelly thinks he’s on the kick return unit….medicated buffoon.

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