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Notre Dame Football

Instant Reaction | Notre Dame 35 Louisville 17

September 3, 2019
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It wasn’t the blowout we expected. That might not be a bad thing because this game clearly showed that the Irish have some work to do and Louisville was a good team to face with so many new faces being counted on.

When you can play bad, win by 18, and walk away learning a lot about your team after week one, that’s a heck of a lot better than being Tennessee right about now. The win being tougher than expected, in a strange way, probably helps them against Georgia and the tougher teams they’ll play in the weeks to come too.

That’s how they should feel tonight. Tomorrow they can worry about all of the mistakes and work on fixing them.

There were plenty that they’ll have to focus on to be better going forward. And it starts with their quarterback.

- Ian Book led the Irish to a score on an opening drive for only the second time in 11 starts. Raise your hand if you thought it was a great sign? (My hand almost hit my roof)

Well, it was fools gold.

It was a pretty shocking performance from him. 60.8% completion percentage, 274 total yards, and a couple of touchdowns sounds pretty good on paper. It wasn’t nearly as good for anyone who watched the game.

He was just...off. In a way that I didn’t expect to see him be. He rushed things in the pocket looking to run too often when he didn’t always need to. I thought two of Louisville’s three sacks were on him.

His ball placement on throws, normally stellar, was not close to where it needed to be. He was bailed out by a couple of nice catches by his receivers, but Chris Finke couldn’t bail him out on a 4th down which should have easily been converted in the second quarter.

I know Louisville showed him a bunch of different looks with pressures and coverages, but he didn’t trust his protection when it was good most of the night in my opinion. I don’t know why that was the case, but he can’t play like this against the good teams on Notre Dame’s schedule and expect the Irish to win.

It’s not like he didn’t have some nice moments, but it wasn’t the player we saw last year or in camp.

It’s going to be interesting to watch it back.

- I don’t know if it was also a first game thing for Chip Long, but he didn’t have a good rhythm for most of the game. I’m sure he counted on his quarterback being better, but Long wasn’t adjusting to it either. He went away from the run when Louisville couldn’t stop it and then when they went back later, they lost some momentum.

- More counter trey, please and thank you. It was a big play for Notre Dame in this one.

Tony Jones looked his best when he was running behind that. He’s no burner, but he reads the hole better than everyone else and can finish.

- Woof, was that a terrible start on defense. There were some bad run fits and the tackling was horrendous.

Alohi Gilman was not playing well to start the game. Maybe he was too hyped up, but he should have had some tackles in the alley where he missed badly.

They came out with a little bit more tempo than expected and I think that threw the defense off. Jawon Pass running as much as he did was a bit surprising too. That wasn’t a big part of his game last season.

The first two drives were 18 plays for 163 yards (9.1 yards per play). That was alarming.

The rest of the game they had 220 yards on 57 plays (3.9 YPP). Clearly Lea got some things fixed and the players settled in as well.

- Gilman frustrated everyone early, but then he strips the football and recovers it for a huge play when the Irish needed it. In case you forgot why he’s special, he proved it there.

- Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is an exciting talent, but his flashes didn’t outweigh the misses. He couldn’t get off the block of a receiver on the first touchdown of the game and he missed his share of tackles too.

The potential is massive, but he’s not there as a star quite yet.

- I’ve tried to give Asmar Bilal the benefit of the doubt, but whatever “it” is, he doesn’t have that. He’s just not a playmaker.

Even if some of the earlier big runs were not on him, he’s not a guy who makes a play. He just doesn’t have the instincts to do it. I’d love to be proven wrong, but it kind of has to happen soon or else I’m not sure if there is enough upside there for him to stick as a starter.

- Drew White on the other hand showed why he’s a guy who has potential to be a significant player on the defense. I know he didn’t play perfect, but he made a handful of plays that made an impact.

Any time a player can take a series like the one where he had a sack, pass breakup, and what would have been a tackle for loss if not for a penalty against Louisville, that’s a guy who I want to see more of.

I’m excited to see how he looks when watching him again.

- Kyle Hamilton. That’s it.

- I thought Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa had the kind of game that doesn’t stand out on the stat sheet, but will on film. He finished with 3 tackles (0.5 for loss), but he was pressuring Pass frequently from the interior.

He was the most consistent pass rusher all day from what I saw.

- I’ll reserve judgement of Julian Okawara when I watch it again, but he was not noticeable out there (aside from jumping offside).

- How big was that solo tackle by Shaun Crawford in the first quarter when it seemed like every other player on the defense forgot how to wrap up?

- I thought the offensive line played well and would be getting more love if the play-calling was a little different and Book had better presence in the pocket. Tommy Kraemer and Robert Hainsey in particular were moving people off the ball.

That right side seemed like a constant all day long.

- I thought Jarrett Patterson had some issues. He’s going to get better, but him getting blown off the ball in short yardage and not being able to reach block the nose guard on a stretch play which would have gone for big yards jumped out to me.

- One of the pleasant surprises of the day was Jon Doerer. He wasn’t asked to kick a field goal, but he wasn’t shaky at all on extra points and his kickoffs were good.

- I wonder how things might have looked different if Jafar Armstrong was healthy enough to play or Kyren Williams didn’t drop that easy catch early in the game? I bet that changed some things in terms of how they were going to use some personnel.

- It did seem strange to me to not throw at least one 50/50 ball in the direction of Chase Claypool. He did show what he can do after the catch, though.

- Everyone will want to overreact, but the reality is that it’s not only one game, it’s week one.

And they have an open week.

And they are breaking in a bunch of new players at important positions.

And we still have more to learn about the team.

I wouldn’t buy tickets to a College Football Playoff game after that performance, but I don’t think anyone should panic either. It’s too early for that and people wanted to panic last year after Ball State.

We’ll see where things go from here. I just wish we didn’t have to wait an extra week to find out what happens next.

 
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