Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Instant Reaction | Notre Dame 66 New Mexico 14

September 14, 2019

Don’t be that guy.

You know the one. I’m talking about the guy who complains after Notre Dame destroys a team and picks out the bad in a game where they did what they were supposed to.

They blew out an inferior opponent with the game over by the time they reached halftime. They averaged over 9 yards per play. Young players showed flashes of brilliance in garbage time. The starters came out of the game healthy.

The Irish won by 52 points. If that’s not a good day, then I don’t know what is.

I don’t see a need to over-analyze it other than Notre Dame destroying a bad football team. What does this game mean for Georgia next week? Probably nothing other than a confidence boost.

When Notre Dame scores 66, enjoy it. Start worrying about Georgia tomorrow.

- Ian Book had a Geno Smith kind of day where his guys made his numbers look really good after the catch, especially with those two pop passes to Chris Finke and Avery Davis for touchdowns. However the yards were gained, what matters more is that Book was better in the pocket today. Not great, but certainly way better.

He made plays because of patience like his 3rd down conversion to Lawrence Keys where he broke outside and made an accurate throw.

I know the running game was disappointing, but those pop passes should count as runs. And the Irish receivers were as good after the catch as I’ve seen in the last few years.

- They threw the deep ball today and attacked the perimeter, which is pretty much what they are going to need to do against everyone this season. It’s not always going to lead to 434 yards through the air and 16.7 yards per attempt. It’s actually never going to lead to that ever again, but it will lead to production and it’s the best way for the offense to move the ball.

- Five players had receptions over 35 yards.

- What makes the offensive performance even more amazing is that they averaged 3.0 yards per play on the first five drives.

- That Phil Jurkovec throw to Braden Lenzy was *chef’s kiss* beautiful.

- This game had so many big plays that it’s easy to forget that Kyle Hamilton kicked it off with a pick six. That would have never happened without Daelin Hayes tipping it and there isn’t anything I didn’t like about what I saw from Hayes in this game.

He is playing faster than I have ever seen him. I don’t know if it’s confidence or what the reason for it is, but Notre Dame has to like the way he is playing right now.

- Speaking of confidence, is Asmar Bilal finally trusting his reads? He was playing downhill and finishing. He looked like a different player this game compared to how he has looked in any game during his time at Notre Dame.

- Zero sacks is extremely misleading because the pass rush affected Sheriron Jones in a big way. I’m not going to pretend he is Tom Brady, but part of the reason he threw the ball like Greg Brady had to do with the pass rush.

- Jalen Elliott and Alohi Gilman were both very good. A nice bounce back after not playing up to expectations in week one

. - How many games can a team win by 50 while going 1 for 10 on 3rd down? That won’t cut it against Georgia (but I’ll be concerned about it tomorrow).

- What did we learn about this defense after the first couple of games? They are going to create negative plays (21.3% Havoc rate after 24% in week one). The pass defense has the potential to be elite. 3rd down and long is going to be a problem for teams against them (New Mexico was 1 for 15 on 3rd and 5 or longer).

The one negative thing that sticks out is that the run defense is still not where it needs to be. They are going to have to dedicate extra bodies to stop the run and can’t do it like they did last season without Jerry Tillery and those two great inside linebackers.

We still don’t know how good this team can be, but we know a little bit more now. Everyone should be glad for that and for getting a comfortable win for plenty of backups gained experience.

- Lastly, I couldn’t be happier for Javon McKinley. He looked like the McKinley who had everyone hyped up after a monster junior season back in high school.

His career didn’t end up the way he or others wanted it to be, but it’s nice for a guy like him to have a day like this one. I hope he and his family get to soak it all in and enjoy it. 

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