Notre Dame Football

Thoughts From The Road | Stanford

December 1, 2019
7,182

The Farm. 

Not much you can say about it other than it's a beautiful stadium with gorgeous views and it's a shame the Cardinal fans don't show up. 

Now, yesterday, I can't blame them as it hadn't rained in over 100 days and it was "cold." No one was confusing Stanford Stadium with Sanford Stadium as entire sections of the stadium were empty.

In fact, you could hear people on the field yelling at certain points from the press box. Crazy. 

Stanford is the only place I've been three times and it has hidden elevators, but there was no trickery this weekend. Successfully maneuvered my way around with ease, which might not sound significant, but one wrong turn and you're walking up or down hundreds of steps. 

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Rick Kimball didn't join me on this trip, but a kid from Brown University was in town and shot some video for us, which you guys will like. 

I did fly out on Thanksgiving and met up with some friends for dinner. For the record, more wine was consumed than food, so everyone reading this should know how that goes minus maybe Jamie because I don't know what Canadians drink on Canada Day.

The same friends were super nice and provided transportation to and from the game. The ride there, I thought I was going to die as my friend was a small woman with rage issues. 

The drive back was less dramatic as the rental car got a flat and we were stuck driving 45mph from Palo Alto to San Francisco. So that was fun, but less exciting as my future intern had far fewer rage issues. 

Irish Sports Daily
Ian Book

After the game, it was an interesting scene. Stanford allowed fans to come on the field. It seemed like a lot more people were at the game when it happened.

Everyone was taking selfies with players from both teams. It was a pretty cool atmosphere but a little chaotic. 

As you can imagine, Ian Book was very popular and he was very gracious with his time despite having over 100 family and friends at the game. 

All in all, fun weekend and it was good to see some friends and meet up with a few parents of Stanford players, who still keep in touch. 

Recommendations: Bar-Local Edition (If you can find it) 

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The game. The game. The game. 

Maybe it's how this year has gone. Maybe it's because I feel I have a good grasp on the kids. Or maybe it's because I experienced the losses in 2015 and 2016, but I wasn't worried about the start yesterday.

It wasn't pretty, but even when Notre Dame went down 17-7, I felt they were just fine. 

It should also be somewhat of a measuring stick of where this program has come in the last month. They pulled to 17-7 at Michigan and folded.

Michigan and Stanford are very different programs, but Notre Dame reeled off a 31 unanswered points to cruise to a victory in the second half. 

It starts with Ian Book for me. The kid has come a long way in the last month while taking more on his shoulders following the last weekend in Ann Arbor. 

It's funny when the board cringes when he gets out of the pocket. Sometimes it's justified, but other times there is no one open and due to some play design, there isn't always that easy check down that other Notre Dame quarterbacks took advantage of. 

Book raised his game over the last month and if he doesn't, I'm not sure how Notre Dame ends November. 

What's more incredible is he did it without a great running game and while he wasn't playing Clemson's defense, the defenses he faced gave many other quarterbacks hell at times this season. No one would have been surprised if Michigan broke his spirit, but it didn't and that's significant.

The run game has been a journey each game this season, but I'll give them credit in terms of they found a way to get the job done for the most part. 

Tony Jones Jr. isn't a No. 1 back. He's not a back who is going to wow people with long runs, but he finds a way to move the chains and makes timely plays. Jones finished the year with 722 yards on the ground, which was 542 yards more than any other Notre Dame back.

Jones: 722
Smith: 180
Flemister: 132
Armstrong: 114

I'm not sure anyone knows what the running back position will look like next year as Jones has one more year remaining, Kyren Williams will likely be in the mix after redshirting and five-star Chris Tyree will be on campus in June. I do think they need Jones back because he brings much to the table, but Lance Taylor will have his work cut out for him as Notre Dame needs to find someone to cut that gap.

Defensively, Clark Lea seems to figure out offenses the first couple drives and once he does, it's game over. 

He made some great adjustments yesterday, but more importantly, his kids play for him. There is a great sense of pride on that side of the ball and while the offense plays hard, you can tell the defense truly embraces and believes in what they're doing. 

Notre Dame didn't have as many injuries as Stanford, but it was impressive how they battled through key guys going down on both sides of the ball. 

The injuries to the defensive line would cost Notre Dame games in the past, but there was little drop-off and Lea was forced to play several players with a ton of inexperience. 

Jacob Lacey and Ja'mion Franklin deserve praise. Ade Ogundeji and Jamir Jones had incredible seasons. Isaiah Foskey turned the game. Not bad for a true freshman getting his first real game action. 

Khalid Kareem kept the unit together and then went out and made plays the final month of the year. The fumble recovery for a touchdown on Saturday was a great moment for him and one he deserved. 

Linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah entered the season as an athletic freak. We saw the Virginia native make Jaylon Smith plays in coverage in fall camp, but also get to spots athletically only a few players can get to. 

His inexperience showed early on, but yesterday might have been one of his best of the year as he finished with nine tackles and a pass breakup. 

He's a linebacker and not just an athlete. It's going to be very interesting to see where his development takes him over the next eight months. Does he move inside? Does Clark Lea use him similar to how Clemson uses Isaiah Simmons and moves him around everywhere? It's going to be fun. 

Finally, Notre Dame completed back-to-back undefeated seasons at home and undefeated seasons in the month of November. 

It wasn't good enough for the College Football Playoff and probably not good enough for a New Year's Six bowl, but it's progress and a big step in my mind. 

Notre Dame isn't going to make the playoffs every year. Heck, Alabama isn't going to be in the playoffs. 

10-2 is a long way from 8-4 and 7-5, which several publications predicted nationally. 

It wasn't a perfect year, but those kids loved every minute of the victory yesterday as there were smiles all around as they were running off the field. 

Oh, it was wonderful not walking out of a stadium at 2am following a road game. Let’s do that more. 

 
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