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Notre Dame Football

Instant Reaction | Notre Dame 42 Florida State 26

October 11, 2020

There was rust on defense. There were two turnovers that put Florida State inside the Notre Dame 25-yard line that resulted in 10 points. There were some moments that made you think the Irish could blow this game against an inferior team.

There was all of that, but then there was also a dominant ground game, strong 3rd down defense, and Notre Dame’s veteran quarterback playing like his best self. Throw on an awesome display of four minute offense in the final quarter and it ended up being a pretty darn impressive game considering the circumstances.

The circumstances are important to remember here because not only was it three weeks ago that Notre Dame last played a game, but as Brian Kelly pointed out in the post game, there were players who weren’t available to practice until Thursday.

With all of that said, the Irish averaged 8.3 yards per play on offense and looked like they didn’t miss much of a beat on that side of the ball. And when the defense should have folded in the second half after giving up a score, they had two straight three-and-outs and forced a turnover in the red zone on the final non-garbage time possession.

There were mostly good things to take out of this win and this can hopefully be step one in a return to (somewhat) normalcy this season.

- Florida State had only given up two runs of 20 yards all season and no runs longer than 30. They got gashed for 64-yards on that early Kyren Williams run and then for 46-yards on Chris Tyree’s touchdown run.

Notre Dame’s offensive line was great again today. They made things look easy for the back on several occasions and when they didn’t, Williams was making defenders miss on a regular basis.

Williams has been so good, minus that fumble to start the game, that Tyree is averaging 7.25 yards per carry and there isn’t anyone thinking he is anything more than a great number two back for the Irish.

- Liam Eichenberg is TOUGH. To come back with his eye looking like that and still play well, it goes beyond words. Him and Aaron Banks were fantastic. When Dillan Gibbons came in, they didn’t miss a beat either.

- Book was very, very good in this game. The play-calling certainly helped. Tommy Rees had an exceptional night setting things up for him. Beyond that, that throw to Mayer over the middle in a super tight window was one of the better throws I have seen him make in the last three years.

He was poised while also creating when he had to outside of the pocket. That touchdown drive to end the first half was huge and it was pretty much all Book

. - Javon McKinley getting the better of Asante Samuel certainly wasn’t something I would have predicted heading into the night, but that’s what happened. McKinley had a terrific adjustment on the one deep ball and he helped Book a lot.

He made the passing game explosive to compliment the running game.

- Shaun Crawford got caught on that slant and go for a touchdown to Tamorrion Terry, who was every bit as dangerous as he typically is, but that pick at the goal line had to be especially sweet for him. Florida State was trying to and got called for running a pick. He still was in position and made a play.

He also was only playing corner because Notre Dame was down players who weren’t available or only practiced late in the week. I knew his versatility was going to be valuable and this certainly proved it or else Notre Dame would have had a true freshman going up against Terry on a lot of plays.

- The defense finished with a 22.5% Havoc Rate, which is really good. It could have been well over 30% if they could have got quarterback Jordan Travis down for some sacks. He was taken down twice, but escaped from the grasp of a Notre Dame defender a few times and avoided the rush spectacularly often.

I have to think that in a regular week Notre Dame would have sacked him more, but man, what a ball game by him to turn negatives into positives repeatedly. If those sacks happen, the results on defense likely look a lot different. Pressure on him certainly wasn’t the issue in this game.

- In addition to the missed tackles, I think it goes without saying that missing Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa and Jack Kiser hurt the run defense. That played a part in some of the success FSU had.

- Florida State was 2 of 14 on 3rd down in this game. They were 0 for 11 in anything that was 3rd and 5 or longer.

- Ade Ogundeji had two sacks in the game and that doesn’t come close to indicating how much FSU struggled to block him.

- That Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah hit. Wooooooo boy.

- If you glanced around college football today, you saw a lot of bad defense being played. I don’t know if that’s going to be the norm going forward, but I’d be surprised if it was for Notre Dame the rest of the way.

The defense will play better. If the offense keeps playing like this, then it changes where I view the ceiling is for this team.

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