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Notre Dame Football

Instant Reaction | Notre Dame 12 Louisville 7

October 17, 2020

It’s been awhile since I have had to write an instant reaction after a game like this.

It was ugly. It was inefficient. It was potentially disastrous. It was a win, but one that won’t feel satisfying at all to the players or staff.

But if you think they feel bad, imagine the other team that just fell to 1-4 and had plenty of opportunities to pull off an upset.

There is plenty to be learned from this game for Notre Dame. Maybe not for the players, but certainly for the staff.

- The idea that Notre Dame could come out and have the goal of getting the wide receivers more involved was the wrong one when you consider that Notre Dame averaged 6.0 yards per carry (minus lost sack yardage), but managed only 5.6 yards per attempt throwing the ball.

Notre Dame didn’t produce an explosive play through the air today against a defense that had given up plenty of them in their first four games.

How much had to do with the wind today? How much had to do with the receivers or Book not trusting them? That’s what the coaches have to find out because they had no answers in the passing game today.

- The good news is that Kevin Austin showed flashes after the catch and on an almost touchdown where he beat his man on a corner route, but didn’t get his foot down. It’s clear he has to get more involved in the offense. He’s the most talented receiver on the team and everyone knows it.

Michael Mayer also continued to show impressive traits after the catch.

- Where was Braden Lenzy today? Brian Kelly said he was limited with a soft tissue injury. That’s been an issue for him earlier this season and last season as well. Notre Dame needs him.

- I wasn’t a fan of calling seven of the first 11 plays as passes. Maybe that was the script, but when you see the wind, I think they needed to call an audible.

- Woof, the red zone today was a struggle. If you don’t have a receiver who can win 50/50 and bail you out (Javon McKinley dropped a two point play that he should have come down with), it makes things more difficult.

- That fake field goal call could have really come back to haunt Notre Dame. Make that and they are up 9-0 at half and wouldn’t have had to go for two on the touchdown. As the South Bend Tribune’s Carter Karels pointed out, they essentially ended up giving up four points with that not working.

16-7 would have felt better than 12-7 if Louisville had the football.

- There are two things that Notre Dame can feel good about on offense today.

The first is that they ran the ball well. They just didn’t break one or two and that would have been huge.

The second is that when they had to close the game with a drive, they ran four-minute offense well again with Book converting two huge 3rd downs.

- Giving up seven points to the 12th ranked offense in SP+ while not allowing any receptions longer than 30 yards against was a huge win for the defense. They played well, especially up front against the run.

Javian Hawkins is a big time back and any time he had room, he was dangerous. He hardly ever had room because the defensive line whooped Louisville’s O-line all day long at the point of attack.

- 3 of 9 for Louisville on 3rd downs today, but everyone will remember that 4th down play that Notre Dame gave up. I’ll go back and rewatch it, but I saw Shayne Simon with a chance to make a play and I thought he hesitated.

He had a chance to attack Malik Cunninghman and hit him in the backfield. That would have got Notre Dame off the field and given Notre Dame great field position to start the half.

- Other than Ade Ogundeji and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (who lined up a lot off the edge today), where was the pass rush? Cunningham had too much time in the pocket today compared to how pressured he was in other games.

- Immediately after this game, it’s impossible to say how good Notre Dame is despite being 4-0. Today they looked like every other above average team in the ACC that is light years behind Clemson.

They can still be that and win every game except one this regular season. This team needs to get better and we’ll see how much better they can be over the next two weeks before a juggernaut comes to town.

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