On the heels of last week’s performance, there were high expectations for this week’s game against Ball ST. Fans were upbeat on the performance of the quick scoring offense and the enduring strength of the Fighting Irish defense. While the need for improvement stated by Coach Kelly last Saturday. Many anticipated a high scoring offense to take the field on Saturday. I am not going to mention the game’s Las Vegas spread, many folks were looking for a high scoring game. The unexpected part was the pocket presence of Brandon Wimbush versus the check down and run as seen last week. There is much to discuss about Saturday’s game. Let’s jump into it with both feet.
The high-octane offense returned on the first possession for the Fighting Irish. A Chris Finke reception from Wimbush for 27 yards, and a series of rushes by Jafar Armstrong totaling 46 yards. Armstrong scored from the one-yard line. The offense covered 74 yards in five plays in a 1:54 time frame. Strike fast, appears seems to be the fundamental idea on offense. BSU responds with an aerial assault of their own and chews up 6:49 of the clock. 19 defensive plays are the key here. Both teams defenses tightened up after the first scores. The team’s ended up with two (3 and out) possessions. Te’von Coney sacked Neil Riley to end one of the possessions.
The quarter opens with the Irish on a drive from the BSU 37-yard line. after two incomplete passes to Miles Boykin, Wimbush connects with Chase Claypool for 23 yards and the Irish march on. A Wimbush sack leads to a 43 yard FGA by Yoon that goes wide right. After BSU goes 3 and out, the Irish drive to the BSU 26-yard line, and BSU defense to take back possession on downs. Once again, DEFENSE is stout. Third play of the ensuing possession, Jalen Elliott intercepts Riley Neal and sets up the offense on the BSU 33. the next play Tony Jones Jr takes it to the end zone on a 31-yard rush. Once again strike fast on a rush.
After stopping the defense stops the short drive of BSU, the ball goes right back to BSU after an INT from Wimbush, BSU takes over the ball from where they just punted. Again, the defense bends, but doesn’t allow BSU into the end zone, BSU settles for a field goal that puts them down 14-6. The half comes to an end after another Irish offensive 3 and out. In the first half the Fighting Irish defense was on the field for 50 plays. the offense was on the field for 37 plays.
BSU opens the third quarter possession and moves the ball at will. Enter Jalen Elliott for his second INT of the day. The Irish go back on offense and make BSU pay for the INT. Six play later, after passing to Boykin twice for a total of 31 yards, Jones again rushes for a one-yard TD. Both defenses tighened up again and exchange 3 and out plays. BSU ended one of the Irish possessions with another INT by Wimbush. The stout Irish defense makes sure that BSU can’t capitalize on the turnover and forces the BSU to punt.
Late in the third quarter, the Irish drive 33 yards on a combination of catches by Alize Mack and Boykin to set up Yoon for a 46 yard FGA. Yoon converts on the attempt to put the Irish up by 18, 24-6. BSU is driving to end the quarter as time expired.
BSU continues the drive that started at the end of the third quarter. Pay dirt in the end for BSU. Their first touchdown of the day was a pass from Neal to Nolan Given for 10 yards. The defense broke for the first time in the game. BSU wasn’t going to go down without a fight. The BSU had gained confidence by keeping it a close game. Their confidence grew as Ray Wilborn intercepted the pass from Wimbush. BSU tries to make the turnover a profitable one, but the Irish defense stands tall again and stops the BSU offense after a missed 46 yard FGA. BSU doesn’t give up on itself as they showed signs of resilience. After a 3 and out by the stalled Irish offense, BSU marches 26 yards and converts on a 49 yard FGA, to pull within 8 of the Irish.
In the end, it’s survive and move on. The Fighting Irish defense put the team on their backs and carried the team to a 24-16 win over BSU.
Brandon Wimbush Press Conference
Coach Kelly Press Conference
Notes From The Box
The Irish Defense caused BSU to turn over the ball two times (2 INT’s by Elliott which led to 14 points) and had 97 plays against them
Miles Boykin-targeted 8 times and caught 6 for 119 yards, longest 26 yards
Jafar Armstrong-13 carries for 66 yards, 1 TD, longest 42 yards, 3-3 on completions for 61 yards (longest 27 yards)
Tony Jones Jr-13 carries for 61 yards, 2 touchdowns longest run for 31 yards
Yoon moved into fourth place all-time scoring ahead of Autry Denson
Kick-offs continue to go out of bounds setting up opponents with extra field position to the 35-yard line
Three INT’s by Wimbush and no touchdowns
Questions about Wimbush as a running QB or a pocket QB
The team needs to move on from week 2. As Digger Phelps recalled a Coach Parseghian conversation when he became Head Coach of the basketball team “Digger, you have to understand this: Every game you play it’s the other team’s Super Bowl. So your kids have got to really be ready and above being ready because the other team’s coming after you.” This needs to be the mindset in the football locker room. Every team is going to prepare and play hard against you.
Questions need to be answered on what is going to be the role of Brandon Wimbush, will it be legs or passing. A balance needs to be found before confusion sets in.
The defense needs to continue to be stout. Every week a new step up player emerges. The transition from last season to now is quite transparent. Skills are being maintained and instilled into the new players.
Next Saturday, the Commodore’s of Vanderbilt come into to town for a 2:30 start on NBC.
Cheers and Go Irish! ☘🏈