ND Football: All We Need Is Some LOVE!

I can’t believe I am about to go down this road. Love is a word that is used in a sense of emotion. But when your last name is Love and you play football it can go a long way. Julian Love, Cornerback had an absolutely outstanding game Saturday. Not to be cliché but, Love will keep us together. Love’s also great at breakups. It’s something you don’t want to associate with love but, Julian Love was dominate in doing just that. Breaking up was not hard for him Saturday afternoon.  You can say breaking up was a great accomplishment for ND football. Though the afternoon was mostly about defense once again, there were moments were the offense showed focus and discipline. Lets go through Saturday’s game and see what surprises were coming at the end of the day for Shake Down The Thunder Sports as well.

First Quarter

A continued point of success for the Irish is their domination on the opening drive. the Three consecutive weeks of consecutive scoring on the opening drive. This weeks drive resulted in a stalled effort at the 8 yard line, Justin Yoon took care of the points from 26 yards out.

On the ensuing possession the Irish drove 94 yards, in 5:21 and QB Brandon Wimbush scores from 12 yards out on the QB keeper. Both drives consumed some serious clock. The offense chewed up 9:19, while the defense limited Vanderbilt to 10 plays. The defense did not let the Commodore’s past the 50 yard line as the first drive stalled at the 49 and their last play of the quarter was at the Vandy 25 yard line.

Second Quarter

The second quarter seemed as though neither team wanted to possess the ball. The ensuing four possessions, both teams settled for two 3 and outs a piece. The Special Teams played a major role in how the second quarter played out. Tyler Newsome flipped the field in a major way. Two booming punts by Newsome put Vandy on their own twenty yard line. The first punt was for 63 yards and the second was for 62 yards.

Tony Jones Jr, broke a 20 yard rush, then who took it again for another 10 yards to start the possession. After getting to the Commodore’s 16 yard line the Irish drive stalled and Yoon blasts the ball through the up-rights from 33 yards out.

Half way through the second quarter Vandy starts to feel good about themselves and is pushing the ball down field. The Irish defense, bending a bit but not breaking makes a spectacular play. The Commodore’s are outside the Red Zone when Kyle Shurmur passes to Donovan Tenneson for twenty yards. Then Tenneson fumbles the ball forced by Alohi Gilman into the air, kicked around and Julian Love ultimately recovers the ball in the back of the end zone for a touch-back.

Capitalizing on turnovers is an important aspect of each game. Points off of turnovers is a scale in which a team measures itself. Once again, the Irish capitalize on an opportunity and this time it puts Yoon into sole possession of number two all time scoring at Notre Dame. And it wasn’t an easy one. 46 yards was the distance that put the Irish up 16-0 with 1:15 to play in the quarter. Kyle Shurmur got his grove on for the Commodore’s. After a combination of 26, 13, 26 yard pass completions, the Irish defense held and did not let the Vandy offense into the end zone. Though they gave up a field goal as time expired in the half.

Third Quarter

The Commodore’s came out of the locker room with something to prove the Irish defense. Vandy opened with a 17 yard pass to Kalija Lipscomb and passed to him two more times. One incomplete pass, coupled by a penalty for defensive holding and then a five yard completion. The Fighting Irish again denied the Commodore’s entry in to the end zone. The Commodore’s were set up for a 43 yard field goal attempt which went wide left.

After a 3 and out by the Irish offense, Newsome stepped up and booted a 57 yard punt and the ball was returned to the Vandy 47 yard line. Shurmur once again feeling confident, exudes his confidence with a 30 yard pass completion to C.J. Bolar. After a few rushes, Ke’Shawn Vaughn breaks the Irish defense and finds the end zone.  The Commodore’s come with in 6 as the score moves to 16-10 as the quarter comes to the end. The Commodore’s owned the third quarter as the possessed the ball for 10:05.

Fourth Quarter

To start the fourth quarter, the Irish had possession to start the fourth. The Irish open with a pass to Miles Boykin for 14 yards. Jafar Armstrong rushes for 8 and 9 yards respectively> Wimbush then airs the ball out to Jones Jr for 32 yards on the visitor side of the field. Wimbush is subbed out for Ian Book. Book then finds Nick Weishar for a two yard TD pass. The Irish fail on a 2-point conversion to pull ahead 22-10.

Remember that confidence brought into the second half, well he didn’t loss it. After a rushing play, Shurmur finds Sam Dobbs for 18 yards. The Irish defense was stopping the drive of the Commodore’s until a pass interference is called giving the Commodore’s a second chance. The Commodore’s capitalize on the penalty and get back in the end zone to make the game a 22-17 margin.

The Irish had a missed opportunity t score late in the fourth quarter. After starting on their own 49 yard line, the Irish march to the Vandy 14 yard line, and set up Yoon for a 32 yard field goal attempt. Yoon misses wide right with 3:39 remaining in the game.

The Commodore’s again march down the helped by a pass interference call on fourth down. The Irish defense stands stout as they make up for the penalty and give the ball to the offense takes over on downs. The Irish offense then goes 3 and out and Newsome again gets off a booming kick for 63 yards to the Vandy 10 yard line. Shurmur gets a successful pass to Bolar for 13 yards, and the old hook and ladder play failed as Love is appropriately falls on the ball to end the game. The Irish win 22-17.

Press Conferences

Brandon Wimbush

Media Question: “How was the feeling after today’s game? You said last week wasn’t good. What was the feeling after today’s win?”
BRANDON WIMBUSH: “It’s much better than it was last week. I think as an offense we really fought play-in and play-out. So I guess we executed how we wanted to execute today, and we feel good coming away from it. And there is so much more to learn, so we’re excited
for that.”
Media Question: “I guess regardless of whether it was a maximum performance or an improvement, how would you sort of describe the identity of the offense right now, and what would you think the biggest next step is for you guys?”
BRANDON WIMBUSH: “I think it’s still out there, honestly. I think we’re still forming that identity. Coach Kelly came up to me and said, you know, week three is the time that you kind of form that identity, and I think just looking back on the first three weeks, I don’t think
there’s something we can kind of hang our hat on yet. Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe it’s not. But as we practice more and see who we become, so I’m excited for it.”

Coach Kelly

“Coach Kelly Opening Statement:  Well, really proud of my football team and the way they competed today. You know,
challenged after last week’s performance in their preparation and then how they compete. Compete every play, play physical, and they did that today. So, yeah, there’s things we’ve got to work on. It’s the third game of the season. If you’re a finished product after
game three, you know, you’re destined for greatness, and we’re not there yet. We’re not destined for greatness. So if anyone wants to write that greatness column, I would tap the brakes.”

“But proud of their effort, proud of the way they competed. They played Notre Dame football. We’re still evolving. I mean, I’d like to say we’re a finished product, we’re just not. I mean, we’re trying to find our identity on offense. I think we’re a good defense. We’re not a great defense yet. We’ve got some things to clean up, but, boy, I really, really like our football team and the way they competed today.”

“Now, we’ve got to do that each and every week, right? I mean, prepare the right way, and then compete, get after it, be physical, run the football. That’s an SEC team who ran it for, I don’t know, 250 yards. I think that’s pretty good. So there’s a lot of things, a lot of positives from it.”

Media Question: “You had mentioned that Book and Wimbush have both bought into switching the quarterbacks and so forth. But from a pragmatic standpoint of getting a guy in, taking him out, getting him back in, how do you make that work and run smoothly and keep them in a rhythm?”
BRIAN KELLY: “Certainly it’s got to be practice. So it’s something that we’re working on during the week. Everybody’s alert, and there has to be a package that you feel confident in. It can’t be — it can’t be wholesale on everything that you do. So there are specific things
that we’re doing, and we’re drilling down that our whole offense is quite aware of, that these are the plays, this is the package that we’re working on. So it doesn’t cut across everything that we do. There is some intentionality, if you will, to what we’re doing when he goes in, and I think everybody else knows what it is.”


Slide to the 8 minute mark of the video, Coach Kelly answers questions from Shake Down The Thunder Sports

Shake Down The Thunder Sports Question: Brandon had some struggles with trying to commit to a slide or just to take a hit. What can he do to make sure he’s taking a slide so he doesn’t get injured?
BRIAN KELLY: Well, that’s a pretty astute observation, because I felt the same way. So you and I are astute together. You know, he ran really hard. I think last week we were a little concerned about him not running and finishing off the runs. And today he ran really
hard, and he got to the marker. I think he was just looking around too much. He just needs to finish off those runs. He’s much
better finishing them off than pulling up. He has a better chance of finishing clean than pulling out of them. So I think you’re right. It’s a conversation we’ll sit down, we’ll show him the film, because I think the observation is right. We want him to finish those runs off.”
Shake Down The Thunder Sports Question: “If I could follow-up with one more for the defense, Julian Love, this is the third week a different guy has stepped up for you on defense. It’s a pretty good problem to have.”
BRIAN KELLY: “Yeah, so, we had this conversation about if you have players on all three levels of your defense, which we have. Each week we’ve had different players from the defensive line to linebacker, to the back-end of the defense, whether it’s the corner, the safety, whether it’s Coney, whether it’s Khalid Kareem, you’re probably putting together a pretty good defensive product, and kind of that’s what we’re seeing.”

Stars Of The Game

Julian Love

Julian had a crazy game. Third game, third a defensive player has stepped up and answered the call. Four pass break ups and a fumble recovery in the end zone. In the post game interview you can see that he is just having fun playing football. He was the true game changer today.

Tyler Newsome

Coach Kelly gave Tyler the game ball. Tyler had punts of 63, 62, 53, and 57. That’s a total of 298 yards and an average of 59.6 per punt a new Notre Dame football record.

Tony Jones Jr

Tony Jones Jr on 17 attempts carried for 118 yards and had 56 yards through the air. His longest was a 32 yard grab that put the Irish on the Vandy 44 yard line that would lead to an Ian Book TD pass to Nick Weishar.

Closing Thoughts

The defense has more than proven itself. They are putting this team on their shoulders and keeping them ahead of their opponents. The offense needs to lend a hand as far keeping the ball and scoring a little more often. Wimbush put passes in the hands of his receiving corp, but dropped passes accounted for at least two possible TD’s that ended up being field goals. Focus and discipline needs to be worked on by the offensive line. As a team, the Irish need to play a faceless opponent. Defensively that is happening. Offensively, they seem to stall and appear to be confused at moments. Wimbush also needs to protect himself when carrying the ball. He has to finish the run or if in the open field, he needs to slide to avoid taking major hits.

This Saturday, the Fighting Irish travel to Wake Forest for a 12 PM kick-off on ABC. Pray there is no rain. They deserve to play in dry conditions in the state of North Carolina.

Cheers and Go Irish! 🏈☘

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