Pitt vs Notre Dame: Oh Boykin

This past Saturday left many Irish fans with more questions than answers. Lets start with the pre-game coverage and the keys to winning the game. “The ND Defense is stout but penalties continue to happen at key points in a drive. Can’t give Pitt those opportunities. The offense needs to continue to be crisp and give Book a good protection scheme. Special Teams needs to stay penalty free.” By the end of the first half, the Fighting Irish were un-checking keys versus checking the keys off. But there was a little football two-step going on. The Panthers couldn’t seem to keep their hands off the Irish defensive line as the Pitt offensive line thought holding it together meant holding your opponent. There was much adversity to overcome in this game.

First Quarter

The Fighting Irish are given an opportunity to set the tempo of the game. Though Pitt wins the coin toss they choose to defer to the second half. The Irish had only two possessions in the first quarter. The first possession was for 3:51 seconds. In that time period Book was 4-4 in passing, then offensive line was penetrated by Pitt resulting in a 16 yard loss on a sack. Two plays later, Book would fumble the ball, but he would recover it as well.

The ensuing Pitt possession saw key number one get unchecked. The defense had stopped Pitt, then it happened. An offsides call on special teams allowed for the drive to continue.  And drive is what the Panthers did. 9:43 to be exact. Kenny Pickett didn’t have any deep passes, but he was able to orchestrate a drive that resulted in the Panthers taking a bite out of the home crowd enthusiasm as they went up 7-0 on the Fighting Irish. The drive also allowed the Irish a minimal 1:26 to run just couple plays including a pick to end the first quarter. If they were looking to keep Book off the field, Pitt definitely checked the box on that one. First Quarter goes to Pitt 7-0.

Second Quarter

The second quarter started off with the Panther and the Fighting Irish not wanting to have ball for more than six plays. The Panthers lead that effort with two six and outs to the Irish one six and out. An interesting stat but nobody wanted to drive. The Irish found their stride in the middle of the quarter with some help from a Pitt for a roughing the passer call. The penalty continued an Irish drive that resulted in a Justin Yoon 22 yard field goal.  The Irish defense had definitely settled in as Pitt could not get passed their own 31 yard line.

The Irish opened their drive on the Pitt 49. The offense would find its groove on the drive. Book went 5-8 including a 30 yard pass to Miles Boykin. Book was also sacked twice on the drive. In the end, Yoon would put points on the board again, this time from 41 yards out. The Irish go into the locker room down 7-6. The bright spot in the quarter was that the Irish defense allowed a total of 17 yards of total offense from Pitt.

Third Quarter

In a flash the third quarter got very interesting. The gamble to defer to the second half paid off for the Panthers. 99 yards worth of interesting to be exact. Maurice Ffrench would silence the home once again by taking the kick-off 99 yards to the end zone. Pitt goes up 14-6 in an instant. Talk about adversity, the run back put a huge dose on the Irish offense and defense.

A ray of light came upon the Irish late in the third quarter. After a 47 yard field goal attempt is missed, the Irish take over on downs. A 21 yard pass to Claypool opened the drive. Three passes to Chris Finke totaled 43 yards including one for 26. The Irish drive of previous weeks was back in full effect. Claypool who started the drive ended it when he was on the receiving end of the Book 16 yard pass. A failed two-point conversion left the Irish still chasing the Panthers 14-12.

Fourth Quarter

Notre Dame stadium has a mystique about it. The mystique is commonly called “Waking up the echoes.” The echoes made their appearance to start the quarter. Pitt drives and misses another field goal. This time the attempt was from 36 yards out.

After swapping possessions, the Irish get the ball look to seal the deal before it gets to late. After two rushes by Dexter Williams for 16 yards, Book makes a little magic. Book hits Boykin for 12 yards and then a pot of gold as they connect again for a 35 yard touchdown pass. The Irish find a way to take the lead 19-14 with 5:43 remaining in the game. The defense put the icing on the cake as Khalid Kareem puts Pickett down for a 14 yard loss on the ensuing drive by Pitt.


In the end Ian Book was 26-32, 264 yards passsing, 2 INT’s, 2 TD’s and QB rating of 158.7. A game doesn’t always go as planned. Sometimes winning has to come with some adversity. Being able to play from behind and win a game such as this is a personal character builder, as well as a team builder as well. In the end, being able to react from playing from behind will help this team down the road as much Irish fans would prefer to be in control from the beginning.

Ian Book Press Conference

Media Question: You were 26 of 32 passing but seemed like you were scrambling a lot, at least in the first half.
What was the Pittsburgh defense throwing at you that had you looking confused?
Ian Response: You know, Pittsburgh’s got a good defense. We knew that, and we were preparing for that all week.
You know, some of the times, I was a little antsy and I got to stay in there a little better. Something I got to work on. You know, they are a good defense and that’s going to happen sometimes. You know, we bounced back in the second half in that a little bit, I believe and we take the win.
Media Question: You seemed to target Boykin a lot especially on the winning touchdown drive. What is it about him
that makes you want to throw the ball to him, almost like a safety net type of player for you there?
Ian Response: You know, day-in, day-out, Miles works so hard and I think our chemistry is starting to come a long a little bit. When it’s a critical down, he’ll make the plays for us. He’s one of the playmakers that I try to get the ball to.

Brian Kelly Press Conference

Coach Kelly: Excited about the win. Moves us to a bye week and it gives us a chance to kind of regroup and we had a tough week, our guys were in mid terms this week and they could use a few days to regroup and get ready for the next five games which are going to be really difficult ones, but we are proud of our guys, their grit. They hung in there and found a way to win. It’s college football. Hard to win each and every week, and you’re going to have some
of these games, and they found a way to win. So pretty excited about it. Fire away
Media Question: Julian Okwara was credited with seven quarterback hurries. Some are good statisticians and had him for 12. Can you evaluate what his game, what he means to the pass rush and why you gave him the game ball?
Coach Kelly Response: It’s a good observation. He harasses the quarterback more so than, you know — I think we were even talking about this earlier in the week in terms of, you know, quarterback sacks versus hurries. He gets quarterbacks uncomfortable. They move their feet. They change their — their launch point, their eyes drop. Things just make them uncomfortable. But if you look at his overall game, I think the play that he made on third down, where he gets the back coming out of the backfield for a five-yard loss, tells more about his overall game. His ability to drop out of coverage and make a play like that on a running back, he’s a pretty special player. He does a lot of things that sometimes don’t show up on the stat sheet, per se, nationally, but he’s one dynamic player.

Shake Down The Thunder Sports Question: The first three or four games of the season, the offense would come out, first possession, score a touchdown. Defense comes out and they would, you know, hold the team and not score. The last couple weeks, you guys have faced a little bit of adversity in those areas. Can you talk about how the adversity is going to help this team down the road?

Coach Kelly Response: Yeah, you know, I just think it’s the duration of a season, right. There’s ebbs and flows. There’s ups and downs. I think you just experience it. I think our guys learned a lot from today’s game in terms of, you know, hanging in there and having patience and finding ways to overcome some adversity. You know, very rarely do you give up a kickoff return for a touchdown, throw a pick, do some of the things we did today, and still find a way to win the football game.
A lot of good things that we can take from it. We obviously can’t play like this week-in and week-out and
feel like we’re going to win every game we play.
But you’re going to have some of these, and you’ve got to — you’ve got to grow from them, and I really like our football team. They will grow from this. They will learn from it and we’ll be better because of it.

Game Balls

🏈🏈🏈 Julian Okwara 6 tackles, 7 QB Hurries

🏈🏈 Miles Boykin 4 targets, 84 yards receiving (long of 35 yards), 1 TD

🏈 Justin Yoon 2-2 on field goal attempts (long of 41 yards)

Next Up

The Fighting Irish are in a much-needed bye week. Next up for the Irish is Navy in two weeks in San Diego.  Until then Cheers and Go Irish!

7 thoughts on “Pitt vs Notre Dame: Oh Boykin

  1. Boykin deserves almost as much praise as Book for this revamped passing attack this season. He has made quite a few impressive plays this season.

  2. Thar was a nerve racking game, but they need to work harder… I flew in for the Stanford game and you guys bet them you can won it all…. Go Irish…..

    1. All only way to win is to work harder. Need to improve every week. There is always a way to get better.

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