Game One is in the books! The season opener was not an easy one for the Irish. The Cardinals brought all they had to the season opener on Monday night. A record attendance of 58,187 spectators took in the Labor Day evening match-up to complete week one of college football kick-off. The Cardinals came into the evening with a new coaching staff including a new Head Coach in Scott Satterfield. Coach Kelly during his press conference on Wednesday August 28th had this to say about Satterfield. “Satterfield has done a great job where he has put together certainly the pieces at App State, he has some pieces here at Louisville that he’s going to put together a really, really good football team. It’s going to be a challenge for us.”
When the “Goodyear Blimp” is in the air you know there is a big game going on. The Notre Dame versus Louisville was a #BlimpWorthy sporting event. The Irish saw production out of some underclassmen, and upperclassmen that were thrust into taking on the bulk of the play during the course of the game. If you are not familiar with the names of the players, you may not understand what was going on during the course of the game. Tony Jones Jr and Jahmir Smith stepped in after an injury to Jafar Armstrong, and Tommy Tremble was the lightning in the bottle at TE spot. Each one of them contributing touchdowns for the Irish.
The first drive of the year for the Fightin” Irish led to a touchdown after six plays, 75 yards and 2:21 used from the clock. Little did anyone know that drive which included two runs for 10 yards and one pass for 16 yards would be the only action by Jafar Armstrong would see in the contest. The Irish moved the ball very easy to the end zone on that drive.
The ensuing kick-off Jonathan Doerer gives the ball a big boot in which it is returned for 12 yards. 88 yards seems like quite a distance if you are the Louisville Cardinals. With a little help along the way, instead of 3-12 the down became 3-5 after a defensive penalty. The Cardinals were recharged and scored the own touchdown to tie the game at 7 all.
After a three and out, Freshman Punter Jay Bramblett comes in and flips the field for the Irish with a 45 yard punt. Louisville starts on their own 25 yard line and again gets an assist from the defensive line. Instead of 3-10, it’s now 3-5 and again the Cardinals drive again. This extends drive and the Irish trail the Cardinals 14-7.
Not to be outdone and panic, the Irish come out and used the legs of Tony Jones Jr. Jones on six carries had 79 yards, a long of 35 yards and a touchdown run of 11 yards. The Irish bring the score to 14-14 with 0:29 left in the first quarter.
Honestly, both teams would be more than happy to forget it even occurred. Louisville maintained possession from the first quarter, but ended up punting. The Irish start on the ND 18 yard line. Ten plays into the drive the Irish go for it on fourth down only to turn the ball over on downs. The Offensive line was having much difficulty converting on short yardage needed for a first down. The Irish turn the ball over on downs and Louisville takes possession.
The defense this time stands stout. After the Cardinals converted a first down, the defense stood tall and forced Louisville to punt. The Cardinals defense was doing the same thing. Again forcing the Irish to punt after another three and one down. Bramblett punts and once again flips the field for the Irish with a 40 yard punt with 7:09 remaining in the half. The Irish line once again holds and forces the Cardinals to punt.
Like a chess match, the Cardinals were imposing their will on the Irish offensive line. A quick three and out brings Bramblett back into the game, this time he gives the ball a 46 yard boot to flip the field once again. You can’t ask for more from a Freshman Punter.
This is where it gets ugly for both teams and a little lucky for the Irish. You can call it a momentum swing. I had to happen and it did. The Irish defense had been having difficulty with Cardinal QB Jawon Pass. The finally broke him late in the second quarter. After Pass had run for six yards, Captain Alohi Gilman makes the BIG PLAY and forces a turnover in Cardinal territory. The ensuing play, Book is sacked and fumbles the ball back to the Cardinals. And here is where the luck of the Irish comes in. Pass has pressure and losses four yards on a rush and then fumbles the ball and Jack Lamb recovers to give the Irish new life.
Moments before the fumble occurred, you can see Coach Kelly coaching up Book and getting his mind back in the game. After the pep talk by Coach Kelly and a few plays, Book scores on an eleven yard on “Book Keeper” to put the Irish up 21-14 going into the half. Sometimes fate stares you in the face and you must oblige it. Book did just that.
Coming out of the locker room from halftime, you know that Coach Kelly and his staff were going to make the necessary adjustments and they did just that. Seven plays into the quarter, Adetokunbo Ogundeji forces Pass to fumble again and Daelin Hayes is there for the recovery.
After the initial Jones Jr 12 yard scamper, followed by an additional six yard run and a Book keeper for three yards, the Irish are forced to punt again. This time Bramblett doesn’t get all of the ball and it goes for 33 yards. The Irish defense has settled in and there is not much action being aloud by the Cardinal offense. The defense gets off the field in short form after playing for 57 seconds.
After a Book to Claypool connection, Tommy Tremble gets a pass across the middle for 26 yards an has a date with the end zone to put the Irish up 28-14 in the third quarter. After the defense gets off the field in short time once again, Book finds Tremble again this time for a completion of 13 yards. Unfortunately the Irish drive is stymied and Bramblett is asked to come on again. A 40 yard net boot for Bramblett pins the Cardinals at their own 16 yard line. The Irish will force the Cardinals to complete their drive in the fourth quarter.
The last time the Cardinals scored points was in the first quarter when they took the lead 14-7. Early on in the fourth quarter, the Cardinals put points on the board via a 42 yard field goal attempt. The score is now 28-17.
After the Cardinals field goal the Irish responded just as fast. On the next possession six key play led to Jahmir Smith’s second TD of the night this time from one yard out. A Book keeper for six yards, a Book to tremble 10 yard pass, a Lawrence Keys III 10 yard reception, a pass to J. Smith for six yards, and a Book to Claypool connection for 34 yards set up the short run for Smith to ice the game. Your Final score is ND 35/Cardinals 17.
Player Post Game Conference
“First game, there may be some jitters. It’s a great environment here and Louisville played great. A great opponent but we’ve just got to put this behind us. At the end of the day we’re happy that we’re 1-0 and we’re going to learn from this and now we know what it’s like. The season is started and here we go.”
(About the sequence with the three fumbles and three plays and how important was it to score) “It was sloppy football. Like I said, happy to move on from that and have some guys step up and be able to score touchdowns when they needed to. Sloppy ball that we’ve got to work on.”
(About the third down conversions being a problem until the fourth and what was different and why were they clicking there?) “We just focused on the smaller details after the first half that we might have missed in the first half. We just focused and did what we had to do and the plays were there for us, we just had to execute them.”
(About the off-season steps work showing tonight) “Not in the first half. I felt a little rusty but I’ve got a lot to learn from it. Ready to go back, watch the film, and move on from it. But in terms of a lot of guys on the team that I saw make plays throughout the spring and throughout the summer showed tonight. That’s really good for our offense. Really exciting to see.”
(About losing Jafar Armstrong) “Just having those running backs step up. Obviously Tony had a good night. It was good to see Conor and Jahmir and C’bo make some plays was good to see. With the amount of running backs we
have that was good to have tonight.”
(About Importance of road win) “Huge. Talk about being road warriors this whole entire year. This was the first one. It was good to walk away from this at 1-0. We have a lot of hard road games down the line this was the first step and this will get the guys prepared.”
Chase Claypool WR
(About how your position teammates played) “Super proud, they came in clutch situations, third and long with the touchdown that we needed that.”
(About Tony Jones’ performance?) “Tony took the load. Put the team on his back and made my job easier so I thank him for that.”
(On his thoughts on quarterback?) “He is a really sharp quarterback. If one gets away from him it’s a fluke.”
(What kind of statement did Notre Dame make) “I think it’s a tough question. People are sleeping on us. Especially on the road. We have a tough road schedule this year. People who are doubting us, the road to home doesn’t
matter. Where ever we are at we will be ready to play.”
(About playing how he wanted to play personally tonight) “Yeah, I missed a couple of blocks that I gotta get on. There’s always room for improvement. They (UofL) played cover two, so essentially it was a safety over the top.
That’s their scheme and we were able to look around it.”
We are going to to something different this year. We are going to game balls to an Offensive, Defensive and Special Teams player as stats allow. This week Game Balls will be going to the Offensive, Defensive and Special Teams players listed below.
🏈 Offensive Player-its not who the team chose. We chose Tony Jones Jr for his 15 Carries and 110 Yards and a TD
🏈 Defensive Player-Alohi Gilman 6 Tackles, 4 Assists
🏈 Special Teams Player-Jay Bramblett 6 Punts 236 Yards, with a long of 46 yards.
There are two special mentions in this weeks Game balls as well
🏈 Offensive Player-Jahmir Smith 8 Carries, 24 yards and 2 TDs
🏈 Defensive Player-Kyle Hamilton-$ Solo Tackles, 2 Break-ups
Week one was not the game that most Irish fans wanted to see. The Irish need decisive wins this year. In retrospect, the Irish got a decisive win, it just took a little more adjusting to to get there. Coach Kelly expected some difficulties in strategy but the Irish came back to prevail. The good thing is that our coordinators know what adjustments to make. Years past it was a struggle. Once again game composure is key. The defense gave up free yardage to extend drives and led to both scores in the first quarter.
Coaches often talk about winning in all aspects of the game offensively, defensively and special teams. Just important is the fourth aspect of the game which is mentally. The Irish were finally able to get to Pass and break his mental toughness. That is the part of the game that needs to be opened and exploited. Making a statement in the game doesn’t always mean winning physically but mentally as well.
The Irish are off for 12 days schedule wise. Practice wise the team needs to #SharpenTheAxe and build on the #GoldStandard they have set in front of themselves.
Next up for the Irish is Bob Davie and the New Mexico Lobos at Notre Dame Stadium.
Cheers and Go Irish! ☘🏈⚡