Where do you start an article in which many different factors played into a result of a game? The game did showcase some areas of low-lights and highlights. Everyone talked about this game being a measuring stick to where the team is, even Coach Kelly made the comment in his presser. While it is great to succeed, there is more often than not a lesson in a loss. Out of last nights game, there will be areas to address, areas that will need improvement and areas of the game that need to be commended. It’s not an individual play or player responsible for the loss. There were multiple breakdowns in the game for the Irish.
The First Half
Watching a game and then actually looking at the stats of the game you get two different insights. Watching the game you are focused on watching and looking for things to happen. Reviewing the game through stats it paints a different picture. The picture isn’t pretty, but it tells you something.
There is no better way to come off an injury, but to make an immediate impact. Cole Kmet did just that. On the Irish opening drive Kmet caught his first pass for a gain of eight yards.
On the third and fourth plays Kmet garnered two catches. One for 10 and another for 15 yards. A ray of sunshine that the Irish offense had truly missed. But with progress there is some pitfalls. Prior to the two catches a couple of mental mistakes by Liam Eichenberg led to minus yardage on the drive. An unnecessary personal foul for 15 yards, followed by a false start. Discipline is so important when playing a team like Georgia. Chasing yards is like chasing points, you don’t want to be doing that.
The spotlight shined bright one player and that was the true Freshman Jay Bramblett. What a steal out of Tuscaloosa. His first punt was a boomer. 46 yards to the Georgia 9.
The Irish defense did their part. They did not allow the Bulldogs get past the GA 26 yard line on their first possession. As a a matter of fact the Irish did not allow the Bulldogs past the 50 yard line in their two possessions of the first quarter. That’s one in game small win.
The second Irish possession saw another false start, this time RT, Robert Hainsey was called for a False Start. There is no denying the Georgia fans came to play a factor in this game. A few plays later, the Irish turn the ball over. The Irish were moving inside the Bulldogs 32 yard line when the Bulldogs force a turnover and take possession. Again the Irish defense put a hold on the Georgia offense. This possession by the Bulldogs was stopped after a brief visit to the ND 47, that was the furthest the Bulldogs got in the first quarter. The Irish end the first quarter with a completion to Chase Claypool for 15 yards.
A look inside the numbers Time Of Possession (T.O.P.) ND had the ball for 7:11 compared to GA 7:49. Penalties ND 3-25, GA 2-15. Ian Book 7-11 for 65 yards, Receiving Cole Kmet 3-33. Defense held GA to Fromm 6-7 for 16 yards.
The second quarter started like a roller coaster for the Irish. After a Kmet catch for four yards, Cole fumbled the ball and luckily fell on it to retain possession. Another offensive penalty for a false start, this time by Kmet, ultimately the possession to start the quarter results in another booming punt by Bramblett. Here comes the exciting part of the ride. 46 yards on the punt to the GA 11, a Tyler Simmons fair catch and miss results in a recovery by Claypool at the GA 8. The Irish offense is definitely in business.
On a Book to Kmet pass reception, the Irish go up 7-0 on a mental mistake by the Bulldogs.
With the thrill of victory in scoring first, there was sure to be agony of defeat. After the Irish defense kept GA out of the end zone in the first quarter, the next possession by the Bulldogs took the wind out the Irish sails. After 13 plays and 75 yards the Bulldogs brought Sanford Stadium to life to tie the game at 7-7.
To close out the first half the Irish put together another drive that results in important points. After passes to Chris Finke for 5 yards and 8 yards, two passes to Kmet for a total of 30 yards, and a Lawrence Keys III completion for 28 yards, Jonathan Doerer kicks a 27 yard Field Goal to end the half put the Irish out in from 10-7. The drive went 8 plays, 66 yards for 2:33.
The Second Half
In a game where both offenses are not firing on all cylinders, the defenses are the reason why scoring is held low. The big play looms for a defense to make a big play. After 7 plays and 36 yards of ball movement, the Irish defense held the Bulldogs and forced them t punt. The Bulldogs defense stepped up and made the big play happen but almost lost it.
Book is intercepted by Divaad Wilson, Tony Jones Jr forces a fumble but no harm as the ball goes out of bounds. The result of the turnover is three points on Blankenship FG from 23 yards, to square the game at 10-10. The Bulldogs now fired up, the defense tightened the collar and forces a three and out. Bramblett steps in again for another booming kick for 40 yards to the GA 28. But a penalty for illegal formation gives the Bulldogs an additional 5 yards.
The drive that changes the game happens now. After three consecutive first downs (1 rush, 2 pass), The Bulldogs put more points on the board after a 31 yard field goal attempt to give Georgia their first lead of the game 13-10.
ND sputtered late in the quarter. After two rushes, a false start (Kmet) and J Genmark Heath, Bramblett was forced onto the field again. This time its a career long boot. 58 yards to the GA 18.
Book was 2-6 for 7 yards and an INT, Fromm was 6-9 for 62 yards. The score is 13-10 Bulldogs.
A team like Georgia is like a shark that smells blood. They will turn on you in an instant. Four plays into the quarter, the Bulldogs gave themselves a little it of insurance. Going 82 yards on 8 plays in 3:59, Lawrence Cager gets into the end zone on a 15 yard reception from fromm. To double the score 20-10. The defense was tired and it showed after being on the field for 10:32 in the third quarter.
The ensuing possession the Irish would give up the ball again. After a 20 yard pass to Tommy Tremble, Book forces the ball downfield into the arms of J.R. Reed falling out of bounds. The Bulldogs make quick work of the turnover and turn it into three points from 43 yards out to go up 23-10.
All is not lost. The question was can the Irish convert and score twice with 6:54 remaining in the game. Book is going to need to make plays and make them happen quick. Spreading the ball around to Kmet, Claypool, and Finke, the Irish once again get into the red zone. Claypool gets the pass from Book and converts from 4 yards out. The Irish drive was 10 plays, 75 yards using 3:46 of the clock.
Three plays into the Bulldogs drive, TaRiq Bracy steps offsides to extend the drive of the bulldogs instead of them being force to punt. Ultimately they did punt, but valuable clock time was lost.
The Irish needed to muster up a little bit of help in order to pull out the comeback. But, a comeback was not in the cards for the Irish. The Bulldogs defense was not going to allow it to happen in their house “between the hedges.” After six plays the Bulldogs would take over on downs, take a knee, then go into the victory formation. The Bulldogs go onto win the game 23-17 over the Irish.
In the fourth quarter Book was 11-17 122 yards, 1 INT. Team T.O.P. was 7:06 and Penalties were 3-25 yards. The defense was on the field for 7:54 and held Fromm to 3-5 for 66 yards. It wasn’t lopsided at all. It was the game within the game.
The Wrap Up
Many folks wont like this but, statistically the Irish played a good game. It is truly a game of adjustment but when you hold 3rd ranked opponent to 3 FGs and 2 TDs that is respectable. If anything, preparing for an environment like Sanford Stadium needs to be done for more than just one week. In my business, I talk to folks about putting yourself in the toughest scenario and working out the bugs from there. i am not an expert but, if you practice under conditions of that intensity for three to four weeks, that should help you. Going from I heard in interviews, one week is not enough.
Stories from the past that I hear from other players under Coach Lou Holtz, practice was a game simulation under which they expected to play under. The game is just an execution from the work from the previous week. As well as going through the game mentally. Maybe this is something the team needs.The mission of this team remains unchanged, “Win a National Championship.” the only thing for this team to do is win out and see what happens in November.
🏈 🏈 🏈 Cole Kmet-9 receptions 108 yards (long 31) and his first career TD.
🏈 🏈 Chase Claypool-6 receptions 66 yards (long 23) and a TD
🏈 Tony Jones Jr- 9 carries 21 yards, 4 receptions 24 yards
🏈 🏈 🏈 Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah-8 Tackles (7 solo, 1 assist)TFL 2.5-7 yards
🏈 🏈 Jalen Elliott – 8 Tackles (4 solo, 4 assist)
🏈 Alohi Gilman- 8 Tackles (3 solo, 5 assist)
🏈 🏈 🏈 Jay Bramblett-4 Punts 190 yards, career long of 58, 3 inside the 20
🏈 🏈 Chase Claypool – Fumble recovery at the GA 8
🏈 Jonathan Doerer- FG from 27 yards
Next up for the Irish is the Virginia Cavaliers. It’s a 3:30 start and the game will be broadcast on NBC and can be heard on the Notre Dame Network.
Cheer and Go Irish! 🍀🏈⚡