Notre Dame came into Saturday’s game with high expectations from their coach and their fans. The fan’s all talked about the 45.5 point Vegas spread and wondered if they could cover the spread. Coach Kelly had this challenge for his squad “As we move forward to Bowling Green, this is a week for our football team to really look themselves and say, You know, do I want to be great, or is this as good as it gets?”
“You know, that rhetorical question of our mission here is to graduate champions. This is a week where you can focus on being a champion. All the details that are so important to being one, you get the opportunity to sharpen that this week.”
“So I think it’s a great week for our football team to really be evaluated on what do they want to be, you know, how good do you want to be. This is a week that they can do that. If they’re outside those lines, if they’re not locked in, not great in the weight room, if they’re not great in the classroom, and not locked in on the
practice field, then it’s a great indication to me that they don’t want to be great, and so we’ll be able to address it accordingly.”
Instead of the usual breakdown of the game, let’s go with the scoring and the defensive stats for each quarter.
The first quarter, first possession wasn’t the bright spot for the Irish in the game. The Irish first possession was a quick three and out. This short yardage scenario still confuses me. Why can’t the Irish convert on short yardage? Defensively the Irish continue to dominate. The defense was on the field for a total of 4:07 on Bowling Greens first three possessions. In between those three and out’s, the Fightin’ Irish were now putting points on the board. As a matter of fact on four possessions, they scored three passing touchdowns.
The Tommy Tremble TD was set up on the ground. Four consecutive runs for Tony Jones Jr of 13,18, 6 and 3, opened up the pass game. After a pass to Javon McKinley for 23 yards, Book hit Tremble for a 17 yard TD reception to put the Irish up 7-0 after the Doerer PAT. The drive was 6 plays, 80 yards and only 1:58.
With the mindset of getting everyone involved in the game, Avery Davis starts the next Irish possession with a six yard scamper. Book on the next play airs it to Chase Claypool for 19 yards to the BGSU 21. The second TD is sent via the pass once again, this time Cole Kmet for 21 yards. Irish are now up 14-0 after the Doerer PAT. The drive was 3 plays, 46 yards and only 0:59.
Matt Naranjo for the Falcons did his part. A booming punt for 49 yards, Chris Finke felt some redemption in his 15 yard punt return to the ND50. Davis and Braden Lenzy each carried the ball for three yards on their attempts. A Book to Kmet connection moved the Irish another ten yards to the BGSU 34. Book once again connects with Claypool, but this time it is for a 34 yard touchdown reception. Irish widen their lead to 21-0 after the Doerer PAT. The drive was 4 plays, 50 yards and 1:20.
Though the first possession was not stellar for the Irish, their next three possessions is about all you can ask from a team. Execute to a higher standard. They did just that. Both the offense and the defense have set the tempo for the remainder of the game.
To start the second quarter, BGSU continued the drive in which they started at the end of the first quarter. Julian Okwara sacked Grant Loy for 21 yards, (intentional grounding penalty) which killed any momentum the Falcons were gaining.
The Irish first possession of the second quarter saw Books, perfect passing percentage drop after back to back incomplete passes to Michael Young and Chase Claypool. All was not lost. Jay Bramblett once again had another “booming” punt. 49 yards on the blast, coupled by a penalty dropped the Falcons to the BGSU 9.
The Defense once again stood their ground. BGSU did get a couple first downs, but the the fourth down stand by the Irish, BGSU turns the ball over on downs after failing to convert on fourth and one. The Fightin’ Irish take over at their on ND47.
On first down, Book passes to Finke for 24 yards to the BGSU 29. Book then goes pass to Javon Mckinley for 21 yards to the BGSU 8. Two plays later, Book connects with Claypool for 8 yards and his second touchdown of the day. Irish stretch their lead to 28-0 after the Doerer PAT. The drive was 4 plays, 53 yards and 1:27.
Jahmir Smith opens up the possession with a 24 yard sprint to the ND46. Book passes to Avery Davis for no gain, but opens up to get Brock Wright for 40 yards to move to the BGSU19. After Book”keeper” for three yards, McKinley is at the receiving end of a 25 yard touchdown pass from Book. That’s Book’s fifth TD pass of the half. The Irish continue to roll as their lead grows to 35-0 after the Doerer PAT. The drive was 6 plays, 78 yards and 3:03.
To show the defense was not going to go easy on the Falcons in the second half, Jalen Elliott intercepts Loy to finish off the half.
First Half Stats
The BGSU offense must have had a talking to at halftime. They actually sustained a decent drive to open the second half. Unfortunately for them the drive was stalled on the ND23. The Falcons left points on the field after Julian Okwara got his hands on the ball and blocked the 40 yard Field Goal Attempt. Leaving the Irish the ball once again on downs.
Jones Jr after some rest in the first half, was back in his Running Back position and made his presence known. Jones Jr runs 36 yards to the BGSU41. the next play he does it all over again, breaking through the line this time for 26 yards to the BGSU15. After not being able to convert on three and 4, Jonathan Doerer is called on to kick a 27 yard Field Goal Attempt. The Irish continue to pad their lead as it reaches 38-0. The drive was 6 plays, 68 yards and 1:42.
Enter Phil Jurkovec And A TD Pass to Avery Davis
With the game pretty much in hand and wanting to avoid a needless injury to Book, Coach Kelly subs in Phil Jurkovec.
Jurkovec first play is a pass to McKinley and it’s good for 26 yards to the BGSU49. His next play is the QB keeper for 11 yards to the BGSU38. After a failed rush play on Jahmir Smith and an incomplete pass to Joe Wilkens, Jurkovec hits Davis for 32 yards to the BGSU7. The Irish steam train continues to roll as they now lead 45-0 after the Doerer PAT. The drive was 6 plays, 75 yards and 1:48.
The Falcons had the ball for really two possessions in the third quarter. A missed FG and punt is all the could muster. The time of possession was 11:30, 31 yards rushing, five catches for 52 yards. The Irish defense was just relentless.
BGSU maintained possession from the third quarter. After stalling at the BGSU37, Naranjo pinned the Irish to the ND21. Now that the fourth quarter is in play, C’Bo Flemister makes and immendiate impact and rushes for five yards. After passing incomplete to Joe Wilkins, enter the Flemister and Jurkovec show. Jurkovec runs the QB keeper and scampers for six yards. Next McKinley catches a nine yard pass to the BGSU49. Flemister rushes for seven yards, Jurkovec then rushes for 19, the six yards.
Flemister goes for three and two yards respectively. Jurkovec finds Lenzy for a five yard completion. Jahmir Smith will rush for six more before ND has to call for a time out. Coming out of the time out, Flemister breaks the plain of the goal line for a one yard touchdown run. The Irish keep on the throttle and go up 52-0 after the Harrison Leonard PAT. The drive was 12 plays, 79 yards and 5:50.
Mick Assaf was called on to do some clean up work. After his first two carries were a net -1 yards, his next rush would be crucial. Needing eleven yards for the first down and make sure the Irish didn’t need to punt, Assaf carried a bunch of defenders from the Falcons to the ND33. A guy who doesn’t get much playing really showed some heart. The Irish end the game with a final score of 52-0. The first shutout for ND since September 2014 against Michigan.
Post Game Press Conference
Media Question: “Ian, all five of your touchdown drives were like three minutes or less. When you guys get going like that, is it hard to stop your offense?”
Book Response: “I believe so, yeah. We pride ourselves on having tempo, and something we really focused on this week was just getting into rhythm and really pushing the tempo and just moving fast. That’s part of our identity as an offense is going fast like that, so it definitely helps us.”
Media Question: “You mentioned the offensive line giving you plenty of time. Did you kind of need to reset your clock in the pocket? Was it something as the game went along you realized, look, I’ve got to make plays with my legs but I can reset in the pocket here?”
Book Response: “Yeah, just personally it’s something I’m focusing on ever week. Going through all my progressions, staying in the pocket, delivering the ball, getting the ball to playmakers. It was a great week to do that. I’ve got to do it every week, and yeah, like I said, the O-line did a great job. They’ve done a great job this whole entire season. I trust all of them, so it’s on me to get the ball out there.”
Media Question: “What aspects of your game did you focus on most in the last week?”
Book Response: “This last week? Getting through all my progressions. That’s really what I wanted to work on is first, second, third reads. We have these designed plays, they’re going to work, I’ve just got to get through my progression and get the ball to the guys.”
Coach Kelly Opening Statement
“Really pleased with the way our guys prepared this week, and felt really good about coming into the game because of that. There was a purpose to the work this week, extremely purposeful, and they handled themselves like a team that had a vision of what they wanted to accomplish today, and they went out and they did it.”
“You know, Scot Loeffler will change that football team. They were undermanned today. They battled. They played as hard as they could. But certainly it was a situation where we were certainly a better football team, and they did everything that they could to manage the clock, hold on to the football. But our football team did what they needed to do today, and we got the win, and we’re going to enjoy it for 24 hours and then get ready for USC.”
Media Question: “You told us earlier in the week you were going to challenge your guys to focus on themselves perhaps more than the opponent. How do you feel like they performed on that metric versus just the opponent?”
Coach Kelly Response: “Yeah, I felt like they did a very good job. Certainly there wasn’t perfection out there today but there was a level and a standard of play. Today went the way it should have went, and could have gone better certainly, but given the fact that they played two very good opponents in the previous two weeks and had USC on the horizon, as I said, I thought that they prepared extremely well during the week, and then I thought they went out and were very businesslike in the manner that they played today.”
Media Question: “Nine players with receptions today. When your offense is clicking the way it is, is that what you kind of expect where nine guys can have the opportunity to catch a ball in one game?”
Coach Kelly Response: “Yeah, I think there’s enough talent there on the offensive side of the ball that if we’re required to get those guys touches, they’re going to make plays for us. Getting McKinley involved was something that we wanted to get done today. You saw the rotation at the backfield. That was an important piece of what we wanted to get done today, as well.”
Shake Down The Thunder Sports Question: “Late there in the fourth quarter you got Assaf the ball and he was pretty much stopped and he had a pile of guys trailing behind him, and he was carrying for some pretty good yards. What can you say about his desire when he gets a chance to play?”
Coach Kelly Response: “Yeah, Mick is such a hard-working guy, loves Notre Dame, loves his role. You know, I don’t know that there’s a guy on our team that wouldn’t tell you that — from one of our walk-ons that he is not only a spark plug but a great leader. He’s physically strong. If you ask Coach Balis, he’ll tell you he’s as strong as any of the backs that we have. You know, that was a great way to finish out the game. So just a tough, hard-nosed kid that we really appreciate and our players really appreciate.”
🏈🏈🏈 Chase Claypool 3 catches on 4 targets, 61 yards receiving, 2 TD’s
🏈🏈 Ian Book 16-20 261 yards passing, 0 INT’s, 5 TD’s
🏈 Tony Jones Jr 7 attempts, 102 yards
🏈🏈🏈 Jalen Elliott Tackles-4 Solo, 2 Assists, 1 INT
🏈🏈 Alohi Gilman Tackles-3 Solo, 2 Assists
🏈 Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah Tackles-3 Solo, 1 Assist
🏈🏈🏈 Jay Bramblett 2 Punts 42 and 49, 1 Inside the 20
The Wrap Up
After a game that lasts 2:51, their were some big plays put up on Saturday. For the first time in Notre Dame history, an Irish team recorded six touchdown passes in two games during the same season. With 52 total points, it marked the second time this season the Irish recorded at least 50 points . In the first half, Notre Dame recorded 339 yards of total offense, 255 in the air. The Irish averaged 10.6 yards per play and scored five touchdowns. The five touchdown passes in the first half are the most by an Irish team in a single half. The Irish went 8-for-8 inside the red zone Saturday, continuing a season-long streak of red zone perfection (18 total touchdowns).
The USC Trojans come into Notre Dame Stadium next Saturday. Saturday has also be deemed “Irish Wear Green” so wear your green on Saturday. The weather appears to setting for a cold evening. So come prepared for a cold game.
We would also like to thank Tracey Saraceni for her photography excellence. Please visit her website http://www.traceyslens.weebly.com