Coach Kelly always talks about all aspects of the game. Offense, Defense, Special Teams and the Mental game. Saturday’s game against Duke, challenged all four aspects of the game. Some time’s you need to change up and make adjustments. That’s what a great team does. Folks also need to remember that spring camp, didn’t happen and contact in practices was limited.
It’s important to remember two things, one: football is a sixty minute game and must be played for sixty minutes. Two: championships are not won in week one, it’s a process of learning from each game along the way. If the team doesn’t face adversity in a game it becomes too easy and they would become complacent. So there is nothing good about having an easy win. You want them to face challenges and build on the adversity versus facing adversity and not knowing how to recover from it.
Kyle Hamilton was on fire for the defense as the Irish took the field against Duke’s first possession. Duke had seven plays on their first drive and Hamilton had 3.5 tackles and a one pass break up. That’s setting the tempo for a defense.
Duke’s second possession started at Duke ten yard line after a Jay Bramblett fifty three yard monster punt. The Duke offense chipped away at their long distance, while the ND defense kept all but one play in front of them. Isaiah Foskey had play on Chase Brice that rattled Brice for the remainder of the quarter. The ND defense did not break, but bent as Duke put the three points on the board in their second possession.
After the second consecutive three and out by the Irish offense, Bramblett once again delivered a field flipping forty five yard punt this time Isaiah Pryor delivered a timely open field tackle for no return on Josh Blackwell. ND had three drives, and each were short as they went three and out on each drive. Late in the first quarter the ND defense delivered Duke its first three and out of the afternoon. Duke total yards was 151 to 7 and Time Of Possession (TOP was 10:17 to 4:43). Duke wins the first quarter 3-0.
The opening possession of the second quarter say the Irish put together a decent drive. Starting at the ND four yard line, they marched ninety yards and chewed up 4:21 on the clock on twelve plays. The scoring drive almost wasn’t. ND got to their own twenty one yard line and got stopped by the Duke defense.
Bramblett received the snap and instead of punting it away, and the fake punt was called. Bramblett the former QB/punter from Hillcrest High School converted the first down on the fourteen yard carry straight up the middle.
Coach Kelly was asked about the fake punt play, his response “My thought process was I hope the heck it works. That was my first thought process. It was there. We saw it on film. We felt like it was there. It was one of those that you needed to call it in a very vulnerable area. In other words, when you’re backed up.
So you know, Jay is a very good athlete and you saw that he had to cut back to make that first down, but felt very confident that he was going to get an opportunity to convert that. And we were kind of — we needed a little bit of momentum and so I just felt like it was the right time to make the call.”
With the fresh set of downs, the ND offense finished the drive with a big pass to Michael Mayer and big runs by Kyren Williams and Jafar Armstrong. Williams put ND on the board with a one yard TD run.
The dent in the Irish second quarter was the Ian Book INT in the end zone. After a seventy five yard pass completion to Williams, Lummie Young IV, picked off the pass to stop the drive. No harm was done though as the ND defense responded to the call and forced Duke to punt. Late in the first half Duke and ND exchange field goals. ND wins the second quarter 10-3 and go into the locker room with a 10-6 lead.
The third quarter was a transition from the first. The offense was feeling out the the Duke defense and looking for a solution to the surprisingly stifling Duke defense, while the ND defense kept the offense in the game.
The ND defense made short work of Duke on it’s first set of downs on the field. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah forced a fumble that was recovered by veteran Shaun Crawford at the ND forty one yard line.
Book was able to use his legs on the ensuing drive that contributed to Williams twenty six yard TD run and his second of the afternoon. Williams TD put the Irish up early in the third quarter 17-6.
After the ND offense was forced again into a three and out situation, Duke was able to take on the ND side of the field. Two back to back passes by Chase Brice, Duke scored it’s first TD of the game. to bring the score to 17-13 with 2:12 remaining. After three quarters of play that would be the score heading into the fourth quarter.
The one thing not mentioned in the beginning of this was the contribution by the the underclassmen who played like they were seasoned college players. the third play of the quarter was just awesome. Michael Mayer, the Freshman Tight End makes a play that will make you an instant fan of his. The play was a much needed first down catch to continue the drive and apply pressure to Duke.
Avery Davis ends the drive with a seventeen yard pass completion from Book that extends the Irish lead to eleven and the score is 24-13.
On the Fightin’ Irish second possession Michael Mayer comes up big once again. The hurdle over Marquis Waters sets up the Jonathan Doerer second Field Goal of the day from thirty four yards to put the Irish up 27-13 with 5:21 left in the game.
After a Duke time out, Brice was a victim of another ND defense forced fumble which was recovered by Adetokunbo Ogundeji with 2:12 remaining in the game. Your final score for week one is 27-13 ND.
It is easy to say that Kyren Williams was the ND recipient of the game ball, sometimes you need to look beyond the offense and the defense and look at the special teams players. Jay Bramblett more than earned top honors in this weeks “Game Balls.”
🏈 Jay Bramblett Fake Punt, 14 Yards Rushing, 6 Punts for 263 yards, long of 53, 3 inside the 20, 2 50+.
🏈🏈 Kyren Williams 205 All purpose Yards-112 Rushing Yards, 93 Receiving Yards, 2 Rushing TD’s
🏈🏈🏈 Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah 9 Total Tackles, 6 Solo, 1 Sack, 2 Tackles For Loss, and 1 Forced Fumble
The Wrap Up
As for the slow start on Saturday Coach Kelly summed it up pretty well, “Just the way I answered it, and I don’t know if Tyler knows this, but we had not played spring ball or we didn’t play in December. If he was expecting that we were going to come out like a shiny new car, he’s been reading too much internet chatter.”
“Look, it’s difficult to duplicate game-like speed when you haven’t had that for such a long time. So my expectations is that it was going to be a process that that we just had to be patient, and you saw we were patient and we stuck with what we were doing and we had to make some adjustments at halftime and I thought we looked like the team we should have in the second half after we made some adjustments and settled into some things. I thought we took control of the game in the second half.”
After a long an tedious off-season, camp starting and stopping, no spring ball and all the off the field distractions, folks should be happy there is football being played. I am not saying that ND gets a pass on their performance, but let them get back into the swing of playing contact football and continue to mature. It’s a long season and this team wants to win.
The Irish now need to shift gears and prepare for their next opponent. USF comes into town next Saturday which will be broadcast on USA Network not NBC or NBC Sports. Charlie Weis Jr also returns to ND minus his father the former Head Coach.
Cheers and Go Irish ☘🏈🌩
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