Stifling, swarming, aggressive, and feisty are just a few adjectives that described the play of Notre Dame on Saturday. The storyline coming into the game was about the heartbreak of a loss in 2011. ND lost by a field goal to Bulls on a very stormy day in South Bend. Some will say the Irish avenged two bad losses from years past the past two weeks.
The Fightin’ Irish needed to win handily against USF to continue their quest to return to the College Football Playoffs. The Irish needed to show their swagger and that they can put up big points. Unfortunately, the Bulls were the next in line against the Irish. They were about to feel the fury of a team that wants to send a message.
The first quarter was a well scripted set of plays that led to the Irish scoring on all three possessions. While the Irish defense allowed the Bulls only forty five total yards and a Time Of Possession (T.O.P.) of 4:09. The T.O.P. was a result of three and out and a take over on downs sack by Isaiah Foskey. Jack Kiser from the practice squad, gave the Bulls Kelly Joiner Jr a taste of ND football when he tackled him for a three yard loss on the Bulls opening possession. That would be just the beginning of Kiser’s day.
The Fightin’ Irish offense on the other hand had a game plan to execute. Coach Kelly during his pre game on field interview stated “he wanted to see his team get off to a quick start.” The Irish offense did just that, they scored often and quickly. The first drive covered fifty four yards, in seven plays and a T.OP. of 2:50. Ian Book’s first three plays were passes to Tommy Tremble for twenty four yards, Javon McKinley for seven yards and Michael Mayer for five yards. The pass game often leads to opening up the run game, and run the ball they did. The opening drive culminated in a “BookKeeper” four yard TD run. The Irish open the game with a 7-0 lead.
The second drive started again with a pass to Braden Lenzy for twenty two yards. The Irish then ran three consecutive run plays, all for positive yardage. Three plays later Freshman Chris Tyree got his first collegiate TD for Notre Dame on a one yard run. The Bulls had no answer again for the Irish as they go up 14-0 on seven plays, forty three yards and a T.O.P of 3:24.
The Irish took over on downs and again took advantage of good field position. C’ Bo Flemister was the featured Running Back late in the quarter. Garnering thirty yards on four carries. Flemister actually fumbled the ball on his second carry, but Captain Robert Hainsey was there to recover the ball and kept the drive alive. The Irish end the quarter 14-0 and at the ball at the USF1.
With The Irish on the USF1 to open the quarter, on the “BookKeeper” , The Irish go up 21-0 on eleven plays, fifty eight yards and a T.O.P of 5:07 to start the quarter. The unrelenting Irish defense continued to cause problems for the Bulls. Each of the Bulls possessions (four) led to consecutive three and outs for the Bulls offense and ultimately wore out the Bulls defense.
The first Irish drive saw Kyren Williams get the call on a couple plays. Williams had twenty three yards on two attempts and a pass completion from Book for four yards. Flemister was not going to be denied his opportunity of a touchdown party as he ran in for a twenty six yard touchdown. The Irish go up 28-0 on five plays, fifty three yards and a T.O.P of 1:57.
The first stalled drive of the day came at 5:19 in the second quarter as Jonathan Doerer missed a Field Goal Attempt from thirty eight yards. Tyree had started the drive with a thirty one yard run. This was the first time the Irish did not score on a possession in the first half. The ensuing punt for the Bulls saw Punter Trent Schneider get another bad snap and ends up punting from the end zone as Jordan Borthelo hurried Schneider to get off a one yard punt to the USF25.
The Irish made quick work of the field position. Williams chewed off fifteen of those yards on the first play of the drive. After an incomplete pass to Avery Davis, Williams chewed off another nine yard run to set Book up for another “BookKeeper” and his third rushing touchdown of the afternoon. the Irish go up 35-0 on 4 plays, 25 yards and a T.O.P. of :54. The Bulls run a few plays and then let the clock expire to end the half.
Prior to coming out for the third quarter, NBC went in the locker room to listen in on the halftime discussion by Coach Kelly. The quote that was broadcast is priceless. “We’re scoring every time we get the football,” Kelly said. “We’re not letting them score any points. We want a shutout, we’re playing for a shutout. This thing is to damn hard. I’m tired of being the nice guy.” The gloves are off, from this point forward in the season.
The third quarter saw the Irish give a little on defense, but did not break. After a fiery halftime talk by Coach Kelly, the defense had better not allow them to score. The bulls attempted to score but were unsuccessful. Though the Bulls had 13 plays, 54 yards and a T.O.P. of 5:01, they stalled at the UND36. That drive for the Bulls netted more yards than entire first half did. Kiser saw action on three of the thirteen plays, while Clarence Lewis saw three plays with two being Pass Break Ups (PBU), and Houston Griffith had three stops as well.
The ensuing Irish possession Tyree and Williams taking turns at the RB spot. With the balance of run and pass Tremble garnered thirty six yards on the drive leading to a twenty two yard Field Goal by Doerer. The Irish go up 38-0 on 10 plays, 60 yards, and a T.O.P of 3:21.
The Bulls had absolutely nothing going there way. Freshman Alexander Ehrensberger got his first collegiate sack for Notre Dame and gave the QB McCloud negtive six yards on the stat sheet. Again an errant snap put Schneider in a rough spot, but this Borthelo covers on the Osita Ekwonu blocked his first collegiate punt and the Borthelo scores on his first recovery and score on the loose ball in the end zone for a specials teams touchdown to put the Irish up 45-0 at 3:23 left in the third quarter.
After the the Borthelo special teams exclamation point on the game, it was time for true Freshman Drew Pyne to make an appearance. His second play, his first pass of his collegiate career was a five yard pass to Kevin Bauman his first collegiate catch. His next play saw him get his first rushing yards which was a carry for four yards. The Irish end the quarter with a score of 45-0.
With the game situation being what it was, the time had come for the young guys to get some game experience. The Bulls still could not solve the Irish defense or offense. The defense held the Bulls to just eighty one yards and a T.O.P. of 6:42. The Irish offense on their last possession went back to Flemister and he was a work horse. On six consecutive carries he tallied fifty six yards, with a long of 31. The drive culminated with Jafar Armstrong taking the ball in for a touchdown from five yards out with 2:15 left on the game clock. 10 plays, 66 yards, and a T.O.P. of 7:00 allowed the Irish to seal the shut out asked by Coach Kelly at halftime. The Irish win big 52-0 to advance to 2-0 overall.
🏈 Jack Kiser-8 Total Tackles, 7 Solo, 2 Tackles For Loss, 1 QB Hurry
🏈🏈 C’ Bo Flemister-13 attempts 127 yards, 1 TD, 1 target 9 yards Receiving
🏈🏈🏈 Tommy Tremble 3 Targets 60 Yards Receiving, 4 Yards Rushing, and great blocking up front.
Brian Kelly Press Conference
“Really proud of our football team and the way they responded this week in terms of getting off to a quick start. That was our point of emphasis, and doing so really put South Florida on their heels, scoring four out of
the first five possessions. Defensively, taking away the run — any time you shout anybody out in college football, something to really be excited about.”
“Also excited about the consistency that this team and these seniors in particular have shown, their 20th consecutive home win which sets the modern-day record, which very proud of our guys and what they have been
able to accomplish, the consistency to do that just says so much about them and their work ethic and what they do on a day-to-day basis. Really good things.”
“Yeah, there’s always going to be things that you want to look at to get better. We’re going to have to get better in some areas, but really a day to feel great about seeing a lot of young players play and step up and they were asked to do that. Really, for me, satisfying to see a lot of young faces out there making plays.”
Media Question: “Why was Jack Kiser able to have so much success
stepping in at the buck linebacker role?”
Coach Kelly: “He’s well-coached. He’s a great student. He was on scout team Tuesday and Wednesday, split his time going back and forth. He’s just smart. He does extra work to prepare. He’s a remarkable young man that, you know, can help our offense get prepared for South Florida’s defense and then put himself in a position where he can lead our team in tackles.”
“I was kidding Clark (Lea). I was like, what are you doing? Why hasn’t he been starting all year? You know, tongue-in-cheek. But he’s prepared himself very well.”
Jack Kiser Video
Houston Griffith Video
Ian Book Video
The Wrap Up
Saturday’s win was a total team effort. Jack Kiser, Clarence Lewis, and Michael Mayer all made their first starts for the Fightin’ Irish. Ian Book moved into third place on the total offense yards list behind Brady Quinn (1), Jimmy Clausen (2). He passed Ron Powlus and Tommy Rees. Book moved into fifth all-time in program history in career passing yards, passing Steve Beuerlein, after throwing for 143 yards in the victory (6,529 career passing yards). Book also became the first quarterback in the modern era to rush for three rushing touchdowns in a half.
Next Up For the Irish
The Irish travel to to Tobacco Road and will take on Wake Forest at Truist Field. Kick off is slated for 12:00 PM EST and will be broadcast on ABC and can be heard on the Notre Dame Sports Channel here.
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Cheer and Go Irish! ☘🏈🌩