A week after the Fightin’ Irish defense battled against the Seminoles, the defense had a day that kept the Irish in contention in the ACC. The offense of the Fightin’ Irish sputtered a bit, but did just enough to get by. In the end it’s better to win a close game versus coming up short in one. Personally, adversity is good for a team early in a season rather than experiencing it late in a season.
You can say the first quarter was all about the Irish, The Irish defense was only on the field for a total of five plays that accounted for a Time Of Possession (T.O.P.) of 2:17. The Irish offense had two drives in the quarter. The first drive was a (T.O.P.) of 5:34 and a second drive of 7:09. The first drive for the Cardinals saw Sophomore Kyle Hamilton with a great Pass Break Up (PBU).
The first drive of the quarter saw Kevin Austin in the receiving end of an eighteen yard reception and Ben Skowronek on a sixteen yard reception. Both players had seen limited time last week against FSU. After driving the length of the field that started at the ND25, the Irish drive was stopped at the LOU21 and had to settle for a Jonathan Doerer 32 yard field goal.
The second drive of the quarter for the Fightin’ Irish started at the ND12. After Kyren Williams rushed for six and then eleven yards to move the Irish to the ND29. Ian Book is sacked for three yards, but a personal foul against the Cardinals canceled the negative yards. The Irish advance to the ND44.
Coach Satterfield had his Cardinals prepared for the Irish and their weapons. The Cardinals defensive line dialed up plays that limited the Irish running attack of Williams and Chris Tyree. The Cardinals stop the Irish again in the Red Zone at the LOU12. Again instead of TD’s, a FG is dialed up this time from 30 yards. The Irish end the quarter with a 6-0 lead versus a 14-0 score they have been used to this season. The Cardinals remained consistent in their penalty accumulation. They Cardinals received three yellow flags for thirty yards.
The second quarter was a period of time in which both teams hope they don’t experience again. The Irish defense was on the field for only 5:46 and a total of fifteen plays. In that time period over two and a half drives, the defense held the Cardinals to ninety three yards of offense including a three and out in the middle of the quarter. On the longest drive of the quarter, the Cardinals came up short on a fifty two yard field goal attempt that came up short as the clock expired.
The Irish offense suffered it’s own three and out scenario, on it’s first drive of the quarter. The second drive that started at the the ND4, Book had thirty one yards rushing, Williams racked up twenty yards on the ground and Freshman phenom Michael Mayer went vertical once again and gained twelve yards for another first down.
The one play the Irish wish they had back would be the fake punt called by Kelly. Jay Bramblett needed nine yards and was stopped short at the LOU6 when he needed the LOU4. The botched fake was not his fault, Bramblett gave it all he had. Neither team found the end zone resulting in a 6-0 halftime score. The shocking stat was the four sacks by the Cardinals. The Irish ran forty two plays to the Cardinals twenty.
The Cardinals came out on fire in the third quarter. Thirteen plays and eighty three yards was the longest drive of the game for them. A combination of pass and run plays, the Cardinals got behind the Irish secondary for a twenty nine yard touchdown reception to put them ahead of the Irish 7-6. They Cardinals chewed up 7:16 T.O.P. in the opening segment of the quarter.
After a failed on-side kick by the Cardinals, they were forced to kick-off again.
The Fightin’ Irish did not take kindly to the on-side kick attempt by the Cardinals. Williams went back to work rushing and catching the ball. Rushes of twelve and four yards followed by a five yard reception, put the Irish on the move. Javon McKinley got in the mix with his fifteen yard rush, followed by Chris Tyree with a fifteen yard rush of his own. The combination of plays set Book up for th “Book Keeper” and he wasn’t going to be stopped on his thirteen yard TD scamper. After the failed two-point conversion the Irish go up 12-7.
The fourth quarter was definitely an offensive struggle both defenses not wanting to blink. The Fightin’ Irish stop the drive of the Cardinals at LOU43. The ensuing drive by the Irish got stopped at the ND39 despite Williams racking up eleven yards from the ND24. The Irish punt, only the second of the day and pin the Cardinals at the LOU20. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah come up with a big hit on Javian Hawkins.
After a penalty for illegal formation, followed by a false start, the Cardinals set themselves up for a ten yard loss. The next play, Daelin Hayes brings his own heat for minus six yards. Hawkins will feel this one for a while. That play forces Louisville to punt away to ND.
Notre Dame has one last push to score. A combination of run and pass get the Irish to the LOU9. The goal here was not to fumble, throw an errant pass or get an unneeded penalty. This was about running the clock out and getting to 00:00 in the fourth quarter. Part of that was successful. The Irish ended up with a false start that almost hurt them. After assuming the victory position three times, Book gets the game to close at a score of 12-7 and secures the Irish victory.
Brian Kelly Press Conference
“We’re excited about the victory. Winning is hard. Proud of our football
team. Their preparation was outstanding during the week. I thought they came in with a mindset that was such that they knew this was not a 1-3 football team they were playing today.”
“Louisville played extremely well. Coach had them ready to play. They took care of the football. I think I commented earlier in the week that I thought they had beaten themselves quite frankly, and they easily could have been 4-0. They played like a 4-0 team today. We withstood that.”
“It’s our 22nd consecutive win at home. I don’t want our guys to lose sight of that. That’s a great achievement. I don’t think (Ian) Book has lost at home. A lot of those guys don’t know what it’s like to lose at home. I want them to keep that.”
Media Question: “When you sent the offense back out there with just under eight minutes left, how confident were you or did you think they would be able to milk the clock all the way down like you were able to?”
Coach Kelly Response: “Yeah, I mean, I think the way the game had gone, I felt pretty confident that we were going to be able to at the very least put our defense in a very good position. We weren’t going to leave them out there where they would have to defend a short field.”
“We had been running the ball with pretty good effectiveness. We clearly had an idea of what we needed to do in this drive. We slowed our tempo down quite a bit. We let that clock tick down.”
“Again, I think there was a lot of confidence amongst all the guys that were out there, including the coaches, that we were going to be able to get that thing ended in our favor.”
The Wrap Up
When you look at the numbers, they tell you that the defense had one heck of a game. Louisville had seven drives. Five of those drives resulted in punts, a missed FG to end the second quarter and a TD to start the third quarter. We talked about this point last week. The defense stepped up and save the offense. The Fightin’ Irish need to get back to where they were pre-COVID and dominating in all aspects of the game.
The Irish on the other hand had seven drives as well. First two drives stalled in the Red Zone and left eight points on the field with two field goals. They punted punted twice from their own side of the field. Turned the ball over on downs at the Lou6 after a failed fake punt, scored a TD after the Cardinals TD, and a victory position on the LOU20. Their were up to seventeen points left on the field by the Irish. They will have to build on that in the coming weeks as the schedule does not get easier.
🏈🏈🏈 TaRiq Bracy-6 Total Tackles, 6 Solo, 1 Tackle For Loss (TFL)
🏈🏈 Jonathan Doerer- 2 FG’s, 32 and 30 Yards
🏈 Kyren Williams- 25 Attempts 127 yards, Long 24, 1 Target 5 Yards Receiving
The Fightin’ Irish travel for the first time this season. The start a two week hiatus on the road. First stop will be the Pitt Panthers, 3:30 on ABC and season ticket holders will be allowed at this game. You can listen to the game here.
A special thank you to Paul Erp for the cover photo!
Cheers and Go Irish! ☘🏈🌩