Two years ago at the College Football Playoff, I was in the locker room after the game. It was my first time in a locker room of any major sporting event. The room was quiet as it could be. There was a feel of tremendous loss. The one interview I will not forget was the one with Tyler Newsome.
Tyler was just in tears feeling as though he was solely responsible for the teams loss. I asked Tyler about the state of the program as he was departing the field at the college level for the last time. Tyler, “the program is in a much better place. The goal is to leave a program better than when you came in.” I then asked him about the future of the program. Tyler’s response, ” we planted a seed this season. The seed will grow, but now it’s up to the next set of guys to nurture it and help it grow and be fruitful.” Those words couldn’t be more true.
Coach Brian Kelly
The Past 2017
I had written an article for another blog that questioned “What Is The Missing Element?” on the ND Football team back in 2017. It went something like this.
“For the last couple weeks, the fanatics have once again been calling for Coach Kelly to be let go. The decision to let a head coach go is just not that simple. The head coach position requires the ability to understand the workings of an offense and defense, it also requires the ability to lead and educate a team of young men to work as a team and to go out and “Play Like A Champion” on any Saturday afternoon. The head coach must have a passion for the game and a passion to win. The head coach must also be a leader and be a teacher of the game.”
The article ended with “The one thing that ties all of these coaches together is their ability to motivate their players to just not win, but to become students of the game, believe in the Notre Dame Value Stream, and the want to excel on the field on a Saturday afternoon. So in the end, if the Irish are to go back to their winning ways of National Championships past, Coach Kelly must look into each of these coaches past and look at how they coached, mentored their players, and taught them to get ready for GameDay.”
Back in 2018 after the Shamrock Series with Syracuse, my post game question to Coach Kelly was about team chemistry.
“Your chemistry with this team seems to be a lot different than other teams. Can you talk a little bit about that?” Coach Kelly Response: “I think just that we’ve invested a lot with each other, and I enjoy being around them because that’s what I do now. I’m just around them a lot more. I’m in the locker room with them. I’m having meals with them. I’m hanging out with them a lot more. They haven’t allowed me to clock in on their games yet, but when they do, we really will reach a milestone. I just think hanging around them a lot more allows that kind of relationship to grow.”
In 2020, the Notre Dame Football team is much matured. Coach Kelly now has a new tool in the tool box, and it is called W.I.N., and it has two paths. The first is What’s Important Now and the second is What’s Important Next. The team is responding to it. The players are using it in all of their press conferences and has impacted them for the past couple weeks. Coach started using the W.I.N. just before Pitt. This allowed them to take one game at a time. Now this weekend it’s about Clemson. Coach Kelly still has that close relationship with all his players today.
Keys to Victory
The Irish have been very successful with their run game. No one has been talking about how well the Irish have been running up the middle of the field versus off tackle in the past. The Irish also have one heck of a backfield. Kyren Williams, Chris Tyree, C’Bo Flemister, and Jahmir Smith. The Tight End position is not to bad either. Brock Wright, Tommy Tremble, George Takacs, and Michael “Baby McBride” Mayer. These guys are helping the Irish in developing a triple-threat on the offensive side of the ball.
The offense needs to execute in the run, pass and block when they have the ball. Scoring every on possession is going to be a necessity.
The Irish defense is getting better as the season is progressing. The Irish allowed there first points in the fourth quarter last weekend. Over six games the Irish defense is allowing 10.3 points per game. Opponents are 8 of 11 or 72.7% in the Red-Zone. The Irish defense is going to have to contain the Freshman Quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei filling in for Trevor Lawrence. They are also going to have to spy Travis Etienne, the phenom Running Back. Ultimately both sides are going to need to play a solid mental game in order to beat Clemson.
Week 9/Game 7-11/7: Clemson vs Notre Dame
There are three very interesting things to bring up for this match up. This is Clemson’s first legit game. They are on the road playing in South Bend, all season Clemson has been playing in the South. Coming before ND, they play Miami the week before. There is going to be chippy play during that game. There could be potential ejections that can impact the game.
Clemson goes into South Bend the first week in November, you are not playing in a warm climate. It’s going to be cold for that game. Clemson will deal with cold for the first time this season. This will be that big win that ND has been waiting for a longtime. It’s a must win. This is the preview of the ACC Championship game. This is the prove it game for ND.
Score 35-28 ND
Undisputed number one team in the ACC last year. ND simply needs to keep their mind on the prize. No smack talk and leave it all on the field. ND will need to protect their house that night. Clemson got decimated in the draft and only return five starters to the defense and five players on the offense. They understand the next man up. Dabo Sweeney will have them ready to play.
This game will go back and forth between the two teams. No domination it will be a hard fought game. If there is an injury to a key player in that game it changes things tremendously. I remember the emotion of that locker room in Dallas, I am sure the Grad students, Seniors and Juniors haven’t forgotten about that game in Arlington. This is an opportunity to right the wrongs of the past.
Score 42-40 ND
Cheers and Go Irish! ☘🏈🌩