ND FOOTBALL: Every Rose Has It’s Thorn

Though every rose is beautiful, every rose has a thorn that will cut you and make you remember. The 107th Rose Bowl played in Arlington Texas, will leave a scar on the 2020/2021 ND Football season. It’s not that ND didn’t belong in the Rose Bowl, simply stated, Alabama is just in a league of it’s own. With two players named to the Heisman Finalist List, Mac Jones (QB), DeVonta Smith (WR) and a semifinalist in Najee Harris (RB). The only way for the Irish to beat Alabama, they would need to execute on offense and stop them defensively.

The Alabama Crimson Tide and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish meet in Arlington, TX for the 2021 Rose Bowl Game.
Photo Courtesy Of The College Football Playoff Portal

First Quarter

After winning the coin toss, the Fightin’ Irish needed to come out and set the tempo as they had done all season. The defense for Alabama was not going to allow that to happen. The Irish first drive was halted at the ND29. But Jay Bramblett, the Sophomore Punter flipped the field in a big way. His first boot of the afternoon was for fifty yards. Just what you need to do to let your defense go to work. Mac Jones cut through the Irish defense like a hot knife through butter. Jones completed four of his five passes finishing with DeVonta Smith for a twenty six yard TD pass. The drive was 7 plays, 79 yards, T.O.P. 2:36

The Irish second drive was centered around with trying to establish the running game. Kyren Williams saw the ball four times for eleven yards. He was at fifteen prior to the four yard loss. Jay Bramblett flipped the field for the Irish. This time fifty three yard boot to the UA03.

Najee Harris playing with a chip on his shoulder after not making the top four Heisman finalists showed why he should have been included in the final cut. Rushing for sixty eight yards on the drive of the ninety seven yards the team drove for their second TD in as many possessions. Alabama needed only 5 plays, ninety seven yards, 2:11 T.O.P. to go 14-0 on the Irish.

The biggest play for the Irish in the first quarter was the Chris Tyree twenty seven yard rush to the UA 45. That drive will continue in the second quarter

Ian Book Attempts A Pass In The First Quarter. Photo Courtesy Of The College Football Playoff Portal

First Quarter Stats

CategoryNotre DameAlabama
First Downs59
Rushing Attempts153
Rushing Yards6279
Pass Yards3397
Pass C-A-I2-4-08-9-0
Time Of Possession10:134:47

Second Quarter

In the continuation from first quarter, the Irish start at the UA 20. Williams was the focus player to start the quarter. Williams accounted for seven yards rushing, and six yards receiving prior to his one yard TD scamper to bring the score to 14-7. The drive 15 plays, 75 yards, T.O.P. 8:03

Kyren Williams With The One Yard TD. Photo Courtesy Of The College Football Playoff Portal

Alabama was not going to let the Irish get comfortable and the drove fast again. Jones found his offensive weapon Smith for fifty eight of the yards on the drive. The triple threat option that Alabama has, was executed brilliantly. Double teaming Harris, meant that Smith would be open and they exploited that. 6 plays, 84 yards, T.O.P. 2:21 put the Crimson Tide up 21-7.

Alabama stopped the next drive by the Fightin’ Irish. This drive was a critical one for the Irish. Getting seven points would have turned this game around completely. Instead the Irish are forced to punt the ball back to Alabama. What made that previous drive important was after the punt, ND actually holds Alabama and forces them to punt before the half. The first points left on the field was the missed Field Goal from the UA33. Alabama goes into the half up 21-7.

Second Quarter Stats

CategoryNotre DameAlabama
First Downs46
Rushing Attempts99
Rushing Yards4318
Pass Yards5185
Pass C-A-I8-11-06-7-0
Time Of Possession7:327:28

Third Quarter

Irish Defense! That’s all you can say about the start to the third quarter. The Fightin’ Irish needed to get a stop coming out of halftime and they did just that. The defense held them to 8 plays, 29 yards, T.O.P. 4:02. The ensuing drive was critical for the Fightin’ Irish. Book was 3-3 passing for twenty one yards, prior to the game change changing pick by Book. That pick was probably a TD stopping pick. The ball is intercepted at the UA38. If that pass is a little ahead, the drive probably results in seven points. But the pick instead takes a swing in the only points scored by Alabama in the third quarter. 5 plays, 62 yards, 2:29 28-7 Alabama after three quarters.

Irish Offensive Line Up Against The Alabama Defense. Photo Courtesy Of The College Football Playoff Portal
CategoryNotre DameAlabama
First Downs36
Rushing Attempts68
Rushing Yards-328
Pass Yards28101
Pass C-A-I4-5-18-10-0
Time Of Possession6:248:36

Fourth Quarter

To start the fourth quarter Alabama gets a rare Field Goal, to bring the score to 31-7, but that would be it for scoring opportunities for Alabama. The Irish defense did what it needed to do. They shut Alabama down. The Irish second possession of the quarter ends up being one of the best of the day. The Irish would pretty much abandon the running except for three plays including the “BookKeeper” which was a one yard run, to bring the score to 31-14 on 14 plays, 80 yards and T.O.P. 4:36. The on-side kick which was successful kept Alabama of the field, taking away their final possession. This team belonged in this game, no doubt about it.

Kyle Hamilton Focuses In On John Metchie. Photo Courtesy Of The College Football Playoff Portal

The Wrap Up

Notre Dame went toe-to-toe with Alabama. The final score doesn’t reflect what actually happened. The quick start of 14-0 speaks for itself. The Doerer missed FG, and the Book INT is a swing of 10 points left on the field. ND belonged in this game. Stats don’t lie. The future is bright for the Fightin’ Irish football team. Alabama gave ND the plays to help their offense in helping with their “Triple Threat” offense. Now it will be up to the team to execute on those plays that Alabama ran on offense against Notre Dame.

Final Stats

CategoryNotre DameAlabama
First Downs 2424
Rushing Attempts3825
Rushing Yards139140
Pass Yards236297
Pass C-A-I28-42-125-30-0
Time Of Possession33:4326:17

Coach Kelly Press Conference

“It was certainly a disappointed locker room. I think I’m probably more disappointed about the
fact that I don’t get a chance to see these guys, many of them, as they move on and graduate, because it’s just
been an incredible group of guys to be around on a day-to-day basis, what they’ve committed to and sacrificed
to be playing this year. So from that perspective, the game aside, it’s a pretty disappointing feeling that we’ve played our last game.”

“Congratulations to Alabama. They’re a fine football team. They made the plays today. Today was about making plays. They made them on the perimeter. Their skill players showed up today as they have all year. Made it difficult for us.”

“We battled. I thought we did some of the things that we wanted to today. But we simply didn’t make enough plays. We’re going to continue to battle, continue to recruit, and continue to put ourselves in this position to win a National Championship.”

“So, again, proud of my guys. Proud of the way they battled today against a very good football team. And just wish we made a couple more plays when we had the opportunity.”

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