I usually write a weekly column on key performances from three Notre Dame Fighting Irish players. I have done it all year and it has actually been difficult to highlight only three. I ran into a problem this week when I had a hard time picking three Irish players to discuss.
What do you do when the team you cover gets embarrassed from the 1st quarter on? I was as mad as anyone Saturday night. I couldn’t fall asleep as I had thoughts about what could have been. Notre Dame had looked so good all year and then boom, the Miami-Florida Hurricanes throttle them 41-8. After a few days to relax I decided that instead of three key performances, I would do three things to remember.
- Every Irish fan would have taken 8-2 through 10 games. Especially with three blowout wins of top 25 teams. Notre Dame was coming off a 4-8 season, hired all new coordinators and starting a first year starting quarterback. I, for one, projected the Irish to be 8-4 this season and thought this improvement would lead to a big 2018. I was happily surprised all year with the way they were dominating teams. It was almost too good to be true. We learned this past Saturday night that Notre Dame arrived one year earlier than they were ready for. That is the honest assessment. Look, I am just as mad with the way the Irish lost their second game. But if I could have been promised an 8-2 start to the season before the year started, I am taking that 100% of the time and you would have to.
- Brandon Wimbush just started his 9th career game. That is always an overlooked fact. DeShone Kizer was a 2nd round pick in the NFL Draft and is one of 32 starting NFL quarterbacks. I would say that whoever replaces him is going to need time to get acclimated with the job. That should go without saying. And look, I know Brandon Wimbush did not look ready mentally for that game Saturday. The stage looked too big and he lost his confidence. I will take the rational approach and wait to judge Brandon Wimbush after game 19, not game 9. I know some people might not want to hear this, but I think he is going to be a pretty good Notre Dame quarterback when it’s all said and done.
3. Notre Dame is still ranked 8th in the College Football Playoff rankings. Are you kidding me?! Notre Dame is a top 10 team with two weeks to go in the regular season and people are upset. I know Notre Dame has high expectations but after a 2016 season that had a large portion of the fan base calling for Brian Kelly’s job, I cannot be anything but completely satisfied with a top 10 ranking at this point in the season. I will be cheering for chaos these last few weeks as that is what it will take for Notre Dame to enter back into the top 4. Regardless, if Notre Dame wins out and finishes 10-2, they will be guaranteed a top 8 ranking and a New Year's six bowl game.
To be honest, I am proud of myself that I could write these nice things about Notre Dame football after that performance against Miami. I was so mad that I did not think any thoughts like these would pop into my head. It is time for more Notre Dame fans to look at the positives of this season and cheer on the Irish these last two games as they try to bounce back against Navy.