It’s not like we haven’t been wrong about the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team before. In fact, it’s a large reason why the theme of “Notre Dame is the most overrated team in college football” lives on each year.
The Irish load up on recruiting star talent, and then deliver season like 2016.
Reasons don’t matter right now. In fact, reasons don’t even exist. What we do have are facts, and the facts point to a team that really has no idea what their strengths and weaknesses were before this game.
STRENGTH: Running the ball.
WEAKNESS: Passing the ball
Oh, you think they knew that already? Perhaps, but I’m convinced Brian Kelly and his staff didn’t think they would be this good in one area and this bad in another - and neither did anyone else. This team is confusing as Michael Bolton showing up to a Slayer concert.
We all probably deserve a pass for game one against the Temple Owls. There were too many questions that needed answered, and we shouldn’t have expected all of them to be laid out like fresh linens at a Marriott.
We thought we saw enough to feel pretty good before that big game against the Georgia Bulldogs. Fans were convinced that Notre Dame would be able to run the ball well enough to help move the chains with some smart passes mixed in. There was still a bit of uncertainty with the defense, but any fool could see that the defense was much improved and better than 2016.
Notre Dame lost by one point to a top 15 team, and that alone should mean that things aren’t all that bad, but watching the offensive line get completely dominated, and Brandon Wimbush equally confused, you had to wonder if we had completely overrated the offense and the team.
Enter Boston College.
For the entire first half of the game, Notre Dame played about as well as they did against Georgia. The stats will show that the Irish actually played much better in the first half against BC than at any point against the Bulldogs, but the inefficiencies in the passing game via Brandon Wimbush, questionable play-calling, and just a general lackluster performance by anyone other than Josh Adams, told a different story.
The Irish went into halftime up 14-10, but the Eagles cut it to 14-13 a few minutes into the 3rd quarter with a field goal. Those points came right after a Wimbush fumble.
They were dark times.
Then, all of a sudden, the running game was finally asked to take over the game. In fact, Kelly had approached the offensive line at halftime and told them that they were going to have to take over the game. Kelly knew what we all could see... the passing game with Wimbush is still a very rough work in process.
The line and the backs answered in a way that we haven’t seen in decades, and in ways we have never seen at Notre Dame. The Irish rushed for 515 yards. The bulk of those yards came via Josh Adams with 229 yards and Brandon Wimbush with 207 yards.
Two 200-yd rushers -- 1st time school history ✅— Michael Bertsch (@NDsidBertschy) September 17, 2017
515 yds rushing -- most since 1969 ✅
Averaged school-record 10.1 yds/rush ✅#BertschyBits
It’s equal parts; confusing, refreshing, and disturbing.
I am in no way suggesting that the Irish are a really good football team, but think about the way the Alabama Crimson Tide wins games - or how the USC Trojans used to do it under Pete Carroll.The game would have this weird flow, and would be borderline boring. They would lean and lean on opponents, and then finally the other team would break, and a flood of points would start showing up on the scoreboard.
This is what Notre Dame did today. Brian Kelly said that they “broke” Boston College, and he’s exactly right.
The game may not have gone how many of us thought it would, but instead of feeling like there are more questions, I feel like we have many answers. Brandon Wimbush is unlike any quarterback the Irish have had in the Brian Kelly era (or the Weis era). He’s not going to be Brady Quinn, or Everett Golson - or even Tommy Rees in the passing game. He’s not there right now, and probably won’t be this year.
Kelly knows what he has now, and that is more than what he knew the first three games of this season. Notre Dame is a running team.
I’m so confused.