The 2016 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football season was defined by an inability to hold leads and win games.
Changes were made in the offseason to the strength and conditioning program. Players tweeted about their reshaped bodies. Coach Brian Kelly talked about grit.
None of that changed the reality that junior quarterback Brandon Wimbush was making his second career start — and biggest of his career -- in front of a crowd that didn’t always feel friendly to the home team.
Wimbush finished a underwhelming 20-for-40 with 210 yards and two lost fumbles as 24th-ranked Notre Dame fell to 15th-ranked Georgia, 20-19. Justin Yoon kicked four field goals, a promising rebound after missing two in last week’s win.
The Bulldogs defense stifled any semblance of a Irish rushing attack, with the guys in blue and gold managing just 68 yards. Noticeably absent was Dexter Williams, who finished with one fewer carry (0) than backup quarterback Ian Book (1).
While true freshman quarterback Jake Fromm didn’t make many big plays, he was helped considerably by a potent rushing troika of Sony Michel, Nick Chubb and D’Andre Swift. Michel had 73 yards on 13 carries and found the end zone. Chubb had 10 fewer yards with the same amount of touches.
A late effort by Wimbush was snuffed out by Davin Bellamy, who beat Notre Dame’s best offensive lineman, Mike McGlinchey, and stripped Wimbush.
The Irish (1-1) will play the Boston College Eagles (1-1) at noon Saturday at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Mass.
One Foot Down will have much more about this game over the next few days.