At some point
we were going to have I decided to review the 2017 football season for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, so we might as well start now. I’m sitting down and randomly re-watching each Notre Dame game (for like the 4th time) and taking new notes with some fresh eyes, hindsight, and a neat glass of bourbon.
We documented the season real “neat” as well with a stream for each game, and a homepage for all of those streams. YAY organization! You can find that HERE.
Today’s re-watch is Notre Dame’s 33-10 victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels.
THE NOTRE DAME STAT LINE
- RECORD: 4-1
- RANK: #21 AP Top 25
- STREAK: 3 (W)
Notre Dame limped into their game at North Carolina with a few players unable to play due to injury. Brandon Wimbush suffered a foot injury sometime during or after the win over the Miami-Ohio Redhawks, and of course Dexter Williams was out because of an angry ankle (or something like that).
The Irish were on a 3 game winning streak, but the high of beating the Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing was far behind them, and no one feels great about beating a MAC team - not even MAC teams. Still... this was a true road game, and Notre Dame had been awful on the road in recent years.
Notre Dame was looking for a solid win, and a solid win with their back-up quarterback.
- TIME: 3:30
- NETWORK: ABC
- ANNOUNCERS: Bob Wischusen & Brock Huard
It really started as a normal broadcast, but I suppose most of them do with Brock Huard. Brock, like most color guys, really likes to find that one issue each week and talk non-stop about it during the game. His analysis is actually strong for the most part, but it’s the hairdo and not the jockstrap that usually turns things weird.
Bob Wischusen is basically a ghost and lets Brock dominate.
The producers got stupid here a couple of times during the broadcast. First, they spent two entire plays using a promo bit about North Carolina’s turf. I’m sure they felt that it was going top be an issue, but it wasn’t... so they should have killed the segment. Why wouldn’t they at least wait until after the first few minutes? The other moment is when they went down to Allison on the field, and she did a show and tell about her watching her Miami-Florida Hurricanes on her phone (that’s like your worst co-worker doing the same thing to you).
Brock being Brock:
- Talked a lot about how awesome Alize Mack is and was going to be in 2017.
- Was going BERZERKER when Notre Dame was going up-tempo in the 3rd quarter. I mean... he would not let the thing go, and at one point said, “well hey Brian [Kelly] RUN THE BALL.” The Irish were actually running the ball, and during one of his tirades, McIntosh runs the ball in for a touchdown. (This continued into the 4th quarter).
THE IAN BOOK CLINIC
This game was 100% supposed to be a win over a team that was just decimated with injuries. What better time would there be to find out what we had in the backup quarterback?
They gave Book full command of the offense, and as would be expected, he struggled somewhat in the first quarter. He had the usual happy feet of a first time starter, and a “nice” 8 yard run should have been a lot more with better vision (and a bit more speed).
Regardless of the hiccups, Book found Cameron Smith in the endzone to start the second quarter. At that point, Book was 9-12 for 95 yards and 1 TD. It got a lot worse for Book in the passing game after that, as he then went on to go 8-19 for 51 yards and 2 INT’s.
Saying those stats out loud has me now thinking that Brock Huard is now vindicated in his disapproval of the Irish passing the ball.
THE CHAZZ SURRATT MOSH PITT
I actually found myself in awe of North Carolina quarterback, Chazz Surratt a little bit. That was one tough dude. While the Irish only sacked Surratt twice, they did get 11 quarterback hurries on him - and I swear each and every time he got blasted. When he wasn’t dropping back to pass, he was running for his ass with a team leading 12 carries and 33 yards.
The dude took some serious hits. I know the word “respect” would normally be reserved for a guy that filled the stat box up with gushing stats, but you have to respect Surratt as a football player for continually going out there with little to no help.
Buy that man a beer.
GAME FLOW NIGHTMARE
It was 0-0 at the end of the first quarter. A team that was on its last legs on the depth chart, was holding their own against Notre Dame. In fact, the Tar Heel defensive line was working over Quenton Nelson, Mike McGlinchey, Sam Mustipher, Alex Bars, and Tommy Kraemer. It probably should have been 14-7 at halftime, but North Carolina’s insistence on running shotgun with their backs to the goaline, had them coughing up a safety to make it 16-7 at the half.
North Carolina was just completely inept. They didn’t get their first 1st down until 8:23 was left on the clock in the 2nd quarter. In the 3rd quarter they had a amassed a grizzly stat: 10 of 13 drives were 3 or less plays, and no drive took longer than 2:00.
It was just too boring to comprehend. An offense that terrible should meant more production on the other side - but the Ian Book experiment was in full force to trip things up here and there. To top it off, Nyles Morgan got hurt, and ESPN spent the entire 4 minutes he was on the ground with the camera on him just laying there. No replay or anything else. It was strange.
Who would have guessed that this game was such a huge reason why Notre Dame beat the LSU Tigers in the Citrus Bowl? Probably no one - but it effectively was. The experience that Ian Book got was invaluable even though it wasn’t much of a showing.
We also saw the Notre Dame running back depth shine. Yes, it was against a battered team, but Deon McIntosh was incredibly capable with 12 carries for 124 yards and 2 touchdowns. We also saw our first real glimpses of C.J. Holmes - I wonder if those two guys might help the Irish in 2018?
Notre Dame beat a team on the road by 23 points. Perhaps a healthy North Carolina team and a healthy Brandon Wimbush would have given us the same spread, but I bet it wouldn’t be as boring as this one was.