Hey, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are 3-0 for the first time since 2015. That’s the good news. The bad news, the Irish offense still looks sluggish. Brian Kelly said after the game that this team is not a finished product. This is exactly how I look at it. The offense can only get better. The defense is still playing at an elite level. I used to care about style points, but Notre Dame is undefeated through three games and that makes me happy. Anyway, these are the players who stuck out to me on Saturday in a 22-17 wim over the Vanderbilt Commodores:
Tony Jones Jr.
This was by far the best game he has played in a Notre Dame uniform. Jones runs hard and was hard to bring down Saturday. He finished the day with 118 rushing yards and 56 receiving yards. That is a good days work for Tony Jones Jr. With Jafar Armstrong coming along nicely, Dexter Williams expected return in two weeks, this Irish running back committee is looking surprisingly strong.
The play that single-handedly up winning the game for Notre Dame. Gilman stripped the ball from a Vanderbilt receiver at the 1 yard line and Julian Love recovered in the end zone to totally swing momentum. The man is a playmaker, plain and simple. Good things happen when Alohi Gilman is around the ball. He is a presence in the running game and has been making great plays when the ball is in the air. Gilman is a huge surprise so far in 2018.
He is the definition of a shut down corner. I love the fact that Julian Love is always is a position to make a play on the ball. He has his head turned and battles the receiver to make the catch. Yes, Love sometimes gets beat and lets up the occasional big play. Every cornerback does, welcome to football. But he always makes it tough on the quarterback and receiver. You will never get anything easy on Julian Love. The opponent needs a well executed pass and catch to ever be successful throwing Love’s way. With the ball in the air and Julian Love defending it, is a positive situation for Notre Dame.
Final: Notre Dame 22, Vanderbilt 17.
Even with the underwhelming performance, Notre Dame is undefeated with a 3-0 record. The Irish will hit the road for the first time next week and travel to Wake Forest.
They will need a better performance as it is much harder to win on the road. I am interested to see how this team performs away from home. I think the senior leadership of players like Tyler Newsome and Sam Mustipher will be important this week.