It reeked of desperation, and at 3-0, it could have also been seen as an overreaction. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish made a change at quarterback for their game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
Brandon Wimbush had looked shaky in the last two games for the Irish after their season opening win over the Michigan Wolverines. Scoring only 24 points against the Ball State Cardinals and 22 against the Vanderbilt Commodores caused a lot of red lights to start flashing for Irish fans — and apparently Brian Kelly.
The offense was playing so poorly, that a really (really) good Notre Dame defense was being overlooked by most that started analyzing the upcoming game against Wake Forest. It also caused pause in the poll voters as they kept the Irish ranked #8 after last week despite two team losing that were raked ahead of them. Any mention of Notre Dame making a run for a playoff berth was met with a snicker and a head shake — and rightfully so.
There was a lack of respect from the media and from the fans leading up to this game, and Wake Forest became the trendy “upset pick of the week” by many. Even those that picked Notre Dame to win, had them just getting by Wake Forest by a slim margin.
It all seems incredibly silly now.
Pete Sampson of The Athletic called the move to start Ian Book “ballsy.” It very much was, but it also became necessary as the Irish needed a jolt of some sort on offense, and they absolutely needed to find out exactly what they had with Book this year as games against the Stanford Cardinal and Virginia Tech Hokies are up next for Notre Dame.
What we all found out, was that this offense can be very efficient, and very good.
That stat line for Book is a thing of beauty:
- 25/34 325 yards 2 TD’s 0 INT
- 10 rushes 43 yards 3 TD’s.
The best part was that Book wasn’t alone. He did exactly what this offense is supposed to do, and he distributed the ball to his playmakers for a whopping 566 total yards and 56 points. Ten different players caught passes today, and the Irish still ran the ball well.Notre Dame stayed balanced with 40 rushing attempts for 241 yards. The trio of Jafar Armstrong, Tony Jones Jr., and Avery Davis combined for 180 yards on 24 carries.
It was a marvelous performance from the offense that finally played up to par with their defense. It’s what has been missing all along, and what could catapult the Irish as they face down a schedule that looks less and less difficult as the season continues.
It was “only Wake Forest” according to some, but this style of play and the possible direction it can take the team, has caused us all to reevaluate Notre Dame’s chances at making the college football playoffs. Notre Dame needed this win and the way in which they won it as much as they still need wins over Stanford and Virginia Tech.
It was a calculated gamble, but Brian kelly did what many head coaches are hesitant to do while they’re winning football games. He changed what needed changed to become better. The possibilities of the season are restored.
Hope is restored.