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Notre Dame Football: The Wake Forest Hangover

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They aren’t just freshmen, they’re FRESH, MAN.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

No one really saw this coming for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Many were using this game as their “upset special” of the week, and even those that picked the Irish to win, had them winning by a touchdown or less.

It was like the Irish were going to play Alabama instead of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Well — maybe not that bad, but the fear of playing a middle-of-the-road ACC team was becoming a bit unbearable.

THE DEFENSE PLAYED JUST FINE!

I saw too many people during the game, and after the game, complain about the defense. This reaction surprised me and made me wonder if people weren’t seeing the same type of game that I was on Saturday.

Wake Forest plays some pretty good offensive football, and their uptempo style is a system that can cause a few issues against anyone. They also had a real playmaker in Greg Dortch that had the ability to change the scope of the game with the ball in his hands.

Notre Dame was looking to not just stop the passing game, but to minimize what Greg Dortch would do in the game — and it worked almost perfectly. Wake was 16-31 passing for just 139 yards. Sam Hartman was harassed all day as he was sacked 3 times and threw an interception. He was, essentially, knocked out of the game as he took hit after hit after hit.

It was quite apparent that Notre Dame was kind of selling out on the pass, and even started the game in the Nickel with freshman Houston Griffith getting the start there. They also used a LOT of substitutions. Freshmen like Bo Bauer, Justin Ademilola, Jayson Ademilola, and Griffith were used heavily. Drue Tranquill and Te’von Coney finally got some bench time.

Yes, the 259 yards rushing was less than ideal — but given the circumstances, and what the Irish came to do... it was absolutely fine. Plus... that walking-option was just a rough play to defend [insert lol emoji].

27 points? Add all of the other reasons up and then throw in the 56 points Notre Dame scored, and that 27 is just another number to sneeze at.

THE RUNNING GAME IS STILL THE FOCUS HOORAY!

You could count me in as one of those that was worried that the Irish would lean more on their passing game with Ian Book as the starter. Regardless of who is calling the plays (it’s Chip Long btw) it has been a Kelly trait to unload the quarterback’s arm when possible.

Against Wake, I thought they did a wonderful job of mixing up the playcalls. The run to pass ratio was 40-36, but how they used both was the happier substance.

Most coaches like to use one to set up the other, but on Saturday, it really seemed as if the playcalling was so on point, that it didn’t matter what they did so set up whatever. It was another 240+ yard day on the ground, and that was with 325 yards in the air. How many times could we say that in the last decade? Notre Dame threw for over 300 yards AND rushed for over 200? Not many.

Both Jafar Armstrong and Tony Jones Jr. have become better running backs since week one, and it really showed against Wake. Even Avery Davis, who saw a lot more action this week, looked like he has made significant progress in his development. Add those three with the return of Dexter Williams this week, and the Irish look to have quite the powerful and explosive backfield. It could be almost Holtzian in nature.

A FEW MORE QUICK THOUGHTS!

  • The quick change defense the Irish played after the fumble was brilliant. They escaped with a missed field goal try, and you can’t really ask for more than that.
  • Alize Mack deserves a lot of love. After a week defending his knees, he comes up with a 6 catch performance that really spotlighted what he does best.
  • Jalen Elliott continues to surprise and Alohi Gilman continues to impress. Both played great on Saturday, and both were the leading tacklers on defense.
  • I love that Notre Dame continues to include Kevin Austin, and that should help tremendously later in the year.
  • FULLBACK TOUCHDOWN Brock Wright. Seriously... an online petition needs to go around to get him to change to a more fullback friendly number.
  • Trevor Ruhland played really well in place of Tommy Kraemer (ankle) but expect more of Tommy this week.
  • Did I mention Dexter Williams returns this week?
  • Kind of a tough break for Michael Young to have that fumble. He’s showing a lot of playmaking skill, and his 66 yard catch and run was further proof.

ON TO STANFORD!