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Notre Dame Football: An Ugly Path to 2-0

The Irish struggled in a close winning effort over the Ball State Cardinals.

Mike Miller/One Foot Down

An Ugly Path to 2-0

Brandon Wimbush was not happy.

And neither was Brian Kelly.

Everyone on the team was grateful to get a win and progress to 2-0 on the season, but the excessively underwhelming performance on Sunday will assuredly linger in the mind of both the coaches and the players for the next seven days.

It was very, very ugly.

Wimbush wasn’t able to get anything going en route to 3 interceptions. The offense was largely inefficient and lifeless throughout the day. A plethora of mental mistakes and low-effort plays plagued the 8th ranked Irish.

Mike Miller/One Foot Down

Wimbush even went so far as to grade himself with a “D” after the game. There’d be little argument from the fanbase in that assessment.

Nevertheless, the Irish got the win. A stout defensive showing gave some reason for optimism behind the offense’s poor showing.

In his Sunday teleconference, Kelly summed up this group’s day pretty well: “I thought they needed more energy and enthusiasm.”

“It’s certainly a new week, but you have to respect the opponent.”

The Irish clearly didn’t respect Ball State, but the Cardinal demanded it. Notre Dame came out flat and got much more than they bargained for, and it nearly cost them.

Kelly continued, “I hope we learned a pretty good lesson about that.”

Hopefully so, because the Irish can’t afford to play any other opponent like they did Ball State and still expect a win.

Other Notes from the Teleconference:

  • Cole Kmet had an ankle injury, but that was the only one of true concern. Updates on his status will come later in the week.
  • Kelly stressed the need to be better in fundamentals and to clean up assignments in the run game, but added, “I don’t know what the standard is. We’re 2-0.” Fair enough, Coach.
  • When asked if he ever considered a change at QB, Kelly said, “No. What I wanted him to do was go through his progressions and be better with his footwork. We wanted him to do what’s most important.”
  • Kelly added on to the Wimbush talk, “We can’t turn the ball over three times against Vanderbilt.”
  • On the offense, “The offensive structure is still being figured out... We’re in the process of figuring out our identity.”
  • In regards to the offense slowing down later in the game, Kelly said, “We sometimes hold onto the last play too long.”
  • Kelly was pleased with Jafar Armstrong’s effort and progression. He even stated that his effort level “may need to rub off on the entire unit.”
  • Kelly doesn’t want to pull any of the offensive lineman out due to their experience together with four of five returning from last season. “Those five guys will be out there, we have to continue to coach them and get better.”
  • Kelly praised C’Bo Flemister’s ability, but doesn’t want to “[take] reps from other young guys” to get the frosh on the field.
  • On Houston Griffith, “We meed to get him more reps.”
  • Kelly lauded Te’von Coney and Drue Tranquill’s instincts and ability, but followed with, “We need to implement packages to take a load off.”
  • Rushing the young linebackers into the game isn’t what the coaches want to do. “We want to be confident in our backups and we’re getting there.”
  • On Asmar Bilal’s play, “Things are good, but he needs to finish plays.”
  • The red zone defense has been stout, and Kelly is pleased with it: “We’re doing some things we haven’t done for quite some time. It’s a good complimentary package to what we typically do.”
  • One last note on Wimbush, “His footwork, read progression, and decision making all need to improve. He threw it with a sense of purpose and we hadn’t seen that...[but] you still have to go through what I just mentioned.” Kelly acknowledged the protection issues while outlining what Wimbush needed to improve.