The 33-9 pounding the Notre Dame Fighting Irish put on the Iowa St. Cyclones in the Camping World Bowl will soon be forgotten by most of us. It capped an 11-2 season that absolutely fell far short of its potential, and yet can still be considered somewhat successful.
Notre Dame absolutely had to win this bowl game for there to be any positive vibes about the future, so before we really go off the rails with the macro discussions, let’s take a final look at this victory.
REESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON
Perhaps the biggest storyline coming into this game was what the Irish were going to do at offensive coordinator. Chip Long was let go, and it left us all wondering as to who would be calling the offensive plays for this game. As most of us figured, it was Tommy Rees.
As a self-identified supporter of Rees as Notre Dame’s offensive coordinator, I have to say... this game didn’t give me much to go on. It was a solid gameplan, and executed fairly well — but there wasn’t anything that made me think, “oh wow — that was a great play call.” So, it really only made me want to see more.
With that said, the balanced attack was certainly the right way to go. Notre Dame threw the ball 28 times for 247 yards and ran the ball 37 for 208 yards for an average of 7 yards per play. Those numbers were helped greatly by a 43 yard pass from Ian Book to Chase Claypool and an 84 yard run from Tony Jones Jr. — but it all counts.
Tommy did a good job, but I’d like to see more. Looks like the spring game just got a little more interesting (kind of).
IT’S NOT YOU, IT’S LEA
It might be fair to say that we made too much of a big deal of the offensive stuff before the bowl game. After all... Notre Dame has Clark Lea as its defensive coordinator. Here are just a few very basic stats that should say everything you need to know about this game:
- No touchdowns allowed.
- 2 red zone trips = 6 points
- No points allowed in 1st or 4th quarter
- 45 yards rushing allowed
- 95 total yards allowed in 2nd half
- 11 yards allowed in 4th quarter
- 6 TFL, 4 Sacks, 6 QBH
And the advanced stats will shine an even prettier light — it was awesome.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah played the best game of his career, and both Jalen Elliott and Alohi Gilman were incredibly stout back at safety. Asmar Bilal had himself a very solid game, and the entire defensive line was active — especially with a strong rotation of players.
It was a dominating performance, and was something that we should have really expected from Lea and his unit. Like... how did anyone sweat this so hard?
THE REAL GAME BALL
I never did see who was awarded the game ball after the game, and I guess I don’t care. Chase Claypool was named the Camping World Bowl MVP with a dominating 7 catch 146 yards and 1 TD performance. If you looked over to the defensive side; Owusu-Koramoah had 9 tackles, 4 TFL, and 3 sacks in an equally dominating manner.
Still... I’m giving my love over to Jonathan Doerer. The junior kicker from North Carolina was 4/4 on field goals for the day. One of those was a 51 yarder that tied for the 4th longest field goal in Notre Dame history (and it was an “impressive” knuckle ball).
One year ago we greatly feared for the future with the loss of Justin Yoon, but Doerer has absolutely risen to the occasion in his first year as the starter going 17-20 on field goals and 57-57 on PAT’s.