At what point in the game were you genuinely worried that the Notre Dame Fighting Irish might lose to the North Carolina Tar Heels? Being a rational fanbase, many Irish fans took all of 3 plays to get edgy, and then 7 more to flip out.
Notre Dame’s opening drive of the game was pretty brutal — and it was hardly a drive. A couple of very short runs by Kyren Williams and Ian Book with a 13 yard sack on Book from Chazz Surratt forced an Irish punt that gave Sam Howell and the UNC offense great field position. Seven plays later, the Heels were flexing in the endzone after an Emery Simmons touchdown reception against TaRiq Bracy.
7-0 UNC and the tweets and the hot takes came in fast and furious. In two drives, fans were already convinced that Ian Book had regressed, and the Irish defense lost the ability to tackle. To be fair to the second point, the tackling WAS horrific.
Still, it’s not like we haven’t seen this type of start before and allowing for a little time to get back into the swing of things is probably a good move — especially coming off of a bye week. Personally... I like to wait a little longer than the first two series to start crying.
It’s probably time for Notre Dame fans to take a lesson from the actual team — you know — the guys that are out on the field doing things.
I just keep thinking about how at no point during this game (or Clemson or BC for that matter) did players look flustered or overwhelmed by the moment. That’s a credit to players but really to the coaching staff. This is a mature, well-coached, prepared team.— Lena Steigs (@PDXIrish) November 28, 2020
When you sit back and think about what Notre Dame did today (and the entire season for that matter) it’s really quite remarkable.
So many people questioned how the Irish passing game was going to be anything but pedestrian. For them, Ian Book was barely a game manager and incapable of making plays downfield. As the Irish lost Kevin Austin to injury, and got almost nothing from Braden Lenzy, they had to rely on others that had little to no production previously and some transfer that was hurt at the start of the season.
And here we sit after beating the #19 team in the country inside their house, and Javon McKinley just pulled down 6 balls for 135 yards while Ben Skowronek added a rushing touchdown to his season totals. Kyren Williams, a pre-fall camp question mark ran for 124 yards and 2 TD’s with a nifty receiving touchdown from the shifty Ian Book.
BEN SKOWRONEK SZN— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 27, 2020
So Tommy Rees has been able to get every ounce from his guys — even across the offensive line. A lot of people consider the Irish offensive line to be the best in the country, and they’ve already needed crucial minutes out of 3 backups this year. Against UNC, Zeke Correll got his first start at center, and Josh Lugg filled in for Kraemer. They still managed to help Notre Dame gain 200 yards on the ground and mostly kept Ian Book protected.
Defensively, they don’t make a lot of mistakes. When they do make a misstep here and there, Clark Lea makes some of the best adjustments in the game. North Carolina has a high-powered offense that’s extremely hard to keep out of the endzone — and yet the Irish didn’t allow a touchdown after the first quarter!
Kyle Hamilton wasn’t having his best game in Chapel Hill, but he was making plays that helped keep Carolina in check, and then he gets ejected for targeting in the 2nd quarter while his partner Shaun Crawford looked banged up. Insert a little D.J. Brown and Houston Griffith, and they played quite well — while again... not giving up a touchdown.
Marist Liufau even had himself a game in keeping up with Irish BUCKS playing musical chairs for the good game each week. All of it was quite incredible.
Want to know what North Carolina did in the second half tonight? Not a damn thing. UNC got off 26 plays for 58 yards in the 3rd and 4th quarter while obviously not scoring a point.
And people were losing their minds when it was 7-0, 14-7, 14-14, and well... you get the point.
It seems to me that the Irish know exactly what they’re doing, and have figured out how to win all the time. It’s a confident team that goes out there each week ready to play to their standard and physically beat the crap out of the opponent across from them. They lean on their opponents until they break — which reminds me of a lot of Alabama teams over the years.
Physically beating the shit out of teams is usually a good indicator of a team playing at a championship level.— ALL ACC FIRST TEAM - ONE FOOT DOWN (@OneFootDown) November 28, 2020
It’s crazy to think how many experts thought this was an “upset special” or some type of game Notre Dame should lose. The Irish are the #2 team in the country, and pretty much wrote their college football playoff check today with the 31-17 win. This is a REALLY good football team that wins football games.
Figuring out how to win all the time achievement UNLOCKED.