How is everyone feeling? Needless to say it’s been a weird week having the Notre Dame Fighting Irish game postponed against Wake Forest. On top of that, this upcoming week is a bye (praise the lord there) and we won’t see the Irish play again until Florida State on October 10th. To me, this highlights the fragility/preciousness/sacredness of college football. It can be gone in an instant, so you know I am going to enjoy every single second of it. The last thing we need is to think bad thoughts, so you better believe I want to share some optimism. With that said, let’s highlight a reason for optimism each sides of the ball after the first two games.
Offensive Optimism: Running Game
Credit where credit it due.....Coach Lance Taylor has these guys all locked in and hungry for carries. To have 5 guys who have all played and keeping them engaged is no easy ask, especially when some of them have taken on lesser roles. Any one of the guys could check out or get down on themselves, but everyone is foaming at the mouth to get carries. So far, every back has had a moment and it’s only been 2 games. It is clear the Irish are going to need all of them throughout this year, and I am thrilled with the way they’ve carry the ball so far. Bit of a hot take here, but Kyren Williams is the best overall back the Irish have had since Darius Walker. He is a natural runner, has incredible balance, and catches the ball naturally out of the backfield. Check out this run below.....He gets the call up the gut with nothing there and **gasps** jump cuts, plants his left foot, and gets downhill in a hurry. He then lowers his body and falls forward amidst a few defenders. He comes up just short but dear lord thats running back music.
Outside of Kyren, I obviously love the speed and toughness of Chris Tyree. I Can’t wait for him to bust one and see him really open it up. It’s coming folks. Jafar Armstrong has been effective and he will keep getting the ball from the slot. C’Bo Flemister ran with his hair on fire against South Florida and Jahmir Smith looks like a solid short yardage back. The fact that WE CAN TALK ABOUT ALL THESE GUYS AFTER 2 WEEKS IS AMAZING. So, I’m very pumped about the RB room and they haven’t even hit their strides yet. Also, gotta shoutout Tommy Rees and the entire O-line, Keep doing yo thang.
Defensive Optimism: DBs Actually Playing the Ball
Mike Mickens. His guys are ready to play from top to bottom. My biggest criticism of DBs not named Julian Love over the last few years has been their inability to find the ball in the air. They tended to panic and not make plays they should have been making. They were generally in pretty good position, but just....didn’t find the ball. Troy Pride Jr. and Donte Vaughn were constantly guilt of this. This is something that needs to be intentionally practiced and worked on....and it’s clear Mickens is doing that with his group.
So impressed with freshman cornerback Clarence Lewis on Saturday. Had him down for six targets, three catches allowed and 34 yards. Turns and plays the ball as cooly as I can ever remember a freshman corner. pic.twitter.com/87TRwTn0xF— Pete Sampson (@PeteSampson_) September 22, 2020
A big example of this is Freshman Clarence Lewis. It doesn’t matter who you are playing....if you make multiple plays when it’s just you and the receiver, you can ball. In the clip above he is step for step with the WR, following his eyes as he looks back. This is a KEY part of being a corner.....my coach used to tell me to focus on the receivers eyes in man coverage, and that will tell you when to get your hands up, head around etc. Lewis plays this perfectly and even gets his head around to bat the ball down.
TaRiq Bracy and Nick McCloud have been very impressive as well. McCloud is a physical leader and Bracy has taken steps forward in his coverage. This corner group should get better as the year goes on as well. Also, knowing Kyle Hamilton is back there over the top increases the confidence of the guys in front of him.
Let’s get through the Bye Week, partake in some fall activities, and most importantly, STAY HEALTHY. AS ALWAYS GO IRISH!