Huge win in South Bend. What a showing by our defense! Just an incredible feeling this morning that helps instill a lot of hope for the future of this program.
But first, what went wrong.
- 12 penalties for 127 yards. From what I saw it was a mixture of bad calls, a little home cooking, over eagerness, and an aggressive defense trying to make a big play in a big game. Even good teams have trouble overcoming that much laundry on the field. The holds were especially damaging, so it was nice to see Smart get in Blazevich and Wilson's face and "coach" em back up.
- Play calling, especially in the 3rd quarter when Chubb disappeared, was very reminiscent of last season. And that's troubling. Chubb and Michel each got 13 carries and 14 total touches on the night. Swift deserves the touches he gets, that kid is explosive. But it still has a feel that 27 and 1 are under utilized.
With those items out of the way, let's get to the good stuff.
- So many big plays by the defense, but it's the small stuff that made the real difference. It's refreshing to see so few missed tackles, good angles to the ball carrier, and solid game planning. On one hand Notre Dame's red zone offense was 100%, but on the other they only had one touchdown. That's a vast improvement from last season and makes a huge difference in big games such as this one.
- Anyone think Davin Bellamy and Lorenzo Carter improved their draft stock last night? They lead the way and were everywhere! JR Reed is showing why Smart wanted him so badly. And Roquan and Patrick were their usual epitome of defensive dependability.
- Despite some troubling play calls, I thought Chaney did a good job of helping Fromm settle into the game early. He made a couple easy throws to start and it seemed to help the freshman get acclimated in his first road game.
- Staying with the young freshman, I thought his only real mistake was not dropping on the fumble. It looked he made the right reads. For instance, on the third and goal that lead to our first field goal, he had trips right and eventually threw to Michel towards the left corner of the end zone. It was a good throw just beyond Sony's reach. But most of all, given the coverage, it was the safest throw. Good game...even though he wasn't wearing khakis.
- I like seeing fullbacks get rewarded with carries for positive yardage.
- Godwin with two spectacular catches. Both put his vertical on display, not to mention incredible hand/eye coordination.
- Mecole is lightning in a bottle! Wow, his speed reminds me of Branden Smith.
- Congrats to Rodrigo, got a scholarship on Friday and came through with the game winner in South Bend.
- See you in Athens in a couple years Fighting Irish!
Those are my initial thoughts. But we have to end with the fans. I think Kirby said it best post game. His 18yo quarterback was able to go through his cadence and make audibles with relative ease in an opponent's stadium. That just doesn't happen on the road without Georgia fans making the trip and flooding the stands with red. I remember being awestruck in 2008 walking into Sun Devil Stadium in a sea of Red. But we didn't turn it into a 50-50 split like there was in Notre Dame Stadium last night. There's no question that the players and coaches felt that presence and it helped.
So again, kudos to you Road Dawgs!
Two and Oh Baby! Bring on Samford!