Good lord, we got one! That game ended with the single largest exhale I think Notre Dame has had in a while. Marcus Freeman has been feeling all the pressure since his abysmal start to his Notre Dame head coaching tenure. Marcus absolutely needed his first win out of this one, and boy did we really try to let the Golden Bears continue the woes of defeat that Marshall had hand wrapped for us. Don’t get me wrong. I was still very unhappy with the product that Notre Dame fans were subjected to, but I was just happy to get a win.
At the end of the game, the Fighting Irish were looking for any way to let the Golden Bears stay competitive and stay in this game. The team ended that game looking just desperate and frantic. The boys want to live up to the high (and often unrealistic) standards that our fan base can set for them, and they are playing like it. Max effort doesn’t always equal max production. If that effort isn’t unified and singularly focused, it all amounts to jack squat.
Our defensive line finally seemed to be getting the necessary pressure on the opposing QB. This was the first QB we held to under 50% completion. While some (myself included) thought that this pressure would be essential to our identity this year, it has been absent prior to our game with California.
The secondary was making the plays they needed to. While I loved how well the Irish secondary held the Ohio State receiving squad, they did not finish plays against Marshall, allowing Colombi to exploit turn broken plays into 20 yard gains. They played tighter in this one and it shows, having aided in keeping California under 50%.
Offensively, the entire team just looked to be attempting to play the most controlled game of football ever. We really were going by the book with the playcalling, which makes sense with the new QB situation and just the sheer amount of damage control necessary heading into this one. Tommy Rees was not going to overextend his talent in this one, and it resulted in a win yes, but also just uninspired play throughout.
The offensive line once again failed to live up to our expectations. While providing more time for Drew than they had Tyler Buchner at any point against Marshall, they still were not a dominant side that I think it was fair for Notre Dame fans to expect. Lineman are WHAT WE DO! The unit worked together better than they have, but still nothing to write home about.
Finally, the Irish had Chris Tyree step up and make himself apparent whatsoever on the field today. 64 Rushing yards on 17 attempts, 44 yards on 5 catches. It was good to see the guy we had so much hope for finally find some semblance of a productive day. Here’s hoping that Chris Tyree can continue to find his footing and make some plays for Tommy Rees and his job security. While still not an incredibly impressive stat line for the day, it was nice to see anyone show a hint of getting going in this one.
I don’t know what it will take, but Tommy Rees has to find out how to utilize these players. The offense is running like a bunch of square pegs trying to fit into round holes. If it takes an entire rebuild of an offensive scheme to better fit the abilities and skills of your team, that’s what must be done. Tommy Rees just has not yet figured it out. While this season may be off the rails and written off by many already, Tommy Rees needs to see that there is time to salvage something, even if there isn’t. It will be the only way he could possibly remain the OC in South Bend by the end of the season. It’s his job to adjust and scheme to his talent, time to show your worth Tommy, because some are really beginning to see if it isn’t time to get someone who will adjust and have these players operating in unison.
Last on the offense, just props to Drew Pyne. The man came out and won the game. That’s all I was wanting him to do, and it got done. First start, first win. Happy for the young man. Here’s hoping we may be able to see him air it out a bit more with another week of starter reps under his belt. Congrats Drew.
Also, congratulations to Marcus Freeman, genuinely. His immediate post-game had me rolling. When the camera caught up to Freeman at midfield after the game, he looked like he was the only man to walk away from a 15 car pile-up. He looked like he was put through the ringer, which he most certainly was. I am very happy that he was able to shake off this losing start and get one by any means Saturday. Still ALL the work to do in establishing his regime’s identity, but got one under his belt, so there’s a start.
I love this team, because I love Notre Dame football. While so many of our fans have written off this season I plea to them… Each season is built upon the husk left by the previous. If we don’t get behind these guys to help them wright the ship however they can, we aren’t just damning this season, we are also damning the next. Let’s build something to be excited for to kick off our next CFP campaign.
While our talent isn’t what we may be used to, we still have talent. It’s a matter of seeing how to get those talents working in tandem, allowing each to pick up slack where the other is giving it. Teams have down years (except Bama). It’s all about how we choose to utilize that year. Are we going to just write it off and lose all interest? Or will we hope together that the Fighting Irish will be able to pull from this season lessons and knowledge that will be essential to our next title contending season? You’ll find me in full support.
UNC will be a test for the Irish, then again who won’t be? I’ll be highlighting, later this week, some players to look out for on UNC and just some thoughts heading into the game, so head back here to flyoverwire.com to check out more of my Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish content.
Play like an absolute champ,