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Green: Irish should have gotten more on Senior Day

| Sunday, November 23, 2014

Irish senior kicker Kyle Brindza misses a 32-yard field goal in the final minute of regulation Saturday during Notre Dame’s 31-28 loss to Louisville at Notre Dame Stadium.EMMET FARNAN | The Observer
Irish senior kicker Kyle Brindza misses a 32-yard field goal in the final minute of regulation Saturday during Notre Dame’s 31-28 loss to Louisville at Notre Dame Stadium.
This team deserved better than a loss on Senior Day, especially one that came so close to being a win.

We thought if the Irish stayed clean and kept the ball secure the entire game, they would come out with a victory. They turned the ball over only once on a second-quarter interception, but the score still read in Louisville’s favor when time ran out.

They deserved better for sticking together when no one thought they could. Many people doubted how good a team this young and inexperienced could be after losing talent like Stephon Tuitt, Prince Shembo and Louis Nix. Then they stuck together after an NCAA investigation took away five of their teammates from games and practices right before the season kicked off.

They deserved better for Everett Golson, who came back from his suspension with a vengeance, boosting himself into Heisman contention for the first half of the season, and who put all of the blame on himself for a horrid 55-31 loss to Arizona State that, for all intents and purposes, derailed Notre Dame’s season.

This Golson displayed nothing but maturity and leadership throughout the entire season, and he deserved to walk off the field with a win, even if he gets to repeat Senior Day next season.

The team deserved better for Austin Collinsworth, who went around the locker room after the game and hugged each of his teammates and told them how much he loved them. Collinsworth captained the Irish from the sidelines despite suffering injuries in the early part of the season that kept him from regular playing time until last week’s matchup with Northwestern.

They deserved better for Matt Hegarty, who recovered from a stroke he suffered sophomore year, got stronger and better the last two season and became a starter on the offensive line this year.

The Irish deserved better for Joe Schmidt, the heart, soul and “Papa Bear” of the defense, whose injury against Navy ended his senior season in a place no one wanted it to — on the sidelines. If you don’t think Schmidt still continues to inspire his teammates, just ask Jaylon Smith why he wore a No. 38 jersey Saturday.

Notre Dame deserved better for Kyle Brindza, who has taken much of the heat for the last few losses and has not received enough credit for going down in the record books as one of the best kickers in Notre Dame history.

They deserved better for the entire senior class honored at midfield before Saturday’s game, but they also deserved better for the younger players who had to step in and learn on their feet, like Drue Tranquill, Nyles Morgan and Greer Martini. Those freshmen almost led the Irish to a victory on the last day their oldest teammates took the field at Notre Dame Stadium.

And Notre Dame deserved better for all its seniors, including the ones in the stands instead of on the sidelines. Those seniors stuck with the team through a lackluster 8-5 freshman year, a crushing defeat to Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game and a final season that saw their team lose at least four of their final six regular-season games. They deserved to sing their final Alma Mater with their heads held high in victory.

Maybe the Irish can earn a win against USC next weekend and then a bowl-game victory after that.

They deserve to have their final season end that way, at least.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Mary Green

Current Assistant Managing Editor, former Sports Editor of The Observer | Follow Mary on Twitter: @maryegreen15

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