‘A Season With Notre Dame Football’ – Episode five recap
Miko Malabute | Thursday, October 8, 2015
“You have 24 hours to celebrate a win or 24 hours to grieve over a loss,” Irish captain Sheldon Day said, following the heartbreaking loss against the Clemson Tigers. “But once those 24 hours are over, you look forward to the next game.”
This week’s episode of “A Season With Notre Dame Football” put the team’s collective frustration, disappointment and anger at Death Valley on full display. And as hard as it is for Notre Dame Football fans to relive last weekend’s loss, it is important to separate the feelings of the game from the reception of the latest installment of Showtime’s series.
The fact of the matter is, this week’s episode was really, really good. Coming back strong after a so-so, dull episode following the Massachusetts game, this week truly fulfilled everything I could have expected from the series ever since Showtime announced it would be following Notre Dame football. In a beautiful synthesis of “Hard Knocks,” “Friday Night Lights” and “30 for 30” essences, this episode fired on all cylinders and covered the team’s preparation against the Tigers in a way that allowed viewers to appreciate the team as both football players and as student-athletes — something the previous two episodes seemed to try to force to mixed criticism.
The 28-minute episode honestly felt much longer, taking viewers along for a roller-coaster of a ride, capturing the entire week’s worth of practices and build-up and allowing the audience to appreciate just how fast the game moves, both on and off the field.
What truly impressed me about this episode was how much we get to see the team grow week to week, emphasizing the fluid, dynamic nature of college football that forces players to remain focused while consistently pushing to become better. In particular, watching DeShone Kizer mature as the starting quarterback has been special — especially coming off of his admissions of how surreal it has been for him ever since he has been thrust into the spotlight of college football. In the face of a hectic Clemson home crowd, and against unbelievably awful weather, Kizer seemed poised and confident, playing the role of one of the team’s leaders to near perfection.
At the same time, it was just as interesting — if not even more so — to see the Irish defense and Chris Brown featured in this week’s episode. The defense has been under constant scrutiny, as they have seemed amazing at times and frustratingly underwhelming at others. Seeing the coaches work closely with them and pushing them to be better added a human component to the game of football, giving the viewers a chance to understand how hard it is to be consistent. KeiVarae Russell was featured, where his determination and conviction to come back after his academic suspension was underscored by his solid play and leadership. Meanwhile, it was a homecoming of sorts for Chris Brown, as he came back to South Carolina and showed a determination and spirit fitting for the “leader of the wide receiver corps,” as head coach Brian Kelly puts it. The attitude and confidence he exuded leading up to the game really seemed to inspire and invigorate the team.
However, it was difficult to watch this episode knowing the inevitable end. After all the hard work, preparation and confidence that permeated the team’s preparations, the cameras captured the frustration and heartbreak in the locker room. The episode left on an air of unease and mystery, much like the Irish season to date. But, as Day said, all that there is to do is to look forward to the next game. Hopefully it’s a lighter note on next week’s episode, but either way if it’s of the same quality of this past week’s edition, then it is sure to be another quality installment in the series.