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Edmonds: A glass half full look at ND beating Louisville

| Saturday, October 17, 2020

Let the record show, I’m agreeing with Brian Kelly for *possibly* the first time in my life. At least mostly agreeing.

Notre Dame’s showing versus Louisville was nothing to write home about, but before the panic sets in, there were some good takeaways. Yes, the team only scored a single touchdown and the Cardinals recorded 17 more passing yards than the Irish. But they also out-rushed Louisville 232-96 and only committed three penalties for a total of 18 yards.

Kelly put it best when he said “It’s not going to go down as an instant classic, but boy we did a lot of good things today. We scored goals, not touchdowns.”

There will be a lot to criticize about this game. Most obviously, the fact that Notre Dame continues to play down to the level of their competition, allowing much lesser teams to stick around and just barely squeaking by. All you had to do was watch the final minute-and-a-half of the game and hear the boos of the crowd ring throughout as Ian Book took a knee to know people were not pleased. That criticism would ring true this weekend.

But there’s also no doubt in my mind — and likely the mind of anyone who watched that game — that this team is infinitely better than Louisville. The ingredients are all there, now it’s just a matter of putting them together.

Photo courtesy of Notre Dame Athletics
Irish sophomore running back Kyren Williams cuts to the left during Notre Dame’s 12-7 victory against Louisville on Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.

The young corps of running backs Kryen Williams and Chris Tyree and tight end Michael Mayer looked like a veteran offensive unit against the Cardinals. A few more reps and a few less dropped passes and this group has the potential to be special. And that’s not even getting to the defense. The fact is, holding any team to seven points is impressive, period. Add in the fact that the Cardinals only recorded 14 first downs in the game, there’s no question who the more dominant defense was.

Now I’m not naive. Saturday’s performance will not fly against Clemson and the almighty Trevor Lawrence. The Tigers offense is simply too dynamic to control, Ian Book is going to have to have some answers of his own. In fact, it may not even fly against Pitt and Georgia Tech these next two weeks on the road. But not all hope is lost.

In the same way that Notre Dame tends to play down to their competition, they also tend to rise to the occasion (at least to the point of keeping things competitive).

The fact is this game was boring, but it wasn’t sloppy. You didn’t see the pattern of mistakes that Notre Dame tends to make with penalties piling up and turnovers in the red zone. Rather, they took care of business but lacked any of the sparkle that was expected of them. In fact, some would even argue they were disciplined to a flaw. Senior kicker Jonathan Doerer went 2-2 on extra points from, only 18 yards in penalties and zero turnovers. Even the two times they mixed things up with a trick play on fourth down and attempting the two-point conversion, the were relatively low, calculated risks.

They’re going to have to take some chances at some point, but today was not that point. Don’t start betting against the Irish quite yet.

It seems fitting that considering my first official column on the football beat was a scathing review of Brian Pollian that my family still quotes at me to this day, I could end things on a slightly optimistic note. Thanks for sticking with me.

And with that, I’m signing off from Notre Dame stadium for likely the last time.

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

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