Notre Dame is pretty good, y’all

Published 3:34 pm Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Notre Dame lost the only game it will lose this season last Saturday night, and when it really comes down to it, the Fighting Irish almost ended up winning that one, too.

I, like most of the Georgia fan base and mainstream media, guzzled down the Kool-Aid. Big time. We all thought the Dawgs would pulverize Notre Dame into smithereens. It wouldn’t even be a ball game by the second quarter.

If you watched the game and it wasn’t immediately obvious: Notre Dame is very good, Notre Dame gave Georgia all the hell it could handle for three quarters, and Notre Dame was dangerously close to upsetting the Dawgs in front of the largest crowd ever convened at a football game in the state of Georgia.

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By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, it became clear that Georgia’s players were slightly better conditioned and the roster was deeper than Notre Dame’s. The Irish defense looked gassed on Georgia’s touchdown drive that put the Dawgs up 20-10. Part of it was because Georgia forced multiple three-and-outs and had two interceptions in the second half, barely giving the Irish defense enough time to sit down on the bench before they were standing right back up again and trotting onto the field.

I was very pleased with Georgia’s defense. The Dawgs kept a quarterback spy on Ian Book all night, containing him well and eliminating just about any possibility of him using his legs like he so famously does. It resulted in a lot less pass rush, but forced Book to rely on his arm. That was crucial for the Dawgs’ win.

On offense, I am still watching replays of the game with baffled uncertainty. Why did Georgia start so slow? What was with all the slow passes to the flat? Why couldn’t that heralded O-line create seams for Georgia’s backfield to break through?

Notre Dame sold out to stop the run—that much became clear after a couple series. So why didn’t Georgia go vertical with its pass game much earlier? I don’t know, but conservative play calling almost cost Georgia the game. On the critical 4th-and-1 deep in Notre Dame’s territory in the fourth quarter, I am firmly in the camp that believes Kirby should have gone for it. Assert your dominance. Run out that clock. Score a touchdown.

And if Georgia didn’t convert? Have faith in your defense to stop them from scoring.

Georgia won, but there are more questions about this team than answers now. Georgia has a bye and a few weaker opponents before Florida at the end of October. Rest for the tired, heal up the injured, and I’m hoping my concerns get cleared up in the coming weeks.

Other thoughts from other games:

Wisconsin is real, but Michigan is also very, very bad. The Badgers could make a run for the Big 10 title with their dominant run game. Notre Dame will demolish the Wolverines.

Auburn waltzing into Kyle Field and beating Texas A&M was a pretty big deal. Between Alabama, Auburn and LSU, the SEC West is looking pretty darn stacked at the moment.

How often is it the case where your team scores nine touchdowns and still loses? UCLA beat Washington State 67-63. Is Chip Kelly—dare I say it—back?