Processing yesterday and an undefeated regular season, bookended by 24-17 victories over our two biggest rivals. Pretty good.
- First off, let’s just get this out of the way: credit where credit is due, specifically to Clay Helton and the Southern Cal coaching staff. They showed up with a spot on gameplan, letting JT Daniels shoot the ball all over the field with quick passes that essentially negated the Irish’s vaunted four-man pass rush until the fourth quarter. The also did enough to rattle Ian Book into maybe his worst game this season, until they didn’t. Some of us (me) have given the Trojans their fair share of grief lately, and for good reason, but the coaching staff was prepared for ND and it showed. Clay Helton’s coming back for another season and the Trojan faithful is having a full-on mental breakdown that rivals parts of our fanbase just a couple years ago, and it all feels a bit silly.
- No credit where it isn’t due: the sleepy as hell Coliseum crowd. Almost as low energy as Jeb! Bush’s presidential campaign, zing, the second they lost the lead. At least act like you want to be there, Trojan fans.
- I feel confident in saying this is a better team than the last ND squad to get twelve in a row. However, the echoes of 2012 are hard to ignore, particularly in an unfortunately close call with Pitt and eeking out the final victory against an underperforming Trojan team, not to mention the bend-don’t break nature of the defense. Wouldn’t have it any other way, right??
- One thing in particular that’s great about this team is the ability to emerge from the locker room at half with a tweaked gameplan, one that’s adjusted in just the right ways. It helps to have a couple great coordinators and solid position coaches, but this was a criticism of Brian Kelly in the past, and it’s simply not the case anymore. USC couldn’t keep up with ND’s misdirection and all the clever ways we got the ball to running backs in space. They also only managed one measly (sort of) garbage time touchdown in the second half. Smooches to Chip Long and Clark Lea, who should definitely stay in South Bend indefinitely.
- “Bad” Ian Book: still pretty good. He only managed a 56% completion clip, but 352 yards and 2 TD’s isn’t shabby at all, even if that one end zone interception was abhorrent. A big reason those mid-game adjustments work is due to Book always being able to settle in and read the defense better as he sees more of it. And in a game where he only managed 16 yards on the ground, one of the most memorable plays of the day will be a third down scramble that ended with a lowered shoulder and a huge first down.
- Two sacks on the day is not super, but those two from Okwara and Tillery sure as hell came at pivotal moments. The Trojans gave our eventual playoff opponent something to think about, but you can bet Mr. Lea will be thinking about it too, maybe in the form of some fancy new blitz packages. The pass defense was scary at times, but the defense did what they tend to do and limited big plays, holding a very good offense under 20 points yet again. Can’t appreciate these guys enough.
- Do we really get another year of Chris Finke? What an absolute stud — half of the ND highlight package is just Finke making Southern Cal’s five star DB’s look silly.
- Here’s another excuse to watch Miles Boykin’s block on the game-sealing touchdown again.
- Also, this picture, lol, Dex, my dude, this is just mean.
- That’s a couple in a row against USC. Add in a couple consecutive wins against the country’s clear third-best team in Michigan, and current bragging rights against Stanford, Sparty, Florida State, LSU, and a bunch of others, and baby, you’ve got a stew going! It’s an objectively great time to be an Irish fan, so take a month to wear ND gear at all times and just really lean into being that guy. It’s fun!
- Absolutely absurd pre-season prediction status: still very much intact. Enjoy the unicorn that is 12-0, rest up, talk shit, eat cheeseburgers, beat Probably Clemson.
2 Replies to “12-0!!!!!!!!”
Well done! What a great piece. USC won’t be easy next year, but I think we’ll be ready! Go Irish!