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  • Ian to Miles Means Victory for Irish

    by Mike Coffey

    With two minutes remaining in a soggy Citrus Bowl, LSU seemed to have things well in hand.  They had overcome multiple special teams gaffes to take a three-point lead on kicker Jack Gonsoulin’s first made field goal of the game, Notre Dame’s offense had looked better stopping itself than accomplishing much, and the defense needed just a stop to bring home a victory.

    Enter the unlikely battery of Book & Boykin.  Not an intellectual property law firm, but the architects of an incredible 55-yard touchdown pass that delivered a fruitstand shot to the Tiger faithful and got Notre Dame their 10th victory of the 2017-18 season by a score of 21-17.

    After a lot of pre-game talk about the ground games, each team seemed bound and determined to go away from it, mostly to their detriment in the first half.  Starters Brandon Wimbush and Danny Etling weren’t able to get much going through the air, and while Etling seemed to get stronger as the half progressed, he was let down by the erratic Tiger kicking game when missed field goals of 22 and 37 yards ruined quality LSU drives.  Notre Dame took a three-point lead into the locker room thanks to a Justin Yoon field goal following an efficient two-minute drill led by Book.

    The second half looked to be a meltdown as the Irish were let down by special teams once again.  A punt following an opening three-and-out went off an Irish players leg, and the Tigers were in business in ND territory.  Five plays later, Guice was in the end zone after a 20-yard pass from Etling.  Book, given the nod to start the half over Wimbush, led a nice drive in response, but threw a pick in the red zone, and things looked grim.

    The defense played tough, forcing another three-and-out, and the short punt by Zach Von Rosenberg gave ND the ball in Tiger territory.  One short drive later, another Yoon field goal got them within one.  A long drive for another Guice Tiger touchdown pass was answered by Michael Young’s back-of-the-endzone grab.  Guice’s inability to reach the end zone for a third time, falling down on the half-yard line on third down, limited the Tigers to Gonsoulin’s field goal and made the play-of-the-day touchdown pass possible.

    My grades for the day:

    Offense:  C.  Outside of the aforementioned TD pass, the offense operated in fits and starts.  The use of trick plays was maddening, as two quality drives were snuffed out when seemingly-unnecessary trickeration led to stalls.  Wimbush showed little to no improvement in his passing, while Book, while not spectacular, was efficient and kept his head in the game.  The OL played well, giving both quarterbacks strong pockets for the most part, and the drive-killing penalties were minimal.  The running backs seemed underused, but that’s been a refrain ever since Halloween.

    Defense:  B+.  Two quality goal-line stands made the victory possible, and the front seven made Guice fight for every yard.  They got good pressure on Etling on multiple occasions.  But 10 of 19 on third down for LSU was frustrating for Irish fans to watch, as the good plays on the first two downs were rendered moot (and no one got the car).

    Special Teams:  D+.  Tyler Newsome’s punts were solid, and Yoon was perfect on field goals in messy conditions.  But once again, the Irish kick and punt return units not only didn’t contribute positively, they almost cost Notre Dame the game.  The inability for Notre Dame to field quality special teams units has plagued the program throughout Brian Kelly’s tenure, and remains a point of irritation for Irish fans.

    Let’s review the questions from prior to kickoff:

    How much improvement should we expect to see in Brandon Wimbush after a month of work?  As it turns out, not a whole heck of a lot.  The junior signal caller was pulled before halftime after sailing multiple passes high and wide in favor of Book and didn’t see the field again.

    Are Adams and Guice as healthy as we’re being told?  Both looked to be in fine shape, although Guice certainly benefited more from his coach’s play calling than Adams did.  The fact that ND couldn’t manage to get Adams the 52 yards he needed for the rushing record is a sin and a shame.

    Can Notre Dame’s cornerbacks make a difference against Etling?  Mixed bag here, as the multiple 3rd down conversions kept drives alive.  But the cornerbacks were in the picture when it counted, and LSU’s final desperation tosses were batted away by Julian Love.

    Will Canada’s impending departure affect how the Tigers play?  Not a bit from where I was watching.  The Tiger offense certainly seemed efficient, and I imagine Matt Canada will end up employed somewhere fairly quickly.

    Can CJ Sanders take advantage of LSU’s kickoff instability to make a game-affecting play?  Well, there almost was a game-affecting play in the kickoff return game, but it certainly wouldn’t have affected things the way ND fans would have wanted.  Durham Smythe miraculously caught a bounced kick that landed well short of Sanders’ position, preventing the second consecutive special teams turnover of the game.

    Who would win a pie-eating contest between Brian Kelly and Ed Orgeron?  I don’t think anyone wants that visual.  I’m satisfied with knowing the Tigers didn’t eat ND’s lunch.

    72 Responses to “Ian to Miles Means Victory for Irish”

    1. Nice victory, we’ll take it. Seems to me that inserting Dexter Williams jump started the Irish offense with a couple great runs. Then as soon as he was in he was out. Does anyone know why Kelly has it in for this kid and not give him more carries? Goood things usually happen when he gets the ball. I am baffled by the lack of playing time-what gives?

      • Great question. I’ve been wondering all season long why Dexter hasn’t been getting more playing time. I too think the coach or coaches must have it in for him. He’s too talented to be sitting the bench like he has been.

      • I’ve been astounded and complaining about it all year as well. Williams will miraculously appear in a game, rip off a big run and then we don’t see him again. He’s in fourth gear after the second step when it seems it takes Adams about ten yards to hit the same gear. when someone finds out why Kelly has it in for Williams, let me know.

    2. Yeah, we were all feeling the same thing. As the fourth quarter ran down and mistakes piled up, as we missed tackles and got beat up the middle, a seemingly inexorable feeling of frustration and powerlessness was beating down the last ramparts of hope. Four minutes, three, two…leaving room for hope was just asking for emotional abuse. Easier to just cross your arms and sulk.

      Book to Boykin swept away all my skepticism and doubt. There was no holding back the torrent of pure joy of that moment. I coudn’t help myself; I was screaming, beating the coffee table and crying all at once. As the extra point sailed true, I looked at the clock, then turned to my wife and said that if it all fell down, if LSU managed to put together a final-minute touchdown drive, I hoped that I could hold hold on to the joy of that moment. A moment later, I resolved that I would make this so – the game would not be defined in my memory by the final score but by the purity of the joy of the moment Miles Boykin pulled in the reception of the year. That is what I would hold on to for the next nine months.

      As it turned out, our defense held, and the challenge I feared never arose. It’s easy to find the glory in victory. Nevertheless, I’m going to try to keep that promise to myself, hold on to the moments of joy and don’t let the inevitable frustration of being a college football fan taint those moments.

      Thanks, Coach Kelly, Brandon, Ian, Quentin, Mike, Greer, Niles, Jaylon, Justin and everyone else on the team. We didn’t make it as far this year as we’d dared to hope, but it was a helluva good season.

      Finally, many, many thanks to Mike, John, Kevin, and everyone else on the NDNation team for a great year, and for your love for our school and our team.

      Now, if only Mike Brey could get our guys to learn how to rebound…

    3. I demand to know who is responsible for calling those piece of shit trick plays after some solid running gains which had LSU on their heels. What jackass resorts to tricks when Q and Mack are mashing the defensive line? What a shitty grab bag of play calling! I wish some reporter had the stones to hold Kelly and Long accountable for that horse shit offensive game plan. Three weeks to prepare and thats what we get?!!!!

      • James Schulze says:

        I couldn’t agree more. Two all Americans and they have to resort to pass backs for a wide receiver to make a bad throw? The WORST play calling I’ve ever seen. You have road graders and a few good backs. And it’s raining. Play to your strengths not pure trickery.

      • Scott Friery says:

        I couldn’t agree more. Solid drives were destroyed by this bullshit brand of play calling.

      • Also agree…..on the trick plays. In general I just don’t get Kelly and his offensive philosophy. This is because its year 8 and what exactly is the philosophy?

        Somehow both Winbush and Adams got off track in Nov and never recovered. They started messing with Winbush and wanting him to be the next Waren Moon (if only). Honestly the guys strengths are running and throwing deep. Playcalling seems to be a mystery on offense because thru game 8, I thought we were a power running team with a solid D and that just fell apart and Kelly didn’t trust it yesterday making the switch a the half.

        We won the game so the staff gets credit for that. Adams likely gone but he has been playing ‘cautious’ since the game he got his bell rung. He is coming out and doesn’t wnat to get hurt. If he was 100% why werent we feeding him the ball. He was never a workhoarse this year as he has some amazing games but few with 25+ caries.

        I just felt the program really needed this 10th win and this Jan1 win. So happy and where the hell was Boykin all year? Kids a beast.

    4. Bocceman2 says:

      I’ll eat crow did not expect Irish to win and Wimbush was confirming my gut by his horrific passing attempts which landed him 120 out of 125 in passing accuracy for the season
      But lo and behold Kelly inserted Book and pulled out a victory. Who remembers Zaire replacing Gholson in Music City bowl vs LSU three years ago?
      Let’s hope Book gives a solid year next year. Wimbush to WR.

    5. Mike always a great perspective on the game.”fruitstand shooting” is a golden comment. Love the bowl win but you and I both know that gives BK another year or two here. Special teams pathetic for 8 years.
      We celebrate a bowl win together but far to few with so much talent in eight years. GO IRISH!

    6. IndyIrish says:

      Congratulations to our players on the big win, and thanks to NDNation for great coverage all season. It looks like we were lucky NOT to get a bigger bowl berth. Beat Michigan!

    7. James Bankes says:

      Boykin made play of the year – both a great catch and a great run.

    8. Good win for the boys. I’m happy for the players. I thought we had a new offensive coordinator but we are running everything that Kelly ran the last 8 seasons. There is no new OC. It was a miracle that ND won today. For any of you Kelly supporters, would you trade Saban for him today, would you trade Dabo for him, would you trade Kirby for him. I would even trade the Penn State guy for Kelly. Penn State came off their death bed and left Kelly in the dust. ND deserves the best coach in the country and on so many levels we don’t have him. I’m not a hater. I’m a Notre Dame guy who just wants ND to look great again. I got countless texts during the game from friends telling me ND stinks. I’m just tired of it. Now we have another QB controversy. Every year we have one. I’m certainly happy for Ian Book but I recall last year people telling me wait till we get Brandon Wimbush in there, he’s unbelievable! Now with highly touted Phil Jurcovec coming in next year, what will happen to Brandon? I’m from PA and I’ve seen Phil play and he is special. Kelly has a knack for messing up these kids’ heads. He even said in his press conference he had to yell at Ian to straighten him out. Kelly thinks he was funny saying that. I call him a bad coach who has a very high opinion of himself. We have all been taught the virtue of humility at Notre Dame. Kelly is simply a poor representative of what Notre Dame used to stand for. Happy New Year!

      • Agree. He will strut like a peacock w/ this 10-3 record, and we will likely get another 9-4 or, gawd forbid, 8-5 record w/ him next year. The AD will say that “Kelly is good for the program; stay the course”–Having said all that, unfortunately Coney looks ready for the NFL, Adams does not; his first step is always hesitant. Nevertheless, b
        both will likely go.

      • Very few elite programs have wasted so much talent for so long because of mediocre coaching personnel.

        • Lets stop with the wasted talent stuff- do you watch the teams that consistently play for or win the National Championships????? They have speed all over the defense, crazy amount of depth and pass rushing ability and oh by the way half their front 7 play in the NFL. Stop acting like we are loaded with elite defense and underachieve. Our offense has had some elite level talent on and off but our D has never been close. We can blame Kelly for plenty of things (including not landing enough of the defensive difference makers but stop saying we are wasting all this talent).

          • Amen to that. Thank you.

          • Agreed. I see all these headlines of ND landing three-star and some four-star recruits. What about the five-star candidates? Are they academically short of the mark? ND Chaz still has a point about BK’s inability to develop what talent comes on board. And now we lost Elko to Aggieland. Once again, Jimbum Fishhead kicks ND in the crotch, and this time didn’t need an official’s crappy call to help him out.

          • Fine PC I wasn’t focused on D mismanage with coaching. In fact I think D was a strong factor this year at 10-3. But you need a whole squad to compete for a NC . Irish had enough on D line but with secondary coming of age for a while can you really cry enough with the coaching on elite offense? Running backs out the @&$@&&. Wimbush looked like a typical BK coached ND QB… broken. And we still after all these years put up with BKs offensive game plan. Play calling was pathetic. Wake up. Talent is here. Jurkovec next year. Better than Book. Let’s see if you are right with my “crying” in 2018. BK is the man you should be crying about!

            • Score 40 or more against Sec or another and you will compete for NC.. give
              Me elite offense and quality defense… I’ll take my chances every time to get there

      • Enough with the Saban/Meyer/Stoops/Dabo talk. Winning a national championship is hard enough for those guys who are running programs that have zero restrictions placed on them by their administrations. They have no desire to coach at a place that expects more while giving them less. The names you should be throwing out are Pelini, Campbell, Miles, and on a long shot Tressel. Pelini would be interested for obvious reasons. Miles wants to get back into coaching and I don’t think he’s interested in the SEC West any more. Matt Campbell has a safe job at at ISU as long as he doesn’t go winless for more than 3 seasons in a row. The fan base he has is extremely loyal and will love him as long as they feel he respects and cares for the university. They hated Chizik, and still love Rhodes to this day. I see Campbell leaving for a dream of his in a couple of years my gut says Ohio State if he continues to tally up the wins and turns ISU into a playoff contender. Tressel would be viewed as a terrible hire due to the off the field crap at OSU and the fan base would be ready to dump him the first time ND loses. I doubt he wants to give up his current position any way. So it doesn’t leave us with many options that are slam dunk hires of proven winners at the highest echilon of college football. Even at Iowa State… if Campbell’s competing for Big 12 championships and CFP spots what’s the draw for him at ND? Fans that are never happy? Every mistake amplified 100 fold? Fans that sit on their hands for four quarters and sell their tix to opposing teams fans when a big game comes along? Players that are mentally and physically exhausted in November from pulling all nighters to get their homework done in classes they wouldn’t be taking at other schools or from shooting hype videos for their running backs Hiesman campaign when they should be focused on the next game? ND’s stature in the world is due to it’s college football team. I’ve traveled 6 hours to see the football team, spent thousands of dollars in South Bend because of the football team. Not the business school, not TDJ, not the golden dome. The football team. The school needs to take the handcuffs off the athletics programs and let them do what it takes to become successful.

        • Mike Coffey says:

          I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again — Brian Kelly has been given just about everything Urban Meyer wanted when he turned the job down. So spare me the “there are too many restrictions” garbage.

          • It’s not garbage though Mike. It holds merit because there are more restrictions. There are a hell of a lot less today than there were when Charlie handed the dumpster fire over to BK. I am just as frustrated by this teams underperforming on Saturdays as you are. The point of my comment was that coaches who are currently attaining the highest amount of success at big time schools aren’t going to leave for another program that has lesser freedoms than where they are. What Saban wants at Bama he gets no questions asked. ND would never allow a player to play while awaiting trial on a felony charge. He gets away with it at Bama though. If ND wants a national championship caliber coach they will have to get them either after they fail in the NFL ie Saban or after they leave or get asked to leave another school Meyer at UF and Tressel at OSU. Stoops is out unless his wife wanted him to coach at Iowa or something so she could be closer to home. It would make no sense to not coach this years OU team if he really wanted to be coaching. The only NFL coach who I can think of that was successful in college is Pete Carrol. I have no doubt that Carrol could take this roster and bring home some hardware, his kids always seemed to make winning look easy. That guy makes my skin crawl and to me it’s one step short of selling my soul to get a natty. If we’re being honest we’ve got another 2-4 years of Kelly barring any huge scandals or 8 game losing streaks. He’s already said that he’ll be retired when we play OSU in the regular season in a handful of years. Any way I’m genuinely interested in who people think realistically should replace Kelly and why they think that coach would be qualified/a good fit. The weather is shit right now so we might as well have some good constructive dialog about our beloved ND football!

            • Mike Coffey says:

              More restrictions in that 2 > 1, sure. Some people think it’s 50 or 100. Ain’t so.

            • There are not Notre Dame restrictions; ND is a university with a football team. We have necessary rules that do not restrict our football team. The team is given all they need to play football. But there are rules and if you break them, there are consequences. Lots of universities do not have consequences; FOOTBALL IS ALL IMPORTANT for them. I would not want ND to be like that.

          • Mike, Do you see ND’s defense being with sniffing distance of the elite programs? Do you really sit their on your I hate BK daily rant and not at least concede most of the top pass rushers and skilled DB’s cant get in to the school because they can barely spell “school”. I am long off the keep Kelly bandwagon but come on lets be fair about what his talent level is. He should win 10 games more often but to have a chance consistently at a title you need elite level talent on D. Offense comes and goes but D wins championships as Alabama shows every year.

            • Mike Coffey says:

              Yes, I do sit there. Not all of them can get in, but far more can than BK and his assistants get. This whole “everyone else cheats no one else has standards” bullshit has been around for decades.

            • It is a coaching issue, not talent. Notre Dame only manages 8 points against Miami but yet the following two weeks UVA and Pitt manage to score a combined 52 points against Miami. I guess UVA and Pitt just have a better recruiting class and get more 4 and 5 star recruits than Notre Dame does.

          • Yes. Well said. Kelly will get us to no NC.
            No way. 30 yrs,….and counting.

      • Ya know, I was watching the Oklahoma-Georgia game and thinking that if Baker Mayfield had come to ND Kelly would have ruined him and turned him into an emotional wreck with no confidence in himself. He definitely would not have won the Heisman and put up gaudy passing statistics in the process.

        Kelly was supposed to be this great QB coach and offensive mind but in eight years at ND he only has one former QB on an NFL roster (Kizer).

    9. Trick plays are bad, unless they work, and then they are great. Positives come from this victory. First Bowl victory in the last 4 tries. 10 win season, Kelly’s second. Only 3 other ND coaches have had multiple 10 win seasons. Book’s performance gives us another look for next year. Our defense never quit and prevented a last minute comeback by LSU. We win without our hottest receiver, Stepherson.

      • Actually its Kelly’s third 10 wins season (2012, 2015 & 2017).
        It’s NDs second bowl win in their last three.
        Accuracy is a good thing.
        Go Irish!

      • marleyman says:

        That’s right Dick. When plays work, the play calling is brilliant and gutsy. When they don’t, the coaches are idiots! ND has found their QB. Book is a highly accurate, pocket passer. He remains composed in the pocket and can run if he must. Boykin is a sharp young man with underrated talent. Hats off to the O-line for giving solid pass protection. On a separate note…has ND bounced that derelict Stepherson off the school grounds yet??

      • This was Kelly’s 3rd 10 win season at ND….2012, 2015 and 2017…

        A great start to 2018!!!

      • Trick plays are usually not good coaching decisions. You see them in bowl games because coaches (and players) want to show off a toy they’ve been working on all year. Most of the time, it’s just gimmicky, even when it works. I’m OK with it in bowl games that don’t count; it’s a time for the team to have some fun.

        That being said, something like a good flea-flicker can cause secondaries to hesitate when committing to stopping a dive. If they think they have to stay on their assignments, it can buy the running back a few more yards. Time & place for everything.

        Also, when using the 10-win mark to judge accomplishments, you have to adjust for years when ND played only 9 or 10 times. How many seasons did we lose 3 games, and how often would those be considered successful seasons? I think the team did really well this year, but I think it’s a mistake to say that, because of this, Coach Kelly is in their league. He’s gotta win a natty first.

    10. To Coach’s point, Kelly seems to create QB controversies, or maybe more to the point, causes starting quaterbacks to deteriorate rather than improve during their career. Golson, Zaire, Keiser, Winbush—which of them improved throughout their career, or better yet, during a full season as the starter? The evidence is clear and consistent. Somehow, certainly unwittingly, he gets into the starting QBs head and the starting QB falters by the end of the year.

      I’m not trying to undermine what was a tremendously exciting victory and a 10 win season. But Winbush’s regression the last 2 months of the season is a recurring theme with Kelly. And now we enter 2018 with another “quarterback controversy”. I can’t help but wonder if we don’t need a true quarterbacks coach and keep the head coach away from the QBs?

      • So agree. In his career he has done best with 2-guy system. Even our 12-1 year Reese played a big role supporting Golson.

        He is killing guys. Really the only guy he didn’t ruin was Reese. I think it runs deeper in that our O looked totally different thru game 8 when the OC was apparently puting his stamp and as the year wore on we looked more and mkre like a Kelly mess

    11. Terry McManus says:

      I’ve said this a few times and here I go again: Kelly gets into QB’s heads – in a bad way – and destroys their confidence. Kizer Zaire and Wimbush are to me the latest examples. I think each of these these guys has a bit of “follow me” in them and Kelly supresses that, as in KELLY is in charge out there.

    12. Most of us expected a loss and if we are all being fair about what we viewed, the gamed played out as most of us envisioned minus one incredible catch and run. Wimbush stunk, we didnt stick with the running game and while the defense played fairly well, they let LSU dominate the ball and convert a million 3rd downs. I want to celebrate a solid bowl win against a good SEC team but the logical part of my brain also tells me that game didnt show me enough to believe this was a “Transformational” year…

    13. Awesome play by Boykin. Seems he should play more. Trick plays are for “special” occasions and teams that are desperate. BRIAN KELLY has a quarterback problem. Please note the team has several highly thought of high school QBs on the team. Kelly has not stayed with any QB throughout his D1 career. He has failed to develop a QB beyond their base attributes. He then just changes to another QB and hopes that one works out. This problem stems from Kelly’s base problem of not being a true top level head coach. True head coaches say we will beat you with what we do, you stop us. Kelly does not think that way. Kelly tries to out skeem the other team. Well, we have to suffer until at least 2020, NDU board made the mistake of giving him a long term deal and not going to do the pay two coaches ie Charlie and Brian, again. At least we started the new year with a big smile.

    14. Scott Friery says:

      I am just glad ND won…. Was so sick of reading “How LSU should win”, “The Keys to a Big LSU Win over Notre Dame”, etc. My Christmas gift to you, ES(EC)PN…. HERE’S MY MIDDLE FINGER TO YOU!!!

    15. Darden Road says:

      The up side is that Irish eyes have once again charmed their team into a lucky victory as her loyal sons muddled on, miraculously snatching away from the jaws of an otherwise emotionally draining, self-inflicted, inevitable, pit-of-the-stomach defeat some semblance of the dignity that comes with wearing the blue and gold, stepping on the field and playing like a champion. We can rightly sing of this day, “Old Notre Dame will win over all” even if only for a day.
      The down side to this bowl victory is that BK will be affirmed and vindicated in his coaching style and methodology, which will have longer term consequences for the program and prolong the agony of not knowing which Notre Dame will show up to play from week to week.
      The program was well served in a culture of high expectations thanks to Ara, Dan, and Lou, but it slid downhill after them with the likes of Bob, Ty, and Charlie. Brian is a little better than the latter three but that is the problem, as someone pointed out, he has plateaued and can’t seem to elevate his team’s game to the national championship level by what are arguably poor coaching decisions. So, he is too good to fire but not good enough to deliver a national title. I wish Brian could see that you always take what the defense gives and you don’t stop taking it until they stop giving it. Playing a game against a formidable opponent is a process of making adjustments. I would expect a smartly coached team to have an offensive game plan that first plays to its strengths. It can be as exotic as:
      A. Establish the run with our stable of stallion-like running backs.
      B. Pass sparingly (unless the QB is Montana grade).
      C. Change plan as necessary depending on conditions and personnel.
      Conversely a good plan would also include:
      A. Avoid turnovers due to weather conditions.
      B. Use misdirection to counter over pursuit and blitzing.
      C. Use trick plays only if you become predictable.
      D. Don’t become predictable.
      It is unsettling when you start to wonder how BK and staff can miss the obvious doing the same things over and over again and getting the same results. It says a lot about persistence but not much about strategy.

    16. Brian in Cleve says:

      Irish win a bowl game and only 10 responses to this article. Insightfully telling, ain’t it? Sigh. Maybe the intertubes are slower when it’s -4 degrees out?

      • Mike Coffey says:

        Sorry, it’s been a busy day, and I haven’t had the chance to approve responses until now.

    17. irishhawk50 says:

      I’ve said all year Book gives ND a better chance of winning as his throwing ability opens up the running game. Defenses can’t crowd the box or he can make them pay with his arm, something Wimbush could never do on a regular basis. Wimbush can look as great as he can in practice but when the lights come on he has the deer in the headlights look.

      The secondary was again hopeless, except for the last drive when they finally started taking away the easy passes. I’m not sure what took them so long to adapt. I don’t have much faith in Lyght. He was a great player but I don’t think the right coach.

      I also wonder what the story was with Dexter Williams. He looked really great in the few (3?) chances he had to carry the ball.

      Kelly is still Kelly, but a light most have finally come on with the game on the line and he finally realized that Book gave the Irish a better chance of winning than Wimbush.

      All in all, a decent year, but ND is not a top 10 team. I wonder what the season would have looked like if Kizer had stayed.

      • If you really said this all year, that would be utterly amazing. While Wimbush was wreaking havoc slicing and dicing defenses through early November, and the only time Book played, he was woefully mediocre against a bad Tar Heel team you really were saying tooting his horn? I love fans who exaggarate in the moment. Book is a marginal talent who played well for 2 series. Mostly average in the game got an incredible catch and we grabbed a win.

    18. Very happy for the kids . They played their hearts out and deserved to end the season in a high note.
      But, until KELLY decides to pay attention to his horrible special teams, we will never be elite. Ask Georgia how important special teams are.

    19. Beating an SEC defense was a nice welcome to 2018.
      Thanks for the great write-up and running a goto website.
      Go Irish!

    20. Totally agree on the play calling it was a disaster! Wimbush cannot throw a touch pass to save his life and his eyes are always on one receiver only. I do have to give kudos to Elko for going after LSU on the last drive and not playing prevent D like we used to always do.
      Great win and start to the New Year!

    21. White Eagle says:

      Nothing new to see here..more of the same old same old. Give Kelly his walking papers along with his offensive coordinator and Quarterback coach. Fire the special teams coach. Promote Elko to interim head coach. Convert Wimbush to a wide out/ kick returner. Bring back the fullback position, by converting a linebacker in the short term. Have a wide open QB competition this spring and fall. Put your toughest most athletic players on defense. Have a team identity…….That”s my New Years ND wishlist. Fat chance of it happening.

    22. Elkhart Joe says:

      I was resigned to defeat even before the game started so it was unbelievably great to get the victory even with all the screw ups. Yoon was solid and Book was scrappy and God bless Boykin and Tranquill and all the other great playmakers that pulled it off.

    23. Great win! I’ll take a bowl win, even if it opens a QB controversy.

      OK, so now on to the question of who is our QB next year. Book is a solid runner and an accurate passer but does not have a strong arm. I was very pleased with how accurate the swing passes and dump offs were by Book in the Citrus Bowl, and he advanced the ball efficiently when running. Wimbush is a spectacular runner, and has a big arm but not an accurate one. Given those options, I’ll take the accurate passer. I think Book should go into the Spring as starting QB. But we have all spring and fall camp to pick a starter for the next game that matters, so if Wimbush can correct his accuracy problem, then I’d be OK if he started against Meechigan on Sept 1.

    24. Mark DeBoskey says:

      Hasn’t it become abundantly clear that BK is over his head. If it weren’t for a miraculous play (even a blind squirrel…), the Irish would have lost on New Years Day. The level of competition requires a level of management skill that is clearly missing.
      Special teams, ridiculous trick plays, inconstant offensive play calls,failure to demonstrate a cohesive offensive game plan, misuse of quarterbacks….on and on. The details are just too much for him at the level this team plays. Either reduce the level to the Cincinnati’s, Northern Illinois and Toledos of the world, or get someone who both knows how to manage a gamer and, just as importantly, manage his assistant coaches. Elko, admittedly, was a great hire, but offense? Special teams? They’ve shown no growth or consistency in execution. To waste this wonderful offensive line is a crime.

    25. All good comments. A surprising and frustrating season. One running back does well for 2 plays and then disappears? Why? I thought for sure Brandon would come back into the game and am glad he did not. No improvement since his meltdown against Miami (which lost again and showed itself a very average team except when it played ND this year – if Pitt can beat Miami, ND should have at least been competitive). Special teams remain a joke. Did anyone notice the botched LSU punt? No ND defender anywhere in sight to make a play on the ball. Don’t we have anyone putting pressure on the punter? And now the barrage of false statistics doublespeak – another 10 win season for Kelly! But still no championship in sight and highly unlikely under his leadership. Still, a mostly fun and surprisingly good year. Nice to end with a win and the USC game was priceless. Go Irish!

    26. fred karam says:

      Don’t let 10 wins fool you they play more games now then when Ara and Knute and Leahy. Kelly’s play calling has a lot to be desired and drags this team down. He is a great recruiter, but that is where it stops.

      • Fred. Kelly is not a great recruiter. You and I could sign 3 star recruits to Notre Dame. They want to go to ND because they have the grades and SATs. Kelly gets few 4 stars and no 5 star guys. Somebody can get the exact numbers but I’m not far off. Harry gets his linemen but also makes them better. To answer a few questions above, Jurkovec is the best of our QBs next year but he will get screwed around. Also, Elko did dial up a great defense to end the game. I agree that Brandon must be repositioned. That’s what made Ara a great coach. He moved guys around to get his best athletes on the field. Remember Barry Alvarez asked Lou if he could have that poor receiver move over to his defense. Great story on the Catholics vs Convicts documentary. Kelly will stay and we will continue to watch the games. That might be the true definition of insanity.

    27. More Noise says:

      The QB development issue under BK is worth more than polemics. Here are a few spins from the other side of the picture “unattributed quotes from a poster not on this site):
      Golson – 2012 – 3 star guy that BK developed; team goes undefeated and goes to the NC, working within Golson’s inexperience, and with judicious use of T Rees. Golson actually not bad in the Natty Bama debacle (gotta say, I felt a teeny bit better about that one last night watching another example of what happens when the Evil Genius Nick Saban gets a month to prepare against anybody.
      (Also, putting aside the turnovers, Golson’s numbers were pretty good in 2014, after a year’s suspension… which was no one’s fault but his.)

      Tommy Rees – 2013 – Rees was a 3-star, had zero athletic ability, and wasn’t a BK recruit; team still goes 9-4 against FEI’s 14th hardest sched, including wins over end-of-season #3, #19, and #21

      Kizer – 2015 – Kizer was the back up to start the season; team goes 10-3 against FEI’s 3rd hardest sched; people are talking about Kizer being a Heisman contender for 2016.

    28. It was sensational to see ND beat an SEC team in Florida no less where we usually play poorly. I dont want to take anything away from the win but I agree with so many of the above comments.
      Kelly is a clown and a total pretender. Once again a really bad game plan with poor execution. A great and miraculous play bailed us out. Eight years of horrific special teams play. Not just the ball hitting the Irish player but what about the fact that their punter fumbled the ball and it bounded twice and there was still no ND player in sight of making a play. Oh–is that because we had a return set up–no it was not. there was not return. Or what about their punt returner fumbling and no ND player within five yards of the ball. Kelly’s use of Dexter Williams is shameful. Dexter is a great kid with a lot of skill, I would hate to see it but if I were him I would transfer. Every good drive in the first half ended with a stupid trick play…..It goes on and on. Kelly is there for the long term but he is a poor coach and agree with comments above–not a great recruiter by any stretch.
      I am very glad we beat a middle of the road mid ranked team. Thank God we did not have to play a top ten team, I could not bear any more humiliation after being in the stands at the Miami game.
      One last thing–say what you wish about Wimbush but the truth is the coaches were higher on him than any other QB they have had. What is it that Golson, Zaire, Kiser and now Wimbush all have in common. None of them really developed to their potential and the coach in my opinion has turned each into a head case. The icing on the cake is to see the T Rees coaching a running spread type QB. That is a total joke but not quite as big a joke as the head coach.

    29. Yeah, totally agree with Williams. He hits the hole so damn quick, he has to get 10-15 carries a game. Assuming he doesn’t pass protect, but with the current QB crop (and turnover Tommy + Kelly in the QBs ear) they shouldn’t be passing much, if at all. Adams is a great back, but hasn’t been the same since the Heisman talk. Where was Boykin all year, he looked damn good. I am glad Kelly sent some guys home and instilled some form of discipline which is paramount to winning against good teams. Should have won every game his year, but 10-3 is pretty good. As I watched the elite teams (Bama, Clemson, Georgia) the one thing that stands out is elite D-line play, suffocating defenses at times, great special teams, the ability to run the ball, and QBs able to covert a few key third downs. Hoping Elko can improve on a very under the radar turnaround of the Defense.

    30. Terry McManus says:

      Kelly is a control freak

      He said for the umpteenth time

    31. Congratulations and happy trails to the seniors and fifth year seniors.

      I’m surprised that they won and am glad that they did. I was pessimistic because Wimbush looked so awful. No improvement and he is a very inconsistent passer. ND may want to look elsewhere for a QB of the future and use Wimbush as a wild cat formation QB and use him as a scat back like OSU used Braxton Miller when he was moved aside for JT Barrett.

      Can Kelly string together back to back ten win seasons or will 2018 settle back down to the injury riddled, mistake prone, snake bit 7-5 or 8-4 season?

    32. Lujackcity says:

      Great victory by the boys!!! I subscribe to the old school “a win is a win is a win.”
      I asked my dad, who is an 81 year old Irish Fan and as negative as they come (we are opposites by the way), if ND fired Coach Kelly last year what would he expect the new coach to do. He almost walked into my trap as he started to say fire the OC, fire the DC, bring in a new ST Coordinator, heck maybe even bring in a new Strength and Conditioning Guy. Then you hope to beat the teams you should, beat some ranked high quality opponents including some of the rivals, and win 9 or 10 games including a solid bowl.
      Oh wait, that’s exactly what Coach Kelly did and everybody wants to fire him. In the last 6 seasons 3 of them have had 10 wins or more. Granted we got crushed in the Championship but at least we got there. Since Holtz we haven’t even sniffed the Championship.
      A knowledgeable poster brought up a good point about Dexter Williams. Everyone is so quick to want him out there but a lot of folks aren’t paying attention to the plays where he doesn’t get the ball. He is not a good blocking back at all and has trouble picking up blitzers which can get your QB killed. That is the kind of guy you only use sparingly until he improves his all around game. WR is the same way in that they need to block on running plays.
      LSU had some head-scratching losses early but rebounded to become a solid SEC Team. We knew this was not going to be a “gimme”. I will take a 21-17 win over a ranked SEC opponent all day every day.
      When we close out this latest recruiting class with the last few guys we hope to get and the early enrollees get to campus ND will be well on its way to another great season. LET’S GO IRISH!

    33. Well lads…it’s now 30 yrs. Count them THIRTY YEARS !!

      In 1988 there was no internet
      No Facebook.
      No twitter.
      No cell phones.
      No instagram.
      No LCD tv’s
      No laptop or IPads.
      But… ND was National Champs.

      I hope the next one we win is not played on Mars.

    34. ND should have made Elko head coach. Something is rotten in Denmark.

    35. Explain that Mike. Thanks

      • Mike Coffey says:

        There are a lot better head coaching candidates than someone who has never been a head coach before.

    36. So news is out that Elko is going to Texas A & M….which over the years has been known for great defenses. I am sure he will be paid more than he was at ND. So now BK has another mountain to climb. Will be hard to fill Elko’s shoes.

    37. I don’t get all the praise for Book. One sensational catch doesn’t make him a great QB. He missed passes as much as Wimbush, just in a different way. Having said that, I’d rather see Book behind center next year Wimbush. I feel for the PA kid coming in. His talent will be wasted like the rest of ND QB’s.

    38. TimmyIrish says:

      While 10 wins is a pretty good thing, it sure didn’t feel like it by the end. We all felt so positive and excited as the wins piled up…and then, as some have observed, something seemed to have happened at halftime of the Wake Forest game, and we weren’t the same for the rest of the season…LSU game included. Horrible special teams play continues to baffle me. It seems as if it’s completely neglected by this coaching staff, and it costs the team field position and points year after year. I’m quite confident there are more than a handful of talented football players in the Interhall league who would love an opportunity to try out for a spot on special teams…and perform with enthusiasm and malicious intent! Anyhow, seems like we go into next season with a lot of familiar questions.