Irish Slam Doerer on FSU

Jonathan Doerer drilled a 41-yard field goal in overtime to lift the visiting Fighting Irish to a 41-38 roller coaster victory over a feisty Florida State squad. Notre Dame scored three touchdowns in the third quarter to take a 38-20 lead, but a furious rally by the hosts resulted in a tie score with 40 seconds remaining in regulation. In overtime, Ryan Fitzpatrick pulled a 37-yard attempt for FSU before Doerer drove a dagger through the hearts of the underdogs.

Both Seminole quarterbacks played superbly during the final period, with McKenzie Milton completing the comeback heroics started by Jordan Travis. Meanwhile, Jack Coan was solid for Notre Dame. He finished 26 for 35 for 366 yards and four touchdowns. It was almost not enough to win because the Noles refused to quit.

The Irish started fast with a touchdown on the opening series. Coan hit tight end Michael Mayer for a score when FSU blew the coverage and left him wide open. The defense then gave the ball back to Coan and the offense two more times in great position, but Notre Dame couldn’t capitalize due to poor play selection and execution.

Jashaun Corbin jumpstarted the Seminoles with an 89-yard scoring burst to tie the game at seven. Florida State’s defense began to swarm, and Travis scored again as the game entered the second period. The Irish finally righted the ship with a field goal, and Kyle Hamilton picked off a pass a few plays later. The turnover set up a a great catch by Joe Wilkins in the end zone on a pass from Coan for a 17-14 advantage with 2:21 left in the half.

FSU came out of the locker room for the third quarter and immediately punched the Irish in the mouth. Travis heaved a 60-yard bomb to Ja’Khi Douglas for a score to retake the lead. The extra point attempt failed after a poor snap and the Noles led by 20-17. Notre Dame responded, however, as Coan hit Kevin Austin with a beautiful scoring strike and Hamilton picked off another errant pass. Kyren Williams cashed in by taking a short pass and knifing into the end zone. The Irish finally had some breathing space at 31-20.

Coach Mike Norvell took an ill-advised gamble on the next series by going for it on fourth down from his own territory. Clarence Lewis intercepted a tipped pass and Notre Dame was set up in prime position once again. Chris Tyree finished the drive and the visitors now led by 38-20 with 4:37 left in the period.

Things did not look good for Florida State, but Travis and Corbin were undaunted. At the same time, the Irish defense sagged in the heat and began to miss numerous tackles. Travis capped a gritty drive with a wild scramble and short touchdown toss to Andrew Parchment. He then threw for a two point conversion to cut the margin to 38-28 with 13:47 left in the game.

Notre Dame’s offense was subsequently stuffed by the revitalized Noles, and Travis went back to work with a 25-yard scramble. He lost his helmet on the next play (incomplete pass) and was sidelined by rule. Milton entered the fray and finished the drive with clutch passes and a scoring run by Treshaun Ward. Notre Dame’s lead was now 38-35 with a long 5:36 remaining.

Once again, Florida State’s defense rose to the occasion and got the ball back. Milton stayed in the game and engineered another drive with a shovel pass, a scramble and runs by Corbin. The Irish finally dug in and forced a field goal attempt, which Fitzgerald made from 43 yards to tie the game.

Forty seconds still remained, and Coan tried to get his team into position for Doerer. Mayer caught a pass to get to midfield, but dropped a critical throw that would have given Doerer a chance to end things in regulation.

Neither team could earn a first down in overtime. The Seminoles went first and Fitzgerald yanked his kick to the left despite a questionable replay ruling that moved him 13 yards closer. Doerer was unfazed by an FSU timeout and calmly split the uprights with the game-winner.

The Irish made numerous mistakes and looked horrible at times. The offensive line was brutal most of the night, and the tackling by the linebackers was equally shoddy. To wit, Notre Dame had 65 yards rushing and gave up 264. Despite a 3-0 turnover margin (I’m not counting the meaningless Hail Mary at the end of regulation), the visitors nearly suffered a humiliating upset.

As Brian Kelly said postgame, his team has a lot of work to do. My view is the coaching staff has plenty of room for improvement as well. The second half defensive schemes were shredded by Norvell and the Noles. The offensive play calling was absurd at times, including an ill-timed flea flicker that killed an early drive. The running plays were slow-developing and the linemen could not hold their blocks. Or they whiffed entirely.

Let’s look at the answers to the pregame questions:

Can Williams and Tyree break free for runs of 15 yards or more? None. Zero. Nada.

Who will win the battle between the unheralded FSU receivers and the youthful Irish corners? The Irish held their own in the early going, but gave up a few costly plays in the second half.

Can the young Seminole offensive linemen handle Notre Dame’s swarm of defenders in the trenches? The Noles got better as the game went on. The Irish linebackers were disappointing and did not fill their gaps very well.

Will Lenzy and Austin bring an intermediate and deep dimension to the Irish passing game? Yes, both played hard and contributed with clutch receptions.

Can the multi-talented Travis escape Notre Dame’s pressure and make plays with his arm and legs? Definitely. Travis struggled early but found his confidence and took off from there.

Which defense will be able to force negative plays and turnovers? Notre Dame forced three turnovers and numerous negative plays, but they were almost not enough. FSU stuffed the Irish ground game and had four sacks of their own. It was not a good night for offensive linemen.

Can the Notre Dame offensive line give Coan adequate time to throw? Coan felt heat most of the night. The guards allowed pressure up the middle all too often, and Jermaine Johnson lived in the Irish backfield all night. Coan did his best despite the fact that he’s not Ian Book back there.

Has Kelly finally learned how to prepare a team for a night game on the road? Good Lord, no.

Of concern to Irish fans is a knee injury to left tackle Blake Fisher. Latest word from the team is that it’s not serious. Notre Dame has plenty of room for improvement, but the schedule is such that it will be three weeks before we can tell if the team has truly addressed its many obvious weaknesses.

This was a disappointing performance on many levels. Aside from the offensive line and linebacker play, Mayer had three drops and Marcus Freeman’s defense was repeatedly gashed. I found myself missing the calm sanity of Clark Lea’s schemes.

The bright spots were Coan, Austin, Hamilton, Isaiah Foskey, the Ademilola brothers, Kurt Hinish and of course Doerer, who mercifully put an end to this near-fiasco.

45 thoughts on “Irish Slam Doerer on FSU

  1. #1 issue is the Rush 3 Defense that should have cost us the game by blowing an 18 point lead. Shameful!

    Hopefully, Freeman learns that the prevent does not work at ND. Stick wi/ what does, Josh!

  2. FSU benefited from a couple of judgement calls. Not sure the justice of a 5 yard penalty for mauling Bramblett. Lot’s of known unknowns with this team. Sack count is up. Not consistent at all. Game ball to Doerer for being the only cool thing within 500 miles of Tallahassee, Put the Flea-flicker back into the playbook for next year. Thanks for the write-up.

  3. Brian Kelly once again nearly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by employing his prevent defense during the third quarter. We give every team hope. I can’t imagine playing for a leader who plays not to lose instead of stomping out the life of the opponent.

  4. Irish in the South says:

    Agree in total with your recap, Vannie. So fortunate to come away with a W in that environment and as an opener on the road. We certainly do have a lot of work to do. On the positive side, Jack Coan played well, essentially mistake free. We did not turn the ball over…another good sign for the future.

  5. ND started out fast but when FSU started punching back – things changed.

    More questions:
    Is this team anywhere near as good as advertised? Judging from yesterday – no.
    Is Marcus Freeman the up-and-coming ‘genius’ DC we have been told he is? Judging from yesterday – no.
    Is Coan as good as we have been told? Too soon to tell.

    Before his injury Fisher didn’t impress me, and Carmody was woefully inadequate.
    ND was VERY lucky to get out of there with a win, and they know it.

    There is MUCH work to do after this disrespectful slap in the face from an underdog.

    • Freeman is Tenuta reincarnated. The absence of discipline and the Chinese Fire Drill behavior of the defense will result in a losing season for ND. Freeman should use Lea’s concepts (i.e. discipline, basics) if he expects to win games that rely on a reliable defense.

  6. In 3rd quarter, the D had given up 3 TDs but only 3 other first downs. Then I’m’ guessing BK overrules Freeman and says to stop attacking so much, which guarantees FSU can get at least 5 yards any time they run. Stupid coaching decision. The D was nearly dominant until it went conservative.

  7. Caroline’s Dad says:

    Dagummit, Vannie — you are spot on when you say the coaches are in need of significant improvement. In fact, I think that is an understatement….

    Marcus Freeman was the hot coordinator with all the hype. I know that has paid dividends in recruiting thus far, but really?! We can’t adjust to stop the run game in the 3rd and 4th, when Travis didn’t look like he could do much on his own? Can we start an online petition for Freeman to donate to a fund to treat fans’ high blood pressure this season?

    And BK…what else can be said? So much.

    First, I commented out loud to my dad during the game: He looks like he’s passively watching and not coaching. Second, once he didn’t look like he was just watching he looked like he was just randomly yelling at the refs. Third, he couldn’t even do that well—as he appeared to be the last person in America to even understand that Novell was challenging the incomplete pass/fumble.

    And then to come off by throwing his team under the bus with his plagiarized ‘execution’ comments from an SC coach was just embarrassing, but not surprising.

    The truth is he could have just said, “we have a talented team, maybe even more talented than last year, but tonight proved that we will need to play better AND COACH BETTER if we are going to achieve the goals we’ve set for ourselves.”

    Is that too much to ask for? After nearly 12 years, probably so.

    It’s all just infuriating, because there is no denying the talent level on this team continues to grow, but the games still play out the same way.

  8. Outside of Jack Coan and clutch touchdowns by some of the receivers there doesn’t seem to be many bright spots. TE Mike Mayer seemed to drop everything thrown at him after his 1st qtr touchdown catch and dropped a critical pass late in the 4th that would have put ND in field position to kick a winning FG in regulation. I hope this isn’t a sign of a sophomore slump. The offensive line had their struggles.

    The defense really regressed and seemed to be playing on roller skates most of the night. Sure, they force turnovers but they also gave up more big plays last night than they did all last season. They gave up 270 rushing yards and seemed to run at will most of the night. If this continues Marcus Freeman will have to rename himself Marcus Van Gorder.

  9. I was excited about the start of this year because of Coen and the Marcus Freeman. Neither one disappointed, however, the same ole problems continue to exist. FIrst, piss poor tackling has plagued this team for years. Secondly, the inabiilty to run the ball. All I’ve read about it the great talent the Irish have at running back. 25 carries for 73 yards for Tyree and Williams combined. Pathetic. The problem with run blocking has also continued for year after year. Need to clean up these issues, otherwise playoffs are out of the question.

  10. John: Excellent assessment, as usual. I have a few thoughts. There was no need for Rees to utilize gadget plays early in the first half when both the offense and the defense were dominating. Those plays rarely work, and they did not last night. They were momentum killers. The drops by Mayer are becoming concerning, and he needs to stop constantly attempting to hurdle over defenders, as he is risking serious injury by doing so. He should use a stiff arm or brute force to get additional yardage. The offensive line play was disappointing overall. The unit is essentially all-new, so some of this was to be expected in game 1, but it needs to significantly improve. The loss of Fisher did not help, as Carmody was dreadful when he first checked in. Hopefully, Fisher’s injury is minor, and he will be back on the field soon. Coan was terrific overall. He slightly under-threw a couple of balls early, but was extremely accurate overall. The pass that he threaded in to Austin for a TD was a thing of beauty. BTW, Austin was outstanding. On defense, it was like watching two different ND teams. In the four man front, the Irish were dominating. When Freeman changed to the three man front, the pressure disappeared and they were shredded. This move directly contributed to the Seminole rally from 18 points down in a game that should have been a blowout for ND at that point with a 38-20 lead that was just built by scoring three straight touchdowns. What was even worse was Freeman’s stunning failure to make adjustments when it became painfully obvious to all that this scheme was not working. The tackling, particularly by the linebackers, was terrible, and the defensive line missed some tackles as well, mostly in the second half. Poor tackling has to be addressed and cleaned up. Finally, the officiating was disgraceful. The correct call, by rule, when Bramblett was hit on the punt was a personal foul, as his kicking leg was hit. A high school referee would know that. That blown call was huge, as it cost ND a first down and was a momentum changer. There was also a missed call by the referees on the FSU rushing touchdown from around the 5-yard line in the second half, as the left guard beat the snap count. Check out the tape. Finally, while it had no impact on the final score, the correct cal, by rule, when Milton pulled the ball down and it squirted out of his hands was a fumble. The call was all the more ridiculous, when you consider that the ball went backwards when he dropped it. Even Milton knew it was a fumble, as there was great footage of his body language, while the call was being reviewed. Overall, the Irish escaped with an ugly victory. However, there is a ton of improvement that is necessary, if ND aspires to be a playoff team.

    • Irish in the South says:

      And to make it more a luck of the Irish win, the first FSU field goal from 50 yds in overtime cleared the uprights….But was nullified by the time out called by FSU’s coach. We know what happened with the next 37 yard attempt.

      • Kelly continues to fail to prepare the Irish for primtime games.
        Its like a broken record to use a worn out cliche’.
        Same problems poor blocking and tackling and play calling.
        Irish will never win an NC under Kelly.

    • Westfield Domer says:

      Regarding Milton’s fumble that landed by his feet and was ruled an incomplete pass, how was that not ruled intentional grounding?

  11. Agree with just about everything. Disappointing to see such a fast start and then blow an 18 point lead in the 3rd quarter. Running game was simply terrible. “Sloppy” is an accurate adjective.

    But from a pure entertainment standpoint, what a game! That kid Milton was absolutely inspirational, although perhaps the announcers laid it on a little thick. Still an amazing thing to see for sure. Add all that emotion of the first game after the passing of Bobby Bowden who is a obviously legend down there.

    It was a win-win. F$U can hold their heads up high that they didn’t get annihilated in the Bowden tribute game. ND escaped with a victory at a tough place to win. In the final analysis, nobody will give a poop that the game went to OT. All that will matter is the W. Let’s hope that they (players, coaches, everybody) can cure some of the sloppiness before the schedule becomes punishing. Great work as always John!

  12. After reading the gloom and doom boards, I’ll take a more positive approach. The team is breaking in an almost entirely new O-line and drew a much improved Seminole team with a good coach and raucous crowd and still came away winners. Replacing JOK wasn’t going to be easy as well and it showed with this group of LB’s. The QB lacks any mobility and will need to be highly accurate and hit on deep balls to minimize his deficiencies which he did week 1.

    Lots to work on but this program is in a vastly different place and as we look around college footballl, outside of Alabama many “top” ranked teams had scares/struggles. Go Irish!

  13. A WIN is a WIN!!!! Yes, we know that ND needs to improve some things moving forward. It is certainly a lot easier to fix these things after a WIN than a loss!!! Also, lets not kid ourselves, they not be the FSU of old, but they certainly still have talent and speed. I would not be surprised if FSU gets 9 or 10 wins this year.

    Anyway, I thought Jack Coan looked really good, Mike Mayer will be an All-American, and can’t say enough about Kyle Hamliton!!

    Looking forward to the next game! Go Irish Beat Rockets!!!!

    • Disagree about Mayer. He’s been reading his press clippings. Too many critical drops. Needs to get his head out of the clouds and decide if he wants to play for the Irish.

    • Irish in the South says:

      Coan is good, but one dimensional. Not a run threat at all (unlike Book)…So his one dimension really needs to be good.

      • Westfield Domer says:

        If Coan gets better pass blocking and a more effective running game, he’ll have more time to throw play-action passes, which should be very effective. Although he had a few under-thrown balls, I thought his accuracy was outstanding.

  14. the prevent defense in the second half was embarrassing as was the tackling. What was worse was Tommy Rees and his offensive strategy and play calling. I cant believe how the offense just shut down in the 4th quarter and even in the overtime. I am not saying in overtime to open things up wide but to just get under center and play for a field goal with a marginal kicker who had a bad year last year seemed crazy–lucky for us it worked but i think that was stupid. Also our great tight end needs to hold on to easy passes. He dropped a TD against Clemson last year and had two drive killers last night. one in the first quarter and then at the end of the game. The QB had a great game but most of his deep throws were underthrown. He had to pass for a lot of yards because we couldn’t run. Overall a very sloppy and poor performance against a mediocre team that could do much in the first half. we should have won that game by three or more TDs.

  15. While I agree with everything that was said, I do see some positives: ND WON the game. How many times in the past have we seen a ND team find a way to lose a close game like this one. Either special team makes a costly mistake late in the game or the offensive commits a crucial turnover. Maybe Kelly’s teams are slowly turning the corner.

    • “Slowly turning the corner” after twelve seasons is not exactly a ringing endorsement. Kelly’s ceiling is very well established at this point.

    • “How many times in the past have we seen a ND team find a way to lose a close game like this one.”

      Too many to count when the Coaches were not Rockne, Leahy, Parseghian and Holtz.

    • And it wasn’t a close game until we went into “let’s play not to lose” mode by going into prevent defense and trying to run out the clock on offense. Our players did a nice job generating an 18-point lead in the third quarter and had taken over momentum. Painful to watch the coaching strategy from there that made heroes of Milton and all of the FSU players who “led a great comeback in an exciting game.” Top programs keep the pedal to the metal in the third and fourth quarters and win those by 30.

  16. Which brings up a question I had during that fumble play: If that was not ruled a fumble, and was ruled an incomplete pass, then why was that not intentional grounding?? He was under pressure, in the pocket, and he obviously then “passed” the ball to prevent a loss, the ball never crossed the LOS, so why was this not even considered grounding if it was not a fumble????? Don’t get it.

    • John Kelleher says:

      I agree totally. I was screaming at the TV “it is either a fumble which ND recovered or an incomplete pass/ intentional grounding”.

      And the lack of a roughing the kicker penalty was glaring.

  17. I think we need to be thankful for having a team that annually competes as a team deserving of a top ten ranking. Too ten teams sometimes surprise the elite teams and they sometimes lose to inferior teams. We are good. Many iconic teams can’t say that.

  18. The (ACC officiating crew) ref took the cheap/easy way out on the roughing the kicker call. The overturned call in OT only confirmed my suspicions. I felt sorry for Fitzpatrick on his miss, and only then did I feel we hadn’t snatched defeat from…….. Norvell definitely outcoached us. Good thing we played them early. Thank heavens we’re at home the next two weeks against much less talented opponents.

  19. As I stated when the hiring of Freeman was announced along with his “too much discipline makes a poor defense” statement, we are seeing a resurrection of the Tenuta disaster in the ND defense. It makes a Chinese Fire Drill look well organized.

    We need to go back to basics (i.e. like Lea) and utilize Lea’s disciplined approach to defense. If Freeman insists on continuing with this Chinese Fire Drill approach to defense, Kelly and the team will, sadly, experience a losing season.

  20. Freeman is Tenuta reincarnated. The absence of discipline and the Chinese Fire Drill behavior of the defense will result in a losing season for ND. Freeman should use Lea’s concepts (i.e. discipline, basics) if he expects to win games that rely on a reliable defense.

    • Westfield Domer says:

      After his failure that nearly cost ND the game in the second half, it’ll be interesting to see how Freeman adjusts going forward. I’m guessing he and Kelly will have some interesting conversations this week. And the tackling has to get better pronto. How many times did the defense have an FSU ball carrier bottled up in the backfield only to see them end up with a 6 or 7-yard gain? Very frustrating!

  21. I thought Freeman and Kelly’s big deal was to allow the D players to play freely instead of “thinking” about assignments. Now Kelly is saying that many players have the same gap assignment which changes depending on the package and players and that players lost focus during the game. VanGorder all over again. Making in it complicated. Let’s hope the 3 lineman idea is used sparingly in the future and never for the Navy game.

  22. “Will BK be able to prepare his team in a road environment?” I’m sorry, but this is a silly question. First of all, you act like it’s easy to win on the road for any team. It’s not. Just ask any opponent who has entered ND Stadium over the past four seasons.

    Second of all: 2010 @ USC to break the streak, 2012 @ MSU, @Oklahoma, @USC, 2014 @ #1 FSU with questionable pass interference call for the go-ahead score, 2015 narrow loss @ #12 Clemson, 2017 @MSU, @UNC with backup QB Ian Book, 2018 @VT, @NW, @USC, 2019 @Louisville, @ #5 UGA narrow loss, @ Stanford, 2020 @ #13 UNC.

    NDnation’s reputation continues to precede itself. But I bet this won’t even get posted, because it doesn’t meet the slanted, anti BK/Jack Swarbrick narrative because of field turf and jumbotron.

    • Were you crying when you typed this? I’m sorry you’re so upset. You should sleep in mommy’s bed again tonight.

      The games you cited were either losses or unimpressive victories against lesser teams. Even the USC wins you mentioned were against teams with injured starting quarterbacks. The only exception is Oklahoma, which was a nice win against an overrated team with a lousy defense.

      Most fans more clearly remember the utter meltdowns at Michigan, Michigan State (fake field goal), Stanford (2017 was the worst), Texas, Arizona State, North Carolina State (in a hurricane) and Miami. And let’s not forget Kelly’s winless streak in major bowl games.

  23. It was an ugly win, but still a win.

    I can’t really tell from the television whether it was bad tackling or overrunning plays for the D, it seemed a bit of both.

    When we had Lea, people complained that he was too laid back, not enough havoc. Now, we lack discipline. Lets see if we find a happy medium. The D was recruited for a 4 down linemen set. From the articles in the offseason, Freeman prefers 3 down. What was lacking in the 3-3-5 was the attack portion that he is known for. Personally, particularly once Milton came in, I took it as a sign they have no confidence in the cornerbacks, or at least didn’t want to take a risk. Personally, and I may have missed some things, I thought the cornerbacks played a solid game, perhaps not great, but they were not burned one on one a lot. WE were playing zone with Milton and Travis did nothing. The one long pass burned Griffith.

    As for Mayer, every one raves about him. He does tend to drop balls, which you can live with if he has those ‘O my God how did he catch that’ plays. I don’t see those. He also needs to learn on 3rd and 2 that he needs to cross three yards deep, not one.

    There was nothing in that game that was not correctable, and lets see what happens. As for the play-offs, I don’t think anyone expected this to be a play-off team so lets just focus week to week and enjoy the season. At the end of the day, these are 18-22 year old kids, except for Cain Madden who gets social security checks, they will overrun plays, take bad angles, drop passes, miss blocks, miss a tackle.

    Also remember, to us, our guys miss a tackle. To them, they broke a tackle. FSU fans are certainly yelling about how the CB let Austin break a tackle on the pass play before the TD, we see a great escape. Same for the Williams TD. Are they calling for the DC’s head over it? Probably, I suppose.

    Lets just take joy in Michigan being stuck with Harbaugh.

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