Notre Dame Football Season Review 2019
Notre Dame 2019 Season Review With Sean Buck.
The Notre Dame 2019 football season is over. Overall, we’d like to take a look back at the positives, the negatives, and the glimpse into the future.
With a final record of 11-2 on the heels of an appearance in the College Football Playoff. Some considered this season a disappointment while others considered it a success. However, with several key players moving on due to graduation and/or the NFL draft, the 2019 season was sure to be different, but how?
The Irish started off with wins against Louisville (35-17) and New Mexico (66-14). In both games, Book and company looked solid, though with questions looming about the offensive line and the run game. The stage is set for a prime time match up against Georgia.
With early-season playoff implications attached, the Irish fell short in Athens despite a late charge in the fourth quarter. Georgia beats us 23-17. Notre Dame goes to be 2-1, but not out of the playoff picture.
The Roller Coaster Ride Begins
The Irish responded by beating Virginia 35-20. Then shut out Bowling Green 52-0 and winning a rivalry game against USC, 30-27 in front of a capacity home crowd.
With another rival looming ahead in Ann Arbor, neither team could afford a loss. In a head-scratcher, the Wolverines upended the Irish 45-14. A team with so much potential, the game in Ann Arbor resulted in several questions about this team’s identity. With no bye week to seek relief after the UM defeat, Virginia Tech came to South Bend the following weekend. VT played our Irish to the bone. Late in the 4th quarter, trailing by 6 points and a once-promising season seemingly slipping away. The Irish took over with approximately 3:22 remaining in the game. Ian Book put the team on his shoulders and marched down the field inside the Tech 10 yard line. Book ran it in from 8 yards out and brought Notre Dame back to win the game. A final of 21-20.
Had the momentum shifted once again? Could the Irish get back on track and record another 10 win season?
The Irish answered that question emphatically, destroying Duke 38-7. Next up was a top 25 Navy team that had only 1 loss going into the game. However, it didn’t matter. The game was never close and Notre Dame defeated the Midshipmen, 52-20. Boston College came to town the following week with a similar result. Book and company dismantled the Eagles, 40-7 to the delight of the home crowd. In the final game of the regular season, the Irish proved to be too much for Stanford. Outlasting them 45-24 to give Notre Dame their 10th win of the season.
Poise. Determination. Teamwork. These are but a few of the traits exhibited by this year’s team. Which was later selected to the Camping World Bowl to face the Iowa State Cyclones. Many of us were disappointed in the committee’s decision, others were still reeling from the game against Michigan. None of this could distract this team from their goal of winning this game, for each other.
In a one-sided affair, the Irish defense stifled the potent Iowa State Cyclone offense. Allowing only 9 points, no touchdowns, forcing 2 fumbles, collecting 4 sacks and 6 tackles for loss. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah had a field day, creating chaos in the Cyclones backfield the entire game. Ian Book went 20 for 28 for 247 yards, 1 touchdown, while adding 30 yards rushing. Tony Jones Jr. rushed for 135 yards on 11 carries and 1 touchdown. The majority of which came on an 84-yard run. During which he stiff-armed a defender for 15 yards for fun on the way to pay dirt. Chase Claypool had another monster day. Reeling in 7 receptions for 146 yards and 1 touchdown while capturing MVP honors for the game. The final score would read Notre Dame 33, Iowa State 9.
Big Game Disappointments
With back to back seasons of 11 or more wins. It might be hard to understand why our fan base isn’t satisfied. The answer is the performance in the “big game”. Unfortunately, Notre Dame was once again unable to pull out a win against Georgia, though their performance was admirable. Most fans were able to swallow that bitter pill, however, the debacle in Ann Arbor was another thing altogether. NO ONE wants a loss to Michigan, and a blowout loss is much worse. That being said, our Irish finished stronger than Michigan as the Wolverines suffered a blowout loss to Ohio State, 56-27. Followed up with another beat down in the Vrbo Citrus Bowl to a depleted Alabama team, 35-16.
Let’s Put Things in Perspective
What’s the likelihood of going to a NY6 bowl game without being a member of a conference? Especially after a blowout loss to Michigan (who many experts picked us to beat) was extremely unlikely. It’s the unfortunate landscape of college football at the moment. Though I am not in favor of us joining a conference, it clearly would have made a difference this year. The committee has spoken, and for better or worse, until we can snag a W in a big game. It will likely remain the same.
We have several key playmakers whom we are losing to the NFL, with Kmet, Claypool, Gilman all leaving, among others. In addition, 7 of Notre Dame’s opponents had the luxury of a bye week immediately before their game against the Irish. Considering what was working against us, 11-2 was very impressive.
With the departures listed above, what does this mean for our Irish?
We’ll start with Jordan Johnson, a 5 star WR out of St. Louis, MO who had offers from Alabama, Michigan, Florida, Georgia, and the list goes on. He has great hands, good speed, and excellent route-running ability. Johnson possesses the type of game-changing ability that might soften the blow of the departure of Chase Claypool. At 6’02 and 180 pounds, he has the frame to allow him to put on some weight. To make him more competitive for jump balls against DB’s.
Next up is Drew Pyne, a 4-star pro-style QB out of Connecticut who comes in at 6’0, 180 pounds. The film on Pyne is good; he shows a quick release when necessary. Plenty of arm for deep passes and can throw on the run. He makes good decisions when he’s under pressure, and he’s fast enough to extend a play with his feet. The question marks are his size and his ability to look off his first or second read. Pyne looks GREAT against Connecticut’s talent. However, it remains to be seen how he can handle the type of speed he will encounter at the next level. Keep in mind that Tyler Buchner is waiting in the wings, ready to join the Irish in 2021.
How will we deal with the loss of Cole Kmet?
Well, we have Tommy Tremble and George Takacs. Both certainly capable pass catchers, but not quite as big or physical as Kmet.
Look no further than Michael Mayer, a 4-star monster coming out of Kentucky. Mayer is 6’05, 234 pounds of physical, in your face TE. Built eerily similar to Kmet, this kid is only going to get stronger after some time with Notre Dame’s strength and conditioning program under the watchful eye of Matt Balis. Look for Mayer to continue the tradition of strong, physical TE play that we have enjoyed for years.
Did someone say we needed depth at RB? Look no further than Chris Tyree. He’s a 4 star (should be 5, it’s crazy that he isn’t) all-purpose back out of Virginia. At 5’10 and 180 pounds, Tyree might be the fastest man on the Notre Dame roster in the spring. Yes, I know we have Braden Lenzy. Yes, I know Lenzy is fast, really fast. If you entered Tyree in the Kentucky Derby, he’d place top 3. This kid has a special blend of speed and ball carrying vision that is rare in such a young player. If Tyree can add 10-15 pounds without sacrificing speed, lookout. With the departure of Tony Jones Jr., Tyree will be a welcome addition to a somewhat depleted position.
On the defensive side of the ball, a couple of names stick out. One of them is Jordan Botelho. He’s a 6’02, 230-pound linebacker out of Hawaii who checks all of the boxes: speed, size, strength, and vision. Botelho has the body type that would allow him to be effective against the run or in short-range pass coverage. He’s still growing into his frame. Look for him to add 15-20 pounds of muscle. It will make him more dangerous as it relates to getting off blocks and penetrating the O-Line. Botelho has the football IQ to be a leader in the huddle. Only time will tell how explosive he can be in Lea’s game plan.
Another name is Rylie Mills, a 4 star, 6’05, 250 pound DE out of Illinois. Mills had offers from nearly everyone: Clemson, Georgia, Ohio State, Florida…EVERYONE wanted a piece of this kid. The huge frame gets penetration into the offensive backfield in a variety of ways: speed, swim move, bull rush, etc. He has a decent ability getting in the air to bat passes. One thing I would like to see addressed with Mills is his straight up and downplaying style. I’d like to see him get lower and use his push. Instead of trying to stand straight up and use only his leverage. Coaches will need to address this. As he won’t be able to blow everyone off the line at the next level by standing up straight.
ND 2020 Football
The Irish will play in the house that Rockne built in 6 of their contests. Including a voyage to the Emerald Isle to kick off their 2020 season.
The 2020 football schedule looks like this:
- Aug. 29th — Navy — Dublin, Ireland
- Sep. 5th — BYE
- Sep. 12th — Arkansas Razorbacks — Notre Dame Stadium
- Sep. 19th — Western Michigan Broncos — Notre Dame Stadium
- Sep. 26th — Wake Forest Demon Deacons — Charlotte, NC
- Oct. 3rd — Wisconsin Badgers — Lambeau Field, WI
- Oct. 10th — Stanford Cardinal — Notre Dame Stadium
- Oct. 17th — Pitt Panthers — Pittsburgh, PA
- Oct. 24th — BYE
- Oct. 31st — Duke Blue Devils — Notre Dame Stadium
- Nov. 7th — Clemson Tigers — Notre Dame Stadium
- Nov. 14th — Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets — Atlanta, GA
- Nov. 21st — Louisville Cardinals — Notre Dame Stadium
- Nov. 28th — USC Trojans — Los Angeles, CA
No one is looking forward to the 7 and 1/2 month wait for our next game. We now have a clearer picture of what to expect going into the 2020 season on the heels of a blowout bowl win.
Which game do you have marked on your calendar for the Irish this coming season?
With Tommy Rees taking over the OC position, will we see an improvement?
Let’s hear all of your thoughts about the 2019 season. As well as the upcoming spring game, and the 2020 season below, and as always…
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