With visions of last season’s 38-3 drubbing of Texas fresh in our minds, confidence was running high for the Fighting Irish leading up to this season’s game against the Longhorns this past weekend.
Notre Dame had lost some key players from last season to the NFL, but there was still a ton of talent on the roster, and a run at the College Football Playoffs wasn’t out of the question. There were a few question marks for the Irish, as well, to be sure. At the top of the list was just how Coach Kelly’s dual-QB game plan would work, whether Zaire or Kizer would do enough to emerge as the true QB1, and how long that would take, and perhaps most importantly, how would the Irish defense fare with the loss of the likes of Sheldon Day, Jaylon Smith, and Keivarae Russell. Answers, whether we liked them or not, would soon be forthcoming.
The good news is that the QB question was answered rather decisively, so the QB battle is over at this point, with DeShone Kizer the clear-cut winner, as he was under center on each of Notre Dame’s scoring drives in the game.
The bad news is that the Irish defense looked very bad. Give up over 500 total yards, bad. Make a freshman quarterback making his first start look like a Heisman hopeful, bad. Call for the defensive coordinator’s job, bad.
Drop an F-bomb, or several, in front of your Catholic father, bad!
Okay, no need to belabor the point. The Irish defense, particularly the secondary, has a lot of room for improvement, and little time to improve, or this will be a very long season.
Key Plays For The Fighting Irish
1st Quarter – DeShone Kizer 13 yard TD pass to St. Brown. Kizer gets first crack in the QB battle and leads the Irish downfield on a 78 yard scoring drive; Kizer’s TD pass is set up by a 54 yard run by Tarean Folston. Irish take a 7-0 lead.
2nd Quarter – DeShone Kizer 30 yard TD pass to St. Brown. Hit near the goalline, St. Brown does an acrobatic handstand into the end zone to tie the game at ND 14 – Texas 14.
2nd Quarter – Tyrone Swoopes (UT) 1 yard TD run. The first of three touchdowns the Irish would surrender to Swoopes, this one gives the Longhorns the lead with just over a minute left in the First Half. ND 14 – Texas 21.
3rd Quarter – DeShone Kizer incomplete pass to Torii Hunter Jr. Could have been ruled a TD, but wasn’t. Should have been ruled Targeting, but wasn’t. Notre Dame was jobbed twice over on one play, and Hunter Jr. had to leave the game after a visit helmet to helmet hit. To add insult to injury, Justin Yoon’s field goal attempt was blocked on the very next play. ND 28 – Texas 31
4th Quarter – Texas PAT blocked, returned by Shaun Crawford for Defensive PAT. Texas had just scored to take the lead, but Crawford’s defensive PAT return tied the game up at 37-37, which would end up forcing the game into Overtime. Notre Dame 37 – Texas 37.
2nd OT – Tyrone Swoopes 6 yard TD run. After settling for a Field Goal, the Irish would give up the game winning touchdown to Swoopes, his third on the day. Notre Dame 47 – Texas 50.
Top Fighting Irish Performers
DeShone Kizer – DeShone Kizer looked to be the sharper of the two QBs for the Irish, but up until the 2nd Half, he was still splitting time with Kaiser. That shouldn’t be an issue going forward. Kizer finished the day going 15-24 for 214 passing yards and 5 TDs, with another 85 yards and 1 TD on the ground.
Equanimeous St. Brown – With just one reception coming into the game against Texas, St. Brown stepped up for the Irish in a big way. He put the Irish on the board on their opening drive with a 13 yard TD pass from Kizer, and followed that up with a highlight reel TD grab in the 2nd Quarter. St. Brown finished with 5 receptions for 75 yards and 2 TDs.
Isaac Rochell/Nyles Morgan – In a game chock full of mediocre, and downright bad, defensive play, both Rochell and Morgan’s play stood head and shoulders above the rest. Morgan and Rochell finished 1st and 2nd in team tackles, and both showed a physicality that the rest of the defense needs to emulate going forward. Morgan finished with 13 Total Tackles (9 Solo), and Rochell finished the game with 9 Total Tackles (5 solo) and 2.5 TFL.
Next Up: The Fighting Irish take on the Nevada Wolf Pack in their home opener in South Bend, on Saturday, September 10th at 3:30 pm (12:30 PST). Go Irish!