Doesn’t Matter, 10 Wins: Citrus Bowl Instant Reaction

There are so many questions about Notre Dame football as 2017 ends and 2018 begins. But for today, at least, you can answer them all with “Doesn’t Matter, 10 Wins”. Because Miles Boykin made a ludicrous, insane, wild play to score the winning TD and the Irish held on to win, 21-17, delivering a 10-win season.

It’s similar to an idea we had at our old site when the Irish would start undefeated. Signs of trouble would surface, but at least at first, you could just reply “DM;4-0”, or whatever ND’s record was. Today, it’s DM;10W.

That’s a good thing for today, because there’s a lot to discuss over the next 8 months until the Irish take on Michigan to open 2018:

What the heck are we doing at QB?

That’s, naturally, the lead question, because Ian Book took over for Brandon Wimbush for good in the second quarter of play. Book’s overall numbers were very good: 14/19, 164 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT. They were boosted a bit by Boykin’s heroics, of course.

The problem for ND is that Book cannot be the starting QB next year. The ceiling is very low on him, and all you need to see to know it is Book’s horrible red-zone interception in the 3rd quarter that kept the Irish from taking the lead. He’s the kind of backup you want, but he’s not a good enough thrower to make up for his lack of raw athleticism, and vice versa.

Wimbush, meanwhile, started off with a gorgeous throw to Equanimeous St. Brown, but that turned out to be the highlight of his day. He didn’t have any truly head-scratchingly poor throws, but was off target enough several times to turn possible completions into incompletions.

I don’t know if all of this means Brandon Wimbush starts again, or if highly-touted freshman Phil Jurkovec takes the reins. Coach Brian Kelly already has floated the idea of a QB competition with Jurkovec, and that isn’t something he often does with true freshmen. You have to think it wouldn’t be much of an issue if Kelly was all that high on Wimbush. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Phil takes the first snap in South Bend.

But, DM;10W.

Offense continues to be weird

Dexter Williams had two carries in the game, both in the fourth quarter, and one went for 31 yards, the longest run by a non-SEC foe against LSU this year. I just don’t understand what is going on there, and I haven’t all year. Should he get 20 carries a game? No. Should he get seven or eight? The answer seems to clearly be yes.

Josh Adams had 15 carries, but it sure didn’t seem like it. His 44 yards left him eight yards shy of what would’ve been the most anticlimactic single-season record breaker in history. Tony Jones, who’s had his moments, had one single carry, for no yards.

Book ran read-option plays to the edge a few times, and really none of them worked. (Did he really expect to score on the Wimbush-ish read option from the 7-yard line late in the game?) Then again, he also had a couple of big runs on draws. ND averaged nearly five yards per carry, yet the Irish seemed to be bottled up most of the game. Maybe you just chalk it up to a strange game. The offense clearly has some work to do. Maybe if key players stop shoplifting or otherwise being suspended next year, the offense will flow a bit better.

Another good defensive game

If ND gets some safety talent in the building next year, the Irish defense could be great. They were good today, and the only flaw was that Danny Etling got away with several dead ducks off his back foot for some reason, shades of UVA’s Matt Johns two years ago. Despite being put in terrible situations time after time by the offense in the first half, the Irish D pitched a shutout (with aid from LSU’s field goal kickers). If you ask me, that was the single key to the game; when ND’s offense couldn’t get out of its own way early on, the D picked up the slack. The Irish gave up 399 yards to the LSU offense, but that, in my opinion, belies how well they played.

Elko gets high marks for the way he handled the D all year. It should be fun to see what he is able to do in year 2.

Thanks for kicking it, Coach O

Is there any ND fan in the world that wanted LSU to go for it on 4th and goal from the one-inch line with two minutes to play? LSU’s worst-case scenario was basically ND getting the ball at the one-inch line with a backup QB. Talk about #kicktowin. Oh, and the guy named Derrius Guice, who was trucking ND dudes all day…his chances of getting in the end zone seemed pretty good.

So from all of us, Ed Orgeron, thank you. Thank you for kicking the field goal.

Mental toughness

There were any number of reasons ND could’ve folded today, not least of which the strange QB shuffle Kelly once again engaged in. But the Irish have shown themselves to be, on many occasions in the last 8 seasons, a mentally tough squad. The play has often been inconsistent, but the effort usually is there. I suppose there is something to be said for that, and the ND coaches deserve credit for keeping their players’ heads in the game when it would be easy enough for that not to be the case.

ND won today. It’s true. Who knows what 2018 will bring. But the Irish won 10 games. It’s not the goal. Far from it. But it’s something.

(Photo credit: South Bend Tribune)

By |2018-05-09T22:25:39+00:00January 1st, 2018|18S Reads|46 Comments

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Concrete Charlie
Concrete Charlie

Props to Durham Smythe for some big plays, too.

I hear what you’re saying about Orgeron’s call to kick the field goal at the end, but I had no doubt that was the right call for him to make. Take the lead and force a team that hadn’t done much of anything to score a TD with their backup qb and, what, 2 timeouts?, to score a td in 2 minutes. Maybe that’s why I would never make a good coach, but I thought that was a reasonable decision.

And boy, what a catch and finish by Boykin! Really a fantastic play.

Orlok
Orlok

Agreed. An explosive offense we ain’t. I’ve read all the econometric papers behind going for it and I’m a “go for it guy.” But in that situation, I thought kicking the field goal would be more than enough to doom ND.

Mr. Wednesday
Mr. Wednesday

If anything, I think it might be influenced by the field goal kicking—lack of confidence in the kickers would have to make LSU nervous about their chances in OT. But for that, I’d say it’s a no-brainer to go for the fourth down; on failure, ND has the ball at the half yard line and with too much time on the clock (I think) for ND to run it out.

More Noise
More Noise

One TO actually

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

I agree, I thought kicking was the right call for them. The only call too, being as the ND defense had been playing really tough at the goal line. Best to not get too cute and take the easy points and get a late lead. The ND offense hadn’t shown any signs to believe they’d be dangerous enough to score up to that point.

nd09hls12
nd09hls12
Cubfansince1957
Cubfansince1957

With apologies to Mike McGlinchey, who certainly is an awesome o-lineman, I don’t think he’s the best lineman on the squad. Quenton Nelson is the best, and he’s going a long way in the NFL. He’s a mean dude.

tlndma
tlndma

Whoa…nasty

King Kenny
King Kenny

I am so happy for this win that I can’t properly put it in words. We needed this win. 10-3 is a world away from 9-4 when it comes to ND Football. This win will hopefully lead to us locking down three more 4 stars that are still out there.

No one is a bigger Wimbush fan than me but he looks hopeless at times throwing the ball. He just doesn’t look comfortable back there. There was no progress made in his development. You have to open up the starting qb job this spring. Book made me a believer today. That was a quality SEC defense and he more than held his own today. Who knows what this kids future is and how well he developes moving forward. After what I saw today I wouldn’t be so quick to write him off.

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

I have to say, I’m super surprised with Andy’s QB analysis. It seems like after today, the open question isn’t whether or not Wimbush is the undisputed starter next year but instead whether or not Wimbush is a QB if he is on the roster next year. I think the answer to that might be no.

dannan14
dannan14

Per the post game interviews the gameplan was to play both QBs because Wimbush has had migraines and missed two days of practice because of them.

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

That’s… convenient, and sure doesn’t seem like it based on when Book actually played. I mean, it’s possible that Book was going to play, but it seemed like he played initially (on the third down) because they don’t trust Wimbush to throw the ball well and then later because Wimbush was playing rather poorly. He came in with 2 minutes left in the first half after a bad drive by Wimbush. “Let’s play Book at the 28 minute mark” would be a bizarre gameplan.

To me, it seems like the shift to Book was BK throwing up his hands and acknowledging that Wimbush’s running abilities, which are manifest, are not enough to offset his wildly inaccurate passing, at least not in BK’s offense. That isn’t going to change; if anything, he got worse with additional experience over the course of the year. So I’m not sure Wimbush has a role at QB at ND going forward.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

Eh, yes and no. They did put Book in early for the 3+10 in a passing situation for a single play (that wasn’t converted), so even before Wimbush’s performance was clearly not good enough they did use both of them.

Obviously though once Wimbush wasn’t executing the simple passes he was benched for the rest of the game. Which, probably for the best, can’t keep switching forever gotta choose one and stick with him at some point.

Clay Cossé fka Mouth
Clay Cossé fka Mouth

Yeah when Kelly said that I was like RIIIIIIGHT….

Irishchamp23
Irishchamp23

Pretty sure they mentioned it on TV early in the game that the plan was that Book would get some PT.

Publius2010
Publius2010

Oh wow it’s almost like making Tommy Rees the qb coach was a bad idea

Russell Knox
Russell Knox

I’ll take the win. Like you said: ten wins baby. I have some concerns/questions though:

1.Clearly Wimbush does NOT have a lock on the starting QB position.

2. What is wrong with Adams. He has to be injured somehow. Not explosive at all. The NFL combine will be interesting just to see how he does. (Yes, I’m assuming he goes pro.)

3. Is Elliot a senior? I always seem to notice him when he doesn’t make plays.

4 Wasn’t Love supposed to be the guy that was too slow to be an effective corner? He sure looks fast enough to me.

5. Tillery was around the ball a lot. I didn’t see him getting blown off the line a lot either.

6. Holy shift from that LSU offense. Just mass movement all over the place. I’m not knowledgeable enough on the rules, but I’ve never seen that many bodies moving pre-snap before.

dannan14
dannan14

Elliott is actually just a sophomore.

Russell Knox
Russell Knox

Thanks dannan. I’m ready for different guy.

dannan14
dannan14

Gilman will be a nice addition next year. Robertson and Genmark Heath got some reps today…although Robertson is the one who let the punt hit him.

juicebox
juicebox

You can move the entire offense if you want. This is common on “swinging gate” plays. Everyone just has to get completely set before the ball is snapped.

More Noise
More Noise

Hey y’all – hi from Paree, where I gotta get some sleep. I am so glad to see your reactions; Eric kinda concerned me with his “not any way exciting this game” deal beforehand. I mean, I was excited. DM, # 10! Good kids who never quit. Out toughed the ESS EE SEE.
The one throw I think made BK say that’s it on BW was him missing EQ who was WIDE OPEN over the middle on that short throw.
Concur on Josh still being hurt and more carries for Dexter. Yeah, why not BW for RB

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

“Yeah, why not BW for RB”

Well, I think the player for starters probably isn’t on board with that idea. Especially with QB’s a lot of them are resistant to change and don’t recognize (even maybe when they should) that they’re not going to cut it as a thrower.

QB situation is as cloudy as ever though. You mentioned that play completely not picking up on EQSB underneath that was bad. I hated seeing the simple crossing route to EQSB that was just terribly thrown high and behind him with no chance, sort of when you knew there was no way this game was ending well with Wimbush in there.

I guess best case, he dedicates the off-season to completely breaking down and reworking footwork, mechanics, all the basics. If he can do that and build up a base of skills and some confidence, maybe he could show improvement and be a contributing QB1. Whether or not that’s possible/likely though is certainly the unknown question.

Otherwise I don’t know how exciting it would be for Book as the starter, he’s OK on the short stuff but isn’t the athlete or arm strength to be a playoff caliber QB. Everyone’s on the Jurkovec train for now but for a kid still in high school it seems really wishful to think he’s the answer in 2018 to the question about getting to the playoffs.

I’d still think that best bet is Wimbush can figure it out, but admittedly that doesn’t seem too likely. I’d wonder, out of curiosity if there’s any possibility for a grad transfer? Probably not but at this point all avenues have to be considered.

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

Kind of a bummer we didn’t in the Shea Patterson sweepstakes… but we probably would have had to hire his brother too, so that was unlikely.

kiwifan
kiwifan

I think a basic problem is that Kelly has a terrible track record of handling/developing QB’s

Clay Cossé fka Mouth
Clay Cossé fka Mouth

Not at Cincy–only ND. Why is that?

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

He has gotten a mostly undeserved reputation based on one successful season shuffling QBs in the Big East, which was better then than the American is now, but not much.

And the last point is key, and a point that I think those who think BK is a very good coach don’t fully appreciate (as they typically cite his pre-ND success, in part because you kind of have to in order to argue he is a very good coach): the vast majority of his success is at a much, much lower of competition than top-level Power-5 football. What BK did there doesn’t indicate that he is a very good, high-level type coach. It indicates that he *could* be a very good, high-level coach. But, IMO, there are at least 20 coaches in the Power 5 that could have approximated BK’s career path and success if they coached where he did for as long as he did. And, relative to them, BK is at or near the bottom of that list of 20+ based on what he has done at the higher level of football with a top program.

MrTgon
MrTgon

Goslon – 2012 – 3 star guy that BK developed; team goes undefeated and goes to the NC. (Also, putting aside the turnovers, Golson’s numbers were pretty good in 2014 and during the 6 game stretch before he got hurt in 2015 with FSU…..unless, of course, you’re giving Fisher the credit for somehow developing Golson from a bad qb to a good one during the 2015 summer)

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.

BK may not be the greatest coach or the greatest qb developer ever, but I think you’re short changing his track record at ND a bit.

Clay Cossé fka Mouth
Clay Cossé fka Mouth

I think the problem with Brandon Wimbush is the same as the problem with Josh Adams. Wimbush lost his confidence at Miami and beyond. As a result he can’t run the zone read, can’t run RPOs, and can’t make the throws. When the zone read isn’t clicking, Adams isn’t going to get his. I think Wimbush has the ability if he can just get comfortable with option plays and start having some success again. If that happens hell start making theirs again i have no doubt. I’m just restating what Reggie Brooks said in the post game show kind of, but I think he nailed it.

gbsk
gbsk

“start making theirs again”????

MrTgon
MrTgon

This makes a ton of sense.

tlndma
tlndma

We’ll be paying closer attention to the AA game in San Antonio, won’t we?

MikeyB
MikeyB

Did St. Brown get hurt in this one? I don’t remember seeing him on the field at all down the stretch. It made that final possession even more impressive with so few starters on the field.

Clay Cossé fka Mouth
Clay Cossé fka Mouth

I don’t know, but he absolutely cannot be thinking he’ll go pro next year. Wasn’t his dad popoing off about EQ declaring for the draft? For someone who is not that big and can’t beat press coverage I cannot fathom this.

MTI98
MTI98

To my untrained eye, It seems like Wimbush looks for ESB and Book looks for Boykin.

DCIrish84
DCIrish84

That would make sense. Book is used to playing with the 2s, and Boykin is typically a 2.

gbsk
gbsk

I don’t see why you said Dexter should get only 7-8 carries. He carried twice this game for 38 yards and averaged 19 YPC. Adams was 15 for 44 yds. for less that 3 YPC. Dexter should have been the workhouse and Adams riding the bench. Same thing for the other games if Dexter was healthy. BK is known for being tight lipped about that.

Russell Knox
Russell Knox

Dexter is terrible at blocking. That would put so many limitations of what offensive plays you can call when he is in there. Not to mention the play tendencies and predictability.