That was tough.
The majority of Notre Dame fans have been defending this team all season against the critics. I am not here to change my stance, Notre Dame belonged in the playoff. They just went in and had bad breaks, injuries and failures from the top down. So after a loss like that, who is to blame?
The first finger to point by the fans will be on Brian Kelly. BK lead Notre Dame into another big game and the Fighting Irish fell flat, again. As strange as it will sound to most, I do not blame Brian Kelly.
This team looked real strong and didn’t get rolled early after only trailing 9-3 in the first. Brian Kelly was building a reputation of his teams coming out unprepared, this game wasn’t that.
The loss of Julian Love was huge and really the turning point. Once Love left, Vaughn, his replacement, was picked apart and on the bad end of a great catch. Notre Dame was in this game and ready to play. Kelly is in charge of handling everything leading up to the game but does less in game. During the game is where his assistants handle most of the game plans and the players have to execute.
Brian Kelly has his faults and deserves some blame, but this game doesn’t fall on his shoulders.
I wrote a few weeks back that Ian Book could get exposed and it was not received well. ( https://irishfb.com/2018/12/10/ian-book-could-go-from-mvp-to-scapegoat-vs-clemson/ )
Ian Book did not define his career at Notre Dame and this game did not change my long term opinion of him. Jurkovec is likely the next big name at Notre Dame but Book is a solid QB. Book is more then capable in leading a team and putting some points up. But to ignore his faults would just be silly.
He has struggled with deep passes all season and gets rattled by the pressure. At points against Clemson, Book was running into the QB spy with a three man rush. The pressure from the Clemson defensive front was in Book’s head early and it went down hill fast.
Dexter Williams put up a solid effort but with Book unable to get the ball down field, Williams didn’t get the chance to break out. Book can bounce back from this but he deserves some blame. I only say some because the next guy is my front runner.
The Notre Dame offensive coordinator has had a very good year this year. But the play calling was questionable to say the least. I actually really liked the way he started calling the game at the start. He kept the game in front of Book with quick reads and making sure he got the ball out quick. Williams was able to find some running room and the offense was moving the ball.
Then Clemson clamped down and put Notre Dame into a couple of long third downs. Running the ball multiple times on third and ten were not great. A screen pass on third and long had an expected result and the offensive struggles were frustrating to say the least.
Chip Long did not call a good game but he only calls the plays. The execution has to be there as well for the plays to work. The offensive line struggled with the impressive Clemson line and had Book under pressure most of the game. Chip Long needs to be better and just called a bad game but like the two previously mentioned, not all of it falls on his shoulders.
This is a tough ending to a great season but the future is bright. Looking towards the future, I expect Notre Dame to learn and grow from this.
Let us know what you think below! Is Brian Kelly take the most of the blame or is it spread around?
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Started Saturday Tailgate in 2018. I have covered college football since 2017, wrote for Saturday Tailgate and Fansided. Covering all things Big 12 from recruiting to opinions on the best conference in college football.