It wasn’t long ago that Notre Dame was limping out of a blowout loss in Dallas. The fan base was left feeling like this was 2012 all over again and the Irish were no closer to a National Championship. But things are changing for the better in South Bend. Notre Dame is closer to an elite status than the country thinks.
Comparing 2019 to the Past
In 2012 it was the worst feeling following the National Championship against Alabama. After finishing the season undefeated, everyone was riding high and ND fans were hopeful. That lasted all of a few minutes as Alabama went on to put Notre Dame in a body bag. Notre Dame may have went undefeated but they were miles away from being the best in college football.
Now the Fighting Irish faithful may have those feelings again with Notre Dame coming off another big game loss and getting exposed. The thing is, they really are not far from where they need to be.
Yes they made the playoff so it is easy to scoff and think “Of course they are not far off”. When Notre Dame lost to Alabama it was clear that the Crimson Tide had far superior athletes and Notre Dame just couldn’t keep up. That gap is closing considerably and it became evident at the combine.
Notre Dame Shines at the Combine
Miles Boykin shocked everyone with eye popping numbers and Drue Tranquill tied for the most bench press reps. Dexter Williams was a top five running back and Jerry Tillery did what he did the last two years, impressed everyone.
The combine isn’t the catch all for athleticism in college football. Players train for the tests for weeks before hand. But to have Notre Dame players performing at the level they are is proof that Notre Dame is closing the gap.
The Matt Balis Difference
Balis is in year two at ND and running the strength and conditioning program. He has already had an effect with the combine but it also showed last season. There were fewer injuries and Notre Dame didn’t fade in November like they have for so many years.
Now you have players developing and performing at a higher level then they have in recent years. Notre Dame has only lost four games in the last two year and they continue to pull in top 15 recruiting classes. With this recent success and the brand new football facilities, recruits will start to respond more than they are. For everyone that has been down on the last few recruiting classes, look at the names in the next few years. Better yet, take a look at some of the talent Notre Dame already has on their roster.
The Irish were right there with Clemson even if the score didn’t show it. A play here and there (the overturned fumble) the Julian Love injury and poor play from Book. While 30-3 looks bad, it doesn’t tell the entire story.
Now you have loads of talent back, a majority of your roster with playoff experience and another year with Balis. Book will continue to develop and Notre Dame could have a lethal pass rush on defense. The offensive line could be better then last season and Book will have some weapons to work with. Players like Kevin Austin (read more here) will have time to develop and grow into their own. Kelly has also made some interesting changes at spring practice which will surely help the Irish.
Last year was another building block to reach the ultimate goal. Now they have all the potential in the World and now have the experience. Some said that QB was the real difference in the playoff game. Well Notre Dame seems to have two pretty good ones on the roster for 2019. Some growth will go a long way for the upcoming season but it is a good time to be a Fighting Irish fan.
Started Saturday Tailgate in 2018. Covering all things college football and talking Notre Dame on Twitter.