Raw Reactions: ND Pulls One Out For The Gipper


After a rah-rah halftime speech for head coach Brian Kelly, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish dug deep to beat Virginia Tech in a 21-20 nail biter. The Turkey’s almost did it, but came up short. 

Notre Dame started the game with the ball, and stop me if you have heard this before, went three and out.

Nevertheless, the Irish stuck with it and found the eventual pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Sharpening The Pencil – Offensive Reactions

The aforementioned three and out has been an unfortunate theme for both teams early, but really takes the wind out of a Notre Dame offense that has proven to thrive on tempo.

Ian Book played well enough to win finishing the afternoon with 336 yards on a mediocre 54% completion percentage. The second drive for the Irish showed some promise with back to back DIMES to Chase Claypool and Javon McKinley.

Only to lock into Cole Kmet and throw an awful interception. Making it the first red zone drive that the Irish came up empty handed on so far this season.

After the pick, Book and the passing game woke up for a little bit. He was able to locate Kmet for an easy touchdown to get the ball rolling. Book’s second touchdown went to freshmen Tommy Tremble.

Then as the half wrapped up the worst case scenario came true.

Notre Dame threatened to take a 21-7 half time lead when running back Jafar Armstrong fumbled a goal line carry. The ball popped right up into the hands of Virginia Tech and 98 yards later evened the score 14-14.

Bend Don’t Break: Defensive Reactions

It was not all bad for Notre Dame on defense. The front seven forced the Virginia Tech defense into six of seven three and outs in the first half with the lone touchdown being on an obvious offensive pass interference.

Clark Lea forced the Hokies offense to be one dimensional for most of the afternoon. Despite the untimely goal line turnover, the Irish defense only allowed 13 points. Eventually the defense started to play more on their heels – but they came to play when it mattered most.

Jermiah Owusu-Koramoah had a key fumble recovery on a botched exchange. Perhaps the most important play of the game was a third down sack by Khalid Kareem , which forced Virginia Tech to punt the ball to the Irish on the eventual game winning drive.

Trouble In The Trenches

Last week Notre Dame lost stud offensive linemen Tommy Kraemer, likely for the remainder of the season. This week, Robert Hainsey went down and it does not look good.

The offensive line, once a strength for Notre Dame, is full of inexperience and is now a glaring weakness. Book was playing outside the pocket all afternoon. I’m not sure how much of that falls on Book not feeling comfortable behind them.

Another point of emphasis needs to be placed on Notre Dame’s inability to run the ball. The Irish stumbled on third and short a few times – when they did convert on the ground, it was not by much.

Coming Up Clutch

Notre Dame needed some luck, but the bottom line is they showed fight. It was a vintage Notre Dame finish – too close for comfort.

Chris Finke also showed some glimpses on a few nice punt returns. Finke also got involved in the passing game but Claypool is clearly Book’s favorite target. Notre Dame put together an 18 play – 87 yard drive that featured two fourth down conversions. The biggest was on a fourth down with the game on the line.

The Claypool reception set-up Book for a seven yard scamper on third and goal.

Also kudos to the kickoff coverage for a big time stop when Virginia Tech’s last hopes at setting up field position for the Hokie’s offense.

The Irish put the finishing touches on the Hokies with a Kyle Hamilton interception and just like that the Fighting Irish hit six wins and become bowl eligible.

Moving Forward

Notre Dame takes to the road next week for a prime time match-up against Duke. Duke actually beat Virginia Tech earlier in the year and this will be Duke’s chance to prove to the nation that they are for real. Duke is coming off a bye week and I’m sure they will come out guns-a-blazin’

The game will only be featured on the ACC Network, so consider yourself warned!

Last Remark

Most importantly the Irish defended home turf and at least kept that streak alive. The lucky number stands at 16.