It was not the most well played season opener for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on the road at Louisville last night but they did come out with the W 35-17.
Offensively QB Ian Book looked uncomfortable all night with his "happy feet" in the pocket leading to a lot of questionable reads and inaccurate throws. Book was locking in to his first read and not going through his progressions when given the time. Book often was seen tucking the ball and running instead of letting his receivers get open.
The good news is senior RB Tony Jones Jr. stepped it up with a tremendous game rushing for 112 yards on just 15 touches including a TD. Jones along with WR Chase Claypool and sophomore TE Tommy Tremble (huge TD catch on a seam route) came up with some huge chunk plays to help ease the offense lack of ball movement throughout the game. While Tremble got the ball of the game from head coach Brian Kelly I thought Jones Jr. was the MVP of the game.
Defensively it couldn't have been much worse for the Fighting Irish in the first two Louisville possessions. The Cardinals marched down twice with holes the size of Charlie Weis socks opening up everywhere in the ND defense. The defensive tackles and most notably the linebackers looked like they were playing on skates as Louisville took a 14-7 lead.
But then Clark Lea and the Notre Dame defense made adjustments on Scott Satterfields new offense. After that Louisville could only muster up 3 points in the final 12 possessions as guys like Julian Okwara, Khalid Kareem and Daelin Hayes took over the defensive front. Linebackers Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Drew White started playing more downfield making multiple tackles for loss and the secondary led by All-American candidate Alohi Gilman and freshman sensation Kyle Hamilton asserted their dominance.
Gilman was particularly impressive all game while leading the defense in tackles with 10 and having a forced fumble and fumble recovery on his stat sheet. For his all around performance Gilman earns the defensive MVP of the game.
Alohi with the forced fumble and recovery!— SportsCrack Apparel (@sportscrack) September 3, 2019
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The most impressive throw of the game might have been this Ian Book throw away that broke a Louisville cheerleader's nose on the sideline.
Hopefully not the last one Book nails this week. Go Irish! https://t.co/Bzd0dkuCjK— SportsCrack Apparel (@sportscrack) September 3, 2019
The Irish will have a bye this week and will hopefully get Book back to his old self before he got injured last season in Northwestern. If ND is gonna hang with the likes of UGA in less than 3 weeks they need Book to step up his game and be poised in the pocket while reading his progressions and making downfield throws with ease.