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A Big Win On A Big Stage

Posted By Jordan Lauterbach On Nov 21 2010 @ 1:39 am In Notre Dame | No Comments

Six points.

 That’s the amount of points the Irish defense has allowed in the month of November.

 Seven Points.

 That’s the amount of points the Irish defense has scored in the month of November.

 Add in a special teams touchdown to that equation and it wouldn’t have mattered if the Irish gained a yard of offense in the years eleventh month, they’d still be 2 – 0.

 A lot of things are hard to believe about the sudden and pleasantly unexpected late season turn around. Not the least, of course, is the fact that Notre Dame with bowl bound with a regular season game left on the schedule. No one could have seen that coming, no matter how delusional they may be.

 The other is the defense. The unit has gone from being a joke to a shut – down juggernaut in under a month. The juxtaposition between the two service academy games is fascinating.

 Against Navy, the Irish defense was at its absolute worst. They looked confused and unprepared. They couldn’t stop anyone. Not even the great Manti Te’o could get anything going against the Midshipman. It was the triple option striking again.

 Against Army, a team that runs a very similar offense with very dissimilar talent, Notre Dame looked so dominant it was hard to believe that it was an actual game. If it looked like they knew what was coming, that’s because they did. Do not underestimate the effect that the triple option working so well against them a month ago had on the Irish. After all, they probably watched tape all week of themselves falling for all the tricks that Army would pull. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you. As George Bush once said, “the fooled don’t get fooled again.”

 In fact, at times during the game  it looked like Notre Dame understood the Army offense better then Army did.

 The Irish defense may have looked just as dominant against Utah, but they haven’t looked quite as confident. The Irish owned Yankee Stadium, and there was never any real doubt about that.

 Even the first drive where Army drove over 70 yards was not as much the offense as it was poor tackling. Once that was ironed out (and rather quickly at that), Army had no chance.

 Offensively, the game plan has become simple. Limit the opportunities Tommy Rees has to make mistakes and ride Cierre Wood and Jonas Grey. Rees made one mistake, a interception thrown into double (maybe triple) coverage. That was it for Rees’ negative column.

 Two excellently thrown balls resulted in the emergence of Tyler Eifert. Eifert, who hasn’t been as involved or looked this good until Saturday, caught a touchdown pass and a pass that was inches away from being a touchdown. Eifert is more of a traditional tight end, certainly not Kyle Rudolph by any stretch, but he made some great strides at The Stadium.

 With T.J Jones possibly back for the USC game, the way Brian Kelly calls plays next week will be really interesting. But that’s for a column later in the week. Now is a time to revel in the joys of dominance. The joys of a bowl birth.

 Not to take unnecessary shots, but two things about Army really jumped out at me from a negative standpoint. One, I have no idea how this team won six games. I know the schedule wasn’t the roughest, but the Black Knights are not very good, at all. If it was an off night, then it was really off.  Two, Navy will win the annual battle between these teams by three touchdowns. The skill level isn’t close. Army doesn’t have a single player that approaches the caliber of a Ricky Dobbs or Alexander Teich.

 For Notre Dame, this was the most impressive victory of the season. Maybe it wasn’t the toughest opponent in the world (as we just detailed above), but it was the stage that made it so impressive. The Irish have squandered these kinds of chances so many times in the past. Momentum building win leads to a heart breaking dud. We’ve seen it too many times. However, we’re not seeing it now. Suddenly, the Irish have mojo. They have something to look forward to. Most importantly, they have a definable character. That’s what the win was all about.

 And it was dominant.

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