When the Irish, up 5, got the ball on their own 23 yard line with 7:55 on the clock, I thought, “If the Cards can just hold here, at the very worst, they can wave goodbye to TDJ, and get outta South Bend with smiles on their faces.”
So it came to pass.
Notre Dame went on one of those manly man 13 rushing play, 2 passing play, eat up the clock and let’s get this over drives. Cool.
Louisville’s D, which fashioned far and away its best performance of the season, heck, in a long while, never broke. One 24 yard scamper was the only hint of a threat in that last sequence.
There was no surrender.
I’ve never been a fan of Brian Kelly, but I couldn’t help but appreciate what he did during that timeout at 1:25 with his squad at 2d & 8 at the Cardinals’ nine yard line.
“Victory 22,” he mouthed to his QB. Three straight kneel downs ensued.
A blissfully sleep-inducing conclusion. For me, anyway.
So, I hope the Cardinals feel proud of their effort. I mean an L is an L, but you know . . .
Louisville seven. Notre Dame twelve.
I’ve never been a big believer in “moral victories,” but, all things considered, right on Cardinals.
It is as the trope goes, “something to build on.”
* * * * *
A shout out, many shout outs, to U of L’s secondary.
Ian Book had a dozen rushing attempts, including ND’s only TD. But the reason for that is how deftly his receivers were covered.
Isaiah Hayes, Chandler Jones, Russ Yeast, Ke’Trel Clark, Jack Fagot: Take a bow.
The rest of the U of L defenders also deserve praise.
Jared Goldwire, Robert Hicks, C.J. Avery, Rodjay Burns, Nick Okeke, Dorian Etheridge, Ramon Puryear, YaYa Diaby, Tabarius Peterson, Malik Clark, and Ja’Darien Boykin: Take a bow.
Hold on, before you fast forward to the Comments section, ready to unload on me, thinking I’ve forgotten somebody, hold your horses.
Game Ball: Monty Montgomery.
The junior LB from Norcross, Ga. was EVERYWHERE.
13 tackles. (More than twice as many as any other Card. Goldwire and Hayes had six each.) 11 solo. 2 sacks.
* * * * *
Louisville’s D set the tone early.
On Notre Dame’s first possession, they drove it into the Red Zone. FG only.
On Notre Dame’s second possession, they drove it to a 3d & Goal at the 7. Montgomery TFL. FG.
The host’s third possession ended with a Montgomery sack. Three and out.
On the Irish’s next possession, they found themselves with a 4th & 9 at Louisville’s 13, after a TD was found not to be a TD
(And how many of those did the Irish get away with before replay? Correct answer: Too damn many. Knute and the Gipper hate modern technology.)
Frustrated, Kelly called for a faux FG. Boykin thwarted the Irish ploy.
Meaning U of L, which generated minimal offense before its last drive heading to intermission, went into the half down but 0-6. When the time of possession numbers read Cards 8:03, Irish 21:57.
Meaning the Cardinals stayed strong, and didn’t not wilt when the bigger, more talented Irish had the ball. Not in the opening half. Not in the second half, despite a minus fifteen minutes with the ball for the 60.
* * * * *
Had the Cardinals been able to keep the ball after that gutsy onside kick attempt, might the outcome have been different?
Of course, it might have altered the result.
But, the answer is blowin’ in the NW Indiana wind.
What I don’t understand about that ploy was Tony Dungey’s remarks afterward. When he quizzed NBC’s rules guy, whatever his name, if he liked the no-blocking-for-ten-yard rule that Louisville breached?
As much as I hate the ramifications yesterday, the rule makes sense. If the ball is kicked deep, you can’t block the receiver before the ball arrives. Why should a team be able to do it in an onside situation?
* * * * *
Louisville did not turn the ball over. Nor, to be fair, did ND.
U of L’s offensive line did not surrender a sack. The Cards got to Book four times.
* * * * *
After the game, Coach Satt liked his squad’s effort.
“I told our guys in the locker room I was proud of them, but I was really proud of them the way they handled the week.”
It doesn’t get any easier for the 1-4, but hopefully invigorated Cardinals.
Next Saturday noon: Energized Florida State.
— c d kaplan