When the clock hit 0:00 at The Farm this past Saturday night, the Irish had completed only one thing: their season. Many questions were left, and one of them hasn’t been talked about a whole lot. Did we ever get to see of what this team was capable? Most teams, good or bad, have one game a season where they hit on all cylinders. One could argue that this was accomplished in wins over Michigan State, USC, and North Carolina State. I’ll snuggle into the other side of this argument that breeds opportunity at the end of it.
First, I don’t think I’d get a lot of resistance if I were to assert that we haven’t seen the best of Brandon Wimbush. Inconsistency, poor reads, bad decisions, and mechanics issues make for tough sledding as a signal caller. Do it at Notre Dame and you feel an uncomfortable feeling similar to that of being roasted, and no one is laughing. What happened to this young man that showed us flashes of what he was capable of, only to seemingly regress when the lights shone brightest? I don’t have the answer to that, but if we’re talking about from Miami on, we’re talking about a crisis of confidence. That simply cannot happen down the stretch of any season at Notre Dame.
Strength Of Schedule
Can you imagine having to get yourself in a condition, mentally and physically, each and every week to play some of the best competition in the country? Those boys did, to the tune of having only lost to three of those teams (all from the top 25). From a coaching standpoint, this is probably the most difficult thing to accomplish on a week-in and week-out basis. Doing this at Notre Dame, regardless of who is coaching, is a dangerous gauntlet of ups and downs. Our lads take real classes that require hours of study and attention to detail. Guess what else takes a lot of dedication and attention to detail.
What We Didn’t See
Truth be told, we never saw this team play a solid game for four quarters. That’s a bold statement considering how we dismantled most teams we faced up until Miami. So what was it about the trip down to sunshine state that sent this team reeling?
There are several things that derailed this seemingly special season at the time. I’ll allude to two: injuries and exposure. Miami revealed how to beat this team. It’s as simple as that.
They had a nice sample size to determine what we could and couldn’t do and executed it masterfully. We, on the other hand, didn’t adjust, and therefore, got drubbed. Let me also mention that regardless of the atmosphere down there, if you’re focused and determined, it means very little on how you execute come game time. The rest of the season was very much a product of getting knocked off our feet, and our confidence put into question. That’s poison for any team. They just couldn’t shake some things.
Lastly, I thought all along that we had a three-headed monster in the backfield. Seems to me that although Josh Adams was clearly at the front of that group, we could have done ourselves a favor in not running him into the ground. The Josh Adams that we saw against Stanford was a mere shell of what we saw against Sparty.
Folks, this time last year we were not interested in a bowl game because there was none to be had. This year is much different. We finished the season with a record that must be considered a “turnaround” season. Never mind the fact that we’re ranked 15th in the country. We most certainly have something to build off of for next year. But wait, not so fast. We have the biggest opportunity of all. To play that one game that alluded us all season. We have the opportunity to watch our Irish play for 60 minutes, whistle to whistle, to the best of their ability, and leave an impression on this season that I think we can all live with.
10 and 3 is okay with me.