After a slow start, Notre Dame shook off the rust and took care of business against the Louisville Cardinals, 35-17 in Louisville. To cure the bye week blues for the Irish, here is the rundown of what went down, and what’s going on. For the fans at least, this can cause some bye week blue for Notre Dame.
As Notre Dame heads into its first bye week, head coach Brian Kelly can refocus his troops. And Irish fans can enjoy a weekend of low-blood-pressure-care-free, college football.
Players and fans alike will have an additional week to recuperate and move forward ahead of Notre Dame’s home opener on September 14 against New Mexico.
Injury Bug Bites Offense
While Notre Dame was able to get out of Louisville with a victory, running back Jafar Armstrong suffered a groin injury, which will sideline him for an extended period. This further depletes an already thin offensive core adding to the losses of Cole Kmet and Michael Young Jr with collarbone injuries.
Wide receiver Chase Claypool is OK after an awkward landing. For more analysis on the game itself, check out Notre Dame Survives the Surge.
Tough road ahead
The schedule for the 2019 Fighting Irish is once again, an uphill battle. Seven of the opponents faced this year will be coming off their own respective bye weeks. That means seven teams – most notably the USC Trojans, will have two weeks to prepare.
Across social media, Irish fans have had a primarily negative perception of taking a bye week early in the season.
In a more positive light, this allowed the Irish to experience a prime time atmosphere and spend an additional week to digest. They can now focus what they did well and what they will need to improve. The goal now is to be the best team they can be in week three of the college football season.
The Irish will take their second bye week in preparation for Michigan.
In addition to more time to reflect and prepare, the team is able to condition more effectively, especially the younger players who lacked game experience ahead of the Louisville match up.
Notre Dame gave many young players an early opportunity to make an impact. Kelly actually praised his young players and in turn challenged his veterans to improve.
Underclassmen influenced both sides of the ball from freshmen safety Kyle Hamilton and his display of coverage range to tight end Tommy Tremble and running back Jahmir Smith who both found the end zone in the 35-17 victory. Smith actually scored twice and may find an expanded role with Armstrong on the shelf.
All eyes on the Irish
The AP poll ranked Notre Dame as the eighth best team in college football after week one’s performance. Notre Dame fans though, have been more skeptical as expectations following an undefeated regular season are high.
Talk-show personality Paul Finebaum recently made the statement that he expects the Irish to lose at Georgia, at Michigan and that they could finish 10-2. More controversial, Finebaum suggested a five-year ban based on the performance in last season’s Cotton Bowl Classic.
Finebaum is notorious for his SEC affiliation but in any case this type of media shows that the nation has Notre Dame football on their radar.
For one week though, Notre Dame and its fan base can rest easy without any bye week blues. Notre Dame will need to come out red-hot when the take on the New Mexico Lobos is on September 14, 2019.