It was a familiar script for Brian Kelly’s Notre Dame football team: Get a lead, hold the lead with great defense, and win going away.
For Brian Kelly’s Notre Dame football team, the first half of the season has been establishing an identity. After Notre Dame’s first three wins, the Irish didn’t appear to have a clear visual of what their team would look like. After three more, however, the Irish have established their identity.
And that identity is pretty clear.
After the midpoint of the season, it seems clear what Notre Dame wants to do: The Irish want to be aggressive on offense early, stave off the other team with a solid defense, and then make adjustments as the game progresses to put their opponent away.
The Irish have followed that script to a 6-0 record and a top-5 ranking in the AP Poll.
After the game, players and coaches alike discussed how the Irish squandered a few opportunities in the passing game that could have blown the game wide open. In addition, Notre Dame struggled to run the ball in the first half, but found success in that category in the second half.
Notre Dame didn’t play a particularly perfect game Saturday night in Blacksburg. With the way they are playing complementary football, they didn’t have to. That second statement is an indication that, although the Irish have had a great deal of success this season, they haven’t reached their ceiling. That should excite Notre Dame fans.
In short, while there is a little room for pause with the Irish, the bottom line is this: Fans haven’t seen the best of this Notre Dame team yet. After all, their current starting quarterback has started only 3 games this season. As the Irish continue to gel, they will hit their stride. When they do, it might be a fruitful postseason for the Irish.