Notre Dame football kicked off its season on Saturday. The Irish were lead by its defense and produced enough offense to beat Duke 27-13.
It was so good to watch Notre Dame football on television on Saturday afternoon. After months of feeling like watching college football would turn out to be nothing more than a pipe dream, the Irish took the field against the Duke Blue Devils, hoping to get its season started on the right foot.
The Irish did just that, beating Duke 27-13.
For the Irish, the defense carried the day while the offense took awhile to get out of the starting blocks.
Lead by quarterback Ian Book, the Irish offense left a little bit to be desired, especially early on. In each of the first 3 possessions, the Irish offense failed to get a first down. The running game wasn’t effective, and Book looked (at best) a little rusty.
But after placing a very dicey 1st quarter behind them, the Irish offense, behind the tough running of Kyren Williams, picked it up the rest of the way. Williams showed what won him the starting running back spot in the first place, finishing the game carrying the ball 19 times for 123 yards and catching 2 passes for 93 yards.
Book, likewise, got better as the game went on.
The Irish signal-caller certainly wasn’t perfect: He missed a few throws and didn’t pull the trigger on a couple others. In the end, though, Book threw for 263 yards, completing 19 of 31 passes.
But it was Notre Dame’s defense that was truly impressive on the afternoon.
After looking a little off-balance to start the game, the Irish forced Duke into a failed fourth down on the game’s opening drive and held Duke two a field goal on the second drive.
From there, the Irish made it difficult for the Blue Devils to get much going throughout the rest of the game. Particularly impressive was the Notre Dame pass rush, which made it difficult for Duke quarterback Chase Brice to get into a great rhythm.
Isaiah Foskey had a big day for the Irish in a reserve role, while Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah did what was expected of him, notching a sack, forcing a fumble, and being an overall nuisance for the Duke offense.
Certainly the Irish could have played a cleaner game. Certainly there are some mistakes that need corrected for the Irish to compete with better opponents. Certainly the Irish left some points (and some chunk plays) on the field.
In the end, though, Notre Dame hasn’t played a football game since December, with much of its practice time since then being canceled. The Irish will only get better after a good opening-week win.