Notre Dame overcomes struggles in opening win
LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Notre Dame Football was where it wanted to be at the end of the day, singing its Alma Mater victoriously in front of the traveling Irish crowd.
Although, even after a 35-17 win over Louisville, it’s clear the Irish didn’t get there the way that they envisioned.
“Very happy to be 1-0. That’s what we wanted at the end of the day. Got a lot to learn from it. I think that’s the best part is how much we’re gonna learn when we go back and watch the film,” said Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book.
At halftime on the Labor Day season opener, it seemed as if the heavily favored Irish might’ve been in for a wake-up call.
Leading Louisville just 21-14 at the break, Notre Dame found itself a bit more as the game wore on, including quarterback Ian Book who struggled a bit early on. Book still completed over 60% of his passes and did compensate with his legs.
“Didn’t like the way I played in the first half, so had to put that behind me and move on. Just focus on the little details. Play within the system and play the way I’ve always played,” Book said.
“He [Book] knows he can be better. We’re not going to beat him with a shoe. It’s one game. He needs to be better. He knows that, and he will be better,” Notre Dame Football Head Coach Brian Kelly said.
Just as Book found more success, the Irish defense did as well. Early struggles to contain Cardinals quarterback Jawon Pass eventually were cleaned up and the three forced fumbles of the night were a big reason that Louisville scored just three points after taking their first quarter lead.
“The first half, first-game jitters, you always get that. But we worked on it, made adjustments and played ball in the second half,” said Notre Dame defensive end Ade Ogundeji.
“We actually need our veterans to step up another level of their play, which I’m certain they will. The good news for me tonight as the coach tonight is that the younger players showed themselves,” Coach Kelly said.
Some big plays were made by new faces on both sides of the ball, including Kyle Hamilton in the defensive backfield, red-shirt freshman Jahmir Smith, who made his first career scores and true freshman Tommy Tremble.
“We don’t look like the finished product by any means but we did some things tonight to align us in the kind of direction I want to go. We still won the game and we have some good things to take away from it,” Coach Kelly said.
The Irish now have a week off to make those necessary improvements before the home opener at Notre Dame Stadium against New Mexico on September 14.