Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 31, 2016

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 40 of 55 OCT. 31, 2016 41 Irish began 2-5, and then barely hung on for a 21-17 victory against Navy. Its next test would be at "Death Val- ley" versus No. 11 LSU, which had already upset No. 1 Florida. Before playing the Tigers, Notre Dame had a bye. It responded with a 24-6 victory against LSU while be- coming the first and still lone Irish team to finish a game without a turn- over and penalty. It was the highlight of winning the last five regular-sea- son games, which also included a win over No. 22 West Virginia. The other was during Brian Kelly's first season in 2010. A humiliating 35-17 defeat to Navy was followed by a 28-27 loss at home to Tulsa to fall to 4-5. The only good news was there was a bye week coming up to reca- librate while freshman quarterback Tommy Rees had to take over for the injured Dayne Crist. Still, it looked certain the Irish would have a losing record because it still had to play No. 15 Utah and also needed to travel to USC, which held an eight-game winning streak against Notre Dame. Following the bye, though, Notre Dame's defense became stellar and the offense more power oriented while defeating Utah (28-3), Army (27-3) and USC with a 20-16 victory at the Los Angeles Coliseum. The cherry on top was a 33-17 bowl win versus Miami to finish 8-5. Inter- estingly, the Hurricanes, Trojans and Cadets are all on the back half of this year's schedule as well. It was a salvage operation, and six seasons later, Kelly and Co. have come full circle and will attempt to do the same after a much welcomed bye week. Attitude and focus are paramount. THE RICHT STUFF Speaking of getting refreshed … that is precisely what first-year Miami head coach Mark Richt needed at his alma mater after a 15-year reign at the University of Georgia from 2001-15. Richt produced a 145-51 record at Georgia, but after an 82-22 (.804 win- ning percentage) start his first eight years, he dropped to 63-29 (.685) his last seven. Even though Richt led a No. 5 finish in the Associated Press poll in 2012 — when his Bulldogs fell about five yards short of defeating Alabama in the SEC Championship Game and thereby playing Notre Dame for the national title — and No. 9 in 2014, the UGA faithful became restless about averag- ing "only" nine wins per season over the last seven years and not challeng- ing more frequently for the SEC crown. The restlessness with Richt in Athens somewhat mirrors what is transpiring with Kelly at Notre Dame, where his 57-27 record and .679 winning percentage has created the same unfulfilled angst the way Richt's 63-29 mark and .685 ledger at Georgia did his last seven years. Richt is going to achieve the unique trifecta of starting as a quarterback against the Irish, serving as an assis- tant coach on a No. 1-ranked team versus them and now challenging them for the first time as a head coach. In 1982, Richt started in place of the injured Jim Kelly for No. 17 Miami at No. 10 Notre Dame and completed 12 of 25 passes for 151 yards, high- lighted by a perfectly placed 79-yard touchdown on a deep route to Rocky Belk that put Miami ahead 14-13 in the fourth quarter. With a chance to put away the game late, Richt called a quarterback sneak on third-and-short, was stopped short, and Notre Dame drove 55 yards to kick the game winning field goal with 11 seconds left in its 16-14 win. "It was strictly my decision to go for the sneak," Richt said after the game. "I'm the man to pin the loss on. I did it because I figured there wouldn't be anybody in the middle to stop me." His next visit to Notre Dame Sta- dium occurred in 1993 as the quar- terbacks coach for Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward of No. 1 Florida State. Even though Richt's team came up on the short end again that Nov. 13 with a 31-24 loss, the Seminoles ended up as the national champs. The Irish will attempt to pull the "triple play" sweep of Richt as the starting QB, rising assistant coach and now head coach in Notre Dame Stadium. ✦ GAME PREVIEW: MIAMI Mark Richt will be the first to start at quarter- back against the Irish (for Miami in 1982), serve as an assistant coach on a No. 1-ranked team versus them (with Florida State in 1993) and face them as a head coach (Miami Oct. 29). PHOTO COURTESY MIAMI ATHLETICS Predictions Corey Bodden: Miami 38, Notre Dame 35 Brad Kaaya will be the best quarterback Notre Dame faces this season. If the weather is okay, it will be a high-scoring affair with the Hurricanes defense making one more stop than the Irish. Bryan Driskell: Notre Dame 24, Miami 20 Notre Dame will get back on track at home, but it won't be easy. The Hurricanes are talented, but the Irish get it done on their sod. Matt Jones: Miami 30, Notre Dame 26 Miami still faces Virginia Tech in a critical Thursday night ACC test Oct. 20. The Hurricanes will come to South Bend and exert their will against the Irish. David McKinney: Miami 43, Notre Dame 30 Miami is a much-improved team this season. Notre Dame, frankly, is not. Notre Dame will have the home-field advantage, but that didn't do much to help the Irish against Michigan State or Duke. Lou Somogyi: Miami 31, Notre Dame 28 Whether the week away from football will be a positive should be answered against the Hurricanes. If so, then the Irish are capable of running the November table like in 2010.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - Oct. 31, 2016