The Fighting Irish came into their week one game at Louisville with a bit of a bad taste left in their mouth from last season’s blowout loss to Clemson in the College Football Playoff. Though it was not pretty early on, they were able to pick up where they left off the 2018 regular season by grinding out a 35-17 win against the rebounding Louisville program.
Notre Dame opened up the game with two and a half minute drive that ended with a touchdown. They threw the ball just once and ran the ball with ease against a Louisville defense that’s coming off an abysmal 2018 campaign. However, the offense would quickly cool off and the defense allowed two quick touchdown scoring drives to knot the game up at 14 where it remained for much of the first half. The Irish front seven struggled early to contain Louisville quarterback Jawon Pass, who was fairly impressive throughout the game. After losing key linebackers Drue Tranquil and Te’von Coney to the NFL, the Irish needed the linebacking core to step up and they did so in the second half.
The defense allowed just three second-half points and stifled the Cardinals both on the ground and in the air. Ian Book seemed to settle down on offense, connecting with Chase Claypool for a couple of huge passing plays and with Tommy Tremble down the seam for a nice touchdown pass. For the day, Book went 14-23 with 193 yards and a touchdown while adding over 80 yards on the ground. He, Jahmir Smith, Tony Jones Jr. and company combined for over 230 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. The rushing attack was clearly the strength of the offense a year ago and 2019 looks to be no different.
On the flip side, the defense allowed nearly 250 yards on the ground and almost 400 yards of total offense which is concerning, to say the least. With Georgia coming up in three weeks the Irish must quickly tighten it up against the run or they will be in for a shock against the playoff-hopeful Bulldogs. At the end of the day, Notre Dame got the win but has a lot to work on if they want to return to the College Football Playoff this year.