Football was finally back and although it started quick for the Irish, looked a bit unsettling, then the Irish took control of the game. Florida State didn’t give up, and continued to stay in the game, but the Irish had enough of a fight in them to battle all the way through overtime and return to South Bend with a 41-38. It’s always a crap shoot for openers, teams have the whole offseason to prepare, but the Irish fixed their issues and eventually gutted out tough victory in a difficult environment.
5 ⭐️ – Kyle Hamilton
Sep 5, 2021; Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish saftey Kyle Hamilton (14) intercepts a pass past Florida State Seminoles running back Jashaun Corbin (0) during the second quarter at Doak S. Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports
What more can the junior do? Really, when the defense needed to step up after FSU had taken the lead, it was Hamilton to grab the big interception. When the Seminoles where threatening in the third quarter, once again Hamilton to the rescue. Yeah, he cost the team 15-yards with a silly penalty where he took off his helmet in FSU’s sideline, but it really didn’t matter. Everyone knows about the star safety, but it seems like FSU couldn’t stop testing him. Well they failed and Hamilton came away with two massive interceptions that resulted in touchdowns for the Irish.
4 ⭐️ – Pass catchers
Sep 5, 2021; Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish tight end Michael Mayer (87) catches a touchdown pass during the first quarter against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak S. Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports
I really just wanted to put Michael Mayer here, but he had two crucial drops, the biggest with time expiring in regulation, so the group effort is where we go. Mayer went for 120-yards on 9 receptions, Kevin Austin Jr. had 4 receptions for 91-yards and a score, Kyren Williams had 4 receptions for 83-yards and a score. Even though Joe Wilkins Jr. just had one reception but it went 23-yards for another score. It was a banner day for the group and the growth that we all have been waiting to see.
3 ⭐️ – Jack Coan
Sep 5, 2021; Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Jack Coan (17) runs with the ball during the second quarter against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak S. Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports
There was some good play and some so-so play from Coan. In my pregame look at this contest, I though that the transfer would have a good game. He did, throwing for four touchdowns and completing 26 of 35 passes for 366 yards. There were some plays that were left out there for Coan however, he took a few sacks and missed some easy passes. He did break Tommy Rees’ record for most passing yards in an Irish opener. The late pick in my mind doesn’t count, but it does on the stat sheet. Overall, it was a very positive showing for Coan, but there is room to grow here.
2 ⭐️ – Offensive line
Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Jack Coan (17) hands the ball off to Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Kyren Williams (23).The Notre Dame Fighting Irish lead the Florida State Seminoles 17-14 at the half Sunday, Sept. 5, 2021.
Fsu V Notre Dame458
The strength of the Irish offense the last few years seems to be a work in progress this fall. The group lost true freshman Blake Fisher to an injury. Jarrett Patterson did not look like an All-American candidate, having multiple bad snaps and a false start. They allowed four sacks and a huge one with the Irish clinging to the lead late in the 4th quarter on third down. The running backs averaged just 1.9 yards per carry. The holes that were open last year, weren’t there tonight. We knew it was going to be a work in progress, but this wasn’t a very encouraging start.
1 ⭐️ – Defense allowing big plays, not getting off the field when needed
Sep 5, 2021; Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Florida State Seminoles running back Jashaun Corbin (0) runs for a touchdown past Notre Dame Fighting Irish safety Kyle Hamilton (14) and cornerback Cam Hart (5) during the first quarter at Doak S. Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports
An 89-yard rushing touchdown. A 60-yard passing touchdown. These big plays seemingly didn’t happen last year against subpar teams but tonight wasn’t the same. We all know Marcus Freeman is one of the best up-and-coming coordinators in the country, but tonight was a struggle for him. He didn’t adjust quickly enough and the Seminoles made the Irish pay. Yeah, the group got a massive stop in overtime, but it never should have gotten to that point with an 18-point late third quarter lead. They allowed 442 total yards, with 5.5 yards-per-carry. It was the first game so you can probably chalk this one up as a learning experience, but if it becomes a theme, then the Irish could be in trouble against some of the tougher competition they’ll face later in the season.