Irish turn focus to Navy
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Suddenly, Notre Dame’s “33Trucking. com” is in need of repairs.
The “33 Trucking” campaign was intended to tout a Heisman Trophy candidacy for Fighting Irish running back Josh Adams and postseason honors for standout offensive linemen Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson, among others. The campaign has been muted now that ninthranked Notre Dame (8-2) is coming off a 41-8 loss at Miami.
Coach Brian Kelly, whose team plays its final home game this Saturday against Navy (6-3), doesn’t want to be reminded of the humbling loss. Asked Tuesday why Notre Dame punted on its first possession against the Hurricanes, Kelly was quick to reply, “I’d have to watch the film again, and I’m not interested in watching it again.”
Kelly is more interested in getting Adams and fellow running back Dexter Williams healthy again for Notre Dame’s 91st consecutive meeting with the Midshipmen, who beat the Irish last season, 28-27.
Having the two backs healthy should help an offense that saw its five-game streak of 318 or more rushing yards end as the Hurricanes limited the Irish to 109 on the ground. They also forced four turnovers, three by quarterback Brandon Wimbush.
The junior lost a fumble and had two passes intercepted by the Hurricanes, who also intercepted backup Ian Book and turned the four miscues into 24 points. Kelly said he thinks Wimbush, who finished 10 of 21 passing for 119 yards and one TD, will mentally respond.
“Well, he’s a competitor and a competitor wants to be at his best when his best is needed, and he wasn’t (against Miami),” Kelly said. “So he wants to rededicate himself this week to his preparation, and he wants to go out there and be the best version of Brandon Wimbush.”
The injury report on Adams and Williams was encouraging.
“Josh shows no ill effects from an ankle, a head or neck,” Kelly said of the injuries that have limited Adams, who had 1,169 rushing yards prior to the games with Wake Forest (22 yards on five carries) and Miami (40 on 16). “Dexter had the quad contusion, which was limiting, and it was the best he’s felt.”
In limited action against Wake Forest and Miami, Williams had 56 yards on six carries.
At East Lansing, Mich., by halftime of Michigan State’s loss at Ohio State last weekend, it was obvious the Spartans were overmatched.
In fact, the game was reminiscent of two of Mark Dantonio’s most one-sided defeats as Michigan State’s coach.
It was Alabama that inflicted those, beating the Spartans, 49-7, in the 2011 Capital One Bowl and, 38-0, in a 2015 national semifinal. Saturday’s game at Ohio State — a 48-3 loss — was similar. It may actually have been worse than the playoff game against Alabama, which didn’t really get out of hand until the second half.
“I just asked my players one simple thing: Do the very best you can to prepare emotionally, physically and from a football standpoint. Do the very, very best and bring your best in every single football game,” Dantonio said Tuesday. “I do not think we did that last week. That’s on everybody to look at themselves and ask themselves: Did I get enough sleep? Did I eat right? Did I watch enough film? What was my mental state when I went to the football game? That’s on all of us.”
Those blowouts against Alabama and Ohio State are easy to list because they haven’t happened that often since Dantonio came to East Lansing. The Spartans have often exceeded expectations against Ohio State, for example, so it was unusual for them to be so quickly outclassed. It was 14-0 after one quarter and 35-3 after two.
The difference between this game and the two Alabama routs is that this one didn’t end the season. The 22nd-ranked Spartans (7-3, 5-2 Big Ten) host Maryland (4-6, 2-5) next weekend in Michigan State’s home finale. Dantonio said his players have moved on from last weekend’s setback.
Notre Dame players look on from the bench during the team’s blowout loss against Miami on Saturday.