John Heisler | September 11, 2018
The Irish are 2-0. The Irish are 2-0. The Irish are 2-0.
Notre Dame's first two outings have produced a cornucopia of emotions and reactions, most recently Saturday against Ball State when Brian Kelly's squad felt it could have played more productively than what Irish fans saw in Notre Dame Stadium.
Yet, the record is 2-0 — and Kelly and his players can celebrate the fact they retained their No. 8 national ranking based on weekend action around the country.
Notre Dame returns for a third straight home game this weekend versus Southeastern Conference foe Vanderbilt (also 2-0 following wins against Middle Tennessee and Nevada).
Consider some leftovers from Notre Dame's victory over Ball State:
1. Energy, emotion and focus are musts. Notre Dame has a more-than-capable football team in 2018, yet the Irish cannot assume anything. They need to play with passion and execute at a high level – no matter the opponent. That point hit home with emphasis against the Cardinals. Whatever the reason, Notre Dame's preparation last week did not compute to crisp play against Ball State. Point made. Reality suggests Irish players heard all week how they were supposed to win by four or five touchdowns. That meant absolutely nothing Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.
2. Let's run it again. Notre Dame felt pretty good about its running game after outgaining Michigan by 74 ground yards against a highly rated Wolverine defense. That same feeling was not there a week later after Ball State outgained the Irish by 52 yards on the ground. Kick aside Jafar Armstrong's 42-yard burst on the second play from scrimmage – and Notre Dame's next 40 rushes accounted for only 75 net yards (including a net negative-seven yards from Brandon Wimbush's 11 attempts). The consensus in the Irish camp is that they are better than that – and they'll have to be, given what's ahead.
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