Laken Litman, the Indianapolis Star reporter who caught the ire of a cranky Irishman on Saturday night, wrote a piece that went up earlier this week featuring some quotes from All-American left tackle Mike McGlinchey. The title reads, “Notre Dame OT Mike McGlinchey on last play vs. Georgia: ‘I blew it.’”
Oddly enough, that isn’t the part of the quote that stood out to me. I’m not here to dog-pile (or dawg-pile as it may be) on the kid. In light of that, some context on McGlinchey. The guy is an animal. He was a team captain last year and again this year. He earned second team all-american honors from the AP last year. He’s currently on the Maxwell, Outland and Lombardi Award watch lists. He’s a likely first round selection in next year’s draft.
The dude is good at football. But the context of his “I blew it” quote is interesting. Per Laken (emphasis my own):
It’s awful. Absolutely awful. We had them, for the most part, where we wanted them all game. It came down to execution, and I blew it. I got beat and caused a fumble. No excuses for that.
Ah, yes. The Irish offense had Georgia right where they wanted them for most of the game. That’s an interesting assessment from a contest in which Notre Dame accounted for just 265 yards of total offense. As a reminder: Notre Dame ran for just 55 yards on Saturday against a Bulldog defensive front that seemed to dominate. This was the squad’s worst performance on the ground since November of 2014.
This was a distinctly poor performance from Brian Kelly’s squad. Since arriving in South Bend in 2010, Kelly has coached 92 games. This was just the fourth time his team was held under 300 yards of offense and under 60 rushing yards.
Notable Notre Dame Offensive Struggles
|Offensive TDs Scored
|Offensive TDs Scored
Notre Dame ran 76 offensive plays against Georgia. Thirty-three resulted in no gain (or a loss), another eight resulted in gains of 1 yards and eight more accounted for gains of two yards. 64.5% of all offensive plays resulted in gains of two yards or less. Notre Dame’s offense did not have Georgia where they wanted them.
And maybe, that’s not what McGlinchey really meant. But when we (or at least I) talk about Notre Dame football and the accompanying sense of entitlement, this is what we mean.
Georgia did not play a perfect game. The secondary had lapses, every phase of the game was penalized, and a true freshman quarterback looked like a true freshman quarterback. But I have to let McGlinchey off the hook with this one. He didn’t blow the game by missing one block. Georgia’s front-seven and defense as a whole looked darn-near dominant for the whole game.
Saying, “We had them, for the most part, where we wanted them all game,” is misguided. And yet, such a misconception is understandable. After all, McGlinchey’s head coach thinks there’s a difference between losing a one-point game and losing a one-possession game.
If you believe this narrow loss wasn’t like last year’s narrow losses (as alleged by Kelly), then I guess you can believe Notre Dame had the Bulldogs right where the wanted them.
So what does this mean for Georgia? It’s certainly not bulletin board material. The game is over. I think what it means for the Bulldogs and their fans, is that we can’t put quite as much stock into the Notre Dame win as we’d like.
When I did the Q&A with Pat Rick over at One Foot Down, I noted the following about Notre Dame football and the importance of this game:
Finally, there is some very real Southeastern disdain for Notre Dame and that is amplified for many Georgia fans. From our perspective, the Irish haven't really been relevant as a true football power in decades (with the exception of 2012). The SEC as a whole still views Notre Dame as perennially overhyped and as the seventh-best team Alabama played in 2012. Remember, Georgia was five yards away from beating the Tide. Notre Dame didn't look like it belonged in the same building.
Whether that sweeping assertion is remotely true doesn't matter in this case. What matters is that Georgia losing to Notre Dame will be viewed by teams across the conference as "letting the SEC down." That will sound ridiculous to a program that doesn't have a conference, but that's beyond our control.
Notre Dame is overhyped. Dating back to late 2015, Notre Dame is now 5-11 in its last 16 games. That’s not a mistake. That’s not an accident. That’s not an incidental shortcoming. Sure, some of those games were close losses, but they were losses nonetheless. I don’t think this Fighting Irish team is a Top 25 squad (though they may prove me wrong), and I’m not entirely sure that Georgia’s road win in front of a neutral crowd is quite the shining beacon of optimism that some are making it out to be.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad Georgia won and I’m thrilled the Dawgs won a game that could have been lost. But we shouldn’t buy into Notre Dame hype the way Notre Dame does. A one-point loss is a one-possession loss and that is a pattern for Brian Kelly, no matter what his delusional mind dreams up when chastising a reporter. And that theme of delusional thinking seems to be trickling through the entire program.