It was the perfect season that almost was. Well, just like the book Casey at the Bat when everyone was sad in Mudville after Casey struck out, all is solemn in Notre Dame nation after a 30-3 semi-final loss at the hands of the Clemson Tigers. Notre Dame was outmatched in most every way and in every facet of the game, although Brian Kelly felt the game was much closer than the score. Pair that with several uncharacteristic mistakes, and the 2018 season is now over. It’s a tough pill to swallow for players, alums, and die hard fans. So close, yet so far away it seems. Instead of New Year’s plans playing in the National Championship, the off-season has now begun with the focus on 2019 starting.
Quickly, let’s recap what was a historic year. After opening up the year with a win under the lights against Michigan, your fighting Irish ran the table in the regular season. We saw stellar wins against Stanford, Florida State, and USC. Notre Dame’s offense got better as the regular season continued in large part to Ian Book. Book took the Notre Dame offense to new heights, and the resurgence of Dexter Williams at the running back position added another burst. It was great to see the development and production of wide receivers Chase Claypool and Miles Boykin as well. On the defensive side, in Clark Lea’s first year at the helm, the play of Drue Tranquill, Tevon Coney, Julian Okwara, Julian Love, and Aloha Gilman helped shut down opposing offenses for much of 2018. Love made nearly every All-American list and was a Thorpe Award Finalist. The foundation has been built on both sides of the ball.
Brian Kelly, who won several coach of the year awards now moves into the off-season with the sole goal of getting to the next level, the level of Clemson and Alabama. While 2018 was an amazing ride, it will be interesting to see what happens next year. Stay tuned. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you throughout the season. I’ll check in soon. Thanks. Go Irish!