Notre Dame fans can finally breathe with a solid Week 0 performance under the collective belt of the Fighting Irish. Yes, it was against Navy under a new head coach. Yes, Notre Dame was a three-touchdown favorite. But this was also a Navy team that staged a massive fourth-quarter comeback against the Irish last year, and a Notre Dame team that lost to Marshall at home. Optimism seems to be an appropriate reaction.
A note: The Dublin experience was fantastic. The city was more than welcoming to the ND fans, with massive Irish banners hung on buildings throughout the city, pop-up shops with limited edition merch, and a full-out flyover and firework display ahead of the game at Aviva Stadium. They were ready for the 40,000 fans and the ensuing parades and chaos, and it made for a very fun weekend. (There were also Notre Dame banners hung in the streets of Galway, over 100 miles from where the game was taking place. So welcoming).
Without reacting too early, here are three big takeaways from the game.
The Irish kept it quick & clean
Notre Dame recorded just a single penalty all game — an early offensive holding. They used timeouts well, with no panicked countdowns ahead of the snap and no confusion between the sidelines and the field. They recorded zero turnovers. It’s those fundamentals in games like this one against a bad Navy team that breed optimism for the season ahead. You have to get the basics ready first in order to develop, and the basics are ready.
The RB room goes deeper than Estime
Audric Estime was the talk of the offseason. The workhorse running back, who clocks in at 5’11 and 227 lbs, had the hopes of the Irish run game resting on his shoulders after an impressive 2022. While he will still be getting the majority of the workload, the Irish are deep in the RB room. Jadarian Price returned after an Achilles tear last year and grabbed a touchdown on his first carry of the year, and freshmen Jeremiyah Love and Gi’Bran Payne both made a statement when given the opportunity. With the Irish’s offensive line, the run game should be a major plus this season.
Sam Hartman is the answer to every question
On a personal level, I have never known how it feels to be confident rather than anxious when a Notre Dame quarterback decides to pass the ball. I finally know what it feels like to have faith in a QB. A lot of people have wondered what ND’s missing piece is — why they can make it to the big games but can’t follow through — and having watched this, it’s because they haven’t had a quarterback like this. Hartman isn’t just elite. He’s a dual threat, he’s a leader, he’s cool under pressure, and he may just be the answer to Notre Dame’s prayers.
The Irish have their home opener at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, September 2 against Tennessee State.