Notre Dame Football: Finishing Foes Off Once Again an Issue

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There were 14 representatives from 11 NFL teams, including Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace, attending Saturday’s Notre Dame football game against the University of Miami. Additionally five reps from three bowl games came to South Bend. You even had two individuals on behalf of the Canadian Football League’s Saskatchewan Rough Riders attendance Fighting Irish versus the Hurricanes.

While many or most of those individuals were there to scout individual players, what they all observed was a Notre Dame football that played a familiar song which we’ve heard over and over and over again this season.

This time however the Irish ended it on a positive note, instead of a negative.

notre dame football

As usual, the Irish had the chance to salt it away right in their hands, but they let it slip. However, this outing they were able to recover in time and pull out the W.

In his “Five things to watch” column this week published ahead of the game, ND Associate Athletic Director John Heisler wrote this below for #4

It sounds like a broken record, but . . . This is how close the Irish have come to winning in their five defeats in 2016:

–In a double overtime loss at Texas, the Irish had a 35-31 lead and the ball with 8:35 left.

–In an eight-point loss to Michigan State, the Irish had the ball at their own 29 with 4:18 to go.

–In a three-point loss to Duke, the Irish had the ball at their own 26 with 1:27 remaining.

–In a seven-point loss at North Carolina State, the Irish had the ball on the Wolfpack 16 with 2:01 remaining.

–In a seven-point loss to Stanford, the Irish had three chances from second and four at the Cardinal eight in the final minute.

That’s how fine the line has been in 2016 between winning and losing for Notre Dame. As Irish coach Brian Kelly has reiterated, success for Notre Dame moving forward is abut finishing games.

It happened again today as ND led 17-0 at the end of the first quarter, and 20-0 in the second. Yet, the Fighting Irish fell behind 27-20, on a muffed punt no less, with 6:49 to go.

That’s been the theme song to this Notre Dame football season, blown opportunities, chances squandered, missed opportunities, self-inflicted wounds.

ND quarterback DeShone Kizer marched the Fighing Irish down the field in the fourth quarter, and once the game winning field goal drive had been kicked, Miami QB Brad Kaaya on company had just 30 seconds to work with.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a 2016 Notre Dame football finish (and this game felt a lot like the Michigan State loss at certain times during the duration) without a little more drama. Preceding the game winning kick, ND tight end Durham Smythe fumbled near the goal line, and the whole stadium gasped.

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It was ruled Notre Dame football, and in the end the Irish escaped with a win; keeping them mathematically alive for a bowl berth.

Coach Kelly on what it means to finally close out and seal the deal for a change.

“It just meant that we’re not going to have to go through this again. We were all going to have to listen to, okay, the locker room is falling apart, a bunch of baloney, and we’d have to go through all this again.”

“It wasn’t going to change anything We were still going to do the same thing. The attitude would have been great. Their preparation would have been great. But they were going to have to figure out how to win a football game late, and that meant they had to execute better, they had to play all phases better at the end, and they did.”

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, partnered with FOX Sports Engage Network. and News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, currently contributes regularly to the Chicago Tribune’s RedEye publication and Bold Global.

He also consistently appears on numerous radio and television talk shows all across the country. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram and Sound Cloud.

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