2020 Game #11 - ACC CHAMPIONSHIP
Updated: Dec 19, 2020
HERE COME THE IRISH!
Are you familiar with
Unless you are a hermit living alone with no human social interaction, you will certainly know the football player wearing #16 on his orange and white uniform on the previous page. Or if you implemented a self-imposed stay-at-home lock-up in your home seeing perhaps only your next-door neighbors and the mail carrier who still brings you your bills, you will certainly know that player. Or if the unthinkable and unimaginable happened and the World Health Organization announced the existence of a medical pandemic involving a heretofore unknown virus triggering governmental orders requiring the closure of all but essential activities and imposing heretofore unknown social distancing requirements, you will certainly know that player.
Wait, that is exactly what has happened, isn’t it? So, #1, let’s consider that player. He is William Trevor Lawrence. One has to wonder why he is not wearing uniform #1. In his 2017 recruiting class he was the #1 Quarterback according to Rivals; he was the #1 Quarterback according to 247Sports; he was the #1 Quarterback according to ESPN; he was the #1 overall player according to Rivals; he was the #1 overall player according to 247Sports; he was the #1 overall player according to ESPN; he was the #1 player in the hearts of the fans in his hometown of Carterville, Georgia where he Quarterbacked the Carterville Purple Hurricanes; after his freshman year he would have been the #1 NFL draft pick (had he been eligible); after his sophomore year he would have been the #1 NFL draft pick (again had he been eligible); and this year he will be the #1 NFL draft pick (might he be “leaving on a JET plane” to New York?).
And, dare I say, he is the #1 reason why his participation in Notre Dame/Clemson #2, a participation that did not occur in Notre Dame/Clemson #1, has resulted in the Irish being a 10.5 point underdog. 10.5 FREAKIN’ POINTS!!
Let’s review his career starting with the Carterville High School Purple Hurricanes.
As a true Freshman (are there any “false” Freshmen), Lawrence started the 4th game as the Carterville varsity QB and never looked back. He replaced junior signal caller Miller Forristall who moved to Tight End and parlayed that switch to recruitment by the Alabama Crimson where he now starts as a Senior Tight End.
Which leads me to speculate on how many high schools (other than IMG Academy in Florida) potentially will have two players opposing each other in the College Football Playoffs? But I digress.
So, how did Lawrence of Arabia (oops, Carterville) do with the Purple Hurricanes? How about a record of 52-2 in the games he started, including a record of 14-2 in the Georgia state play offs? Just so there is misunderstanding that is 52 wins!!
He lost 2, just 2, count them, 2 games in high school!
He passed for 13,902 yards and broke the Georgia State records of Deshaun Watson. Watson, by the way, also Quarterbacked the Clemson Fighting Tigers and now Quarterbacks the NFL Houston Texans.
So, much to the delight of Coach Dabo Swinney and adorable, adoring Fighting Tiger fans everywhere, Lawrence was off to Clemson. Could he have been Swinney swayed by his affinity to one of the Clemson official colors that mirrors the purple from his Carterville days. Perhaps, but because Clemson is an institution of higher learning, the word “purple” must be too pedestrian as the official Clemson colors are “Tiger Orange” and “Regalia”.
In any event, as a true Freshman (still no “false” Freshman), he started the 4th game replacing Kelly Bryant and proceeded to lead Clemson to the National Championship.
Now in his third, and certainly final year as the Clemson Quarterback, his record as the starting Clemson Quarterback is 35-1, the lone loss being in the 2019 National Championship game. At 6’6” and 235 lbs and with pinpoint passing accuracy plus the ability to run and cover lots of yards with his long strides, he is a load and deserving of all the #1 adulations and honors that have come his way.
How does Notre Dame stand a chance against this #1? Well, here is reason #1:
Ian Book was the #519 rated recruit the year he finished his high school career.
So, mano-a-mano, which team has the Quarterback advantage? The 6’6” Lawrence or the 6’0” Book. Growth gives the edge to Lawrence. On pinpoint passing accuracy, Lawrence prevails. Whilst Lawrence can run well too, on elusiveness and moving the chains with his admittedly shorter legs, Book wins by a hair. Of course, Lawrence who wore a burr entering Carterville High, wins the hair competition by more than a hair. But, this is not a tonsorial competition to determine who is better coiffed! No, it is a competition that will be decided in Charlotte on the football field by whichever team has a bigger number opposite its name on the Bank of America stadium scoreboard when the time number reads 00:00.
Take a look at this. You will see this positive image often.
Brent Venables is the skilled, creative, imaginative, knowledgeable, veteran Clemson defensive coordinator. And I might point out very highly paid, reportedly at $2.4 million for 2020! He has been at Clemson since 2012.
But the Irish Offensive coordinator is Tom, f/k/a “Tommy”, Rees. He is the skilled, creative, imaginative, and knowledgeable, albeit a wee-bit short of being a veteran, Irish Offensive coordinator.
In Notre Dame/Clemson #1, the Irish O-line won the trenches. In Notre Dame/Clemson #2, the Irish will be without Jarret Patterson while the Clemson front 7 will have Tackle Tyler Davis and linebackers James Skalski and Mike Jones, Jr. back. OMG, another reason to wonder how Notre Dame has a chance!!
The answer? If it is Quinn for Jarrett, just one week before Christmas there will be carols sung for Carroll, and if it is Josh for Jarrett, the Clemson wheels will have their Lugg nuts loosened before failing.
So, what “weapons” will be at the disposal of Lawrence and Book?
For “Kyren out loud” you should not expect a 60+ yard Kyren Williams TD run on the first Irish play of the game. But expect one (albeit a bit shorter) during the first half. And might it just come from Chris Tyree or from both of them?
And for Lawrence, do not expect the Irish to hold his guy Travis Etienne to 28 rushing yards again. Will not happen. He can double it to 56 yards, but it will still be a success for the Irish D.
Expect that success, for it will happen.
How about the receivers? We have our LG Signature OLED TV primed! Oops, wrong type of receiver. But, just a suggestion for you. If something you see on your screen drives you crazy, DO NOT try a “Gator Toss” or “Florida Fling” of a shoe at the screen. You might get more than a 15-yard penalty!
Now back to the real receivers. There is no way the Irish can match Amari Rodgers, Cornell Powell and E.J. Williams. Just look at their hands! And how athletic and fast they look!!!!
Meanwhile, “back at the ranch” we find these Irish Lads.
While not likely to be intentional, the Clemson D backs may be seeing “double” with Ben and Javon. And when that actually happens, the Irish may throw “nothing” at them in this guy:
But the real aerial weapon that the Irish possess with no similar match by Clemson is the “Baby Gronk” of Michael Mayer, here trying his high hurdle imitation:
#87 M.M. a/k/a “B.G.”
Perhaps the most imaginative of Rees’ offensive sets is the four Tight End set. We might call it the “Flying Wing” as that is what it resembles”. That formation truly is the Wright one to cause the defenders to Tremble, and Mayer may not result in the defense calling a timeout to avoid the rushing a’Takacs they know are coming. Venables, whatcha’ gonna do?!?
In Notre Dame/Clemson #1, the Irish D-line dominated the Clemson O-line. I will go with Coach Lea scheming, actually out-scheming, his Clemson counterpart in one of Clark’s last games as the Irish D-Coordinator. He will not want to leave the Irish with a defeat. You have read it here! Lea leaves loss-less!!
So, best wishes go with you Coach Lea, as you continue your passion of coaching young men to be the best they can be, both on and off the field. You have brought the best you have to them. Until you return, you will always be Clark “Superman Kent” Lea to Irish fans everywhere.
During Notre Dame/Clemson #1, the heart of the Clemson D was in “recycle” mode. James Skalski is back at linebacker. Watch for #47:
Wow, he just looks like a football player!!
And the Irish answer?
Wu! Wu! Wu!
Is it coincidental that Skalski wears #47 and the Irish scored 47 in Notre Dame/Clemson #1? We think not! And no more coincidental than the sum of the numbers worn by Wu! Wu! Wu!, Kyle Hamilton and Nick McCloud. For those who are arithmetically challenged, the number is 24!!
Let’s just be certain to keep Bo Bauer out of that observation and calculation.
Unless it is just the sum of his 2 digits.
You have likely read that there was a long interval between the Notre Dame TDs in Notre Dane/Clemson #1. Has everyone forgotten the Book fumble at the 1-yard line as he was ready to cross the goal line? I have not.
The Irish are not built to score every time they get the pigskin. Sometimes the play called on 2nd and 7 at the defenders’ 47-yard line near the end of the first Quarter is being called in anticipation of a play at approximately the same place early in the 4th quarter.
During his time at Notre Dame (next will be year 10 of his tenure at Notre Dame, which some fans (not me) say is way too long), Coach Kelly has transformed himself from the red-faced, neck artery-bulging, in-your-face screamer to the benevolent, but insistent, CEO of a program that prides itself on tradition, excellence and teamwork. Let’s turn the clock back for one look at him circa 2013 and how he is expected to look before and during the ACC Championship game.
Current pre-game and in-game!
This ACC Championship Game will come down to execution on the field. Let’s looks at some QB statistics for two different Quarterbacks over the past three seasons, 2020 included.
These are actual results for two quarterbacks.
Completion Passing Int Running
% TDs TDs
65.2 30 4 1
65.9 36 8 9
69.2 20 3 6
68.2 19 7 4
60.2 34 6 4
63.2 15 2 8
One is clearly statistically preferred! If you find the code is too difficult to break, here is a hint. “A” is the first letter of the alphabet so it is #1. “B” is for Book! Arghh! There is that #1 again!
Since we are there again, let’s focus on that #1 as it relates to Lawrence having only 1 loss at Clemson. It occurred in the 2019 National Championship game won by the LSU Tigers. In that game he completed 48.65% of his passes, completing 18 of 37. Clearly, #1 is not always #1.
But remember, LSU had a super defense. The Irish defense is far from a sieve. Scheme. Desire. Depth. Players. Adjustments. Experience. Confidence. Teamwork. Gap Filling. Strength.
Sometimes it is as simple as “You Gotta Want It More”.
In 2020 the Irish are playing in their 1st ever conference Championship Game. Will there ever be another season when they will play in a conference? Who knows? But I believe the Irish will prevail as they will show they “Want it More”!
So, as this game ends, the Irish will have Football Conference Championship #1, the Irish will be pushing that Alabama juggernaut for the #1 ranking, and Lawrence’s 1 loss at Clemson will switch to loss #2.
You will see Book “high-stepping” into the end zone. And when you do, you will see other things happen as well.
It will trigger this Kelly TD reaction:
It will trigger this Dabo “I can’t believe that just happened” reaction:
Earlier in this “Picks” we reported on the
spread. And we did not mean peanut butter or mayonnaise!! Take the Irish and the 10.5 points. You will not need them as the Irish win.
IRISH – 31
Clemson – 24
And this is the post-game Coach Kelly:
And this is what you can imagine:
Your Irish Trivia for today.
1. Everyone knows Pat Terrell knocked down the Miami Hurricane 2-point conversion attempt to defeat that Jimmy Johnson-led team in 1988. But, do you know who knocked down a last play, #1 ranked Florida State Seminoles pass to defeat them in 1993?
2. Who was the first Notre Dame Heisman Trophy winner and who was the most-recent Notre Dame Heisman Trophy winner?
Your Irish Trivia Answers to the Irish Trivia for the Syracuse Game.
1. In 2018 the Irish defeated Florida State with Ian Book on the bench due to a rib injury suffered the previous week against the Northwestern Wildcats. Who played QB for the Irish in that big Irish win? Brandon Wimbush
2. Same game. Notre Dame scored in five different ways in that game. Can you name all five? Offensive Touchdown, Defensive Touchdown, Extra Point, Field Goal, & 2-point blocked extra point attempt returned nearly 90 yards.
And as always, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
“. . . . . . and our hearts forever,
Love thee Notre Dame!”