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  • Writer's pictureBlake Holzgrafe

2021 Game 1: The Season Begins: Notre Dame Fighting Irish v. Florida State Seminoles

Updated: Nov 5, 2022


The Season Begins:

Notre Dame Fighting Irish


Florida State Seminoles

“A seminal piece projecting the seminal Seminoles-Irish season-starting struggle.”

We begin 2021 with this question. Will this somewhat dated photo depicting Florida State Alum, Lee Corso, making his “pick” for the winner of a past on-site ESPN Game Day game prove accurate for the 09/05/21 Irish/Seminoles clash?

To paraphrase Lee’s response to his ESPN Game Day co-horts picks, we say:

“Not so fast, my friend!”

To which you may legitimately comment, “Tell me why!” That is what we intend to do, so read on fans.

The 2021 ND/FSU game will be #11 between the two teams. Florida State leads 6-4, although all true Irish fans know it is really a 5-5 stand-off. Who can forget the phantom offensive pass interference call with 13 seconds remaining in the 2014 game negating an Irish touchdown that would have resulted in a win by the #5 ranked Irish over the defending National Champion, then ranked #2, Seminoles, quarterbacked by Heisman Trophy winner, Jamies Winston?

By the way, that would have been (read “WAS”) the second Irish win over a Florida State team quarterbacked by the season’s Heisman Trophy winner. The other was in 1993 as the #2 ranked Irish defeated the #1 ranked Seminoles quarterbacked by Charlie Ward. (We will avoid comment on the following week ND/BC game, except to say, “You will know”.

Among the 6 (should be 5) Seminole wins was the second worst home loss ever for the Irish, a 37-0, 2003 beatdown. Ouch!! But do not worry Irish fans, we can GUARANTEE that near record will not be be broken 2021. The game is not at home!!!

Forget history, let’s get to the future, more precisely 09/05/21.

What is new for the Irish? A lot! New Defensive Co-ordinator, Marcus Freeman, replaced Clark Lea who “graduated” to become the head coach at his Alma Mater, Vanderbilt University. Lea’s leaving was a loss. Marcus’ moving-in means much. More aggressive. More attacking. More fun. More wins?!? Only if there is a College Football Playoff win! Time will tell.

The Irish O-line will be new. 140 starts graduated. The only returning starter is Center Jarrett Patterson. To say his experience will be the centerpiece for the 2021 Irish O-line is both an under and an accurate statement. To his immediate right will be Cade Madden, an NCAA Transfer Portal arrival from the Marshall Thundering Herd who is projected as a First Team All-American. Again time will be tell. To his right will be Josh Lugg who has a fair amount of experience along the Irish O-line. Lugg will lug his fair share of the work. On Jarret Patterson’s left will be Zeke Correll who played exceptionally well last year at Center for the injured Patterson against Clemson and Alabama. Considered somewhat undersized at 295 pounds, Zeke is just skilled!! And talk about new!! For the first time in the Kelly era as the Irish Head Coach, the starting left tackle will be a true Freshman, Blake Fisher. Blake will be confronted with two FSU defensive ends, both of whom arrived through the NCAA Transfer Portal, Jermaine Johnson from Georgia where he tallied 36 tackles, 8 for a loss, 7.5 sacks, 24 Quarterback pressures, one forced fumble, and 2 pass breakups in only 21 games, and Keir Thomas from South Carolina, where he tallied 141 tackles and 8.5 sacks during 4 seasons of action. Playing in his first college game, we project Fisher will be one bull of a dog against the former Bulldog and will avoid becoming cocky during the game (and after) against the former Gamecock.

More new Irish stuff. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramaoh is now roving the defense for the Cleveland Browns rather the being the Rover for the Irish. Three players are identified on the Irish depth chart to replace him. Jack Kiser, Isaiah Pryor and Paul Moala. Kiser played in the 1A division of Indiana high school football (the “iddy biddy schools”) and was not really pursued by anyone except Clark Lea. Kiser is a “baller”. Pryor is a transfer from The Ohio State University now in his second year with the Irish. And Moala is another Indiana high school product from South Bend’s Penn High School. It very well make take these three to replace the one “Wu”, and that could happen with Marcus Freeman calling the shots.

Let’s see, what else is new for the Irish? Oh, of course, it will be the Quarterback. Ian Book is now a New Orleans Saint, the #3 Quarterback behind the aforementioned Jamies Winston who is the #1. There are some who considered Ian a “Saint” while leading the Irish, while others were likely “beDEVILED” by the absence of much in the way of successful “stretching the field” passes.

The new starting Irish Quarterback is Jack Coan, a transfer from the Univeristy of Wisconsin. The Irish 2021 clash with the Badgers in Chicago’s Soldier Field will feature Coan, who led the Badgers to the Big 10 Championship Game and the Rose Bowl following the 2019 season, against Graham Mertz who replaced Coan when Coan broke his foot just prior to the 2020 season. Coan was recruited out of high school by the Irish and committed to play for the Irish, the Irish lacross team that is, not the Irish football team which did not recruit him out of high school. By contrast, the Irish strongly, albeit unsuccessfully, pursued Mertz. For those who may have missed the Badgers’ home opener loss yesterday to Penn State, Mertz was underwhelming. There are some who say Coan could not beat out Mertz so he transferred. To which we respond, even Tom Brady could not have beaten out Mertz with a broken foot. And, there is no truth to the rumor that Mertz is a descendant of Fred and Ethel Mertz, and if you have to ask who Fred and Ethel Mertz are, then you must be young!!


Coan’s primary targets are expected to be Kevin Austin, Jr. the long-anticipated receiver who has missed time due to injuries and suspension (we can’t tell you why because we do not know and if we knew we would not say anyway), Braden Lenzy who has missed time due to injuries, and Avery Davis, the former Quarterback, Running Back and Cornerback who excited Irish fans with two touchdown catches against the Clemson Tigers in the Irish 2020 reguar season win over the Tigers.

Wait, the previous paragraph about Coan’s primary “Go-Tos” is not accurate. The primary “Go To” will likely be All-Everything Tight End Michael Mayer. Listen to this Irish fans, enjoy Mayer this season and next, for there will not likely be a fourth season for Michael on the Irish roster as he will certainly be on an NFL Roster. Kind of like Kyle Hamilton, the All Everything Safety who is entering his third, and certainly final season with the Irish (He is Mel Kiper’s #5 pIck in the 2022 NFL Draft), being the safety net for the Irish defense at Safety. As the former Chicago White Sox broadcaster, Ken Harrelson, would say about both Mayer and Hamilton after three seasons, “He Gone”!



And Irish fans now something that is not new. The awesome Irish running game featuring Kyren Williams, Chris Tyree and C’Bo (Just how many yards can I get after the first contact?) Flemister.


Come to think of it, how is a defense to plan against the Irish offense? Well, remember the words of legendary Coach Lou Holtz who expressed dismay about every Irish game wondering how the Irish could possibly win and saying this about every Irish opponent. “They give scholarships too!”

Now for those Seminoles. Last year 75% of the entire roster consisted of Freshman and Sophomores. They had a first year coach in Mike Norvell who came to Florida State from Memphis where he he led the Tigers for four seasons. In his 5 years as a head coach, his teams have averaged 39.6 points per game. Even last year when the Irish hosted the Seminoles, his team scored 20 points in the first half. Okay, scoring only 6 in the second half spelled defeat, a result that happened 6 times in last year’s 9 FSU games.

The 2021 Seminoles have been bolstered by a veritable plethora of NCAA Transfer Portal additions. In addition to the aforementioned D-Ends Johnson and Thomas, the Semioles added Quarterback McKenzie Milton who led the Univerity of Central Florida to great success before suffering a gruesome leg injury at the end of the 2018 season. Whether he has fully recovered is unknown at this time. Seminole fans are hoping he will be. But not having played in more than two years may mean he will be a wee bit “rusty”.

Among the other NCAA Transfer Portal additions is Andrew Parchment the leading receiver for the 2020 Kansas Jayhawks. Parchment looks pretty good on paper.

The game will be played in FSU’s 82,300 seat capacity Doak S. Campbell Stadium. The 2014 Irish/FSU game was witnessed in person by 84,431 fans. Strange how seating capacities can be exceeded.

Perchance this may be the “swan song” for Doak S. Campbell Stadium. No, it is not going to be “bulldozed”. There is talk the name will be changed. But why, we wondered? Why change the name of a stadium named for a Heisman Trophy winner? Oh, that was Doak Walker not Doak Campbell and his school was SMU not FSU. Turns out Doak Campbell was the President of the Florida State College for Women. That all-female institution of higher learning admitted men following World War II as soldiers took advantage of the GI Bill and schools were scarce. During Doak’s presidency the school became known as Florida State University.

So that non-coed to coed status was, of course, also the case at the University of Notre Dame. Although for ND it was going from all male to coed.[1]

You can look for the day that this venue will be Bobby Bowden Stadium. Already the venue is somehat in that ilk as the playing surface is The Bobby Bowden Field at Doak S. Campbell Stadium. It may even happen today with a pre-game announcment that will further honor Coach Bowden following his recent passing at age 91. Doak, you see, is apparently viewed as something of a bigoted bloke.

Just like the Washington Redskins Football Team that is now just the Washington Football Team, or the Cleveland Indians Baseball Team which in 2022 will be the Cleveland Guardians Baseball Team. But Irish fans beware. The Fighting Irish may be on shakey ground. Get ready for the effort to eliminate the “Fighting Irish” monikor. If that happens and the powers that be follow the Tribe’s example, perhaps the team will become the “Fighting Irises” which, while not a true homophone, would at least enable fans to continue to wear all of their “Fighting Irish” gear with just an “es” covering the “h”. But think of the marketing oportunites if we become the “Fighting Irises”. The Hammes Bookstore could sell flowers. A Notre Dame optometrist alum could market (his/her/its/the?????) practice with “Get your Iris checked by a Fighting Iris.”

All of which leads one to wonder how the FSU Seminoles seem to avoid this situation. Could it be that the Seminole elders bought into this thing called capitalism? Just wondering.

But enough of that palaver and leave that decision-making to someone with a higher pay grade.

The most significant question for the Irish entering the 2021 season is how can they replace 4 Offensive Linemen, 4 Defensive Ends, 1 Quarterback, 1 Linebacker, 1 Tight End (perhaps the best blocking Tight End the Irish have ever had who made defenders Tremble), 2 Defensive Backs and 1 Wide Receiver, twelve of whom are on the roster of NFL teams today and 2 of whom are on an NFL team practice squad?

The answer is simple. Irish recruiting has improved dramatically during the past several years, which with effective “coaching up” has created the depth needed to be successful season after season. Including 2021!!

The Irish are one of the few teams that do not put players’ names on the uniforms. (Except when required in a post-season game.) Any true Irish fan will know the numbers for Michael Mayer (87), Kyle Hamilton (14), Kyren Williams (23), Chris Tyree (25), Drew White (40), Kurt Hinish (41), and Avery Davis (3). Well, if all goes well, you will soon well know the following numbers as well:

Offense Defense

0 Braden Lenzy 27 JD Bertrand

4 Kevin Austin, Jr. 24 Jack Kiser

17 Jack Coan 7 Isaiah Foskey

21 Lorenzo Styles, Jr. 9 Justin Ademiola

54 Blake Fisher 12 Jordan Botelho

62 Cade Madden 99 Rylie Mills

As the Irish venture to Tallahasse for this opening game of the 2021 season, they will encounter and must overcome the emotion created by the first Seminole sell-out in three years, the “beat Notre Dame mantra”, and the first game following the death of legendary coach Bobby Bowden (enhanced perhaps by an announcement renaming the Stadium). That emotion will carry the Seminoles only so far.

The final score:

Notre Dame 34

Florida State 17


Here is your Irish Trivia Question for this week. Two of the Irish/Seminole matchups were played in post-season bowl games. Can you name the two bowl games (and year)? And for extra credit can you name the Head Coaches for both teams in those games?

1 Queary? Is the term “coed” doomed to the trash heap? Will the new term be one-ed? When one (is this term even going to be accepted?) writes a history of Notre Dame, how may that one describe the attendees prior to 1975? Apparently cannot be men, boys, lads, laddies (careful with the spelling to avoid confusion with “ladies”), males, striplings, or whippersnappers. And, those who began to matriculate after 1974? Apparently cannot be women, girls, lasses, females, ladies (careful with the spelling to avoid confusion with “laddies”), maid, maiden, damsel, colleen, or wench! But I digress from the topic of this tome and leave it to others to sort out those apparently significant issues some (will this word be banned?) consider to be of import. But before returning to this tome’s topic, I posit the further queary, “Does “coed” already connote a female (damn, I cannot use that term!!) student or, by contrast, a student of either gender, whether trans or non-trans (which indicates from birth, right?)? And, how about a trans who decides to retransition to origiaal condition of non-trans? Without trying to be deceptive, but to paraphrase Walter Scott, “Oh what a tangled web we weave . . . .”

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