Leftovers & Links: Doerer’s game-winner, Notre Dame’s short week, and Peacock
Jonathan Doerer didn’t actually see his game-winning kick go through the uprights Sunday night at Florida State. He didn’t need to. The fifth-year Notre Dame kicker knew it was good as soon as he kicked it.
Once the Seminoles kicker missed his second overtime attempt — after his successful first boot was nullified by his own head coach’s timeout — Doerer knew what was next: The Irish would protect the ball and, barring a broken run, set him up for a chance to win the game. So he started visualizing the moment.
“On first and second down, just getting myself ready to go,” Doerer said Tuesday evening. “Visualizing what that moment was going to look like, seeing the ball go through, making sure I see (punter/holder Jay Bramblett) put it down.
“By third down, I felt pretty calm and comfortable about what was going to happen.”
The noise of a raucous Doak Campbell Stadium did not bother Doerer; it served only as white noise in the background while he focused on where he would soon kick the ball.
“In those moments, I really try to focus on my eyes a lot, make sure I’m focusing on my eyes and not wandering too much, especially in an environment like that,” he said. “If I can stay focused on where I’m trying to hit the ball, seeing the ball well, it makes those moments slow down a little bit for you.”
After that, though, Doerer does not know what happened.
“I can’t really remember. You kind of blackout in those moments.”
Doerer’s consciousness returned once the ball was off his foot. Knowing there was no notable wind to worry about, all he had to see was the ball clear a few leaping Florida State defenders to begin his celebration.
“No, I didn’t see it go through. Not even close.”
Here's my full photo sequence (75 total) of Jonathan Doerer's game-winning field goal and celebration. There was lots of movement as I did my best to track while holding off fans from my spot in the stands/opposite end zone. Lens: 600mm F/4 @SBTribune #NDvsFSU pic.twitter.com/V8tujtByYX— Robert Franklin (@TheRobFranklin) September 7, 2021
That kick still somewhat feels like it just went through the uprights, but Notre Dame’s next game is as close as the 41-38 win against the Seminoles is. If this short week has wrought havoc on the usual content calendar, imagine what it has done to the Irish practice schedule. Notre Dame knew this was coming, of course, but the reality of the week is still harsher than the theory of 24 hours fewer seemed.
Coming back from most primetime away games, the Irish land in South Bend in the early a.m. hours (4:30 this Monday morning) and then report back to the football facilities about eight hours later for treatment. By Monday, they are studying their opponent and readying for various installs at a full practice on Tuesday.
This week, that treatment was on Monday, but to prepare for Toledo on Saturday (2:30 ET; Peacock), practice on Tuesday could not be skipped, only altered.
“We’re not going to go out there and have a normal Tuesday practice, so we have to adapt to the circumstances and be smart,” head coach Brian Kelly said Monday. “Then [the players] have to adapt to us (coaches) relative to how they take care of themselves this week. They have to redouble their efforts in preparing themselves in that they have to trust us that we’re not going to put too much load on them as we work them through the week but still prepare them for a really good Toledo team.”
This slate is managed by a couple teams every year. It is not an unknown path, only a challenging one. Notre Dame would rather not have one less day of practice before it faces a team returning 21 starters, especially when the Irish also have so much to correct from their Sunday night overtime victory.
In some respect, that may be the appropriate reprieve. Lessening practices and increasing film study will lessen the physical toll of the week and put a focus on those errors that almost cost Notre Dame last weekend, but shortening the week spent dwelling on those mistakes may be the best remedy for the Irish psyche.
Speaking of a short week, you have one day less than you normally would to subscribe to Peacock, NBC’s streaming service that will be the exclusive home of this weekend’s Notre Dame game.
Signing up now will make your Saturday less stressful.
To pull back the curtain a bit, this space is not one to usually publish the traditional “How and when to watch Notre Dame” article. The closest it has come was the Saturday morning preview of “Notre Dame at Florida State: Who, What, When, Where, Why & By How Much,” rebranded this season to “Notre Dame vs. Toledo: Time, TV, Preview & Prediction.” That change came about for a few reasons, mostly because it is more direct to the content included, and to the discerning eye, there is still a shtick in the title.
But this week, even before anyone from further up the chain suggested it, there was a plan for a “How and When to watch Notre Dame on Peacock.”
These repeated mentions of the app are not meant as a service for the proverbial corporate overlords, but instead as a reminder to the Irish fans who preserved their sanity this summer and did not dwell on every bit of news or those who have not fully processed that NOTRE DAME’S HOME GAME ON SATURDAY WILL NOT BE ON NBC OR NBCSN OR USA THIS WEEKEND.
It will be on Peacock, NBC’s streaming app, and only on Peacock.
If this were all a task assigned by the higher-ups that authorize the paycheck, would I really include the phrase magnificent pagan beast? And you thought the only “Cheers” quotes to remember were Norm-isms.
SPEAKING OF MAGNIFICENT PAGANS …
Maybe that wasn’t the smoothest transition, but something in Las Vegas has to fit that description, right?
A Saturday morning report said Notre Dame will be headed to Las Vegas next season to play BYU, almost certainly in October. Saturday night, BYU beat Arizona … in Las Vegas in front of what was essentially a home crowd.
Not to hurt my shoulder with too aggressive a pat on the back, but looking back at the preseason predictions, No. 20 sure came true quickly.
Not to mention, Kent State hung with national title contender Texas A&M for a half, trailing only 10-3 at the break, and Clarence Lewis had an interception Sunday night.
AN INJURY REPORT
Of all the reasons for Irish junior linebacker Paul Moala to not play in the opener, the worst possibility came true. After tearing his Achilles last season and rehabbing quicker than anyone expected to reportedly be 100 percent this preseason, Moala tore his other Achilles last week.
“Devastating,” Kelly said Monday. “It was an emotional locker room last night. I didn’t tip that off … because it was still pretty raw. We’re all very disappointed for Paul, and he worked so hard to get back to getting on the field. We love Paul, he’s going to be missed. He’s a guy that we were counting on. He’s going to be sorely missed.”
Without Moala, Notre Dame’s linebacker depth is suddenly not that deep, already without junior Marist Liufau and currently lacking senior Shayne Simon while he works through a shoulder injury (was scheduled for a Monday afternoon MRI) and sophomore Vyper defensive end Jordan Botelho, listed as unavailable (presumably due to pandemic protocols). Botelho’s role will be as much as an outside linebacker as a defensive end, but until he is back to full-go, Irish defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman is running low on second-level havoc makers.
Botelho’s status — along with senior running back C’Bo Flemister’s and freshman running back Logan Diggs — should be updated Thursday.
Freshman left tackle Blake Fisher suffered a knee strain, per Kelly. He was also scheduled for a Monday afternoon MRI and should have an updated status by Thursday afternoon.
Sophomore tight end Kevin Bauman suffered a non-weight-bearing leg fracture that will keep him out about six weeks.
INSIDE THE IRISH
— No. 9 Notre Dame escapes Florida State despite McKenzie Milton’s inspiring heroics— Things We Learned, Part 1: Notre Dame’s defense far from great, but has the pieces to be— Things We Learned, Part 2: Notre Dame’s offensive line has fallen short in week one before, but it did not have this passing attack then
— With the nation behind him, McKenzie Milton gives us the best moment of college football’s return— McKenzie Milton’s family, supporters had best view of QB’s miracle return – ‘I was really happy for him, but I was scared’— McKenzie Milton’s triumph, Week 1 mulligans and more— FSU DE Jermaine Johnson earns ACC Player of the Week honors— This is what it’s supposed to be like— College football SP+ rankings after Week 1— 2023 TE Cooper Flanagan commits to Notre Dame— When might Duke football coach David Cutcliffe retire? Here are his thoughts.— The 19 most interesting Week 1 numbers, from Georgia’s pass rush to FCS wins— THE MAIN CHARACTER, Week 1: The excellence of execution— Tracking COVID-19 at Notre Dame
Sunday's thriller between @NDFootball & @FSUFootball on @ABCNetwork averaged 𝟕.𝟏 𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐨𝐧 viewers, peaking in OT with 𝟖.𝟖 𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐨𝐧 viewers— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) September 6, 2021
🏈 2nd-most-viewed Opening Week Sunday game on record (since 1996)
🏈 Up +29% from 2019 (Houston-Oklahoma) pic.twitter.com/sleG9bTKbD