Notre Dame Q&A with One Foot Down

Bring out the Writing Irish

By Sam Weyen | 11-24-2023 07:24 PM PT

Photo by Stanford Athletics

Stanford hosts the Notre Dame Fighting Irish this week in Palo Alto in their last home game of the season. While Notre Dame fans furiously Google how to watch the Pac-12 Network, we reached out to our friends at One Foot Down for our annual Q&A. After reading up on the Irish below courtesy of their columnist Pat Rick, check out our answers to their questions about the Cardinal on their site here. Be sure to give Pat a follow, too (@Psully226)!

Talk to us about QB Sam Hartman. How’s he been? Is he an NFL talent? Is he single?

In terms of personality and leadership and culture fit, he’s been a home-run transfer for the Irish this year. The dude came in as a 6th year mercenary and earned a captainship and immediately endeared himself to Irish fans with everything he said and did (and, of course, how handsome he is). Last weekend on Senior Day, the entirety of Notre Dame Stadium serenaded him to the tune of “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston, which would be extra for a player who spent 4-5 years at ND, let alone a one-year rental who went 8-3 as a starter to that point. He’s just a super likable dude.

As a player, he has been a massive step up from the QB talent the Irish had last season with Drew Pyne and Tyler Buchner, but that was a very low bar, considering those two are now buried on the benches of Arizona State and Alabama, respectively. Hartman has put up monster numbers against all the bad teams on the schedule, but his performances against the good/decent defenses have left something to be desired.

Against Ohio State, Duke, Louisville, and Clemson, Hartman has gone 67-for-123 (54%) and averaged 199 yards passing per game, while throwing 3 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. And that hasn’t meant he hasn’t still had nice moments – he made some throws on a lead-taking drive in the 4th quarter against OSU (before disaster struck), picked up a 4th-and-16 with his legs on the final drive against Duke, etc. But he just hasn’t been the game-changer in the big games like everyone was hoping for. Still, he’s been fun to watch for a season and hopefully he finds a role as a backup QB in the NFL for many years to come – he’d be an excellent locker room guy in the league.

I watched the Ohio State game. Do you think Notre Dame will employ the same strategy of playing 10 players on defense against Stanford?

I hope so, it only seems fair considering the state of the Stanford offense these days. As long as they use 1-2 of those guys to cover Elic Ayomanor, I’d feel pretty good about it.

That 10-guys thing is going to haunt us ND fans for the rest of our lives, isn’t it? I mean, TWO PLAYS IN A ROW without 11 dudes on the field, in the biggest moment of the season? My therapist has been working overtime to help me deal with that one.

How do you like your coach here at the end of year 2? Do you miss Brian Kelly?

Let me be clear and not mince words at all: I do not, and never will, miss Brian Kelly. He’s so unlikable and smarmy and selfish and no matter if Marcus Freeman ends up getting better or not, I will always rather have someone fun and respectable and funny and charming and who just seems like a good dude as the head coach, than that guy. And I think most ND fans would back me up – it’s not like BK was winning championships at Notre Dame anyway, he was just consistently winning 10-11 games and then losing whenever he faced a real opponent.

Freeman, at the end of year 2, is definitely done with his honeymoon phase. He started at ND with lots of good vibes and recruiting momentum, etc., and last year he had such a rough QB situation that no one blamed him for a rough season – especially after his team kicked Clemson’s ass in November.

But this year, with this defense and running backs and Hartman at QB, was definitely supposed to be better. The middle of the schedule was a little brutal playing OSU, Duke, Louisville, and USC all in a row, so it’s understandable not to get through that unscathed. But losing 2 of those 4 and also losing to a meh Clemson team just doesn’t sit super well, and so I think Irish fans will really need to see more improvement in 2024, especially with the CFP expanding to 12 teams. If he doesn’t have ND in the Playoff next year or in 2025, then we’ll be talking hot seat/replacements.

How did it feel to lose to a 3-win Stanford team last year? Are fans especially motivated this year or was last year’s game written off without much marination?

(Pat requested we embed the above clip to capture his feelings, so we embedded as a tweet)

It was super frustrating. ND’s offense was a sh*tshow last year (and still sort of is this year), but to lose AT HOME to the Stanford team that finally led to David Shaw leaving Stanford?? Well, that was just hurtful, especially because the Irish had already lost at home to Marshall but then had seemed to figure things out and turn a corner. If it wasn’t for the Clemson win a few weeks later, the Stanford loss would be the defining game for Freeman’s first season at the helm – disappointing and never should have happened (and to be clear, Stanford out-played ND across the board. Not saying they didn’t earn the W. But that Irish team was way too talented not to kick that Stanford team’s ass – unforgivable effort).

I would say it’s somewhere in between “especially motivated” and the “written off without much marination.” This Stanford program is in such a rebuild, that even with the loss last year there’s not that strong of a motivation among the Irish faithful to get revenge or kick their asses or whatever. But we’ve all definitely stewed on that loss for a while now, so going out there and taking care of business will certainly be a nice healing moment for us, if that happens.

Game Prediction time! Who will win, what’s the score?

Notre Dame will win, by a lot. I think Ayomanor will largely be shut down by Benjamin Morrison and Cam Hart, who are two of the best corners he will have faced all season. And then I think Ashton Daniels will get pressured early and often and be forced into making some throws under duress, which is a great way to get Xavier Watts and his nation-leading 7 interceptions involved.

The Irish will force a couple turnovers, the ND offense will start slow like they always do but then get Audric Estime going on the ground and find guys like Chris Tyree and Jaden Greathouse through the air, and then by the 4th quarter the ND squad will hopefully be getting some young backups in.

I’ll say final score of 44-17 (one Stanford TD in garbage time).

On behalf of Stanford fans who care about P5 status, thank you for lobbying the ACC to not let us get swept away in realignment. How do you feel about the new ACC? Are you happy Stanford and Kal found a home with the ACC or indifferent? Any final words for the Pac-12? (despite my nonchalant tone, I am incomprehensibly crushed). 

I am incredibly sad for the Pac-12. I think one of the biggest appeals of college football is the regionality of it with conferences, wildly unique playing styles, regional rivalries where schools don’t have to fly across country to play each other, etc. And the Pac-12 is so fun (after dark, or otherwise) with all the high-flying offenses and cool/unique uniforms and mascots…it’s such a bummer, and brings me no joy to see that happen (I do hope Oregon State and Wazzu take the rest of the departing Pac-12 for all they’re worth, though).

As for the new ACC, I’m pretty indifferent. I don’t mind the ACC and ND’s “partnership” with the conference has allowed for some fun games against Florida State and Clemson over the years, but it’s not a conference I’d like ND to join (if they had to join one – independence until I die). I’m generally glad Stanford and Cal found a home there, but also don’t think they add much right now from the football side of things (obviously they do from an academics and other sports perspective) and am unsure how long the ACC will even last if some of the big name football programs take off for the SEC. Because unfortunately, it feels like all paths are leading to the SEC and Big Ten dominating major college football and leaving everyone else out in the cold.

Below is the current Stanford Tree costume. How would you go about seducing it? Be specific and poetic. 

I’d begin by kneeling down in front of it, to tie one of its tennis shoes that’s become untied as it dances around in an unsettling fashion. As I do so, I glance up and say something smooth while giving it a wink, like, “can’t be having such a beautiful piece of foliage like yourself tripping and falling – unless it’s falling for me.”

From there I would pull myself up by its lower branches, as if I’m a young child scaling a tree in my parents’ backyard. I meet the tree’s gaze, peering deeply into its soulless, off-kilter eyes while admiring its oddly pink eyelids.

I’d then say something about how much I liked its hat, and flirtatiously touch one of its branches – probably the one that says “Bring Me Home” – while asking if it comes here often, and where it typically puts down roots for the night. I’d be pulled in by its overly luscious lips, inching closer as we joke and laugh and I charm it with my knowledge of pine trees, which would be bountiful because I just Googled it before approaching.

Finally, as it reciprocated my interest and began to lean in to me, as I lean into it, for our first smooch, I would say something fitting for the moment – “Timber!” – and then fall hard into its arms as we kiss.

Then I would climb that bad boy like a tree, Y’ALL!!!!!

--Fear The Me.

TAGS: Pat Ohio State QB Cal USC Marshall CFP Cam Hart Ayomanor Drew Pyne BK ACC Wazzu QB Sam Hartman Clemson Oregon State Brian Kelly Hartman Tyler Buchner Kelly
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