Notebook: DE Andrew Trumbetti shows promise in Fiesta Bowl

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

GLENDALE, Ariz. — When he needed to, Andrew Trumbetti let it go.

In the wake of Notre Dame sophomore nose tackle Daniel Cage’s lingering ankle sprain, which forced junior defensive end Isaac Rochell to help inside at Cage's position, Trumbetti — a 6-foot-4, 260-pound sophomore — was counted on to make a difference at defensive end.

Trumbetti responded with four tackles, two tackles for loss and his first sack of the season in No. 8 Notre Dame’s 44-28 Battlefrog Fiesta Bowl loss to seventh-ranked Ohio State.

“He was slated to get most of the work out there,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said of Trumbetti after the game.” He made some good plays. He made the athletic plays.

“The one thing with Andrew is, he just has to let it go. He can go. Sometimes it's just a matter of letting it go. When the light goes on and he goes all the time, I think he's going to be a really, really good player for us.”

Day soldiers on

For the most part, Sheldon Day looked like Sheldon Day.

The senior defensive tackle’s stat line, in his final game at Notre Dame, was predictably loaded: four tackles, two pass breakups, one tackle for loss and one forced fumble.

But considering the things he overcame in the week leading up to Friday’s game, that production was hardly a given.

“Well, we thought Sheldon broke his foot the other day,” Kelly explained. “I was very confident that he didn't,

because there was no way we could break another foot. I think I was the only one.

“He went and got an X-ray on Thursday. It came out clean. He got treatment around the clock. That's the kind of guy he is.

Here's a senior playing in his last game, got treatment all day, got himself ready to play, then got deathly ill last night. Right, Sheldon?

Four seats to his right, the 6-2, 285-pound senior nodded.

“We had to have him on medicine and IVs to make it through the game," Kelly said. "That's the kind of captain he is. He's unbelievable. He gave us everything he had today. He was on IVs all morning.”

The lesson, of course: an ill and injured Day is better than no Day at all.

In his final game, the senior went down fighting, just like he always has.

“It's been a special year for everybody,” Day said. “Just going through these

four years with these guys, it's been fun grinding with them. Most people can't say that. We definitely enjoyed the process. I wouldn't change it for the world.”

Good spurts and bad spurts

DeShone Kizer’s Friday can be separated into good and bad.

The good: 284 passing yards and two touchdowns, including a beautiful arcing fade route to Chris Brown in the third quarter, plus a miraculous 14-yard run that led to a 1-yard touchdown on the very next play.

The bad: An interception, a lost fumble — occasional bad decisions sprinkled throughout an otherwise efficient day.

Granted, the vast majority of Kizer’s debut season has been good. The sophomore passed for 2,884 yards with 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, while running for 10 scores, the most of any quarterback in school history.

And yet, when asked to self-evaluate, Kizer points first to his flaws.

“I have to take everything I’ve learned from this season and all the experiences that I’ve had and learn from them and become a consistently good quarterback,” he said. “There’s a lot of spurts in which I looked pretty good this year, but there’s also a lot of spurts where I looked awful. Those spurts have to go away.

“I have to become a consistent quarterback to become anywhere near the style of guy that’s going to go out and win those big games that we’re sitting here talking about.”

Kizer understands, then, that his Friday was marked by more good than bad.

But that doesn’t mean he’s satisfied.

“We’re a team that believes that, when we’re executing, we’re one of the better teams in the country, if not the best,” Kizer said. “This is just a game of execution and I, personally, was not able to execute the way I wanted to.

"I came up a little short on some big plays that I wish I could have back. As long as we continue to buy into the system that coach Kelly has and the coaching staff he brings has, we’ll be successful. Once again, it’s all about execution and consistency.”

Watkins steps in

Nick Watkins wasn’t supposed to start this game.

But on Friday, there he was.

Following the losses of KeiVarae Russell (fractured tibia) and Devin Butler (broken foot), Watkins — a 6-1, 200-pound sophomore — was thrust into the spotlight with a target on his back.

“I thought Nick competed well,” Kelly said. “We knew he was going to be a target. But here is what we asked him to do: They're going to throw it out there, make the tackle.

“He was holding on for dear life most of the time. But I love the fact that he was out there and he was not afraid of the moment. Joe, what did you think?”

Next to him on the stage, graduate student linebacker Joe Schmidt nodded, the remnants of eye black bleeding down his face.

“Yeah, Nick is the kind of guy, he's not going to flinch," Schmidt said. "I think he competes against our receivers every day.”

“They like him,” Kelly concluded. “I thought he did a nice job. He didn't give up any big plays. We just asked him to play top down and keep it in front of you, make the tackles, let the front seven handle what they can handle.”

Unfortunately for Watkins, the aforementioned front seven couldn’t handle enough.

A brief cameo

If you blinked, you would have missed him.

After missing the Stanford game with a high ankle sprain, C.J. Prosise — Notre Dame’s leading rusher, with 1,032 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on the season — was expected to share carries with Josh Adams against  Ohio State.

Instead, Prosise failed to record a carry, and did not return to the game after dropping a pass in the first quarter.

It was a humbling end to a breakthrough season.

“He just felt like he couldn't go,” Kelly said.

Multimedia

Notre Dame CB KeiVarae Russell will announce soon whether he's coming back. "You won't miss it." pic.twitter.com/iFUDJNzczG

— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) January 1, 2016

Joe Schmidt is the last to leave the field. pic.twitter.com/yOzbTjBCRP

— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) January 1, 2016

Jaylon Smith leaves the field. pic.twitter.com/kuMpnqrWhL

— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) January 1, 2016

. @CoachSanfordND doesn't mind taking a beating. pic.twitter.com/wjzaOOihIO

— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) January 1, 2016

Notre Dame's quarterbacks. pic.twitter.com/Q1ewnYSo8r

— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) January 1, 2016

DeShone Kizer throwing a little more than an hour before kick. pic.twitter.com/vkVLufeKQ5

— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) January 1, 2016

Jarron Jones in the building. pic.twitter.com/YE2m6ja1Cd

— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) January 1, 2016

DeShone Kizer signing an autograph for a kid at his first game. pic.twitter.com/H5RAFanBlw

— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) January 1, 2016

Notre Dame's top corners today, Cole Luke and Nick Watkins. pic.twitter.com/kYSPPFmKzt

— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) January 1, 2016

CJ Prosise looks ready to go. pic.twitter.com/qoyC4qcEpi

— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) January 1, 2016

Harry Hiestand, coaching up close. pic.twitter.com/k1sKluRiI8

— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) January 1, 2016

Malik Zaire throwing passes. pic.twitter.com/yqfQ9Kn9Xh

— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) January 1, 2016

Notre Dame has arrived inside University of Phoenix Stadium. pic.twitter.com/j6trYqJEdd

— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) January 1, 2016

The infamous bullfrog. pic.twitter.com/GMa86YDKYo

— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) January 1, 2016

This is what it's like to walk onto the field inside University of Phoenix Stadium. pic.twitter.com/8wAWli6N7I

— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) January 1, 2016 

Greetings from Phoenix's largest toaster.

A photo posted by ND Insider (@nd_insider) on Jan 1, 2016 at 6:59am PST

Press box view from University of Phoenix Stadium.

A photo posted by ND Insider (@nd_insider) on Jan 1, 2016 at 7:09am PST

Greetings from the 50.

A photo posted by ND Insider (@nd_insider) on Jan 1, 2016 at 7:30am PST

360 degree view of the field (and a few Notre Dame media members).

A video posted by ND Insider (@nd_insider) on Jan 1, 2016 at 7:34am PST

The road to Fiesta.

A photo posted by ND Insider (@nd_insider) on Jan 1, 2016 at 8:23am PST

Ringing in the New Year the right way.

A photo posted by ND Insider (@nd_insider) on Jan 1, 2016 at 9:54am PST

Notre Dame’s James Onwualu (17) and Andrew Trumbetti (98) work together to sack Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett (16) during the 2016 Fiesta Bowl on Friday, Jan. 1, 2016, at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN