Chat Transcript: Talking the Jurkovec dynamic, where Notre Dame can improve, Clemson

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

Eric Hansen: Welcome to Notre Dame Football Live Chat, Boston College Week edition. A reminder PLEASE include your NAME and HOMETOWN with your question. A couple of quick links first ...

If your DVR didn't capture the entire game because if its length (like mine), you can watch the whole game here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQff-434kyM&feature=share

Eric Hansen: Also, if you've never tried our Pod of Gold podcast, you may want to give it a listen this week. We had Malik Zaire as our guest, and he was extremely insightful about the whole transfer process. But he also had excellent insight into Chip Long, for instance, and how that dynamic played out at ND: https://www.ndinsider.com/irishstew/pod-of-gold-malik-zaire-on-notre-dames-big-win-ian-book-and-phil-jurkovec/article_313be139-9dbd-5211-a00b-9aa747bf7a7e.html

Eric Hansen: OK, the queue is loaded. Let's get started.

Bill from Toronto: Eric!  Miss getting in here — changes at work eat up my Wednesday lunches usually. If ND sees Clemson again, what makes you think they win that matchup? Love your work as always!

Eric Hansen: Hi Bill. Thanks for making time. I'm not sure the Irish win the rematch. The world changes a lot from week to week ... with COVID, injuries, opt-outs. Clemson will adjust to what it saw from Notre Dame Saturday night, so the Irish too will have to have countermoves to a certain extent. ... Braden Lenzy would add a different dynamic to ND's passing game if he can build some momentum. Clemson will get players back presumably and Trevor Lawrence back from COVID. But the Irish DO KNOW they can win these types of games, and I don't think that's insignificant.

Frank from Missouri: Any indication that Ian Book will return to ND next fall?

Eric Hansen: He certainly has that option because of the NCAA's COVID rule. I would be very surprised if he and most of the other players with expiring eligibility would return. The one player in that category who has expressed a desire to at least give it some serious consideration is kicker Jonathan Doerer.

Denis from Niagara Falls, Ontario: Hi Eric. Some quick questions. What is your opinion regarding Kyren Williams' speed after his 65-yard run.  Is he faster than you thought?  What do you think of his speed? I think he has plenty of speed, especially when combined with his quick feet. If he progresses, what's his future look like?  And expectations? Also, who has the larger advantage: ND knowing Phil Jurkovec or Phil knowing ND? Thanks very much.

Eric Hansen: Denis. Kyren Williams worked very hard back home in St. Louis in reshaping his body and working on straight-line speed. For more background, you can check out a story I did  back in September: Inside Kyren Williams' journey to the top of the Notre Dame running back depth chart

I am impressed with his speed AND power AND blitz pickup. If he progresses, he's got a tremendous future, because his skill set translates well to the pros. But there are rites of passage ahead. How does he handle success? Can he stay healthy was the workload he's getting? Does he stay committed to the kind of growth that allowed him to ascend to the top of the depth chat? If he can answer yes to all those questions, then get out of his way. ... As far as Phil Jurkovec, I think there are things both sides can glean, but not a lot that you wouldn't be able to decipher from film. Two things to keep in mind: Phil is in a different offense than he was at ND, so his skill set is going to play differently in that offense. And Tommy Rees is the Notre Dame offensive coordinator now, not Chip Long. So there are some differences in blocking schemes, personnel groups, tendencies, etc.

Cliff from Battle Creek, Mich.: Hi Eric! Wow! Just ... wow! What a incredible game. I'm so happy for Brian Kelly and Ian Book to get that monkey off their backs!  On a side note, how does Clemson have two of the top 10 QBs in the country at the same time?!? Assuming both teams win out but ND loses a close one to Clemson in the ACC Championship Game, does ND still get into the playoffs? Also, given how well ND played — but with as many mistakes to clean up — how much higher is their ceiling in your opinion? Last question, I swear, was this the best game you've covered? Thanks so much for your work!

Eric Hansen: How does Clemson have two of the top 10 QBs at the same time? Winning. Recruiting. And just one year of overlap. They've had their fair share of transfers at the QB position. If ND and Clemson both end up 11-1, both getting into the playoff is in play, but not guaranteed. What if Florida beats Alabama in the SEC championship game? What if the Big Ten champ has a loss? What it it's Wisconsin and they only played seven games? There are many other factors/scenarios, but an 11-1 record wouldn't automatically remove ND from the conversation. ... I think Notre Dame can get better in several areas, including and starting with red zone offense. ... But not limited to that. .. It IS the best game I've ever covered, and I've been covering college football since 1983.

Mike from Lemont, Ill.: Eric, Great article last night on the midseason awards. Do we really have three more years left of Kyren Williams, Chris Tyree and Michael Mayer? It is gonna be fun to watch. Of course, they all might go pro early but love it. How was Williams a three-star? Should this guy be a household name by now? Do we really need Will Shipley, considering what we have right now? Who will be the starting tackles next year? Thanks for the chats and hope all is well. Rock on!

Eric Hansen: Mike, thank you. Technically because of the NCAA's COVID rule, Michael Mayer, Chris Tyree and Kyren Williams each have FOUR years left. I can't imagine any of them would use all of them, given their next-level potential, let alone three more for Kyren and Mayer. ... Williams was rated to low as a three-star, but he has developed significantly while at ND. I think Kyren is a household name now after the big game (though someone called him Kyrie in the postgame Saturday night, to which he reacted by scrunching up his face). But he's also now a target. You can never have too much talent, so Shipley would have been a welcome addition. I get your line of thinking. It' s not the unshakeable recruiting loss it first appeared to be. ... Starting tackles next year? Probably Andrew Kristofic and Josh Lugg, but they could move Aaron Banks out to tackle (if he comes back) and have Lugg play guard.

Jacob from Hobart, Ind: I heard John O'Malley passed away on Sunday (most recently was a sports writer for the Post Tribune, previously worked for the The Times of Northwest Indiana and the South Bend Tribune). He also earned his master's from Ohio State and covered Notre Dame for years. Was just wondering if you knew him and if you had any stories to share?

Eric Hansen: One of my closest friends, as was the late Vaughn McClure. My heart again is in pieces, but I know in time the memory of who he was will make be stronger. I have zillions of 'O' stories. I could do a whole chat on them.

Jack from Oak Park, Ill.: Given the success of the passing game when it mattered most against Clemson (BTW last Saturday was best ND game I ever saw in person, and I’ve been going since the late '70s), what is the best way — in your expert opinion — to reintroduce Braden Lenzy and his speed back into the rotation? Who do you take off the field? Go Irish.

Eric Hansen: I think he's the most ideal "X" receiver on the roster, the outside receiver that plays to the wide side of the field. I'd put Kevin Austin ahead of him in being ideal, but Austin isn't coming back. A healthy and productive Lenzy would cut into the playing time of Ben Skowronek and Joe Wilkins. It would also lessen the chance you'd see Jordan Johnson on meaningful downs this season. But who would you invest in down the stretch — Lenzy or Johnson? This year, it'd be Lenzy for me.

Bill from Worthington, Ohio: My son and I watched his first game in Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 20, 1993. The opponent was Boston College, and it was the week after No. 2 ND defeated No. 1 FSU. Fast forward to Nov. 14, 2020.  Following the upset of No. 1 Clemson, an undefeated ND team takes on what on paper again appears to be an outmanned Boston College team. Should loyal Irish fans believe more in this team's ability to rise above a letdown and why? Or will we all be quoting Yogi Berra, "It's deja vu all over again?"  Many fans, pundits, and I believe even coach (Lou) Holtz suggested the '93 team was the best he ever had, so help us believe the 2020 version is a better team and we can back away from the ledge.

Eric Hansen: Here are a few things to consider. 1. None of the Notre Dame players were alive when BC beat Notre Dame in 1993. Offensive coordinator Tommy Rees was in diapers. 2. There has been a bit of a Clemson hangover in 2020. Teams are 2-5 this season the game after playing the Tigers. And the two wins weren't overly convincing. Miami pulled away late from Pitt (31-19) and BC labored against Syracuse last weekend in winning 16-13. But all those teams lost to Clemson. Some got obliterated by them. ND won its matchup. 3. Notre Dame has won seven in a row against BC, six on Brian Kelly's watch. The last two were scores of 49-20 (2017) and 40-7 (2019). 4. If North Carolina were coming up next Saturday, there'd be more reason for concern. But there's an off week in between. 5. I like the maturity of this ND team. They may start slow Saturday, but I expect them to win by 17.

Rick from Peoria: I think it's time to BLOCK the Ian Book haters and for ND fans to unite and "Love the one you're with!"

Eric Hansen: Block as in doing what Tommy Tremble does to people?

Dwight from Arkansas: I felt even early in the season that the BC-ND game could be a tough one. Whether the Irish won or lost to Clemson, the potential to be 'down' or 'too high' was there.  First, how does this ND team come down out of the clouds after such a classic win vs the Tigers?  BC, to many of us, is much better than anticipated. They dominated Clemson for a half before losing by just six. Second, how much does revenge play in this game? Phil Jurkovec, I would think, is super-hyped for this game and wants to win it more than any game on the schedule.

Eric Hansen: In our podcast with Malik Zaire this week, he expressed he would have loved to have gotten a shot at ND while at Florida and almost transferred to North Carolina instead to get that shot. So there's no doubt Phil will be pumped, but will that be an asset or a liability? Will he try TOO hard and force things? Look, he's played well against teams that he didn't have payback for, including Clemson. I like his receivers at BC. I do not think this is a good matchup for the BC offensive line, though. That may matter more than anything. ... As far as getting the team out of the clouds? They've been through so much already this season and offseason, it's difficult to think they'd take BC for granted. Now could they be physically and emotionally drained? Yes. But I don't think there will be a mental letdown for the Irish.

Kevin from Lake Geneva, Wis.: Can you explain, probably again, the eligibility rules for 2021? Who may or may not receive an extra year — only those with normally expiring eligibility or everyone?  Example: Could a junior who has played three years potentially play five?

Eric Hansen: Kevin, the quick version is players who don't transfer or who didn't sit out the season get six years to complete five playing seasons. Players who did sit out or transferred get six to play four. For more: Hansen: Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly can't ignore festering numbers crunch

Denny from Beaverton, Ore.: Good morning, Eric: What do you think were the two biggest lessons Coach Kelly learned from the debacle of the 2016 season? What are the two most effective changes he has make to get the Irish program to it's current state? Can't thank you enough for the weekly chats!

Eric Hansen: Denny, thank you. It's very difficult to distill. I did a story in the summer of 2017 in which I spent the day with BK. Other than his (and my) belief Darnell Ewell was going to be a revelation, the story really lays out the lessons learned and his blueprint for what you're seeing play out of the field now: A day in the life of Brian Kelly and his attempted Notre Dame football resurrection

Bruce from Centralia, Ill.: Eric, Brian Kelly isn’t always the easiest guy to root for, but I’m impressed by the way he absorbed the 4-8 season, made adjustments, and rebuilt the program. You wouldn’t think that flexibility and openness would be strengths of his, but that’s exactly what he’s shown. Are there things ND fans still don’t understand about BK, even after a decade? What is your sense of who he is as a person? Thanks, as always.

Eric Hansen: Bruce, I think the thing that fans misunderstand most about Brian Kelly (and a lot of coaches) is you never have all the answers, even if you've been coaching a long time, because the game and recruiting evolve. BK's strength is he KNOWS that and is constantly learning. The one time he wasn't at tge right pace (2016), it bit him in the butt. I've gotten to know Brian pretty well as a person, because I've seen him in other settings through his charity work. He's really a funny guy, very quick sense of humor, very balanced in his life away from football.

Alex from Jackson, Mo.: Hello, Eric. No question from me. Just want to say the three-and-out forced by the defense, followed by the offensive drive to score the tying touchdown to force OT are two of the best drives I’ve ever seen from Notre Dame. Absolutely clutch!!  What a great moment for me and my 16-year-old son. A game we will always remember getting to share together!  Anytime your 16-year-old son is cool with jumping up and down and hugging you is always a plus! Hope you enjoyed it as well! God bless!

Eric Hansen: Alex, thanks for sharing.

Kevin from Tampa: Greetings from stormy Florida, Eric. First, a big shoutout to Avery Davis and his success. The kid has been through a roller-coaster ride with position changes, has made us all so proud. His dedication to the team and "sticking with it" is a great example for all. Kudos to the entire team on a great team effort. Hopefully, the intensity continues. I know Brian Kelly will have them ready for BC and beyond. Kyren Williams is a pass-blocking machine. Did anyone else notice? If not, focus on him when he is in on passing downs. He and Tommy Tremble can really block, and that helps Ian Book in the passing game. There were a few false starts and the Mike Mayer TD drop. Other than that, a fantastic effort. No real questions, just my humble observations. Way to go ND. Have a great day and be safe Eric. Great coverage as always.

Eric Hansen: Thanks for the thoughts and the kind words. The questions are getting EASIER!!!!

Lawrence from San Diego: ERIC!!! That was awesome. One observation and one question. Observation: Many of the things that won us that game were due to very unpopular decisions by Kelly that the unhappy segment of the fan base lamented (homer hires of Jeff Quinn, Tommy Rees and Clark Lea, and sticking with Ian Book). Question: Do you think this game will loosen Book up like the Virginia Tech winning drive and we'll see a more productive QB the rest of the season?

Eric Hansen: Lawrence!!! Good thing you only used three exclamation points. Manny from San Pedro has the 27-exclamation point greeting patented. I would expect it would be a turning point of sorts for Book. I also think it elevates the confidence from his teammates in him.

Peter from Erie, Pa.: Speaking of Tommy Tremble, it seems like more could be done with him on the stat sheet, especially in the red zone. He's a proven receiver and as Mayer gets more attention, Tommy could be a secret weapon when it matters most. Eligible to enter the draft, do you think Tremble will be back next year?

Eric Hansen: I do think Tommy Tremble returns. He was banged up earlier in the year and could really build a nice résumé in 2021. I agree, he could be an asset, in the red zone especially. I expect to see that over the last few games perhaps.

Joey Everline from Westernort, Md.: Who do you consider the best tight end that you have covered for the Irish? Do you think Mike Mayer has a chance to be the best ever at Notre Dame?

Eric Hansen: Ken MacAfee predates me in this sports writing business or it would be him. So that makes Tyler Eifert No. 1 for me who I've covered. Kyle Rudolph might have been had he stayed for his senior year. Yes. I do think Michael Mayer has a chance to be better than those two.

John from Boise, Idaho: Has there been any explanation as to why the two officials picked up their flags on the pass-interference call?

Eric Hansen: No explanation. One of the stranger things I've ever seen covering college football.

Tim from Atlanta: It seems that the offensive line continues to progressively improve under Jeff Quinn.  How much has Chris Watt been involved?  What other factors have been helpful?

Eric Hansen: We're not at practice, so it's more difficult to gauge exactly Chris Watts' influence as a grad assistant, but I wouldn't undersell it. Some other things? Tommy Rees' commitment to the running game and his good chemistry on blocking schemes, etc., with Quinn that wasn't there with Chip Long. Also, five starters with experience is huge.

Bill from St Joe, MI: A comment, not a question. A shoutout to Michael Vinson, Jay Bramblett, Jonathon Doerer, and (special teams coach) Brian Polian. They came through at my most nervous moments!

Eric Hansen: OK, glad to hear it.

Robb from Colorado: It seemed to me that Shayne Simon played his best game at ND.  Does this flip the switch on for him and we start to see him rising quickly or was it just a blip in his career? A good blip at that.

Eric Hansen: It gives him an inside track. Now it becomes about consistency. Here's what Brian Kelly said about Simon on Monday:

“He’s still emerging. He’s not there yet. Marist (Liufau) didn’t play much. He had the targeting, so that opened the door for Shayne. We’re really pleased with his progression. Shayne is progressing. There’s still some things out there that we need him to work on — shedding blocks, getting off blocks, a couple of instinctual things that he can get better at. But he’s attacking the line of scrimmage. He’s finishing off tackles. He has really good awareness in space in the pass game. We’re really seeing somebody that is elevating his game. There’s still more out there for him. I wouldn’t say that this thing is, ‘Hey, this a done deal. Shayne Simon, he has the position.’ There’s still some competition out there, and we like it. We like to keep the competition lively out there. Really pleased with where he’s going. He has some room to continue to grow, which is a great thing.”

Tom from Brownsburg, Ind.: Hello, Eric.  The national media jumping on the 1993 game — so imaginative!  What's your realistic impression of BC?  They've looked terrific at times, and pretty ordinary at times in my book. They will, of course, be pumped, but how long will that sustain?

Eric Hansen: They've certainly overachieved. BC was picked 13th out of 15 in the preseason ACC rankings. Kind of a thumbnail ... other than the Virginia Tech game, their defense has been surprisingly competitive. Bad running team that's getting better at it. A team that is heavily penalized. Lousy in the return game. Gives up a lot of sacks, though they've been better recently. A lot is on Phil Jurkovec's shoulders and he's responded well to that.

Gene in New York: Hi Eric, What a game! Ian Book took a great next step (and thank goodness his fumble wasn’t his legacy!) Good call on your part for Avery Davis to step up. A few comments questions: Should the refs have conferred with each other rather than Dabo on the pass-interference call? How did that flag get picked up? As great as Williams was running, his blitz pickup was a difference-maker! With all the options on offense, why is red zone TD a struggle? Most important, since I started having flashbacks to 1993 about five minutes after the game, please give me reasons not to! Thanks for the great coverage!

Eric Hansen: Gene, I've covered a couple of these ... the strange flag pickup and why maybe the ledge as an overreaction for a pregame BC location. So let's look at the red zone TDs. Turnovers are an issue. Maybe not using the tight ends and Javon McKinley enough is another. I don't look at that as an unfixable problem.

Chase in Denver, Colo.: Hi Eric, love your coverage of ND football. ND is on the road this week and next against tricky opponents. Which matchup should fans be more worried about from an "upset" perspective: BC this Saturday in Chestnut Hill (potential hangover after the big Clemson win) or next Friday night in Chapel Hill against Mack Brown's potent offense (yet mediocre defense)?

Eric Hansen: I think they're both challenges for different reasons. North Carolina statistically is better offensively than Clemson at the moment and really balanced. If they can get away from self-destructing (penalties, turnovers), they're going to be a handful. ND does get a bye week before UNC, but they have final exams that week. I suppose that's the best setup you could ask for. Bottom line is North Carolina is the better team.

Tim from Pleasant Prairie, Wis.: What do you make of (Pitt coach) Pat Narduzzi's comments that ND should be a full-fledged football member in the ACC or not play in the ACC at all? Please take us through how the 5-6 game/year ACC arrangement came about (in normal years).  I seem to recall that ND agreed to this as a compromise in order to allow their other sports to compete in the ACC as full members, and that if ND had their druthers, they would not be tied in to any football commitments to the ACC at all.  Narduzzi makes it sound like ND asked for this five- to six-game arrangement and that the ACC is doing them some kind of favor, when in reality the ND membership in all other sports is a net plus for the ACC overall.

Eric Hansen: If Pat Narduzzi doesn't take care of his own business, this won't be his problem to whine about anymore. Your memory is correct. When the Big East imploded, the ACC asked for a an annual commitment of an average of five football games a year on a rotating basis with Notre Dame. I think it's worked out well for both sides.

Jeff from LaPorte: I always get a little nervous when ND plays BC. They always seem to bring up a little extra fire when playing ND (if they have any). I'm sure Phil Jurkovec feels like he has something to prove in this game. My question is this: Is it likely BK will game plan this any differently due to playing a QB that was just on the roster (last season)? Either offensively or defensively?

Eric Hansen: I think Brian Kelly and Clark Lea will look at Phil Jurkovec's strengths and weaknesses in his CURRENT offense and formulate a game plan based on that context. I'd expect to see lots of pressure mixed in from ND's defense.

Len from the Jersey Shore: Hi Eric. Thanks for hosting. On the last TD drive in regulation, it seemed that the Clemson safety was looking to support on tight end Michael Mayer underneath and was out of position to support on the long pass to Avery Davis. I also saw several occasions where linebackers were more occupied with Mayer than looking for Ian Book to run. This created some openings. Do you see this freshman tight end helping the passing game/scrambling game by just being on the field regardless if he is the target?  Obviously he helps a lot as a receiver also.

Eric Hansen: Len, you get it. And to expand, sometimes the mere presence of a player puts the opposing defensive coordinator in a constant conflict. Will Fuller was that kind of player as well. He opened up the run game and opportunities for other receivers.

Bob from Wyoming, Pa.: Eric: Great job of keeping us current on ND football news! What is your take of the pass-interference call and then the flag was picked up. As we all know, the call was correct for interference. Thanks.

Eric Hansen: Thanks. Puzzling, baffling.

Tom from South Carolina: Eric, enjoy your work! Question: Don’t you think Ian Book proved himself against Clemson? His ability to scramble out of trouble again and again against a really good defense was crucial to the win.

Eric Hansen: Absolutely, but the season isn't over. Now Ian needs to take that game and build upon it. I'm sure that's his intention, knowing him.

Jim Oakwood Ohio: Hey Eric, great job with the Clemson coverage as you do with each game and the Pod of Gold. Hope you and your family continue to stay safe and healthy. You've said in numerous columns and in past chats, that Ian Book needed to be "an above average version of himself ... on a consistent basis." Were you satisfied with his "version" after Saturday's game ... and to borrow a phrase do you think he has "rounded the corner?"  My heart sank when he fumbled late in the third quarter and I wondered whether he could recover and lead the team. He was great in the fourth quarter and the two OTs. As coach Kelly has consistently said:  "he is a winner."  My second question is whether or not you could see, from the press box, who came up to him on the sideline after the fumble? Specifically, was it the team sports psychologist (Dr. Amber ...? I forgot her name).  Even if she didn't come up to him, don't you think that her cumulative body of work with him and the team gave him the inner strength to perform and lead? Be well.

Eric Hansen: Jim. thanks. I do think Ian statistically was an above-average version of himself and even more so intangibly. It remains to be seen whether he can build on that, but my sense is he will. ... I wasn't looking at the sideline after the fumble, but I know Brian Kelly talked to Book. Dr. Amber Selking is someone Brian Kelly values very much in ND's 40-6 renaissance since the 4-8 season. She deserves credit and gets it.

Tom from Kennesaw, Ga.: Eric, it looks like Chris Tyree is struggling a little the last couple of games. He keeps trying to use his speed to run wide instead of making a decisive cut up into the hole. Also, I don't know what his plans are for this summer, but I would highly suggest that he go to St. Louis and duplicate the regime that Kyren went through last summer. Your thoughts? Thanks. Go Irish!!!

Eric Hansen: Good suggestion on the St. Louis thing. That trainer Kyren worked with is excellent. I think, more importantly, Tyree has the fire inside to want to get better and will do everything it takes to get there. It wouldn't surprise me if he got a second wind in December.

Jim from Western Maryland: Hey Eric, will the cancelation of the Alabama-LSU game change anything as far as the national championship game is concerned?

Eric Hansen: There's been a lot of postponements and cancellations this week, and a possible solution is moving back the conference championship games, the national semis and the national title game. I think the COVID issues far more affect the Big Ten and Pac-12 teams than they would Alabama. The Big Ten and the Pac-12 were already playing more abbreviated schedules and have no wiggle room at all right now to do makeup games.

Sue Ko from Hollidaysburg, Pa.: Eric: I was pleasantly surprised to read your in-depth article yesterday in USA TODAY! It was more than appropriate, given ND’s remarkable victory vs Clemson. Just how talented is No. 6 Jeremiah "Wu"?!? Could he our next All-American and is Clark Lea auditioning for a head coaching job? Thank you for your thoroughness in ND football coverage.

Eric Hansen: Sue, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah continues to ascend on NFL Draft boards. He's now considered a top 15 prospect. If he plays the way he is now for the rest of the season, there's no question he'll be an All-American.

Brian Kimble from New Jersey: Hey, coach. What do you think are pros and cons of running Ian Book so much? It’s seems that a lot of these are designed plays? I personally feel the cons outweigh the pros. It’s obvious he’s a great athlete, but as you know one bad injury may spell doom for season.

Eric Hansen: Coach? Thanks for the promotion! ... I think the pros far outweigh the cons. You can't play football in bubble wrap. Notre Dame doesn't win Saturday without Book in the running game.

Chuck from Brigantine, N.J.: Ian Book, mea culpa, mea culpa! So sorry for doubting you! If Ian can make the downfield throws like he did Saturday, we add another dimension. Two questions: 1) What did Tommy mean by saying he would go against all previous tendencies? Looked like the same offense but with better execution. 2) Who is our best cover corner? Looked like Clemson receivers ran past our corners at will. Hope that the Irish faithful took time to savor this victory and to mute all the criticism for at least a few days. Congrats to YOU for accurately predicting the outcome.

Eric Hansen: Chuck thanks. 1. I didn't hear the original Tommy comment, so I'm not sure of its context. I do think Notre Dame had some wrinkles and new tendencies. 2) Best cover corner at this point is Nick McCloud. Someday it will be Clarence Lewis. TaRiq Bracy has a bad day at the office. He's talented enough to bounce back. Keep in mind, Notre Dame was committed to stopping the run — and did — on first and second down. Clemson was 4-of-15 on third down. As far as my prediction, it's always better to be lucky than good in that department.

Peter from Provo, Utah: Hi Eric, very impressed with Book's pocket presence vs Clemson. This has to do wonders for his confidence. Is there anything you noticed (protection, scheme, rolling him out) in particular that helped him in this game? Williams' blitz pickups were amazing!

Eric Hansen: Williams' blitz pickups were amazing. Some of Book's improvement was simply a matter of just letting 'er rip. Eight attempts of 20+ yards is way more than we've seen from him all year.

Neil from Indianapolis: As this team starts sniffing bigger things, Eric, I can't help but worry about the pitch count for Kyle Hamilton, Nick McCloud and Shaun Crawford. Is that fair? Does it constrain ND's ability to further develop the downfield passing game by putting a greater premium on time of possession?

Eric Hansen: The good news on the pitch counts is the bye week coming up after BC. Not having a bye week the week of Dec, 12, thouugh, isn't ideal. Perhaps against Syracuse there will be an opportunity to play some reserves on defense. ... I don't think ball control at all hinders the deep passing game.

Joe from Asbury Park, N.J.: Which of our next two games is the most difficult test in your opinion?

Eric Hansen: North Carolina.

Ced from Saginaw, Mich. I'm hearing rumblings from (ND commits) Blake Fisher and Rocco Spindler that a big-name recruit might commit. Has Philip Riley opened his recruitment back up with us?

Eric Hansen: Carter Karels told me Philip Riley, a CB recruit who decommitted from the Irish then pledged to USC, is expected to come back and sign with ND.

Mike from Evansville, Ind." What is the status of Lawrence Keys and Jordan Johnson?

Eric Hansen: Working hard to move up on a crowded depth chart.

Chris O from Brookfield, Ohio: Always love your articles and thanks for all your great insights! I loved the students rushing the field and am glad they did! Most had masks on! I did it in '93 at FSU game and will always remember it! Do you think the Irish will find a consistent pass rush this week? Do you expect to see Jordan Johnson at receiver? And can he stretch the field?

Eric Hansen: A consistent pass rush is certainly one of the areas of potential growth for this team. I noticed on the Daelin Hayes sack in the second OT, the Irish had Isaiah Foskey, Ade Ogundeji and Hayes all on the field at the same time. I like that configuration on third and long and I like the commitment to getting Foskey on the field. When it comes down to Jordan Johnson, I think the coaching staff would like to get him into a game, but if it comes down to Lenzy vs. Johnson at some point, I'd pick Lenzy this year and see what happens in 2021.

Matt from Augusta. N.J.: Has anyone asked coach Kelly about his decision to not go for two at the end of regulation? I thought for sure we was going to try the conversion and put it all on the line. Maybe the ability to run he ball and only having to go from the 25-yard line in OT played a role? Clemson’s offense had trouble running the ball all day and needed a big field to throw the ball. Thoughts?

Eric Hansen: It was the first question I asked in the press conference. I included the answer in my column: Hansen: More than a Notre Dame moment, upset of No. 1 Clemson needs to lead to next step

Jonathan from Hideaway, Texas: Amazing insight in these chats each week. I have three related questions about BC that I'm hoping you can shed some light on: (1) How did this mediocre BC defense hold UNC's high-octane offense to its lowest point total of the season (26), while managing just 22 points vs. that awful UNC defense themselves? (2) How did they put only 14 on the scoreboard vs. the Virginia Tech Hokies, who have given up an average of 34.5 to the other six teams they've played? (3) How did this team, who gave Clemson a run for its money just seven days earlier, end up in a 16-13 nail-biter against 1-7 Syracuse, easily the ACC's worst team? Appreciate any explanations you can come up with!

Eric Hansen: Jonathan, thank you. 1. In the North Carolina game, BC was able to play keepaway somewhat and limited UNC to 65 plays. Neither team got anything from the return game and both were heavily penalized (205 yards combined), so they were getting bad field position and bad down and distance. There were a lot of sacks on both sides. Also UNC missed a field goal. 2. In the Virginia Tech game, BC turned it over five times to Virginia Tech's 0. Also the Hokies gashed BC in the running game (350 rushing yards), something ND hopes to do Saturday. 3. Haven't really studied the Syracuse game.

Ted Kazmar from San Diego: Because of the NCAA new COVID rules, can Ian Book play football for ND next year?

Eric Hansen: Everybody COULD play next year, but not everyone will.

John from D.C.: Hi Eric. Long-time reader, first-time questioner. What do you make of Ian Book throwing accurate downfield passes and having his best game of the season against Clemson? Where was this vertical attack before Saturday? Thanks in advance for your insight.

Eric Hansen: I think there was finally a confidence in the timing/chemistry from practice and Book also getting over a mental hurdle, knowing that without the deep passing game, there was probably not a path to victory, so why not go for it?

Nick from Denver: Woooooo!!!! That's it, no question. Just, wooooooo!!!!!

Eric Hansen: Or is it Wuuuuuu? As in Jeremiah oWUsu-Koramoah?

Tom from Dowagiac: Hi Eric: I'm so happy for Brian Kelly and Ian Book. These chats have been filled with criticism from chatters who doubted both and thought they couldn't beat Clemson. Also happy for guys like Javon McKinley and Avery Davis, who stayed the course and contributed big time under the bright lights when a lot of chatters wanted faster rookies who hadn't proved themselves yet. BTW, Tyler James had a great piece on those two guys. Talent is great, but there's a lot to be said for veterans who've been with the program for years and can handle the pressure of the big stage. It's funny how fans are constantly distracted by the shiny new unproven model when your best option may not be as flashy. What say you?

Eric Hansen: I think you have to be open to all options when you're a coach. Davis and McKinley earned their opportunities. But at running back, it was the right move to go with the new blood in Kyren Williams and Chris Tyree over Jafar Armstrong and Jahmir Smith.

Erik from Granger, Ind.: Thanks for being here! What was your favorite stat of the game? I’m tempted by third down percentage and Travis Etienne’s minuscule yards per carry, but my favorite is no sacks after halftime. Kyren Williams looked like an NFL back picking up the relentless blitzes and Ian Book had amazing footwork and awareness in the pocket. A sack or two could have totally derailed our chances, especially in the fourth quarter and overtimes. What was your favorite stat and why?

Eric Hansen: Probably the running defense total: 34 yards on 33 carries. Stunning.

Kevin from Round Rock, Texas: Hi Eric. I was in Norman, Okla., late October 2012.  Did the 52-yard pass to Avery Davis remind you of the bomb caught by Chris Brown in that game vs. Oklahoma? I know the circumstances were different, but it took me right back to that moment.

Eric Hansen: Now that you mention it, yes.

Jordan from Nashville: Hi Eric, coach Kelly seemed to maneuver around your question on Monday regarding Phil Jurkovec's knowledge of ND's offense. Seems fair to assume that ND starting huddling against Clemson as a warmup for BC, do you agree? What is your prediction on how the "X" receiver spot shakes out by the end of the season? You wrote a nice piece on Jordan Johnson making strides a few weeks ago, but have yet to see him take meaningful snaps. Perhaps he will now that the primetime spotlight game against Clemson is over? Hopefully Branden Lenzy will return soon, too. Thanks!

Eric Hansen: Jordan, thanks. If Lenzy can get back (and it might not be until North Carolina), the coaching staff will make him a priority. They know they can trust him in big situations. Johnson is talented, but they don't have the trust factor. Look, JJ has a bright future. It just might not be anything but flashes here or there this year ...UNLESS injuries or COVID dictate otherwise. ... I'm not sure ND will need or use the wristbands on Saturday but it might not be a bad idea.

Robert from Evansville, Ind. Eric, I may have missed the discussion here and on NBC’s telecast, but apparently ND was concerned about Clemson stealing signals.  I noticed they were running in the plays. I read a story on Sports Illustrated’s website where Clemson had several people on staff to do just that.  

https://www.si.com/college/2020/11/06/clemson-signal-stealing-dabo-swi...

Could that explain how Clemson tends to do better in the second half?  Instead of coverage adjustments, they crack the code and know what the offense is going to do. Thanks!

Eric Hansen: I wouldn't pin it all on that, but I'm sure it may factor in, in SOME games. Notre Dame used wristbands and huddled, so there was no chance to decode the signals. The Irish will do it again Dec 19 if the two teams meet in the ACC Championship Game.

Tom from Toronto: Hi Eric, hope that you and your family are well. Thank you again for your excellent reporting and analysis. I don't recall seeing who received the game ball Saturday. There were many great efforts on both sides of the ball. A difficult choice. I am hoping it was Mr. Avery Davis. Appreciate it if you would let us know. Thanks.

Eric Hansen: Thanks, Tom. Ian Book got the game ball.

Martin from Phoenix: Will Notre Dame have plus or minus five sacks on Saturday

Eric Hansen: I'll say four.

Stephen from Toledo, Ohio: I know I’ve asked many questions already, but I figured this would be a nice change of pace. I made your (Bobby Flay’s) beer brat recipe, and it was fantastic. That being said, are there any Thanksgiving recipes that are your particular favorite or just the classics?

Eric Hansen: So happy you liked the beer brats. It reminds me I'm overdue in making them. My mom's homemade gravy and her sweet potato recipe are part of the reason Thanksgiving is the best meal I have all year. That and the company.

Kevin from Sleepy Eye, Minn.: How about the play-calling by Tommy Rees?  In 2018, I felt (Clemson defensive coordinator Brent) Venables dictated things. Last Saturday, Rees didn't let him.

Eric Hansen: It was a very good night for Rees.

Mark from Orange County, Calif.: Do you think ND's play will keep ascending?

Eric Hansen: Given the makeup and leadership of this team, yes.

Mike from Rochester, N.Y.: Hi, Eric, hope you and your family are all well. First, your pick last week of Avery Davis as your wild card in the Clemson game was incredibly prescient! Well done. It’s so great to see him have such success after all he has given this team. My question is, on throw Avery “dropped” in the end zone it looked like he was not only clearly interfered with but hands to the face should have been called. Am I missing something or did the referee crew miss this along with all their other miscues?

Eric Hansen: It was not a good night for the officials, including their excessive number and length of reviews.

Jeff from Phoenix: Hey Eric! I will restrain myself from storming the field that is today's chat, so no need to run for the tunnel. Well, I think its fair to say Clark Lea's stock is way, way up after the Clemson game and the 2020 season. So, last year when Boston College hired Jeff Hafley, did they decline Lea or did Lea decline the BC offer? Any scuttlebutt on firm offers from teams to hire him now as a head coach? Also, what position coach do you think is under-the-radar for jumping ship to an outside OC or DC position?

Eric Hansen: Jeff, as long as you don't storm the field in BARE FEET! Hafley was BC's choice. Clark would have taken that job and done very well. I think Clark will have offers this offseason, but he's going to be picky. Also, I don' think there will be as many openings as there normally would because of the financial strain COVID has put on athletic departments, making it tough to justify huge buyouts. As far as position coaches jumping, too soon to say.

Tom from Georgia: What is the differentiator between ND and OSU that places ND above OSU?  Is it purely a matter of the best win by any team this year?  Would ND beat the Buckeyes on a neutral field with two weeks for each to prepare?

Eric Hansen: I can only answer for myself. Notre Dame's total résumé is better, including a better win. Ohio State's competition is a combined 1-7, so how much do we really know about OSU? I don't know if ND would beat Ohio State on a neutral field, but we may get a chance to find out for real later on.

Jim K from Champaign, Ill.: Any survey of the transfer landscape by me, anyway, shows that some transfers are eligible immediately (Jurkovec, for one) and others are not (Parker Boudreaux, for example). What are the criteria for determining whether a transfer is eligible immediately or must sit out a season?

Eric Hansen: One of the all-time great mysteries, actually. It seems that if you have a good lawyer, it helps your case immensely.

Ben from Greenville, S.C.: Hi Eric, being 30 minutes away from Clemson and having to hear from everyone around here how we would be DESTROYED last weekend, it sure was nice to drive around the past few days with my ND car flags flying high and proud!! How did the team come out of the game health-wise? It seemed to me that they were dragging Clemson players off left and right. Are there any dinged up ND guys that I missed that may affect this week's preparation? Also, if/when we make it to the ACC championship, will there be fans in the stands? Thanks. GO IRISH!!

Eric Hansen: Hi Ben. BK on Monday said only bumps and bruises and nothing more serious. Will check in again Thursday. ... As far as fans in the stands, we'll have to wait and see what the North Carolina powers-that-be say. The COVID numbers are climbing nationally, so keep that in mind. Situation is fluid.

Joe in Austin: Eric!! No question, just kudos and joy. You’re awesome. Book is awesome. 2020.

Eric Hansen: Thank you. AND you're awesome.

Ed, Belleville, IL: When will we know with any reasonable certainty whether any of the ND players were infected as the result of the postgame rush onto the field?

Eric Hansen: Likely by Thursday if Brian Kelly is willing to share that, which I think he will be.

Jack Gordon from Oyster Bay, N.Y.:  Eric, appreciate your great reporting in these trying times. Preparing for a letdown against BC is obviously a concern. Any details on how this is being addressed in practice this week? Thank you.

Eric Hansen: They actually were addressed before this week and during this week. They know all about BC.

Peter in Erie, Pa.: Stop Travis Etienne and make the others beat you seemed like the strategy Saturday. Can stop Phil Jurkovec and make others beat you be a strategy? Is it possible to force BC to run the ball?

Eric Hansen: If I were Clark Lea, I'd stop the BC run and put Phil Jurkovec in third and long with a much less talented O-line than Clemson has.

Jeff from York, Pa.: Eric, you forgot to mention Mark Bavaro as a great tight end. He would get my vote as the best one in the history of ND football. He also had a great career with the New York Giants.

Eric Hansen: I didn't forget Mark Bavaro. I didn't cover him, which was part of the question. I did do a countdown of the greatest ND tight ends of all time earlier this year and he made the list. Check it out: Counting down the top 10 Notre Dame tight ends at Tight End U.

John from Fort Wayne: What did you think of Malik Zaire's comments regarding BK's hiring of Tommy Rees? I got the sense he was implying Tommy was primarily chosen for their personal relationship and not his coaching but then (he) went on to say Tommy is doing a good job. Almost as if he was as skeptical as some of us were.

Eric Hansen: I think he was skeptical but was then won over. But I also think Malik was trying to say that BK hired someone whose philosophy was similar to his own.

Peter in Erie, PA: Not much talk about Kyle Hamilton, he's great! And Clarence Lewis always makes me think of Clarence Ellis. Know him?

Eric Hansen: I just did a story this week on how Hamilton has had a better year than anyone in an ND uniform short of Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Not sure what else you're looking for from me? I have heard of Clarence Ellis and know he was an All-American at Notre Dame, but I never saw him play at ND.

John from Chatham, N.J.: Hey Eric: First-time questioner. Any bump in recruiting traction after Clemson? Realize it is just a few days but was curious.

Eric Hansen: I imagine there will be, particularly with the 2022 class and particularly if this isn't Notre Dame last win over a top 5 team this season.

Eric Hansen: OK, that's going to have to do it for today. Thanks for all the great questions. Sorry for any typos. I was trying to fly through my answers faster to get to more questions. We'll be back to do it all over again next Wednesday at noon EST.

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