MALIK ZAIRE’S STARTING DEBUT
When you consider he hadn’t played a meaningful down in more than two years, and had sat on the bench throughout the 2013-14 regular seasons with no-(2013)-to-little-(2014) chance of playing, Malik Zaire’s debut as a starting quarterback at Notre Dame was rather remarkable.
From afterthought to Music City Bowl MVP.
LSU running back Leonard Fournette was the best player on the football field Tuesday night in Nashville, but one could argue the definition of MVP with Zaire, who helped spark the Irish rushing attack, set up the passing game, and control the ever-so-precious time-of-possession statistic, which has never been so important in Brian Kelly’s spread offense as it was against the Tigers, who paced the nation in ball control during the regular season.
Zaire accounted for 96 of Notre Dame’s 263 yards rushing and 96 of its 186 yards passing while completing 12-of-15 passes to finish his red-shirt sophomore campaign at exactly 60 percent throwing (21-of-35) after completing just 9-of-20 against USC in the regular-season finale.
There was no rust on Zaire. He completed 5-of-6 passes for 32 yards – including a seven-yard touchdown pass – while also converting a 4th-and-9 with a 10-yard run in the opening series.
Much credit must go to Brian Kelly for devising a game plan in which Zaire could get his feet wet, get comfortable and settle in. But Zaire still had to execute it, and he did it with aplomb. Then, starting his second series, he deciphered the read-option perfectly and bolted for a 26-yard gain.
It wasn’t as if he didn’t have to convert any 3rd-and-long situations, although Kelly certainly steered more of those scenarios toward Everett Golson after Zaire ran each of the first two series. In fact, it was Zaire who completed a 17-yard pass on 3rd-and-11 from the LSU 27 that kept a mid-second quarter drive alive and eventually gave the Irish a 21-14 lead. Zaire even threw the block that helped lead Tarean Folston into the end zone.
After the game, Kelly referred to Zaire as a 230-pounder, which brought a laugh to Zaire after the game. He is listed at 210, but he runs the football like he’s a 230-pounder. Contrary to Golson, when Zaire runs and protects the football, he wraps his hand/wrist/forearm completely around the football, and firmly presses it against his chest/rib cage.
There is no fear of a fumble with him, and likewise, at what looks like 230 pounds, you don’t fear a hit that will take him out of the game. He absorbs hits like a running back, and when contact is imminent, he wraps both arms around the football securely. His option/running background has been engrained.
Some have suggested Zaire would make a fine running back. Well, you don’t damage the future of the quarterback position by moving Zaire, particularly with Folston carrying two years of eligibility into 2015 and Greg Bryant three. Zaire is a running back – a wildcat running back – when he accepts the shotgun snap and takes off.
Kelly clearly was not happy with Zaire’s decision-making midway through fourth quarter, which prompted the Irish head coach to bark at him. Yet Kelly stuck with him on the game-winning drive. When Zaire’s helmet came off, Golson was forced into the lineup, although Kelly said afterwards that Golson was about to come back into the game on the next snap regardless.
The Irish offense had bogged down at that point, and they needed a spark from Golson, who provided it by completing 4-of-6 for 50 yards with a drop by Will Fuller mixed in. Golson did for Zaire what Tommy Rees did for Golson in 2012.
“It feels like a transition,” said ESPN analysis Rod Gilmore. “It feels like Zaire is becoming the guy and Golson is no longer the guy. It may not play out that way, but it has that feeling right now.”
Yes, it felt that way, but that doesn’t mean the job is Zaire’s and Golson is out of the mix. The Irish have a couple of assets at the quarterback position, and Kelly exited LP Field Tuesday night sounding determined to utilize both quarterbacks’ skills in 2015.
Another thing to keep in mind is that while getting his first start against a very good defense like LSU’s was difficult, it also was in many respects the perfect opponent. LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis’ approach with the Tigers is very basic. Not a lot of blitzes, not a lot of coverages, not a lot of pre-snap movement. Just line up and go with superior personnel.
And yet one can’t help but marvel at Zaire’s first start in a Notre Dame uniform and his most extended action since the fall of 2012 when he was playing for Archbishop Alter High School in Kettering, Ohio.
“He did what we asked him to do,” said Kelly of Zaire after the game. “We had to keep (Leonard Fournette) off the field, and I think Malik helped do that in terms of running the football.”
The emotion overtook Zaire after the game when he learned he had been named the game’s most valuable player. All it all, it was the ideal performance by Zaire in his first career collegiate start.
GOLSON LEADS IRISH TO VICTORY, TOO
Why some Irish fanatics want to throw players to the curb so readily is perplexing when you consider there is no waver wire to turn to. Players make mistakes, they learn and they get better. You can’t just discard them after a bad performance, or even a few bad performances.
While some were calling for Golson’s benching throughout the Music City Bowl, the Irish probably don’t win this football game without Golson’s contributions, particularly down the stretch.
This is still the guy who led Notre Dame to a victory-level performance against No. 1-ranked Florida State in October and whose passing ability is far superior to Zaire’s, at least from a consistency standpoint. Brian Kelly has stated numerous times that Zaire’s passing accuracy is flawed.
Why can’t the Irish maximize the multiple talents at the quarterback position the way they do at other spots? Well, it’s a bit more difficult to do at quarterback because rhythm and flow at the position require repeated snaps, although running backs can say the same thing.
Golson helped lead the Irish to victory against LSU. Clearly, the offense had bogged down under Zaire after C.J. Prosise sprinted 50 yards for the touchdown with 4:15 left in the third quarter. The Irish failed to record a first down in either of the next two drives, although a holding penalty on center Matt Hegarty and a fumbled exchange with Folston ruined the first of those two drives before LSU held Zaire for no gain on 3rd-and-4 early in the fourth quarter.
The Irish needed a spark, and Golson provided it by completing 4-of-6 passes for 50 yards in the game-winning drive.
Golson’s body language was good throughout the game, and that couldn’t always been said during the regular season, even when he was starting and didn’t have to fear being pulled. The ESPN cameras caught him taking a moment behind the bench right before kickoff, and there were numerous times when he could be seen exhorting his teammates, including Zaire after one touchdown.
“I’s good to see that he’s all-in on winning and that he’s supporting Zaire,” Gilmore said.
In Golson’s first series – the third of the game for the Irish – he found Chris Brown for a 29-yard gain on 3rd-and-8 as Brown beat press coverage from 6-foot-2, 198-pound Jalen Collins. Kelly mixed in a read-option run in that series as well, which is important to this two-quarterback system working. Kelly can’t allow the quarterbacks to be typecast into a “one throws and the other runs” stereotype. You lose the element of surprise that way.
Golson took a shot from LSU defensive end Jermauria Rasco in the second quarter that prompted him to come off the field and take some time to regain his composure. Interestingly, Kelly said Golson received a pain-relieving shot in his ribs at halftime (although Golson repudiated that notion).
Golson threw a duck, but it was on-target to Will Fuller for an 11-yard gain and a first down, which eventually allowed the Irish to take a 21-14 lead with Zaire at the helm moments later.
Golson confirmed to Irish Illustrated’s Pete Sampson that he is on schedule to earn his degree in May and that he’ll be with the Irish in the spring. That doesn’t guarantee that he’ll be in a Notre Dame uniform in the fall. He could get his degree, assess the situation, and transfer somewhere else where he’ll be assured of being the starter and being allowed to play through his mistakes.
Can the Irish win without Golson? Sure, but they’d be better fortified with the passing skills of Golson to call upon. Whether Zaire or Golson starts, if Kelly can craft a game plan incorporating both, we’ve seen how multi-faceted the offense can be and how difficult it is to stop the Irish when the playbook is as expansive as it was against LSU.
PROSISE THE RUNNING BACK (AND RECEIVER)
There is a typical knee-jerk reaction after one play, one series or one game to scrap a long-term plan and go with what images were flashed in a small sample size.
The sample size on C.J. Prosise when it comes to running the football grows every game, particularly after his three-carry, 75-yard rushing performance against LSU, which included a 50-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that helped propel the Irish to victory.
During the regular season, Prosise carried seven times for 51 yards – Tale of the Tape commented several times how he looked like a natural running back – to go with 26 receptions for 482 yards (18.5) and two touchdowns, including a 78-yarder to start the game against Navy.
Why would you even consider moving Prosise from Z receiver to running back, as some have suggested? Prosise’s 17.7-yard average per reception in 2014 was tops on the team. He is a big (220 pounds), dynamic receiver who also provides the offense with a top-level blocker in space.
There’s no reason why the Irish can’t take advantage of his running skills while keeping him at the slot receiver position. He obviously can handle more in the running game, so give him a package of running plays, don’t change his position.
What I liked about his usage in the LSU game was that he seemed to have a bit more depth in the backfield carrying the football than the typical jet sweep in which he runs parallel to the line of scrimmage pre-snap, right up against the backsides of the offensive linemen. Kelly gave him some better angles from which to run, and we saw once again what a multi-faceted athlete he can be.
He’s faster than you think he’d be at 220 pounds, and he has a nice forward lean. After breaking the tackle of defensive end Jermauria Rasco 10 yards in to his 50-yard run, he accelerated away from the LSU secondary before diving into the end zone. He also had a 27-yard run in the second series of the game, once again showing his acceleration against a fast LSU defense.
Lest it be forgotten, Prosise had 10 tackles on special teams during the regular season, and he added another in the Music City Bowl.
Tarean Folston has two more years of eligibility and Greg Bryant has three. Josh Adams will arrive with the freshman class, and before this recruiting campaign is over, Notre Dame should add another running back.
C.J. Prosise is a dynamic Z receiver with running back skills. That’s the best way to utilize and maximize his talents.
THE UNDERRATED ISAAC ROCHELL
It’s easy to forget that had it not been for the suspension of Ishaq Williams prior to the start of the 2014 season, sophomore Isaac Rochell would have been a back-up coming off the bench. Who knows how much he would have contributed.
And yet chances are the 6-foot-3 ½, 287-pounder out of McDonough, Ga., would have emerged as a significant presence in his second year with the Irish, whether Williams faltered or Rochell was placed on the interior of the defensive line, as he was for the LSU game in the absence of injured Jarron Jones.
As Irish Illustrated editor Pete Sampson said in our recent podcast, Rochell was the unusual combination of a most improved candidate while falling under the category of underrated.
Rochell – who finished the regular season with 37 tackles, 7 ½ tackles for loss and 2 ½ sacks – is country strong. He does not have the pass-rush talent I thought he would have when he was coming out of high school. But he is an upper-level run defender who can hold the point of attack against virtually any offensive lineman in college football.
He is versatile, too, as he proved by moving inside with Sheldon Day for the Music City Bowl, which was a huge factor in Notre Dame’s victory. Instead of shuffling marginal defenders in and out of the lineup against the Tigers – as the Irish were forced to do in November – defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder was able to stick predominately with Day and Rochell while subbing in fifth-year senior Justin Utupo and freshman Jay Hayes occasionally. Banged up freshman Daniel Cage and overmatched (vs. USC) Jacob Matuska weren’t needed.
Personally, I thought moving Rochell inside after Day was injured against Northwestern was the right move to make, but perhaps there were other reasons (opposing personnel, game plan) that prevented it until the Irish had extended time to work on it, as they did in preparation for the bowl game.
In his own way, Rochell was one of the most valuable players on the Notre Dame defense in 2014 because he answered the bell for all 13 games and he provided the Irish with steady, physical play, particularly when defensive players were dropping like flies.
Credit Rochell for a real quality sophomore season with the best yet to come.
ASSESSING MCGLINCHEY’S FIRST START
With a true Notre Dame warrior – Christian Lombard – finally succumbing to a back injury that plagued him throughout his Notre Dame career, red-shirt freshman Mike McGlinchey recorded his first start in an Irish uniform against LSU.
Brian Kelly was asked after the game for an assessment, which of course is impossible to accurately provide for a play-caller trying to evaluate the bigger picture until he gets a chance to review the film.
Kelly’s paraphrased response was something along the lines that McGlinchey must have done pretty well for the Irish to have been as effective as they were running the football (263 yards) and protecting the quarterbacks (zero sacks, very limited pressure).
After reviewing the film, there were several positives in McGlinchey’s performance against the Tigers.
For starters, the 6-foot-7 ½, 310-pounder Philadelphian is a mountain of a man. He has the feet of a tight end/power forward. He shows good foot-speed as a pass blocker, shuffling his feet like an athlete, not an oversized offensive tackle.
When McGlinchey sets himself, comes to balance and squares up a pass rusher, he is really good. For most of the LSU game, he batted around the Tigers’ defensive ends like a cat having fun with a mouse. His overwhelming frame/size engulfs pass rushers.
He didn’t win every pass-rush battle because he didn’t show those quick feet in every instance. But a large majority of the time, he was in control of any LSU pass rusher he encountered, which goes a long way toward explaining a) no sacks by the Tigers and b) zero quarterback hurries (although Everett Golson certainly was hurried by Jermauria Rasco on that floater to Will Fuller but wasn’t on the stat sheet).
As a run blocker, McGlinchey has a long, long way to go, which obviously is the big reason why he threatened but could not surpass Lombard. Make no mistake, Lombard is not a tackle, but he was the best and most prepared one the Irish had for the right side in 2014. Lombard held McGlinchey off because of his run blocking.
McGlinchey’s overwhelming size will allow him to have success in the running game by using his good feet and just being a wide-based 6-foot-7 ½, 310 pounds. Just by presenting himself long and wide to a defender, he can be effective.
But McGlinchey has some significant balance issues on the move/in the open field. One would have to go through every running play to know for sure, but I would suggest McGlinchey ended up on the ground on running plays at least one-third of the time.
McGlinchey has to do a better job of staying on his feet. He allows his upper body to get out ahead of his lengthy lower body, which creates balance issues that cause him to tip over. McGlinchey sometimes looked like a windmill flailing at LSU defenders. When he engages a defender and widens his base, he’s good. But when a defender offers him movement and doesn’t allow him to square up and get his weight underneath him, he literally tips over.
With three years of eligibility remaining, McGlinchey has a ton of assets with which to work. Brian Kelly and Harry Hiestand will have a lot of patience and a “long rope” with McGlinchey because the upside is vast.
But youngsters such as Alex Bars and Quenton Nelson (also a guard) are coming on, and if Hunter Bivin can overcome some physical issues, McGlinchey will be pushed. He has an extra year under his belt on the current freshmen, and now he has a productive start against the SEC’s best overall defense in 2014. McGlinchey is an outstanding prospect, but it’s time to start corralling his skill set in the ground game.
KELLY THE PLAY CALLER
Earlier in the season, ESPN analyst Chris Spielman called Brian Kelly the best play caller in college football. While most would agree that such laudatory comments are a bit of a stretch, there’s no doubt that the “genius” of Kelly came out on several occasions this season, particularly against Florida State during the regular season, and now again versus LSU in the Music City Bowl.
With a month to prepare for John Chavis’ defense, Kelly had a blank canvas upon which to paint. He had two quarterbacks with varying skills, and he took full advantage of that. The Irish had the element of surprise; LSU did not. Kelly devised a vast, deep, varied game plan with a ton of formations and movement that didn’t allow the Tigers to dial in until late in the third, early in the fourth quarter when the offense bogged down a bit.
Kelly played the aggressor from the outset, going for 4th-and-9 in the opening series, which Malik Zaire converted, and again on a 4th-and-short in the second series with the Irish holding a 7-0 lead. Yes, he could have gone for the field goal, but he knew his defense would need touchdowns from the offense, not field goals, so the failed attempt in my mind was worth the risk and too easily second-guessed in the aftermath of the failed conversion.
Kelly was asked after the game if he could he come up with a two-quarterback game plan on an every-seven-days basis as opposed to the 30-day preparation for LSU. He said one of the reasons he started Zaire was to find out exactly what he had, and now he knows.
Now, if he can come up with a cohesive, tightened game plan on a weekly basis against varying defensive approaches, he’ll have a playbook – provided Golson comes back and joins Zaire – that can be massive. LSU’s basic defensive sets made it easier to dig deeper into Notre Dame’s formations/playbook.
The other aspect of this game that Kelly deserves credit for is the commitment and determination his players showed against LSU. There are a lot of teams out there that laid eggs during the bowl season, and the Irish were a prime candidate to be another one of them.
Notre Dame closed the regular season on a four-game losing streak. The Irish had little to play for other than pride (and next season). Kelly said before and after the game that LSU was the match-up the Irish wanted.
While skeptics on the outside feared the Irish getting pounded, Kelly, his staff and the players didn’t view it that way. They considered it a great opportunity to salvage the 2014 season and to use it as a springboard into 2015. Their emotion and determination to reverse the fortunes since the end of the regular season were obvious.
USING LEONARD FOURNETTE
If you’re on the LSU side of the equation, aren’t you scratching your head as to why 6-foot-1, 230-pound Leonard Fournette – who looks bigger than that and is as fast as any running back around – carried the football a mere 11 times?
The guy averaged 13.0 yards per carry against the Irish, which of course was skewed by his 89-yard touchdown run. But his other 10 carries averaged 5.4 per tote. And yet he carried just six times in the first half and five times in the second half.
Granted, the Irish did a great job of limiting LSU snaps to a mere 52 – exactly 26 in each half. That means Fournette had 23 percent of the Tigers’ touches in the first half and 19.2 percent in the second half. It would be one thing if LSU was a pass-first team and the passing attempts ate up all the touches. But Anthony Jennings threw just 14 times, or 26.9 percent of LSU’s snaps.
Even more inexplicable was the failure to give the football to Fournette with the Irish leading 21-14 late in the first half and the Tigers knocking on the door. LSU had the football at the Irish five, 1st-and-goal, with under a minute and two timeouts after using a timeout following a six-yard run by Darrel Williams.
No touches for Fournette? The first and second down plays were runs by Jennings, and the second and third timeouts were burned. On 3rd-and-goal from the three, Jennings threw to wide receiver John Diarse, and Cody Riggs bumped him out of bounds at the two.
At that point, with 12 seconds remaining, Les Miles opted to go for the fake field goal with holder Brad Kragthorpe, which looked like it was going to work. But when you run five plays from the 11-yard line-and-in, and none of them involve Fournette, one can’t help but second-guess – and thank LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron if you have Notre Dame rooting interests – why the bullish Fournette was used so infrequently in the Music City Bowl.
DEFENSE CLUTCH AT RIGHT TIMES
Brian VanGorder certainly didn’t solve all of Notre Dame’s problems from the end of the regular season, which we knew he couldn’t without Jarron Jones in the middle of the defensive line and Joe Schmidt at Mike linebacker.
The Irish gave up an unsightly 285 yards rushing on just 38 attempts (7.5 yards per carry) with Leonard Fournette averaging 13.0 yards on his 11 carries, including an 89-yarder. The passing numbers weren’t outrageous because the Tigers threw just 14 times. But Anthony Jennings’ seven completions covered 151 yards (21.5-yard average), including a 75-yarder on the first snap of the second half.
Ugly, ugly numbers.
But when the Irish defense had to step up, VanGorder’s troops did the job. LSU did not score over the final 21:41 of the game. On the Tigers’ final three drives, they had a three-and-out, a blocked field goal and came up short on a 3rd-and-3.
Over the final 18:12 of the game, LSU snapped the football just 12 times, not including the blocked field goal.
The Irish defense was particularly impressive on LSU’s final drive. Only 18 of their 38 rushing attempts were less than five yards, but four of them came on the Tigers’ last possession. Jaylon Smith and Romeo Okwara rallied to the football to stop Terrence Magee for no gain, and on 3rd-and-3, Smith pulled a squirming Jennings away from the first down mark and forced LSU to punt.
It won’t go down as one of Notre Dame’s better defensive efforts nor, for that matter, a stellar special teams performance with Fournette’s 100-yard kickoff return. But when the offense needed the ball back, VanGorder’s unit made it happen.
ESPN’S MARK JONES, ROD GILMORE
Readers of the Irish Illustrated message board expressed opinions about the ESPN announcing team during the game. Of course, those in the press box who do not listen to the TV feed during the game don’t know what’s reality and what’s myth until we get a chance to watch the TV version.
Wow. Seriously? Everett Golston, four times, before a producer makes sure Mark Jones gets it right? No one at ESPN ever did correct the pronunciation of LSU defensive end Jermauria Rasco (pronounced ROS-co, not the phonetic RAS-co).
Now granted, ESPN must be overwhelmed during the bowl season. They broadcast nearly all of the 39 games played. They’ve got to be stretched incredibly thin, and broadcasts teams are preparing for multiple games.
As listeners, we often disregard the logistical elements that make live broadcasting so difficult. In fact, because they generally make it look and sound so easy, it’s a red flashing light when it doesn’t look and sound like a smooth presentation.
Jones has always done solid work; Gilmore can be more hit-and-miss, particularly when it comes to evaluating – this is going to sound like a rabbit-eared Irish fan – Notre Dame.
Both said in Notre Dame’s opening series that Kelly was going for 4th-and-9 from the LSU 28 because the field goal was out of Kyle Brindza’s range. Brindza struggled this year, to be sure, but to suggest 45 yards is out of his range is preposterous since he had four field goals of 51 yards or more during his collegiate career.
At one point, Gilmore referred to Nyles Morgan as Myles Morgan and said Morgan had played “a remarkable game today,” which was far from the truth. Gilmore also suggested that Notre Dame fans were booing when Zaire replaced Golson in the final series when, in fact, they clearly were upset with the terrible spot by the officials. (Jones would suggest that was the case moments later.)
Like you can with any broadcast, there’s a bit of nitpicking here, but it wasn’t one of the stronger performances of the Jones-Gilmore team, albeit it a pleasant, easy-to-listen-to presentation.
Around the gridiron
Some would like Notre Dame to place the names of the players on the back of their uniforms all the time. But as a long-time follower of Notre Dame football – my first memories are from 1966 – I like the tradition of putting the names on the jerseys for the bowl game only. As a kid, it always seemed to amplify the magnitude of the game, particularly for a 10-year-old at the Jan. 1, 1971 Cotton Bowl in Dallas…Didn’t know from the press box that Ben Councell was ruled down by contact on the opening kickoff, but that he actually fumbled…The misconception of the timeout to start the game was that Notre Dame somehow wasn’t ready, and that wasn’t the case. The Irish were at the line of scrimmage with 16 seconds left on the play clock and Notre Dame appeared to be held at the line of scrimmage by the officials. Kelly argued it, but to no avail. The officials were at least partially responsible for the delay…Really like the jet sweeps with Tarean Folston. Makes a lot more sense than doing it with Chris Brown in the Northwestern game…Tough, tough day for Corey Robinson. He seemed to make the passes thrown his way – particularly the first one – more difficult than they needed to be…Great blocks by Ronnie Stanley, Ben Koyack and Nick Martin on Will Fuller’s opening-drive touchdown…
Love Mike McGlinchey’s quick footwork as a pass blocker. Not to disparage Christian Lombard, who was a warrior for the Irish while battling injuries, but Lombard simply doesn’t have those kind of feet…We didn’t get a chance to talk to Kelly about the switch from Greg Bryant to Will Fuller returning punts. We didn’t get to see anything in the way of returns, but Fuller seems to receive the ball very “quietly,” which is a good thing…Don’t have a problem with Kelly electing to go for 4th-and-1 at the LSU 21 after taking a 7-0 lead. He was aggressive in going for the 4th-and-9 in the first series, and remained aggressive in the next series…Leonard Fournette’s 100-yard kick return: a crease created by blocks on C.J. Prosise and Cam McDaniel, and Kyle Brindza’s lunging attempt – which was the right thing to do under the circumstances – and it was over…Interesting exchange between Kelly/Harry Hiestand. Kelly seems to be objecting to Hiestand yelling at him, and Kelly “politely” tells him not to because he was just asking him a question. We later see them conversing about strategy. Just in-the-heat-of-battle stuff…Considering how much he played this year, it was surprising to see that the Music City Bowl was Andrew Trumbetti’s first career start…I would call that the best and most physical game of the season by James Onwualu…
Can’t say I understand why Brad Kragthorpe was not given a touchdown on the fake field goal. You can’t see the knee from the side angle, but from the end zone view, it doesn’t look as if the knee could have touched the ground. Why assume that it could have? Nice fill/hit by Max Redfield (who had a game-high 14 tackles) with Elijah Shumate forcing Kragthorpe to turn back inside to Redfield. Irish fanatics would have blamed this call on Pac-12 referee bias if it had been the other way around…Speaking of Shumate, he was a nasty presence on the field last Tuesday. He jawed with LSU players during pre-game, nailed Leonard Fournette in the end zone after Fournette clearly had scored, and basically made a nuisance of himself to the Tigers all afternoon…Notre Dame was caught napping on wide receiver Travin Dural’s runs, although the modified version of the fumblerooskie was executed beautifully…One of the better games by Romeo Okwara, which we said a couple times during the second half of the season. You’d just like to see him be more of a consistent physical presence. His weight says he’s big enough, but he generally plays like a small 6-foot-4, 260 pounds…Nyles Morgan has a long, long way to go to be a consistent Mike linebacker…The blocked field goal never had a chance, shooting directly into Isaac Rochell’s elbow…LSU cornerback Jalen Collins not only doesn’t take Mike McGlinchey’s offer of a hand up, but disdains it…Kelly said Justin Brent was in his doghouse a week earlier. Surprised to see Brent with Jaylon Smith as one of the dispensers of the Gatorade bath to Kelly…Did you see the close-up of Brindza’s game-winning field goal? A direct kick into the laces of Malik Zaire’s hold.