Sanford Stadium presented a huge challenge for Notre Dame on Saturday. Georgia fans created one of the best environments in recent memory. But the Fighting Irish really struggled to shut-out the crowd noise.
Notre Dame practiced a silent count snap in preparation for the anticipated crowd noise. Quarterback Ian Book utilized the silent count throughout most of the game on Saturday. But on a pivotal fourth-down play in the first quarter in Georgia territory, ND committed the most costly mistake.
Book reverted to his usual clap to initiate the snap. By doing so, the center snapped the ball, but Book wasn't ready for it and the ball flew past him. While he was able to recover and get off a throw, the play resulted in a turnover-on-downs.
Given the final score was just a six-point margin, the play might've changed the game's entire outcome. Head coach Brian Kelly commented on the error during Monday's press conference.
"I’m sick about it," Kelly said. "Made a terrible miscalculation in that I thought our quarterback was prepared and he wasn’t. That falls on me. We’ll make sure that never happens again."
Kelly, Book and the Fighting Irish won't soon forget the close loss to the Bulldogs. Notre Dame had its chances, but failed to execute when it mattered most.
The Fighting Irish still have plenty of opportunities against ranked teams this season though. Games against USC, Michigan and Virginia have yet to be played.
If ND wins out, will it have a strong enough resume to be in the College Football Playoff?