Take Five: Kyle Hamilton, Brian Kelly, McKenzie Milton

Mike Hutton puts a bow on Notre Dame's victory over Florida State
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Five more takes off the Florida State game from Mike Hutton.

1. The fumble call that was overturned by officials in Florida State’s final overtime drive was in a word ridiculous. McKenzie Milton was clearly bringing the ball back to his body after starting a throwing motion to tuck it in. That’s why the officials called it a fumble. Replay, in the letter of the rule rather than the intent, showed his arm was coming forward. By definition, it was a pass. The problem with overturning it is that if in fact Milton did make a throw, the officials still got it wrong when the play was supposedly corrected. The correct call should’ve been intentional grounding. There were no receivers close. College football should consider changing how it defines an incomplete pass.

2. I’m glad that Florida State coach Mike Norvell decided to wait until the fourth quarter to bring Milton into the game. Milton was the quarterback for the last two drives, which netted 10 points and sent the game into overtime. He was 5 of 7 for 48 yards passing and ran for six yards. His quarterback rating was 129.03, which was much better than Jordan Travis', which was 108.00. Jordan completed 9 of 19 passes for 130 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Milton only came in after Jordan’s helmet came off with 9:10 left. Although Milton wasn’t as mobile as Jordan, he was definitely more accurate, and he was mobile enough. Milton was the better quarterback. Maybe that wouldn’t have held up for the length of the game but it’s hard to see him not getting more time.

3. Upon further review, the defense needs more work but the problems seem fixable. I’ll take head coach Brian Kelly at his word when he said in his Monday press conference that FSU is a team on the rise. The Irish defense was disruptive, which is how it was advertised. Notre Dame had three turnovers — two interceptions by Kyle Hamilton and another one by Clarence Lewis. They also had five sacks and eight tackles for losses. 

Their rush defense was a mess, though, giving up 264 yards. There were way too many missed tackles. That should be a fixable problem. Also, the defense was on the field for 9:36 in the fourth quarter. It was a strange dynamic. The offense scored 21 points in just over eight minutes in the third quarter, but it couldn’t deliver in the fourth quarter and it couldn’t run the ball effectively all night. Bottom line: The ND defense was tired in the final quarter and the spark that Milton brought set up the comeback. The Irish should be able to figure some stuff out against Toledo.

4. There should be deep concern about the offensive line. Notre Dame’s inability to get any push running the ball with an elite two back set of Kyren Williams and Chris Tyree was not a good sign. With the possibility that Blake Fisher is out at left tackle, it’s going to be even more problematic. Fisher’s backup, Michael Carmody, got beat a couple of times for sacks in the second half. Fisher got beat at least once in the first half. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some experimentation with positions going into the Toledo game. That’s assuming Fisher is out.

5. Kelly just can’t help himself with the jokes. Kyle Hamilton’s highlight interception when he ran from one side of the field to the other side to pick off a Travis pass turned into a 15-yard penalty when Hamilton took his helmet off. Video of that pick will be sent to every general manager in the NFL.

“Look, it's hard to put superlatives on that kind of play, but there's only a few people that can make a kind of play like that with his length and his size. When you watch it again, we have the end zone copy, I don't know how we got to the ball. So, I won't say any more. I would have taken my helmet off too,” Kelly said. “That was one heck of a play."

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