Wow. After celebrating Notre Dame’s latest victory – a heart pounding, seven point, overtime thriller – over Stanford, my heart has slowed down enough to put some thoughts down on the game and season thus far.
- Evertt Golson at quarterback was a roller coaster ride yesterday. The kid is growing up in front of us, but along the way he is having some growing pains – often times very painful. Golson’s 23 yard scramble in the 3rd quarter was a perfect example. No other QB on Notre Dame’s roster escapes that situation and gets that many yards, but he followed that up by losing his 3rd fumble of the game.
- Speaking of which, Brian Kelly and Chuck Martin need to make working with Golson on ball security objective #1 for the rest of the season. Golson is showing that he can be a very dangerous runner, but if he can’t hold onto the football, that will be a weapon that he won’t be able to use much because Kelly and Martin won’t call designed runs for him.
- Stanford’s lone touchdown that came on Golson’s first fumble of the game featured some rather poor blocking, but at the same time, Golson has to feel that pressure and not lose the football there. And anyway, why was Notre Dame passing the football there if Kelly has expressed concerns over Golson’s handling of the football in the past?
- In general, why was Notre Dame chucking the ball all over the field yesterday when they were having success running the football? Cierre Wood averaged 5.5 yards per carry and George Atkinson III averaged 7 and they combined for just 15 carries. It might sound like I’m beating a dead horse here, but Theo Riddick averaged just 3.8 yards a carry and got 12 by himself. Still cannot figure out for the life of me why Wood isn’t getting more carries.
- I’ve been talking about how much I’ve liked the play of TJ Jones for weeks now and he keeps impressing. If and when the Notre Dame passing game really starts to gel, Jones is going to put up some great numbers.
- Yikes, how did I get this far into this post without talking about Tommy Rees? If you aren’t happy for #11 this morning you don’t have a heart. Rees has received far more criticism than he’s deserved from Notre Dame fans (from this blogger included) and still, all the kid does is come off the bench, complete 4 of 4 passes while capping off the game tying drive after Golson got hurt and then engineering the game winner in over time. For all the criticism he’s gotten, he deserves more than his fair share of the credit for this year’s 6-0 record.
- Notre Dame has some weapons at tight end in the receiving department to replace Tyler Eifert at the end of the season, but yesterday showed how much improvement they need in the blocking department. Very rough game for Irish tight ends from that perspective.
- Speaking of Eifert, wow. What a catch on the pass from Golson. Efiert’s numbers have been effected by the growing pains of the offense, but that touchdown catch could be put on an instructional video for how to catch a ball at its highest point in coverage. Is there a football equivalent of the Tom Emanski tapes?
- Without calling anyone out individually, let’s just say there might be an offensive lineman that is running some extra sprints this week after repeated false starts. You just can’t make those kinds of mistakes when you are facing a tough defense and are having trouble moving the football. That needs to be cleaned up ASAP.
- Wow. Just wow. Don’t know how else to describe this defense at this point. Any remaining questions about how good this defense really is are getting answered every week. Stanford’s offense is far from a juggernaut with the questions they have at quarterback, but the Notre Dame defense went blow for blow with a very physical football team and didn’t allow a touchdown for the fourth week in a row.
- Think about that for a second. Notre Dame has gone 16 quarters without allowing a touchdown on defense (since Stanford’s lone touchdown was scored by their defense) and they have done it against quality opponents. Michigan State. Michigan. Miami. Stanford. 16 quarters. 0 touchdowns. Wow.
- Manti Te’o is playing out of his mind right now. For all the talk about how he turned down millions of dollars to return, he is actually making millions of dollars each week because he is skyrocketing up draft boards at this point.
- I wrote a lot this summer about how concerned I was about the secondary. They have put to rest those concerns with another stellar outing. Zeke Motta had an excellent game yesterday with 9 tackles and Matthias Farley had by far the best game of his young career with a pick and a huge tackle for loss. Bennett Jackson picked off his 3rd pass of the season and Kei’Varae Russeell was hardly seen because Stanford wasn’t throwing at him.
- Danny Spond really is the unsung hero of the Irish defense this year. I really don’t think there is any coincidence that his return has coincided with Notre Dame’s streak of not allowing an offensive touchdown.
- Props to Dan Fox for coming up with a huge tackle for loss too. Like Rees, he has been whipping boy on all of the Notre Dame forums, but he played very well yesterday.
- Through six games, Notre Dame has allowed just 52 points – the best 6 game stretch to start a season since 1976.
- This defense is just playing lights out football right now. It’s tough to really analyze because there are only so many ways to describe just how good they been.
- Ben Turk was having a great bounce back game in the first half with three 40+ yard punts, but then hit back to back 37 and 36 yarders in the second half when Notre Dame needed to start wining the field position game.
- Kyle Brindza wasn’t asked to kick any long field goals, but he was asked to kick a pretty pressure packed short one with less than a minute to go and he came through.
- Both return games looked weak again. Notre Dame has far too much speed and explosiveness in their returnmen for both the kick and punt return units to not be making a positive impact for them.