Saturday’s 20-17 win over Purdue left most Notre Dame fans unsure of just how good this year’s squad is, but even with the inconsistency we saw, there were still plenty of things to like from the Irish victory.
1. Everett Golson taking shots downfield
Sophomore quarterback Everett Golson took another step in the right direction on Saturday with an efficient day. Golson ended up 21 of 31 for 289 yards with one touchdown. He had two more sure touchdowns he left on the field when he over shot Troy Niklas on the first quarter after holding onto the ball too long and getting level as he threw and then underthrew Davaris Daniels after Daniels was behind the defense by 15 yards. Daniels ended up hauling in the pass for 41 yards, but it was a sure touchdown if he throws it on line.
The key for Golson on Saturday was that he started to take chances downfield. Golson still left some throws on the field and held onto the ball too long at times which allowed Purdue to recover in time to close some windows on him, but he took more chances than a week ago and at times threw the ball up and let his receivers make plays. Brady Quinn and Jimmy Clausen made their careers at Notre Dame by trusting their receivers to make plays and Golson took a step in that direction on Saturday. He still has a lot to learn and there are going to be more growing pains, but this week was another step in the right direction for the young quarterback.
Oh, and Brian Kelly said immediately following the game that Golson is still his quarterback even though Tommy Rees came off the bench to lead the final drive after Golson’s hand got banged up on his 4th quarter fumble.
2. Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix
Both Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix were absolute monsters on the defensive line for Notre Dame on Saturday. Nix was a disruptive force throughout the game collapsing pockets and batting balls down at the line. Saturday was easily Nix’s best game since arriving at Notre Dame and showed just how good he can be. Nix had 4 tackles and 1.5 sacks to go along with 2 pass break-ups at the line of scrimmage. Nix is going to be a heck of a NT in this defense and Saturday was a shining example of that.
Tuitt meanwhile was equally disruptive wracking up another 2 sacks this week giving him 4 already this season after just two games. Purdue couldn’t keep Tuitt out of the backfield on Saturday and the sophomore lineman showed his immense strength by collecting one of his sacks while getting blocked and just reaching out and grabbing Robert Marve.
3. Roby Toma and Davaris Daniels
Notre Dame needs some wide receivers to step up and both Davaris Daniels and Roby Toma both stepped up with some big plays throughout the course of the game. Daniels has shown great hands so far this season and has all of the looks of a potential #1 wide receiver in this offense. He’s big, strong, and showed some open field moves along with those good hands. Daniels had an easy touchdown in the 3rd quarter had Golson not under thrown him so much. He went down with an injury later that drive, but it apparently is nothing serious.
Toma meanwhile just makes plays whenever he is on the field. He just needs to get the ball more. With Tyler Eifert and Daniels on the side lines, Toma was the one who came up with a 21 yard reception to set up the game winning field goal.
4. Prince Shembo rushing the passer
It might not have shown up in the stat sheet, but Prince Shembo had a great game. Shembo’s pressure resulted in one of Tuitt’s sacks as well as several other forced throws and that pressure came because Shembo was very disciplined and took some great angles. On Tuitt’s sack, Shembo could have run right at Marve, but instead he remained disciplined, took a great angle and forced Marve back into Tuitt’s pressure. Tuitt then cleaned up nicely.
Shembo could be pushed by Ishaq Williams for some playing time this year, but he had a great game on Saturday even if it only showed up as 5 tackles. In fact, his 5 tackle performance had more of an impact on the game than the 7 tackles that Carlo Calabrese collected.
5. Improved play from the young defensive backs
All of the young defensive backs looked much better this week than they did a week ago in terms of coverage. There weren’t instances of Purdue receivers streaking downfield with no one covering them as we saw against Navy. Kei’Varae Russell and Elijah Shumate especially showed some much better coverage skills this week and in the process they displayed the promise that earned them playing time over some older defensive backs on the roster.
Now, the tackling from the defensive backs still leaves a lot to be desired, but we’ll get to that when I post my list of things I didn’t like from the Purdue game, but coverage wise Notre Dame definitely looks better here than they did a week ago. There are still going to be times when the defensive backs look their age, but on Saturday it was clear that the talent is there.
If the choice was beewetn disbanding the football team and joining a conference What about the Big12 or ACC? Especially in light of the Big12 s statement that there would be a place for ND non-football sports if it was kicked out of the Big East? And the ACC because it is the home of the only other major Catholic university football program, traditional football powers, solid non-football sports, and some like-minded institutions (unlike the state universities + northwestern in the big10?) Geographic footprint matters less these days (see TCU and the Big East)
With regard to the plays being sent in late and EG having trouble getting the snap off. Kelly (and Hope) was angry with the refs for the way they managed the clock. I rewatched the game yesterday and saw the Umpire stand over the ball allowing the defense to sub. He did this while the play clock was ticking down. Our O would have to wait for the U to move before the defense would set then they would be able to audible to their play with only a few seconds remaining. All in all not so much EG’s fault as the average spectator would assume.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I was excited as hell to see Tommy go in. Don’t get me wrong, I was disgusted last year by all his turnovers, but I wasn’t too surprised he was able to pick apart Purdue. Yeah, Purdue looked good, but its still Purdue. The point is that Golson didn’t have anything left at that specific point in the game. Purdue had ALL the momentum, and it seemed like that had us figured out. So I’m a little confused as to why people were so incredulous about TR going in for that one drive. It reminded me of the USC game last year when Crist had the opportunity to redeem himself but failed miserably. TR is not the total package, but he can play a little
For the role he was called to play in that game, yes, I expected him to perform that role. EG will far surpass TR as being a better college QB. After 2 games (with a hand injury) EG hasn’t done too bad either.
I see the problem being with the coaching staff sending plays in.The offense lines up,looks at the defense,coaches change play.1 player changes position,r u kidding,at least keep like 3 guys in the backfield and sprint them to whatever position the play calls for,I didnt see much guessing on Purdues part.
ND is lucky to have a backup QB with experience that can win game against teams like Purdue. EG is an undersized QB that runs a lot and a good backup is needed.
I am no Turnover Tommy fan, and I definitely think Golson is the best QB we have, but I have to admit I saw a HUGE problem with Golson’s game management/clock management skills. You just can’t burn two second half time outs as quick as he did because of confusion in either not being able to read the defense or not figuring out what play adjustment is being called from the sideline. He was looking at the sideline more than the defense prior to taking snaps, so I have to think Kelly was a little nervous having him run the 2 minute offense at the end of the game. Actually, I thought we were hosed when Tommy came in, but I think in hindsight Tommy’s experience running the 2 minute is why Kelly had him go in. Golson won’t have to deal with that all year because he will improve his game management skills soon (very coachable). Thus, I really don’t think there is any QB controversy like other media outlets are trying to say.
Great article Frank keep it up , who has to step up this week ???
I agree George I love the way calabrese comes down hill in the run game and is a good ILB playing next to Te’o, but his coverage skills are suspect, like the way he plays though. But Fox kills me always seems to be in chase never seems tp take good angles and is hesitant to tackle sometimes, I know Kelly raves about how athletic he is but something just seems to be missing. Secondary played a lot better hats off to Zeke Motta who played downhill on saturday and with passion and fire senior stepping up. On the O-line I cannot remember the last time I saw 2 DTs like that dominate in side seeing Golic Jr. get put on his ass that many times was crazy hes a battler though. The front seven is very solid props to some of the subs for coming in and holding it down, Schnewke, Springman and Day esp looks like we got some depth on the D-line. 2-0 fOR THE FIRST TIME UNDER COACH Kelly big game saturday night in prime time in east lansing where craziness always seems to happen looking forward to seeing Te’o vs Bell as much as I hate state they have a really good squad. Keep battling boys what ever happens happens, This Canadian IRISH fan knows the schedule ahead ND!!!!!! play anybody anywhere anytime.
Amen Frank good read!
Just remember one thing this year stated by BK: “TR does not have the elite skills.” (EG does!) To say I am nervous for EG to get his fair shot would be an understatement. I have nothing against TR but, EG could have easily with his superior strong arm duplicated field goal position to win the game. I don’t have a lot of confidence in BK staying with EG unless it’s perfect play not to send TR in. I’ll bet serious money EG will not be allowed even half the turnovers TR was allowed last year.
Unfortunately, EG is the fans choice and TR is obviously BK’s choice based on his exuberant comments and actions.
Here come the Irish!
I like the shot at Calabrese. He and fox are on the field way too much. I’ve tried giving Carlo the benefit of the doubt these past years, but I can’t do it anymore.