Initial Analysis: Notre Dame 30, Oklahoma 13

davaris daniels
Notre Dame Fighting Irish receiver DaVaris Daniels (10) jumps for a catch against Oklahoma Sooners cornerback Aaron Colvin (14) at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. The Irish beat the Sooners 30-13. (Photo: Matthew Emmons / US PRESSWIRE)

Wow.  It’s the morning after and I am honestly still having trouble putting into words my thoughts about this game, this team, and this season.  It has been just about 19 years since I remember feeling this good about a Notre Dame team and feeling this good after a Notre Dame win.  If I had to describe last night’s win in a word though, I think I’d have to go with “awesome”.

This team is just fun to watch and after some awful years of football, this team has made Saturdays fun again.  We’ll have much, much more on this game, but here are some initial thoughts as I am rewatching the game with a grin from ear to ear this morning.


  • Everett Golson is growing up in front of us.  Golson took a huge step forward in his development last night just by playing smart and playing within himself and this offense.  Golson protected the football, made plays with his legs, and was very smart in his decision making.  He took what a very good defense gave him and made plays when they were there.
  • Really, really liked seeing Golson running the football on the designed runs.  Great play calling by Chuck Martin and Brian Kelly.
  • Great play by Tommy Rees converted a 3rd and 7 when coming off the bench when Golson temporarily got knocked out of the game.  Rees has been just about the perfect backup quarterback for Notre Dame this year.
  • Hats off to the offensive line.  Golson had plenty of time to pass most of the night, they cut down on the penalties, and gave the backs some room to run throughout the game.  The line has been up and down at times this year, but they were fantastic last night.
  • The wide receivers are starting to establish themselves.  TJ Jones and Davaris Daniels are without question the top two receivers on this team right now and both attacked the ball and didn’t wait for it to come to them last night.  Jones had a very solid night with 5 catches for 55 yards and Daniels added 2 of his own for 36 yards.  Not eye popping numbers, but both are developing some chemistry with Golson and improving week to week.
  • Speaking of wide receivers, it was awesome to see Chris Brown get open deep and haul in a long bomb – especially since a certain blogger wrote on Friday that Notre Dame needed Brown to do just that to win.  Brown can really help open things up for this offense if he can keep hauling in passes like that each week.  Notre Dame has been missing that deep threat so far this year.
  • I still think Cierre Wood is the best running back on this team, but Theo Riddick has been churning out a lot of tough yards for this offense over the last few weeks.  Riddick has been making some flat out silly cuts lately too – he doesn’t have Wood’s speed, but he has been showing some moves in the open field.
  • Notre Dame was very good on 3rd down last night converting 7 of 15 attempts.  That is a great success rate on the road against a team like Oklahoma and is a good indicator of the development of Golson and the offense as a whole.
  • Oklahoma opponents were averaging just under 140 yards a game on the ground and Notre Dame wracked up 215 rushing yards on them.  Notre Dame has now run for 200+ yards four times this year and has done so in back to back weeks.


  • Manti Te’o punched his ticket to New York City for the Heisman trophy presentation.  He still faces a tough task to win it since defense players so rarely win it, but with 11 tackles, a sack, and a game clinching interception against a top 10 opponent, on the road, Te’o is going to be in the conversation until the end.
  • Kei’Varae Russell had another very solid game.  The true freshman, converted wide receiver has played about as good as anyone could have hoped for and more than held his own against the Oklahoma receivers that were supposed to expose the young Irish secondary.  Russell has almost been an excellent tackler this year and those skills were on display again last night with a 9 tackle performance.
  • Bennett Jackson was pretty good as well.  Jackson picked up 8 tackles and didn’t let anyone get behind him.
  • Great push up front by the defensive line.  Notre Dame didn’t blitz as much as I thought, but the push from the defensive line was enough to prevent Landry Jones from sitting in the pocket and trying to pick apart the defense for the most part.  There were times when Jones and the Sooner offense were clicking, but the line did its job.
  • Notre Dame’s depth up front was on display last night with Oklahoma trying to run a hurry up offense.  The Irish reserve defensive line more than held their own.  Kona Schwenke in particular was very strong in the trenches last night.
  • Ishaq Williams was more active this week than he has been recently.  After a great season opening performance against Navy Williams was a little silent, but he has been in the thick of the action.  Pretty soon the light switch is going to turn on for #11 and he is going to be very fun to watch.
  • Excellent job by the Irish defense getting off the field on the 3rd down.  Notre Dame held Oklahoma to just 4 of 14 conversions.
  • For all of the talk about how Notre Dame hadn’t faced an offense like Oklahoma’s yet that could run at them, the Irish held the Sooners to a paltry 15 yards rushing on 24 attempts.  That is less than a yard per carry.  Blake Bell did register the first rushing touchdown of the season on the Notre Dame defense but on the night he gained just 6 yards on 4 attempts.  Five Notre Dame opponents have now run for less than 100 yards on the Irish this season.
  • Loved the defensive game plan.  Oklahoma moved the ball well through the air, but Notre Dame never let the Sooner receivers get behind them and Oklahoma wasn’t able to put points on the board without the downfield passing game working.

Special Teams

  • Kyle Brindza had what could have been a very costly miss from just 35 yards, but he more than redeemed himself with a pair of huge field goals in the 4th quarter from 44 and 46 yards.
  • Pretty solid day punting for Ben Turk including a 51 yarder .
  • Still not much going in the return department.  Davonte Neal did make one costly mistake by letting one punt sail past him that cost Notre Dame a good 10 or so yards in field position.

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  1. It came to me last night as I watched this game. Feelings from long ago, looking at those special golden helmets and equating them with a football powerhouse that was afraid of no one, who could play with anyone and kept themselves in prominence in college football. For years, those golden helmets somehow looked empty and almost ghostly. Gold equals power and it was on full display tonight. No time to let up. Time to step it up. Go Irish.

  2. Offensive play has gotten better, but it is not where it needs to be. Offensive calling needs to continue to get better.

  3. By the way, last night, it looked like our defensive linemen were getting held a lot. I know that happens a lot and the opposing rarely gets called for it.

  4. Happy to be 8-0, I did not see that happening. On that note, I would like to know why Theo Riddick is getting more carries than Cierre Wood, why Cam McDaniel did not get any carries last night especially when Brian Kelly said he needs more touches and why we try to run between the tackles with Riddick. When we try to run between the tackles with Riddick on 1st, 2nd or 3rd down, we usually get about 2 yards. It is as if we are giving up. Those runs are nothing more than a fullback dive. I think our running backs get the ball too deep in the backfield. When that happens, the linemen have to hold their blocks for a long time. That is hard to do.

  5. There were a lot of clutch performances and plays last night.

    Manti T’eo… clutch!

    EG… ckutch!

    Brindza… clutch!

    TR… clutch!

    But I think the most clutch single play came after the second-most important play (i.e., the EG bomb to C. Brown), The play I’m speaking about was Eifert’s grab at the goal line. Not only did he make a great catch and prevent a possible pick, but Eifert’s grab set up the EG TD. Without that catch, ND is facing 3rd and goal from outside the 5. Given our redzone problems perhaps we don’t get the TD. Settle for a FG there and it’s a different game.

    So, I nominate the Eifert grab as the key play of the game.

  6. Great summary as always Frank. I just made a “case” on the article re Predictions for ND’s Remaining Games so won’t go into it again. In essence the point I made and NO DOUBT ND coaches will be making on Monday is all you need to drop out of the top 10 and NC contention is to lose to one of the upcoming ‘average” teams and PRESTO the season is gone no matter what you do at USC. It would mean such a waste of all the good credits this team has put in the bank. It would allow all the “nah sayers” to gloat yeah I knew they were Posers just like all the ND teams over last 20 rs etc. But if these kids keep their focus and avoid key injuries (and Golson is an injury waiting to happen) then hey should be a hell of a game in the Coliseum (just like Rome and the gladiators with Tommy Trojan right?). Wonder what your thoughts are on using Neal for kickoffs to give him a chance to show what he can do as he will seemingly never get a chance on punt returns. Kid is a star at not dropping a punt to date and you cannot take that skill for granted. Would also like to see him and Chris Brown on the field at same time as deep threats sort of like Lee/Woods. Last question Frank Who of the current freshman look like being red shirts for this year other then Kiel based on not playing to date? Cheers

  7. This is the win I’ve waited for since Lou left. 5 more boys! Stay focused beat Pitt! PROUD TO BE IRISH!!!

  8. This defense is scary good. Size and speed of the SEC coupled with the smarts and hearts of ND.

    Offense is howing signs of a bright future as well. It has been a long time since I have felt so proud to be Irish. Led by a humble superstar on defense and “conductor” on offense. Once again the smart kids in the class and the best on the playing field are one in the same.

    The Sooners are OK. But we are ND. Like none other.

  9. This game is prolog. Move on to Pittburgh. Pronto before you end up with 1993, 2002 or best ever 2005
    (Bush push) finale.

  10. I just watch a red hot Chicago Bears beat an ice cold Carolina Panthers on a last second field goal. The moral of this sentence… Don’t take any team lightly. ND is blazing hot right now. Don’t overlook the Pittsburgh Panthers (hey a coincidence… Panthers and Panthers)

  11. When the Irish beat Mich State and Michigan, I thought this was a decent team, maybe a little better than I thought.

    When they beat Stanford in the manner in which they won, I thought this was a good team.

    After last night, I can now say without hesitation that this team is for real and can truly contend for a Nat’l Championship. As long as they continue to maintain their focus, they can compete with anyone, anywhere. The drive they had after Oklahoma tied up the game at 13 was a Drive of Champions. Champions do those types of things and it’s something I haven’t seen from ND in years.


  12. JTRAIN commented on August 22nd, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    10 more days….

    Apparently we are a .500 team
    Apparently the secondary is lousy
    Apparently the front 7 is overrated
    We can’t win in Norman
    We can’t win in southern California
    This team needs to take all the hate
    all the naysaying
    all the we can’t this we can’t that
    and fold it up and carry it with them to every stadium on the schedule
    Because they are going to get their moment
    Their moment to take all the hate
    All the naysaying
    all the we can’t this we can’t that
    and unleash it on the poor souls lined up on the opposite side of the ball
    In norman
    In southern California
    So they can stand in front if the cameras on PRIMETIME
    and give the college football world a big collective F@#% YOU
    Its them against the world
    As it should be

    As you can see I posted this back in August..
    Gentlemen, last night was that moment


  13. Much like yo, I’m speechless this morning. I woke up, got the paper and instantly had to pinch myself. I never thought for a second that win last night would be so commanding. When reading about the Kelly/Diaco game plan of giving up yards, but not giving up big plays, well, it was scary but perfect! There is just no other way to describe it!

    I just don’t see how Te’o doesn’t win the Heisman

    1. Here’s how…Notre Dame loses “just-one” of it’s remaining four games and Kansas State (Colin Klein), wins-out !

  14. Not to nit-pick at all but…if they refuse to set up a return in the punt game, why not try for a block? Its like they aren’t doing any return blocking or rushing the punter either. Don’t you have to do one or the other? Just a thought.

  15. For years, I kept thinking that this year was the year only to face huge disappointments. I think I can finally say that this year is the year!!!!

    Notre Dame is an elite program once again under Brian Kelly and all the talk of the process for the last 2 1/2 years had led us to this point. The culture at ND has changed as of last night. OU was the game that was going to bring ND back to reality of not quite ready for prime time. However, the reality is that ND is PRIME TIME and will only get better.

    What will this team be like when the offense really starts to click? It is just a matter of time before the offense will rise up to the level of consistency that the defense has reached and when that happens, LOOK OUT!!!

    I’m not ready to crown this team as the national champions just yet, but I am ready to say that the culture has officially changed at ND and they now have the mental and physical toughness to be called one of the nation’s elite teams.

    It is no fluke, it is not a weak schedule of Big Ten teams, this ND team is the real deal and the world has taken notice.

    1. GREAT point, Scav! To sound like our friend and NotaDame parent Dicky-V, (though re:a different sport) we totally ARE “prime-time players.”

    2. And assuming Golson stays healthy and keeps developing, how good is he GOING to be as an upperclassman? Man he is an athlete!

    3. AMEN SCAV!

      —AMEN!! PREACH IT!!!!



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