Notre Dame v. Pitt ’15: Shamrock Stickers

Dehsone Kizer - Notre Dame QB
Photo: Charles LeClaire // USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame moved to 8-1 on the season with a 42-30 victory over Pitt.  The Irish offense was explosive all day long with both the run and the pass and overcame C.J. Prosise leaving the game with a shoulder injury.  The Irish defense also had a strong effort, particularly in the first half when Elijah Shumate was out do to a targeting suspension.  The following players led the way for the Irish in a convincing victory:

DeShone Kizer

Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer had no trouble shredding the Panthers defense.  Kizer spread the ball around, with seven different receivers catching a pass.  The Ohio native was 19-26 passing for 262 yards and five touchdowns.  Kizer also rushed for a touchdown to ice the game in the fourth quarter.  The first-year starting quarterback was nearly flawless with his only glaring mistakes being missing a wide open Will Fuller on multiple occasions.

Will Fuller

Will Fuller’s dominance was on full display versus Pitt.  The Panthers decided to cover Fuller one on one with Avonte Maddox, who was simply no match for the junior receiver.  Fuller beat Maddox deep all day long catching seven passes for 152 yards and three scores.  Fuller was also effective in the screen game, an aspect of the passing game he will likely continue to be utilized in.

Romeo Okwara

Senior defensive lineman Romeo Okwara is starting to become a very dangerous pass rusher for the Irish.  Okwara followed up an excellent effort versus Temple with another solid performance, recording four tackles and a team-high two sacks versus the Panthers.  Okwara got after the quarterback all day long and his disruptiveness was a big part of the Panthers first half struggles offensively.

Matthias Farley

One of Notre Dame’s team-leaders came up big in a critical road game.  With Elijah Shumate being suspended for the first half the Irish needed a big game from Mathias Farley.  Farley delivered with likely his best game of the season.  The fifth-year senior was tied for the team-lead with seven tackles, including some excellent tackles on special teams and also had a critical interception to deny the Panthers a touchdown.

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  1. Question: IF and that is a big if nd were to win out and make it to New year’s eve. If Zaire recovers and is healthy do you start him or does he take a backseat to kizer? Do not know what his diagnosis is for end of year but it would give him all December to finish healing.

  2. MTA , liked your comment on ’85 Chicago Bears in previous Duranko article. A 4-3 perfected by DC Buddy Ryan. LB Otis Wilson was used as a fifth pass rusher most of the time from either side. So was Lawrence Taylor an LB for Giants used as a 5th rusher from either side. I was hoping Irish could do this with Jaylon Smith on a consistent basis. But Irish don’t have the horses behind him — to allow Jaylon to tee off from line of scrimmage on a consistence basis. —— Schmidt’s lack of speed –the center piece in a 4-3 —reflects what D schemes coaches can use. And it ain’t putt’in Smith on line of scriimage. What gets me is that Morgan , Coney , Martini were highly recruited as not only physical –but fast/mobile line backers. In next couple of weeks in practice and games against WF and BC—I’m hoping Kelly/BVG get these guys some playing time. What ‘s ahead is Stanford’s Christian McCaffery , a QB Hogan in his 8th year(so it seems–he’s a veteran–like 2 tours in Nam). Go Irish.

  3. “Don’t get the read option reference” ?

    Doesn’t that kind of conflict with all the hours scouting and slow-mo film study?

    Some of the so called experts have remarked that for never to have played running back before Procise shows great patients and poise in allowing the blocking to develop and great vision in finding the crease, and excellent speed in getting through the hole or turning the corner.

    Then there are others who say that he’s a little indecisive and doesn’t run north and south enough.

    I say that if you’re closing in on a thousand yards you gotta be doing a lot more right than wrong.

  4. How about that “pass” to Adams from Kizer for a touch down ! Prosise , Adams , Kizer are a back field — that is all new—taking over for Folson , Bryant and Zaire. Prosise is close to 1,000 yds already and now Adams , after his 150 yd rushing against a stout Narducci Pitt D–is in conversation of maybe being better than Prosise. At this point in 8-1 season , rated by CFP Committee at #5–and maybe #4 on Tuesday(unless leap frogged by OK St), Irish players are stepping up each and every game. They are getting better each practice/games going forward. The D has gotten better–but know much improvement still needed in areas of LB and secondary. In next practices/games versus Wake Forest and Boston College—Irish can get better on D—need to get better for what lies ahead.

  5. Subway Alum-

    Roger that. I know exactly what you’re talking about with your last explanation (i.e. AFTER CJ has the ball; read option done). I’ve seen that too. My opinion is that this technique is a “gamble”. On one hand, and I think game films probably bear this out, that delay can let the hole “develop”. This is ok if 1- the safeties are playing back in coverage and not cheating up to primarily stop the run (like Pitt did) 2- If the hole isn’t opened quickly, CJ is able to bounce to the edge, which he is very good at.

    But it’s certainly gone south on more than a few occasions. Clemson, to a certain degree Temple…

  6. @JDH, thanks, but I don’t get your ‘read option’ reference. What i’m talking about is after CJ has the ball (read option done) he’ll move to where he expects the gap to be, stop when it’s not there then try to adjust course. That’s a failed method. When he gets past the LOS, he’s great. What i saw from Adams was a runner selecting the best crease in the line while moving North-South the entire time. No knock on CJ but maybe Adams has been running into the line for 4 years longer than CJ has?

  7. @Subway Alum:

    “stops when the gap is not where it was supposed to be, then tries to adjust from a stopped position. That is virtually impossible to do.”

    What you’re talking about is often times the short delay in running the read option. If there’s defensive penetration into the backfield, or no holes developed at the line, it doesn’t work (like the Clemson game). If the offensive line is doing its job, it works quite well.

  8. I believe team 127 has to be one of the most resilient teams in college football history. No other team could lose players like this team, many of them the #1 at their position and still even compete at the level they are. I still don’t believe they’re going to the playoffs, I think the bias against ND is just too great with many of the committee members and the NCAA in general..I hope I’m proven wrong but..

  9. Pierce, although you gave him a mention, you fell short of giving him a sticker. Josh Adams deserves a sticker for two reasons. #1. gained 174 rushing yards for less than a full days work, #2. his running style will be a learning experience (a ‘how-to’) to CJ Procise. Adams has all the moves of a CJ with the difference that Adams is always moving forward as he looks for openings. CJ, and i love his output this year, stops when the gap is not where it was supposed to be, then tries to adjust from a stopped position. That is virtually impossible to do. I’m happy to hear that CJ will play next week. I hoping Kelly gives them both equal time. A little friendly competition can’t be bad.

  10. Great choices, Pierce.

    Okwara has shown solid improvement. Being a 17 year-old Frosh factors in to his coming of age now. And Farley, whether filling in for Tranquil, Redfield, or Shumate, consistently rises to the occasion. Even his special teams’ play distinguishes him, and explains why he is a captain.

    I’d add Josh Adams for maximizing the importance of “next-man-in.”

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