Breakdown of Notre Dame’s Finale Breakdown Against USC

The end of the first losing season for Notre Dame football since 2007 ended much the way it began, with the Irish opponent reaching the end zone with frustrating regularity. In their 45-27 loss to the USC Trojans, Notre Dame allowed a score in virtually every way possible: a field goal, a touchdown run, two scoring passes, a punt return, a pick-six and a kickoff return.

Keeping Up With Jones

Stopping the Trojans on the ground meant keeping Ronald Jones II in check. The Irish defense had brief moments of success in this category, yet watched him break off a 51-yard scamper midway through the opening period to give USC their first touchdown. Things calmed down with just 37 yards gained by Davis on nine carries over the next two quarters. That was until Jones combined on a pair of runs for 25 yards that moved Southern Cal into Notre Dame territory on their way to their final score.

Picking and Choosing

With the exception of USC’s first scoring drive of the second half, when they completed passes of 21 and the scoring toss of 52 yards, Trojan signal caller Sam Darnold preferred to pick the Irish to death. Among his 19 completions during the game, 14 of them were for less than 10 yards. Ironically, his most prolific series of the game was his first of the game, when he completed five-of-six for 45 yards, yet managed only a field goal.

Three-Headed Monster

While Adoree Jackson was the star of the game with scores through the air and both kick and punt returns, his appearance was a rarity for the Southern Cal cornerback. Instead, Darnold focused most of his attention on the trio of Deontay Burnett, Darreus Rogers and JuJu Smith-Schuster. They snagged 13 of his 19 completions and accounted for just over half of his passing yardage on the afternoon.

Third Down Breakdowns

On USC’s first touchdown drive, they needed 11 yards and managed to gain 12 yards on a run. Facing a third-and-five in the third quarter, the Trojans managed to pick up 21 and keep a scoring drive alive that stopped Notre Dame’s momentum. Finally, with Southern Cal facing third-and-goal from the Irish 14, Notre Dame helped them out with a pass interference call that put the ball on the two, turning into their final touchdown on the next play. All three offensive touchdowns came because a trio of third down efforts failed.

Next Up

Having put an end to this disappointing campaign, Kelly now hits the recruiting trail with his staff. Looking for impact players on defense would seem to be a likely approach, considering what he watched over the past 12 games. The sad recruiting pitch will be undoubtedly be that such players may be able to start right away. Whether or not that sways any of them will mean for some bumpy starts next September, but perhaps hope for a brighter future.

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10 comments

  1. smokeyrob 3 years ago

    SAME OLD STORY FOR KELLY. HOW DO YOU KICK THE BALL TO ADOREE JACKSON. EVEN A POP WARNER COACH KNOWS THAT. KICK THE BALL OUT OF BOUNDS. DID HE LEARN AFTER JACKSON RETURNED A PUNT FOR A T.D. NO, JUST WHEN YOU SCORE TO GET BACK IN THE GAME KELLY KICKS OFF RIGHT TO JACKSON. ANOTHER T.D., GAME OVER. A MICROCOSIM OF THE SEASON. THE PLAYERS NEVER QUIT. THEY PLAYED HARD, AND HAD A CHANCE TO WIN EVERY GAME. THE COACHING STAFF, LED BY KELLY LET THEM DOWN. GO BACK TO THE FIRST GAME, KELLY PLAYS BOTH Q.B,S , INSTEAD OF PLAYING KIZER. HIS RED ZONE PLAY CALLING HAS SUCKED FOR YEARS, COSTING THE IRISH MANY WINS. IN A MONSOON HE TRIES TO THROW THE BALL, GIVING UP ON THE RUN. HE ALSO HAS NO CLUE HOW TO BEAT THE BLITZ. YESTERDAY USC BLITZED ALL GAME. THE MIDDLE OF THE FIELD WAS WIDE OPEN FOR QUICK SLANTS. KELLY CALLED NONE. SWARBICK, AND KELLY NEED TO GO. CLEAN HOUSE. MAKE NOTRE DAME GREAT AGAIN. THEY HAVE TALENTED PLAYERS, WITHOUT COACHES TO DEVELOPE, AND PUT THEM IN POSITIONS TO WIN!

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    1. Ron Burgundy 3 years ago

      Caps Lock?

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  2. George 3 years ago

    I don’t understand why the RB has to run 7 yards to convert a 4th and inches.

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  3. James Kubalewski 3 years ago

    Notre Dame has ceased being the small Catholic university in the midwest. It has ceased being the school where working class blue collar Dads and Moms send their sons for a good Catholic education. It has become elitist. It has made the decisions to become the Christian Yale. All of the trappings are there, but down deep it has lost its Catholic identity. When it was clear about who the University was, it had some moments of real greatness. Now, it is no more than any other school that is focused on its imagae more than its guts. No doubt, it is a great University. Students there are really intelligent. It is powerfully endowed and very wealthy; but it let the Little Sisters of the Poor do its fighting for it. Can we really expect its football team to be what it used to be when the University itself is no longer what it used to be?

    Then again, I could be wrong. Maybe its simple. Maybe its just coaching.

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  4. Michael the Archangel 3 years ago

    Lowlights of SC 1st half:
    1.It only took BK seven seasons to figure out you can run a QB sneak when near the goal line.
    2. Give up 14 points in seven seconds, none of which your D was involved with, then SC has a four-man rush, drops seven, resulting in all four DLs beating their blockers, sacking Kizer.
    3. BK had to blame shame the team nationally before he left the field, making sure all can see that this shit show is “not my fault.” We know, Coach, by now, if there’s one thing we know about you is that it’s “not your fault! Ever!” Says the coach, those last three minutes of the first half are “not ND football”, but this entire season is what has become of ND football, and it’s looked more like those last three minutes of this miserable display of football more often than the rest of the first two quarters of the SC game.

    Coach Kelly, it’s time for a change of venue. Check out your options, seize the one that’s best for you and your family, and ND, and just leave. Why postpone the inevitable? Man up, and try something new somewhere else. Best of luck to you and your family, elsewhere.

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    1. NDscotsmen92 3 years ago

      Bravo Michael….. a good coach takes one for the team or at least that’s what I was taught. Deflecting responsibility is what politicians do. There’s something incredibly wrong on many levels off the field in addition to your well stated analysis. Kelly constantly look agitated and constipated rarely taking that Look of a General and total leader….yelling..swearing…NEVER calling them on with the testosterone filled clapping and whooping or up.Always angry…at an assistant coach, player.Or official ..and arms crossed f bombs with the scowl.This coupled with the NCAA ruling about forfeiting games including the 2012 season due to a female tutor and along with #99 totally screwing up while the USC player was injured and unconscious….. this is the stuff that the Miami Hurricanes in the Florida State Seminoles do not the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. Win or lose Notre Dame should be able to hold its head up high with the standards we have on and off the field. These standards need to be upheld on the field by the leadership and it is clearly not being upheld. The demeanor and chemistry of this year’s team and the program is filled with low morale and beneath the poise of the expected Standard. You pretty much summed it up and a very very bad week for Notre Dame football. The only good thing about the season is that we actually beat a good winning team in the scum of Miami and courtesy of our 4 wins, we have outscored the opponents by a total of 37 points this season……..( 371-334)…… I hope this boat can be turned around

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      1. NDscotsmen92 3 years ago

        Overlook type errors ..sorry folks .you get the idea….2016 forget it…at LEAST Miami lost to us..

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  5. pete 3 years ago

    I don’t see Kelly lasting beyond next year. The only hope is he somehow hits homeruns with a new d coordinator, special teams coach and strength and conditioning overhaul. Also, I still say Notre Dame would be more consistent on offense if Kelly let Sanford have complete control and changed the structure of the offense to a more pro style, I formation offense while still keeping parts of the spread. This is what Florida State, Michigan and Michigan State runs. All 3 have averaged over 40 points a game with that offense. I believe Notre Dame has elite talent on offense that is being misused.

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    1. Brad 3 years ago

      Why would any elite defensive coordinators, etc come to ND when Kelly is on the hot seat? If it’s not a great season Kelly is getting fired and they will be unemployed in 12 months when a new coach hires his own staff. Kelly isn’t getting any elite assistants this offseason. Unless Diaco gets fired and comes back.

      It’s going to be all or nothing. Either Fire Kelly and start over or it’s going to be more of the same next year

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      1. Terry McManus 3 years ago

        Ditto

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