Beyond the Boxscore: Notre Dame v. Texas ’16

Photo: Matt Cashore // USA TODAY Sports
Photo: Matt Cashore // USA TODAY Sports

Picking up the pieces from its disastrous performance on Sunday night, the Notre Dame defense is looking for answers on how to solidify a unit that allowed 517 yards of offense by the Texas Longhorns.

Big Plays Still Haunt Notre Dame

Though slightly more than two-thirds of the 86 Texas plays came on the ground, the Irish still fell victim to the big play, allowing a pair of passes over 65 yards. Seven other pass plays of 10 yards or more were part of the 280 yards collected on the night.

The aforementioned two Texas big-pass plays, accounted for 140 yards of offense—exactly half of their output on the night. Both of them came in virtual back-to-back fashion, with a 68-yard grab by Jerrod Heard and the 72-yard touchdown reception to John Burt on the third quarter’s second play sandwiched around a half-ending kneel down.

Taking away those two plays, the other 14 Longhorn receptions averaged 10 yards apiece. Still, a trio of missed tackles allowed Burt to gain nearly half of his 111 yards after the catch, a flaw that needs to be immediately addressed.

Texas’ 1st Down & Quarterback Running Success

The Longhorns thrived on first down, where they gained nearly half of their yardage. The run was the call on 32 of 39 plays here, yet the Irish still had problems bringing down Texas’ main weapon, D’onta Foreman. The running back gained 81 of his 131 yards in this particular situation.

Freshman quarterback Shane Buechele did all of the Longhorn passing damage and added 33 yards on the ground. However, Notre Dame also had its problems containing the other Texas signal caller, Tyrone Swoopes. Considering the Irish defense knew that his entire game focused on the run, Swoopes still managed to gain 53 yards.

Notre Dame’s Blitz Was Actually Effective

Delving deeper into the numbers, the blitz figures to be a larger part of the Irish pass defense in the weeks ahead. Used just 15 percent of the time, Texas was limited to 42 yards. In contrast, not having to worry about the blitz allowed Buechele to rack up 238 yards and two touchdowns.

Those strategies might be attributed to the Irish secondary issues, though the team’s struggles on run defense don’t support the theory. The Longhorn line, thought to be banged up entering the game, opened up enough holes to gain 237 yards, with the play of left tackle Connor Williams a key factor.

Notre Dame’s Defense Couldn’t Get Off the Field

Failing to come up with the big stop was also a theme in this Notre Dame Texas clash. On third and fourth down, the Longhorns converted seven of 11 times, including on both fourth down plays. One of those third down efforts came in a third-and-33 situation, which effectively means that the Notre Dame defense came up short 70 percent of the time.

This Notre Dame Texas matchup is history and though a relatively easy opponent, Nevada, is next up, the Irish need to get their defensive house in order. This defeat has put their tenuous grip on a playoff berth one loss away from being permanently loosened.

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15 Comments

  1. I envision this one on a plaque in front of the stadium.

    bj
    February 20, 2014 at 8:12 pm
    not a traditionlist, but i always learned that when you change things there are unanticipated consequences, they never figure it out until its too late, what will the new real estate development do to the stadium, view of touchdown jesus, the grass, its all a huge ego trip, the focus was never on oc, dc, the best special teams coach, renewing our relationships with the catholic prep schools that produced our teams for years, if you cant even grow grass how are you going to be national champs

  2. Speaking of worthwhile quotes from bj:

    BJ
    February 19, 2014 at 5:53 pm
    ITS ALL ABOUT SCIENCE, THE WILL TO MAKE IT HAPPEN AND AVOIDING THE EASY WAY OUT,THERE ARE LOTS OF STRONG GRASSES THAT DO GREAT IN THE SHADE, I KNOW I LIVE ON A HORSE FARM, AND HORSES, THEY ARE BIGGER AND TOUGHER ON THE PLAYING SURFACE THAN OOTBAll PLAYERS,YOU GUYS HAVE MADE LOSING A BAD HABIT.

    Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit.

    Vince Lombardi

  3. I don’t accept losing in any way, shape, or form. I was simply pointing out that it is misleading to consider points scored in OT the same way you would consider points scored in regulation. And the offense should have been able to win the game but instead stalled several times late in the 4th quarter. The offense needs to be able to step up, regardless if the game is a shootout or if it’s a grind. But if you want, I will just repeat “fire BVG” until he’s gone. That’s pretty worthwhile, right?

  4. Another problem is the lack of toughness and strength on the offensive and defensive lines. I think both of these position coaches are doing a poor job.

  5. I accept winning, and benching Kizer is the joke. Everyone knows the defense sucks. That’s beyond obvious. But college football is a high scoring affair nowadays, and the offense needs to be better in order to compete.

  6. This last post is a joke. Bvg has given up 741 points in2 seasons and 1 game. If you accept that you are not a real domer

  7. Lets throw out something new here. I’m as disgusted by last week as anyone. And I firmly believe that BVG is a complete hack. That being said, I actually don’t believe it’s completely fair to blame the Irish D for giving up 50 points when you consider that 13 of those points were given up in OT, obviously involving the opponent starting from close distance. (not to mention horrific punting). So if you think about the 37 points given up during regulation time, that number is in line with the amount of points scored on a weekly basis in big time CFB. I realize Texas is probably nothing compared to FSU, but still, a cheating Ole Miss team gave up over 37+ points also. I feel BKs two QB system is equally responsible, if not more-so! But the most unfortunate part is that BK didn’t learn his lesson.

  8. Why not also analyze ‘beyond the numbers’ the conservative, predictable, ” play ‘not to lose’ offense -which also had the help of an int + great kick returns. The GVS ‘slo motion offense’ Kelly runs is outdated in this era where Offense Trumps the defense.

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