4 Horsemen of the Week: Notre Dame v. Nevada ’16

Photo: Robin Alam // Icon Sportswire
Photo: Robin Alam // Icon Sportswire

Notre Dame was solid and steady against Nevada in their 39-10 victory on Saturday. The Irish weren’t flashy and didn’t have a ton of big plays, but they took care of business and got their first week of the season.  Most importantly, they got their regular starters out early which became even more important following the devastating injury to Shaun Crawford that will cost the sophomore another season.

A lot of players contributed to to the Irish victory, but we can only have 4 Horsemen of the week.  Some players who just missed the cut were Equanimeous St. Brown, Daniel Cage, and Tevon Coney.  With that said, here are the weekly Notre Dame football players of the week.

4. Deshone Kizer

In his first game as the official starting quarterback for the Irish, Deshone Kizer had a steady but unspectacular performance.  Kizer completed 15 of 18 passes for just 156 yards but he accounted for three more touchdowns this week – two in the air and one on the ground.  He nearly had a third but Kizer under threw a wide open, streaking Kevin Stepherson and getting up getting intercepted.  On a positive, it was nice to see Stepherson get behind a defense so easily.

Kizer wasn’t as dazzling as he was last week, but he didn’t need to be.  Even with modest stats, Kizer helped the Irish to a 32-3 lead in the third when he got pulled to rest up for Michigan State this weekend.  If Brian Kelly were in search of style points, he may have left Kizer in, but coming off the short week with the Spartans on tap made getting his regulars out as soon as possible more important.

3. CJ Sanders

This kid is going to be one hell of a fun football player to watch over the next few years.  Every time he gets the ball in his hands he is a threat for a big play.  For the second week in a row Sanders found the end-zone and was a factor in the return game.   Sanders picked up a short touchdown catch from Kizer in the second quarter and had a punt return of 24 yards and a kick return of 37 yards.  Sanders is a dynamic football player and we’re seeing him develop into a weapon.  I’m still hopeful we see Sanders pick up some rushing attempts on jet sweeps.  Any way to get the ball in Sanders’s hands.

2. Josh Adams

Josh Adams only had 10 carries against Nevada but he made them count.  Adams racked up 106 yards on those 10 carries including a brilliant 43 yarder right through the heart of the Wolf Pack defense.  Adams might be a little high on the list this week for only running the ball 10 times, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt in that he should have gotten more.  I wrote yesterday that Adams clearly looks like the best back on the roster and needs to run the ball more.  On the season Adams is now averaging 7.1 yards per carry – the same impressive yards per carry he averaged last year while breaking the Notre Dame freshman rushing record.  Keep giving the kid the rock.

1. James Onwualu

The Notre Dame defense was roasted for its performance against Texas all week long, and they responded with a fundamentally sound showing after a bit of a rocky first drive.  Nevada threw the kitchen sink at Notre Dame on that first drive and for a second it looked like “here we go again”.  Penalties, misalignment, missed tackles.  That first drive had it all in a short time.  The defense responded quickly though and kept the Wolf Pack off the scoreboard on that drive.  Defensive captain James Onwualu and his linebacking corps were a big reason for that.

Onwualu led Notre Dame with two tackles for loss on Saturday and displayed sure tackling – something the defense as whole didn’t do against Texas.  Onwualu only had five tackles but that was tied for the team lead because the Irish defense simply wasn’t on the field much on Saturday.  Of those five tackles, the two that went for a loss knocked Nevada back a total of 10 yards.  Onwualu may have wore the #1 jersey last week, but he played one of the best games he ever has in a Notre Dame uniform this weekend.

2016 4 Horsemen Standings

Sanders and Kizer made this week’s list for the second week in a row and are near the top of the yearly leaderboard after two weeks.

Player1st2nd3rd4thTotal Points
Deshone Kizer2201150
Equanimeous St. Brown1201110
Dexter Williams100150
Nyles Morgan002040
CJ Sanders002040
James Onwualu100040
Josh Adams010030
Torii Hunter001020
Jerry Tillery000110
Shaun Crawford000110

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  1. Kelly needs to give up loyalty to Folston. I mean, really? Adams is clearly the better back instead of 2 ypc Folston. I just don’t get it sometimes. Stubborn or what?

    And I’m also with George that Williams is probably our #2 at this point as well.

  2. Michael The Archangel — regarding Malik Zaire. I’m not talking about his arm or his throws. He’s still as strong as ever with that. He lacks the explosiveness with his legs that he had last year. He can’t shake anyone chasing him. He can’t turn the corner. It takes too long for him to get wherever he’s trying to go. For his sake, I hope he just isn’t fully healed yet.

  3. Don’t forget about Sebastian. He got steamrolled into submission, and my guess is that we won’t see him play anymore meaningful minutes (unless he comes back for a 7th year, in which case he’ll last the first half of the first game of the season for a third year in a row).

  4. re: Kizer was “steady but unspectacular” with few poor passes or decisions. When your QB goes 15-18 w/3 TDs and looks like it’s routine, your team has a special talent.

  5. re: healing/speed- the same might be said of Tranquil (but hopefully not Crawford), as both have/will have had two major surgeries. The Crawford injury seemed as bizarre as Tranquil’s injury last season.
    One thing we know when an ND player goes down- he’s finished for the season, whether it’s Jones, or Zaire, or Folston, or Tranquil, or this year, Watkins, or Crawford or whomever’s “next-man-out!” Unreal the number of key players ND continues to lose to season-ending injuries. Crawford could be a critical loss. re: Zaire vs. NV: he played with the second string the entire fourth quarter, so this was hardly a measure of how he’d do with the starters vs. a poorer team. He performed well. As for the overthrow by Zaire of #88 McKinney, as #88 left the field he was immediately talked to by Kizer, which might suggest he ran the wrong route on Zaire. A drop by Claypool also limited Zaire’s success on his second drive after his first drive resulted in a TD. NDs base D’ employed by BVG was far more successful than the 3-3-5 D’ vs. Texas. Yes, Texas is more explosive, but the D’ played with more aggression and looked more sound in their execution and coverage. But the lack of pressure on the QB continues to result in not forcing QBs into bad decisions. O’Connor as MSU’s QB this week needs to be disrupted but first the ND D’ has to limit MSU’s run success.

  6. It’s early in the season but it seems like Folsom and Zaire lost a step due to their injuries. I wonder if they’re not fully healed or if they can ever be fully healed.

  7. Adams should definitely be getting the bulk of the carriers, but I’m starting to think Folston should be #3 behind Williams.

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