Beyond the Boxscore: Notre Dame Struggling on 3rd Down

Photo: Matt Cashore // US Today Sports
Photo: Matt Cashore // US Today Sports

Needing a different approach from the concept that a good defense beats a good offensive unit, the Notre Dame offense exploded for an eye-popping 654 yards in their wild 50-33 win over Syracuse. While more than 70 percent of that production came through the air, the running game wasn’t shortchanged after notching nearly five yards per carry.

No Time Like Now

One indication of just how explosive Brian Kelly’s offense was in this Notre Dame Syracuse 2016 contest is seen when looking at the five offensive touchdown scoring drives. The Irish needed just 16 plays to score 35 points and in those play calls, amassed 380 yards-an average of 23.5 yards per play. Such brevity was noticed when it came to time of possession, since the average length of each drive was just 1:09.

Letting It Rip

DeShone Kizer tore apart an Orangemen defense that gave the 10 different Notre Dame receivers ample room to haul in 471 yards worth of pass yardage. The production for this Notre Dame Syracuse shootout even topped the 431 yards that Louisville prolific passing game had unleashed on the Orangemen three weeks ago.

The most productive player among this group for Notre Dame was Eqanimeous St. Brown, who was one of three Irish receivers to snag four passes on the day. The key difference was that his two touchdown receptions in the first four minutes accounted for 80 percent of his 182 yards on the day.

Getting Things Going

Kizer thrived when going to the pass on first down, completing 12 of 16 attempts for 284 yards and two of his three touchdown passes. Ironically, his lone error in this Notre Dame Syracuse 2016 clash was an interception near the end of the first half, which also came on first down. However, the Orangemen didn’t capitalize on it.

Adding a Dash

The running game was able to put its best foot forward on second down, chewing up 114 of its 183 yards on the day. The average pickup on this down for the Notre Dame runners was 8.8 yards per carry.

Third Down Blues

The Notre Dame offense did struggle on third down, which sounds strange considering that their first effort here resulted in a 67-yard touchdown pass. The problem was that after that, they managed to move the chains just two of the 11 remaining times. Plus, their one fourth down effort near the goal line failed. The worst effort in this category had previously taken place in the loss to Michigan State.

Next Up

This Notre Dame Syracuse game temporarily allowed the reeling Irish get back on track. The problem is the next stop is North Carolina State, where they’ll be celebrating the 50th anniversary of Carter-Finley Stadium. As good as the offense was on Saturday, the Irish defense still surrendered 489 yards of offense, a gaping hole that’s still in search of a plug.

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  1. Consistent run game will occur with better OL play. Though the D played reasonably good in the 2nd half, gave up A LOT of yards still to a not so great team.

  2. Yeah, we had some improvement, but there’s a long way to go. The 75-yard punt return with four missed tackles stands out.

  3. ND beat a poor to fair playing team today. Nice to obtain a win I am sure, but, it would have felt better if it were a better team. Still a lot of glaring issues to improve.

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