Even though perfect weather conditions existed for thia Notre Dame Stanford battle, the Irish offensive unit still struggled for the most of the night. That lack of consistency ended in disaster as the early promise of a solid first half ended with a second consecutive loss and a 2-5 record. Given the absence of injured Stanford running back and Heisman Trophy candidate Christian McCaffrey, the loss only adds to the frustration of not being able to exploit that omission from their lineup.
The final drive saw the Irish move the ball 50 yards in seven plays to get down to the Cardinal 25. That success quickly stagnated, with the Notre Dame offense needing four plays to gain 10 yards. Getting down to the eight-yard line put them in position for the win until DeShone Kizer made the mistake of not throwing the ball away. That resulted in a sack, causing a quick spike and a desperate fourth down run that ended nowhere near the end zone.
Prior to the ill-fated final drive of this Notre Dame Stanford 2016 clash, the Irish offense had been virtually non-existent since a second quarter field goal. While 103 yards on 30 plays during that dry spell might seem like relatively acceptable production, the fact that a single play accounted for 49 yards dispels that notion. Perhaps even more absurd is the fact that the net yardage for the drive that included the 49-yard gain amounted to 39 yards.
Going in the Wrong Direction
Troubles on offense that went beyond production problems effectively cost the Irish the game. Starting off the second half with a 10-0 advantage, Kizer’s errant pass turned into a pick-six for the Cardinal and was the start of 17 unanswered points the rest of the way. Two more points for Stanford were also gift-wrapped by a snap from the five-yard line that turned into a safety. That led to Stanford getting the ball back and driving 67 yards to score the winning touchdown. All told, giving the Cardinal 55 yards AND possession of the ball in this Notre Dame Stanford 2016 contest were avoidable mistakes.
A Sour Note with Musical Quarterbacks
After Stanford’s only offensive touchdown and two-point conversion in the final quarter, Brian Kelly switched quarterbacks by using Malik Zaire. His main forte is running, a strategy that gained four yards. The choice seemed especially suspect on first down when Zaire attempted to pass and was sacked for a five-yard loss. The subsequent punt allowed the Cardinal to eat up nearly five minutes in this Notre Dame Stanford scuffle.
Notre Dame has two weeks to prepare for a home matchup against the Miami Hurricanes, with bowl eligibility slowly slipping away. The meeting will be the first matchup in South Bend since 1990, though home cooking hasn’t tasted too good for the Irish this season with just one win in four tries.