What looked to a be a blowout turned into a nail-biting win for the Irish as they came away with a 30-27 victory over the Miami Hurricanes. While the scoring shows 27 unanswered points for Miami, 14 of those points were directly attributable to special teams blunders. The first changed the momentum of the game and the second gave the Hurricanes their only lead.
Putting Forth a Sack Attack
Miami’s offense had been stopped cold in the first 20 minutes of this Notre Dame Miami 2016 matchup, helping explain why they only finished with 306 total yards. The Notre Dame defense brought down quarterback Brad Kaaya five times, including on the game’s last play, and had seven other tackles-for-loss. Coming into the contest, it was the Hurricanes who led all FBS teams in the latter category, in contrast to the vitriol directed at Irish defenders.
Shutting Down the Running Game
In looking at the Miami offensive breakdown, it was 42 passes and 35 running plays, yet the Hurricane running game was non-existent in this Notre Dame Miami game. While the aforementioned sacks certainly helped in lowering the final rushing numbers, gaining 18 net yards on the ground showed an aggressive defensive approach that was lacking for much of the campaign.
Rubber Band Men
The Notre Dame defense made Miami work for their 13 other points, which required a total of 33 plays. Those drives took over 13 minutes combined and ran the risk of exhausting that side of the ball for the Irish. However, given the horrendous season this unit has had, the bending but not breaking approach was a badly-needed booster shot that needs to be refined in the weeks ahead.
A Solid Start
Prior to those scoring drives, Notre Dame’s defense was on an incredible run during the first one-third of this Notre Dame Miami 2016 football contest. Four of the first five Hurricane drives gained two yards or less, including a pair in the negative category. That’s an unsustainable pace to maintain against a team of Miami’s caliber, yet their effort afterward still would have avoided the late dramatics that were caused by the two fumbles on punt returns.
The Third Down Connection
The importance of stopping the Hurricane offense on third down in this Notre Dame Miami game can be seen when breaking down the efficiency in this specific area. On Miami’s four offensive scores, they faced a third down eight times and converted on six occasions. Every other time they had the ball, a third down came up 11 different times, with failure being the result on all but one of those attempts.
The Irish begin two consecutive weeks against armed services teams, beginning with a neutral site matchup against Navy in Jacksonville. A bowl bid is still within reach, but they’ll be facing a Midshipmen offense that’s scored over 40 points in seven games.