Notre Dame improved to 4-1 on the season this weekend with a blowout of Miami of Ohio. The Irish raced out to a 45-14 halftime lead before coasting to victory in the second half with a final of 52-17. Notre Dame played a lot of players on Saturday, but these four players below are big reasons why the Irish lead from start to finish and never really felt uncomfortable.
1. Josh Adams
Had he not gotten injured in the early 2nd quarter, Josh Adams very well may have shattered Julius Jones’s single game rushing record. As is, Adams ran for 159 yards on just 8 carries with a pair of long touchdowns. He got the party started off right on the 2nd play of the game with a 73 yard touchdown run. Later in the first quarter he took one in from 59 yards. Before tweaking his ankle, Adams simply looked unstoppable out there just like he has for most of the year other than the UGA game. Five games into the season Adams is on pace for a historic season for the Irish. With his 159 yards over the weekend, Adams’ projected total for the season is just under 1,600 yards at his current rate.
Notre Dame should have Adams back next week and could have had him in the second half against Miami if he was needed, but with the game firmly in grasp, he got to watch the second half from the sidelines. He gets the top spot as our weekly top performer despite the injury because he was just that dominant.
2. Jerry Tillery
The Notre Dame defensive line combined for just 3.0 sacks all of last season. With 1.5 sacks on Saturday afternoon, Jerry Tillery has 3.0 sacks on the season by himself this year. The Irish pass rush isn’t going to be mistaken with Clemson’s anytime soon, but it is definitely a big improvement from last year’s and Tillery is a big reason for that. The junior defensive tackle leads Notre Dame in sacks this year. Tillery was also responsible for forcing a Gus Ragland fumble in the 1st half that the Irish offense converted into a touchdown. He’s been a disruptive force all season, and Saturday was his best game of the year. The early showing of the Notre Dame defensive line led by Tillery should have Notre Dame fans very excited for the future. All four starting linemen for the Irish are eligible to return in 2018.
3. Quenton Nelson
This one could have gone to the entire offensive line, but it was about time that we gave a lineman some love here in this column. Nelson has been an animal all season long and Saturday was no different. Even with Adams and Jones on the sidelines with injuries and Dexter Williams not even dressed, the Irish ground game still didn’t miss a beat with their 4th string running back Deon McIntosh. Notre Dame ran for more than 300 yards for the third time this season. Nelson has been building himself one hell of a scouting video for NFL scouts this season in the process. We’re watching one of the best guards to play for the Irish in a long time each week at this point.
4. Greer Martini
Miami was moving the ball pretty well on their first drive and it looked like the Redhawks were going to respond to Notre Dame’s opening drive touchdown. That is until Greer Martini dropped into coverage and made a heck of an athletic play to intercept Gus Ragland for the first interception of his career. Martini is quietly have a very good 5th year so far in 2017. He’s 3rd on the team in tackles behind Nyles Morgan and Tevon Coney.
With his top spot this week, Josh Adams moved into first place overall on the season as well moving past Brandon Wimbush who is still sitting at #2. Martini, Nelson, and Tillery all made their first appearances in the weekly 4 Horsemen column and onto the standings for the season. A quick look below at all of the names shows just how many players have been contributing to Notre Dame’s 4-1 start.
|Player||1st Horseman||2nd Horseman||3rd Horseman||4th Horseman||Total Points|
|1st Horsemen||2nd Horsemen||3rd Horsemen||4th Horsemen|
|Week 1 (Temple)||Brandon Wimbush||Josh Adams||Jay Hayes||Tevon Coney|
|Week 2 (Georgia)||Drue Tranquill||Justin Yoon||Nick Coleman||Jay Hayes|
|Week 3 (Boston College)||Shaun Crawford||Josh Adams||Brandon Wimbush||Tevon Coney|
|Week 4 (Michigan State)||Shaun Crawford||Brandon Wimbush||Julian Love||Dexter Williams|
|Week 5 (Miami OH)||Josh Adams||Jerry Tillery||Quenton Nelson||Greer Martini|