Notre Dame 4 Horsemen of the Week: Michigan State ’17

Notre Dame put a hurting on Michigan State over the weekend.  The Irish dominated Michigan State from start to finish in one of the best performances we’ve seen from the Irish in some time.  We don’t yet know just how good the Spartans are considering they had an even worse record than Notre Dame did a year ago, but any time you can beat Michigan State in their house in prime time by 20 points, it’s a beautiful thing.   The four players listed here are big reasons why the Irish won as easily as they did.

1. Shaun Crawford

Some other players may have had better stat lines or better overall games, but no one else had the same magnitude of impact on the outcome as Shaun Crawford.  When he forced a fumble on LJ Scott as the Spartan running back was just about to cross the goalline in the 2nd quarter, he completely changed the complexion of the game.  If Scott makes it another half yard before losing the ball, it’s a 21-14 game and the Spartans have all the momentum.  Instead, Crawford knocked the ball loose and pounced on it; and a few minutes later, the Irish had a 28-7 lead going into halftime.

We’ll never know just how much Scott’s fumble impacted the outcome of the game.  Perhaps the Notre Dame offense still responds with a long touchdown drive before halftime.  More than likely though, the Spartans cutting the lead to 7 there makes this a whole different ball game.  Thankfully because of Shaun Crawford’s ballhawking nature, we’ll never know.  That’s now four turnovers in the last two weeks produced by Crawford earning him the top spot here for the second week in a row – the first player to repeat as the top Horseman of the week this year.

2. Brandon Wimbush

For at least one week, Brandon Wimbush silenced his doubters questioning his ability to throw the football with consistency.  On the heels of his rough passing outing against Boston College, Wimbush and Notre Dame came out firing on Saturday night.  Wimbush looked the best he has all year as a passer on the drive and just missed on a long touchdown to Equanimeous St. Brown.  The play still went for 31 yards and showed Michigan State that Notre Dame does indeed have a passing attack that can hurt you vertically if you don’t respect it though and set the tone for the rest of the game.

After that first drive Wimbush didn’t look quite as comfortable as a passer, but it was still a big step forward for him after back to back games where he struggled to move the ball in the air.

Wimbush added another rushing touchdown to give him 7 on the season already.  He is on pace to not just break Deshone Kizer’s Notre Dame record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback – but shatter it.  Kizer ran for 9 in 2015.  At current pace, Wimbush would end the season with 21.  Odds are he’ll slow down a bit on that pace after his historic 4 touchdown game against Boston College, but he has rushed for a touchdown in every game this year now so don’t expect him to slow down too much.

3. Julian Love

At times, Julian Love had a little up and down game, but he got the party started right on Saturday with his 59 yard pick six – Notre Dame’s first since Andrew Trumbetti’s against Wake Forest in 2015.  Later in the first half Love got beat for a touchdown on an under-thrown fade that he very well could have had his 2nd interception of the night on if he got himself turned around.  Another errant thrown came his way that might have been picked off if he had be turned around.  Even with the miscue on the touchdown, his pick six helped set the tone for the rest of the game and gave Notre Dame a 14-0 lead in the blink of an eye.

4. Dexter Williams

Dexter Williams is officially becoming Notre Dame’s version of Chris Carter.  All’s he does is score touchdowns.  Williams touched the ball 9 times on Saturday and he scored two more touchdowns.  On the season, Williams now has 21 touchdowns and 5 touchdowns.  Over the last two years, he has 64 touchdowns and 8 touchdowns.  That is a touchdown once every 8 touches.  That is ridiculous production.  So in short, get the kid the ball early and often week in and week out.

On Saturday specifically, Williams made a nice catch in the endzone on a 3rd and goal to give Notre Dame a 21-7 lead.  Following Shaun Crawford’s huge fumble recovery, Williams capped off the ensuing Notre Dame drive with a 14 yard touchdown run.   I was tempted to list Quenton Nelson or Mike McGlinchey here to give the OL some love, but Dexter Williams has just been scoring touchdowns at a ridiculous rate for too long now to go unnoticed in this column.

We are getting all fancy with this column now too.  Below we have the yearly standings with points being assigned for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th accordingly.  Below that we have another table – that’s two tables in a single post folks – with the weekly finishers.

Yearly Standings

Player1st Horseman2nd Horseman3rd Horseman4th HorsemanTotal Points
Josh Adams1500190
Brandon Wimbush2120150
Quenton Nelson2012120
Tevon Coney1014100
Shaun Crawford200080
Drue Tranquill110070
Jerry Tillery010140
Deon McIntosh100040
Justin Yoon010030
Jay Hayes001130
Julian Love001130
Chase Claypool010030
Greer Martini001130
Equanimeous St. Brown010030
Nick Coleman001020
Julian Okwara001020
Sam Mustipher001020
Dexter Williams000110

Weekly Results

 1st Horsemen2nd Horsemen3rd Horsemen4th Horsemen
Week 1 (Temple)Brandon WimbushJosh AdamsJay HayesTevon Coney
Week 2 (Georgia)Drue TranquillJustin YoonNick ColemanJay Hayes
Week 3 (Boston College)Shaun CrawfordJosh AdamsBrandon WimbushTevon Coney
Week 4 (Michigan State)Shaun CrawfordBrandon WimbushJulian LoveDexter Williams
Week 5 (Miami OH)Josh AdamsJerry TilleryQuenton NelsonGreer Martini

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  1. The back rotation is confusing at hell. McIntosh was getting carries instead of Jones who was back up in first few games.
    Run Dexter! Its horse sense!

  2. Southside,
    Methinks Wimbushs’ ass cares. I can see it now, McFlinchley blows his assignment, then 6’6″ 320 pounder rolls in and over pipsqueak sized Dexter and blindsides Brandson and He unfortunately coughs up the ball. Make sure NO pocket passes when Dexter is in, roll outs only.

  3. Frank,

    I thought the same thing that Love could have had another couple picks on the night had he just applied some simple fundamentals of looking for the football. Does the D or sideline ever scream ball anymore when it’s in the air to help corners out? I remember back to my pee-wee days that a QB dropping back to pass everyone would yell “Pass!!” and when he threw it we would yell “Ball!!!” That’s what separates NFL CBs from college ones though. The good NFL corners always look back to find the ball. I tell you who does do this on our team frequently though is Nick Coleman. I’ve been very impressed by his play so far this year and even cooler because he comes from my alma mater Alter!!!

    Finally Dexter got some meaningful playing time and hopefully that showed Kelly that he need to play him early and get him more reps. I think one of the things that sets Dexter apart is his vision. Sure, that was a HUGE hole on his running TD but the safety who was coming up to meet him in the hole had a one on one opportunity to make a play and instead of running right into him and/or trying a one on one juke to get around him, he saw Alize Mack coming over as an extra blocker, did a little cut to the left to allow Mack to make that block and then went into the endzone untouched. Absolutely perfect!

    1. Agree C.J Dexter has vision of what’s ahead after getting through the hole and the juke/jive moves at full speed to elude the secondary. Perfect complimentary to running back Adams —more of north/south burst of a F250 Ford Truck speed with a 4.0 liter engine—fast , hard to take take down with one tackle. I think the tandem of Dexter Williams and Josh Adams — both at running back —should be in back field on center snap. The QB option with Wimbush and a lone running back —okay works sometimes—but try Adams/Williams in the back field —see what happens.

  4. I like Dexter also. He is flashy. But, can He block in the pocket, runs, when He isn’t making heroic catches and runs? And how about durability and fumble tendencies. These things remain to be seen. Hope He doesn’t turn into another Wendall Tyler fumbling machine. Now that He is known He will be specially marked.
    The best play I saw was Wimbush getting sacked and holding onto that ball.
    I love Love also. He is big play. He will have big challenges coming up with opponents that are not afraid to catch over the middle.
    I cringed when the flag was dropped for Greer Martini’s absolutely horrible grabbing the facemask.

    1. Greg , where do get info that Dexter Williams gives you concern on his blocking , durability, fumbles tendencies and “a remain to be seen” type player ? Make up up your’e mind Greg — are you saying Dexter Williams should see limited playing time because of fear “what remains to be seen” from this kid ? I think the consesus of ND fans — is to cut him loose—and who gives a rats ass if he can throw a block. Bottom line in my opinion. Go Irish

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