Notre Dame 4 Horsemen of the Week: USC ’17

Notre Dame put on quite the fireworks display Saturday night under the lights in the House that Rockne Built and Jack and Brian rebuilt. The Irish blew the doors off of USC and honestly at this point I am running out of superlatives to describe the blowout. All phases of the game clicked for Notre Dame while the Trojans looked nothing like the #11 team in the country. The Irish now sit a 6-1, expectations raised, margin for error even smaller. As the Irish begin preparations for yet another top 15 opponent, let’s take a look at the Four Horseman of the week in Notre Dame’s historic rout of Southern Cal.

1. Tevon Coney

In my USC game preview I said that I wasn’t worried about Notre Dame being without Greer Martini this week because of how well Tecon Coney has been playing.  Well, Coney made that statement look pretty smart in retrospect.  Against USC Coney had perhaps the best game of his career with a game high 11 tackles while adding 2 TFL and a strip sack on the first offensive play of the game for USC.

Lost in Notre Dame’s rout of the Trojans was Coney’s huge play at the start.  Let’s review that quickly though.  Notre Dame had just gone three and out and set up USC with the ball near midfield.  The game was still 0-0 there obviously so it would have been very easy for the Trojans to make a couple plays there and least score some points.  Had they done that, who knows what happens momentum wise.  Instead, Coney made the huge play and it was the Irish offense who suddenly had great field position.

With his 11 tackle performance, Coney is now the leading tackler for Notre Dame through seven games with 53 despite starting just two contests.

2. Josh Adams

What else is there to be said about Adams?  At this point, it should be expected that he will go for 150 yards and have at least one long touchdown run each week because that is the expectation he has set.  Adams was nothing short of brilliant again this past weekend with 191 yards on 19 carries and three more touchdowns.  He now has 967 yards and 8 touchdowns on the season – both are already career highs. His yards total might soon be a Notre Dame record too.  He is well within striking distance of Vegas Ferguson’s single season record of 1,437 set in 1979.  At Adams’s current pace he would reach almost 1,700.

While Adams is benefiting from some huge holes courtesy of Notre Dame’s offensive line, he is also leading the nation in yards after contact and running with some great vision.  If Notre Dame gets him more involved in the passing game over the final five games, he will build himself one hell of a Heisman resume since right now that is one thing that Saquon Barkley has over him.

3. Brandon Wimbush

Returning from injury, Wimbush didn’t show any sign of rust despite not playing for 3 weeks including the bye week.  In fact, Wimbush took a step forward in the passing department with a couple impressive throws.  Luckily, he didn’t need to throw it all that often with Notre Dame’s success on the ground.

As mentioned in the Post Gam 6-Pack, Wimbush is still very much a work in progress as a passer, but each week we are reminded why any growing pains the offense experiences with him as he develops are well worth it because of the jaw dropping plays he makes with his dazzling athleticism.   This weekend Wimbush missed a couple passes he’d probably like to have back and he was also hurt stats wise by a few drops.  Forget stats for a second though and just look at his demeanor in the pocket.  We saw a much more comfortable quarterback back there on Saturday than we’ve seen in weeks previous.

Against USC all he did was account for another four touchdowns – 2 rushing and 2 passing while going over 100 yards on the ground for the second time this season.

4. Quenton Nelson

I was torn as to what to do at #4 here since Khalid Kareem had a great game with 2 sacks and Kevin Stepherson showed that he adds another dimension to this offense, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized the offensive line needs more love in this column.  The Notre Dame OL totally dominated the USC defensive front.  By the second half, the Trojan defensive no longer wanted any part of the Notre Dame line thus I am giving the nod to Quenton Nelson here as the leader of the offensive line.  Any of the five starters could have been named here, but Nelson did a number on USC on Adams’ 84 yard touchdown so he gets the nod.

Season Standings

Adams is starting to pull away from the pack here for obvious reasons.  He is on pace for a historic season and if he keeps putting up stats like he did on Saturday against ranked teams, he’ll be invited to New York in December.  With his first place finish this weekend, Tevon Coney is now in the top 5 at #4 on the season just behind Shaun Crawford who has gone a bit silent since his massive game against Michigan State.  Something tells me that will change soon.

Another interesting observation here is that only one player has been named the top Horseman of the week more than once – Shaun Crawford.  That shows that this Notre Dame team has a lot of contributors and each week it is someone new stepping up and making the difference for the Irish.

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


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    1. As I said earlier, BK has done everything that could be done to fix a situation that evolved under him. New DC, New OC, New S&C Coach, New ST Coach, a little soul searching, a lot of hard work by the athletes, and other things…so why is it so hard to believe that all that would pay off?

      BGC ’77 ’82

      1. True. I saw it happen with the NY Giants under Coughlin between 2007 and 2008, though not quite as radical. He changed his coaching philosophy and it paid off with a Superbowl in 2008.

        In a way BK underwent a radical change. He went outside his comfort zone with the new assistants and he’s much more engaged with his players and lacks the explosive temper he had in the past. I noted earlier that you don’t even see him on TV as much, probably because he has far fewer tantrums and I can’t say I’ve seen him explode at any of his players this year.

        That all being said, I’ve been burned so many times by BK, and Weis before him, that it’s hard to believe this is a fundamental shift at ND. I keep waiting for the wheels to fly off. I’d love this to be a culture change at ND, that ND has rejoined the elite ranks once again. But I’m afraid of getting burned yet again. That’s what keeps me the cautious optimist.

      2. Damian – the wheels are not coming off…really, they are not coming off. This change is solid. Now, I am not assuming an 11-1 finish…I predicted 9-3…it’s looking more like 10-2 though, as our hosts predicted. But it’s solid and it won’t be reverting next year or the year after that, either.

        BGC ’77 ’82

      3. Bruce, I hope you’re right. I’ve considered myself an Irish fan since the late 90’s, but didn’t really start to follow them in depth until about 2002 during Willingham’s first year. When they went 8-0 to start I thought they were on their way back. Then they fell apart. Then in 2005 and 2006 I thought Weis had us back on track…nothing doing. Then when ND first hired BK I thought finally we got the coach we wanted on the first try. He was the hot up and coming coach and we got him. It’s been up and down, with some above average teams, some average teams and a very poor team, but we never crossed over to elite.

        I will say, this team has a different feel to it. They are playing with a confidence I can’t say I’ve seen since 2002. There are so many standout players on both sides of the ball. And multiple players at multiple positions. If they manhandle NC State that should help with any of my lingering doubts. At the same time, while ridiculous, I’m afraid of jinxing it by believing in them. That I’ll buy in then they’ll all of a sudden disappoint by losing to Wake Forest.

  1. This was Adams best game in my mind. Of course he is going to break loose a for a big run at least once a game and that is impressive. It was his third touchdown that impressed me the most. He broke through the line, broke a tackle and then carried a coule of opponents over the goal line. He was not going to be denied. I love that kind of determination.

    Also very impressed with the coaching staff who seem (so far) to keep the boys focused on one game at a time. Well done gentlemen.

    Looking for a big outing against NC on Saturday. It’s pay back time and they are in their own house.

    Finally, maybe I am the only one, but I love what I am seeing out of Tranquil. He has got a nose for the action.

    Go Irish!!!!!!

    1. Yes, I’m glad too the various coaches are keeping the players focused on each game and keeping them from looking ahead. It’s one thing for us to speculate about playoffs and so forth, but it’s way too early for the players to be going down that road. All they need know is if they take care of business things will fall into place.

  2. With all the contributors each week, you might have to change this weekly honor to the ‘elite eight’ to account for all the key personnel who make a difference in each victory.
    I agree Tillery, Stepherson, Kareem could also qualify this week, as would Tranquil, either/both Hayes, Bars (despite the phantom ‘holding’ call), and Mustipher.
    What a great dilemma you face each week, figuring out who among the many earned special mention.
    NDs OL and DL have been critical in establishing this team as a most worthy top 10 unit.
    “Don’t stop now, boys!” Hawk Harrelson

    1. MTA , like your post — as Hawk Harrelson used to say “Put it on the board…..Yes !” I agree with players you mentioned and especially including Mustipher. I’m sure Frank will give Irish center his due. A position not much heralded by fans/media — no doubt Mustipher is having a great season. Actually on the Josh Adams long run against USC — it was Mustpipher who opened the hole initially — then Nelson joined in on the tandem block.

  3. Adams runs like the best, patient, gait, no fanfare. Reminds at interview of bespectacled Eric Dickerson. Hey, Josh, all you need now is the neck brace.

    1. Gee Greg , last time I heard Erik Dickerson’s name — was in NFC championship game Rams versus Bears. Bear’s middle linebacker Mike Singletary slammed Dickerson to the frozen turf. Bears went on to win Super Bowl.

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