Notre Dame made a statement on Saturday by beating another top 15 team by 20+ points. The Irish added to what was already a pretty strong playoff resume with the 35-14 victory over #14 NC State. The Irish went toe to toe with one of the nation’s best run defenses and racked up another 300 yard rushing performance – their 6th of the season. As such, this week’s Four Horsemen of the Week are dominated by players who made that rushing performance possible.
1. Quenton Nelson
The best player on the field yesterday for either team was Notre Dame’s starting left guard Quenton Nelson. Big Q has been an absolute monster all season long and he hasn’t gotten enough pub in this column. Josh Adams is putting up Heisman worthy statistics but they are only possible because Notre Dame has one of the best offensive lines in football. Nelson had one of his best games of the season against one of the better run defenses in college football. While Notre Dame’s outside runs may have helped open up the inside runs more, Notre Dame’s success was largely right at the heart of the NC State defense.
Guards typically don’t get drafted as high as tackles, but some NFL franchise is going to make Nelson a pretty high pick next spring and they will be rewarded just like the Dallas Cowboys were when they took Zack Martin. We are watching a very special football player right now. Enjoy it while we can.
2. Josh Adams
The 202 yards that Adams racked up yesterday weren’t all on the offensive line. Josh Adams brought his lunch pail with him yesterday and #33Trucking put up a Heisman caliber performance against a top 15 opponent that has statistically been one of the best against the run over the last two seasons. By half time, Adams was over 100 yards against a team that had not allowed a 100 yard rusher in an entire game all season.
If it seems like Adams breaks a 70+ yard run every week, it’s because he almost does. Adams’s 77 yard third quarter touchdown run marked the 4th straight week he has had a 70+ yard touchdown run. Meanwhile, Saquon Barkley failed to run for 50 yards over four quarters against Ohio State on Saturday. Barkley’s been anointed the Heisman front runner, but Adams is putting himself firmly in the conversation.
3. Sam Mustipher
Remember the rain soaked monsoon in Raleigh last year? Of course you do. It was the pinnacle of ineptitude in a season full of it. You probably also remember Mustipher’s struggles snapping the ball in that terrible weather because most centers would have trouble snapping in such conditions. After that performance Brian Kelly threw his center under the bus while justifying his own decision to call pass after pass in a hurricane.
All of that backstory made Mustipher’s performance yesterday all that much more great to see for Notre Dame’s senior center. Mustipher gets overshadowed by the duo of first rounders that Notre Dame has on its offensive line but he is quietly making a name for himself and could very well end up having a NFL decision to make in the off-season. He can come back next year for a 5th year but he might have a high enough stock to make leaving this year a possibility.
4. Tevon Coney
Tevon Coney led Notre Dame in tackling again this week. That’s two week’s in a row now while he continues to lead the team in tackles on the season. Coney was all over the field again on Saturday including leading the charge on a huge 4th and 1 stop inside the Notre Dame 10 yard line in the 3rd quarter when NC State was looking to get back into the game.
This last spot was a toss up between Julian Love and Coney because of Love’s pick six and tight coverage all day, but Coney ended up getting the nod for being all over the field again this week. Notre Dame’s ability to shut down the run forced NC State to be fairly one dimensional as well and Coney was a large reason for that success.
Some others worth mentioning this week
- All of Notre Dame’s corners played well this week. On top of the aforementioned Love, Nick Watkins and Shaun Crawford had tight cover all game long.
- Durham Smythe – Had one of the catches of the season with a tip toe catch on the sidelines that set up Kevin Stepherson’s own tight rope grab.
Josh Adams is starting to run away with this one. Shocker right? Quenton Nelson’s top finish this week has him tied with Tevon Coney for 4th place overall on the season though. In retrospect, Nelson probably could have had higher finishes some other weeks, but Coney’s 4th place standing right now shows how good he has been all season long. Sam Mustipher becomes the latest new name to be added to the standings with his 3rd place finish this weekend.
|Player||1st Horseman||2nd Horseman||3rd Horseman||4th Horseman||Total Points|
|Equanimeous St. Brown||0||1||0||0||30|