Grading Notre Dame’s Defensive Performance Against New Mexico

Earlier today I graded the offense, rather harshly, and now will be the defense, plus I’m going in on the Sky Cam. Judging how the defense played against such a bad opponent is tough because every positive play from New Mexico feels like the end of the world. For example, on their first possession, they ran a quick screen for 10 yards, and the immediate reaction is “WHAT IS GOING ON?!?!”. If you take the game as a whole though, it looked the way it should have looked.

But, before I get to all that the Sky Cam.

NBC Why?

Grade: Fail

This is a pass/fail situation for me. They are taking something that was not a problem, the normal sideline view, and trying to find some sort of solution for a better product. Which is fine, I’m all for innovation, but if you’re going to do that and the product is in any way worse, you have failed the customer. I feel like if you were to poll fans on what they’d like to change about NBC’s broadcasts, the overwhelming majority would focus on the number of commercials and the guy doing the color analysis. My guess is no one mentions the camera angle. So, they were taking a chance.

The first problem was the shaky camera, which some people literally could not watch. IT FORCED PEOPLE TO CHANGE THE STATION!  The second problem was some weird camera angles, for example, the rotating perspective on the opening kickoff, the mystery of who was where on the Javon McKinley touchdown catch and run, and Avery Davis being in another county on his long touchdown play. This was all laid out in a tweet from the 18stripes Twitter account.

The other unforgivable was not showing all the players in formation and having parts of plays being run off-screen. There was one play where Book through a quick screen to Lawrence Keys where for a second we didn’t know who the ball was thrown to if it was caught, and how the play was developing. That cannot happen, and whatever benefit is gained from this view is not worth not being able to see how things are playing out. My advice is to either scrap it or move to an all 22 camera and be done with it.

Defensive Line

Grade: B

This group was okay, not great, but also not bad, like I said it’s tough against an opponent like this because they don’t have their own stuff locked down very well so things can get a bit jumbled for everyone. Another factor is Notre Dame rotated a ton in the front seven. According to Pete Sampson, no front seven-member played more than 40 of the 75 overall snaps. So no one is likely to get going in that scenario.

That said, I thought Daelin Hayes was fantastic in this game and was really good against Louisville as well. He’s always in the right place, doing the right thing, and making a mess of things for the offense. He’s one of the more underrated players on the team, and it’s a shame he isn’t a full-time player for Notre Dame. Not that he needs to play over Okwara of course, just wish there was room for all of them at once.

Speaking of Okwara, and Kareem for that matter, if you were ever going to make the case you should be a first-round pick…this week would be a perfect week.


Grade: B

A little bit of hope from Asmar Bilal this week? The 5th year senior looked as good as he ever has against New Mexico, and don’t tell me about the opponent I know who they played, but playmaking is playmaking, and it was good to see. He played fast, he shot gaps, and he was aggressive. He’s playing a different animal this week, but it’s encouraging.

There has been some talk about Notre Dame giving up a bunch of yards on the ground, but I think that’s a little misleading, and Chris Wilson of The Rakes Report has some data on that.

The big run against the starters came with Drew White in the middle of the play not using the safe word quickly enough and getting assaulted as the runner ran by him. It’s not good for the rest of the defense unable to make up for the missed call though, but on the main the run defense was still pretty good.


Grade: A-

Kyle Hamilton, take a bow. Hamilton has been thrown at five times this season; teams are 0-5, he’s got two pass breakups and a pick-six. He was given the assist from Daelin Hayes with the tipped pass, but I think that just gave Hamilton more of a challenge as he was in position to pick the pass off anyway. Instead, he was forced to show quick reactions and excellent ball skills with the ricochet to his helmet, which of course he did, then it was the speed to the end zone. His first interception of many, hopefully, his first touchdown of many. Let’s enjoy the ride folks.

The defense currently sits third in defensive passing efficiency, first in completion percentage, and 6th in yards per attempt. These are all good things, albeit against competition that couldn’t really test them through the air.

Jalen Elliott secured an interception, Shaun Crawford again showed he will not be denied his glory on the football field, and the secondary overall was solid. The real test comes this week, but so far, so good on the back end.

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  1. The broadcast is getting worse every year. The camera was terrible for the spring game and it is still terrible now. So scrap it. It’s sad when Flutie isn’t the worst thing about the broadcast.

  2. Amen on that NBC comment. Is there any way to get them that feedback? Those odd angles are fine for replay, but if I can’t see the play develop I might as well be listening on the radio.

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