Immediate Overreactions: Kyren Williams is a Cheat Code, Notre Dame Missed Its Eraser

Kyren Williams racked up over 200 total yards while the Irish defense struggled without All-American Kyle Hamilton.

Notre Dame improved to 7-1 on the season last night behind its best offensive performance of the season. The Irish racked up over 500 yards but also surrendered over 500 as the defense struggled without star safety Kyle Hamilton on the backend erasing mistakes upfront. Eventually, the Irish put the Tar Heels away for a 44-34 victory, but the victory left questions of how the Irish can play defense without Hamilton largely unanswered.

Kyren Williams continues to be a cheat code

I mean, at this point, what else can you say about Kyren Williams other than he is ridiculously freaking good. So enjoy the next five games with him Notre Dame fans, because in all likelihood, he will be on an NFL roster next fall (as he should be). It’s a shame that a late tackle for loss took him below 200 yards and robbed him of his first 200-yard outing, but he still has time left this season to notch one.

His 91-yard touchdown run is simply one of the best runs in Notre Dame football history. We will be talking about that run like we talk about Reggie Brooks’s “unconscious” run versus Michigan, Ray Zellars bulldozing run versus Purdue, Dexter’s 97 yarder versus Virginia Tech, etc.

After a slow start, Williams now has 707 yards and should easily eclipse the 1,000-yard mark for the second season in a row. Williams might have challenged the single-season rushing record if not for those early season OL struggles.

Notre Dame clearly missed Kyle Hamilton

This goes without saying, but Notre Dame missed their eraser. BADLY. Kyle Hamilton makes up for a lot of deficiencies because of how good he is. Without him, a few plays turned into touchdowns that otherwise would have just been solid gains or incomplete passes. For instance, Hamilton almost certainly doesn’t get fooled on the fake wide receiver screen that turned into a walk-in touchdown.

It seems highly unlikely that we’d see him back next week against Navy, considering he has a knee injury, but if he isn’t back for the UVA game, that game looks very dicey after the Cavaliers put up 49 points on BYU.

Props to Hamilton for being fully engaged, charting plays with an earpiece in on the sidelines. If the whole NFL thing doesn’t work out (spoiler: it will), he likes ready for a GA gig.

Notre Dame made Sam Howell look way too good

Full credit to Sam Howell for playing one hell of a game, but at the same time, Notre Dame’s defense made him look way too good out there last night. According to PFF, Howell forced 8 missed tackles and had nearly all of his rushing yards AFTER contact.

That’s not good, folks. Tackling was a significant problem last night, and with Navy’s offense coming to town next week and the Irish traveling to Charlottesville in two weeks, that has to get cleaned up, or the Irish could drop one of those contests.

We haven’t seen Notre Dame tackle this badly since week one at Florida State, and this one was even worse than that one. Brian Kelly mentioned tackling a few times during his post-game presser and having to correct it. How they do that this late in the season, however, is another question.

Need more Tyler Buchner in the redzone

Notre Dame is largely handling the two-quarterback system pretty well, but I still think we should see more Tyler Buchner in the redzone. Notre Dame’s first touchdown was as easy as it was because of the running threat Buchner brings onto the field.

Notre Dame could have put this game far out of reach had they scored touchdowns instead of field goals on their final two drives. Buchner could have helped inside the five on both drives.

That said, Jack Coan is settling in to this new style of offense well and looking more and more comfortable. It will be interesting to see if he gets more confidence in the pocket and starts making throws he wasn’t making earlier this year. Also, huge tip of the cap to Coan for his 21-yard touchdown run. No one saw that coming.

Lorenzo Styles is going to be a problem

Freshman wide receiver Lorenzo Styles paced the Irish in receiving yards for the second week in a row, and he nearly had even more. He ended the game with 74 yards on three catches but could have had about 60 more if he and Jack Coan connected on a shot play where Styles was well behind the Tar Heel defense. Unfortunately, Coan underthrew the ball, and then Styles dropped it despite it hitting him square in the hands. Those are plays he will make in the future.

The most exciting aspect of Styles’s game right now is the threat he is to take short passes for big gains every time he touches the ball. Now, imagine Buchner and Styles working together on RPOs.

Freshmen are straight balling

Styles wasn’t the only freshman making plays. Joe Alt started again and was largely unnoticeable – an excellent compliment for an OT. Logan Diggs was RB2 with Chris Tyree, still not 100%, and unavailable to fill the role. Diggs noticed 11 carries on the night. Deion Colzie played a bunch, as well as the injuries, mount at receiver. Tyler Buchner is looking more and more comfortable at quarterback. Think towards next year and how all of this experience will benefit the Irish offense.

And so too is Bo Bauer

For the second week in a row, Bo Bauer made a hell of a play in coverage. Last week he had the interception and near touchdown return. This week, he made a huge third-down stop while covering a wheel route. Bauer was stride for stride in coverage and used his hands perfectly to break up the pass on a perfect throw.

Good on DJ Brown notching his 2nd career INT

DJ Brown took a rough angle on Ty Chandler’s 53-yard touchdown, or that play might have been stopped short of the goal line. He responded with his second career INT later in the game, though. Brown’s interception came at the perfect time, right after Notre Dame took a two-possession lead. The game would have been over earlier if the Irish offense could have just punched the ball in following the pick.

Exhausting wins are a lot better than exhausting losses

This team is taking years off of all of our lives. Each week is close and back and forth from start to finish, it seems. It would be nice for there to be a comfortable win at some point, but winning close is a hell of a lot better than the alternative. It wasn’t that long ago that Notre Dame struggled in games like this. The Irish win these games now.

The Irish are 7-1 with a real shot at 11-1 and a New Year’s 6 bowl game. The next two weeks will most likely be their biggest tests given the challenges both offenses pose to the Irish defense, but the path is there for 11-1.

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  1. Big Gun, every year we hit a skid on tackling…even under Elko and Lea…even under Yonto…they all addressed it between games.
    There are a lot of teams, a few elite, that are looking at third tier bowls, or second tier by name brand rule. Our team has won almost all the close games. Only Cincinatti answered us every time in one way or another. The two most dangerous games are Virginia and Navy. Does anyone know our new DC’s
    history against military academies? This could matter.
    BGC 77 82

    1. BGC
      Navy last played Cincy in 2018, losing that game @ Cincy 42-0, the week after Navy lost by 22 @ ND. And as we have seen often, though, teams tend not to play that good the week after their ND game, such as FLa. St. losing @ home to Jacksonville St. 17-20, Toledo losing @ home vs, Colo. St 6-22., Purdue @ home barely beating IL 13-9, WI blown out @ home by Michigan 17-38, Va. Tech losing @ home vs. Pitt 7-28 and last week, SC @ home barely defeating a winless AZ team 41-34, which makes NC playing Wake this week even more interesting.

  2. Frank, as for great rushes by NDs RBs- add Penick vs. SC @ ND stadium, past the student body section to the EZ that is overseen by TD Jesus. A future article featuring great runs by NDs RBs would be welcome.
    My immediate overreactions include: NDs Coan taking off toward the EZ, then Buchner passing in the red zone were two successful play calls/reads that resulted in key TDs rather than FGs. Two other blown opportunities inside the red zone- maybe the wrong personnel and predictable dives into the pile- resulted in FGs, leaving on the field what could have been eight critical points had not the clock saved ND at the end of the half and the end of the game. Maybe something less predictable?
    No disrespect for young Logan, but again, no C’Bo in the red zone? That’s three chances in the red zone in the last two weeks that resulted in FGs rather than TDs with what I see as the wrong personnel in. Versus NC, first and goal at the five, then first and goal at the seven, and a total of six points. No Kyren until third down? Can Estime only block? If you’re going to run into the pile, as ND often did in the red zone those three failed attempts at TDs, why not Buchner at QB for every play? Again, run something they’re not expecting rather than counting on “execution” with an OL that often lacks that push necessary to run over teams, evidenced by Kyren getting the vast majority of his 200 yards after initial contact. That 91 yard run was truly one for the ages!
    More Styles, Bauer, and Bothelo, please.
    Involve Mayer even more than he was vs. NC.
    Coan’s best game to date. Young Logan looks like a rising star.
    The Ademilolas, a.k.a. the *D-Men twins*, always seem to be around the ball.
    MTA and Foskey provide great pressure.
    Finally, let’s lighten up on bashing DC Freeman. We don’t need him entering the “transfer portal”. Comparing him to Van Gorder is utterly absurd. The loss of Hamilton against an explosive O’ like NC led by a Heisman candidate at QB can’t be dismissed. This is one instance where their week off and NDs energy expended vs. rival SC made a difference.
    And bottom line, like has been already written, enjoy Kyren- his energy, his leadership, his superb balance and power and speed. We’ll be watching him on Sundays next year.

  3. I’d love to have a game where the offense AND defense gets it together for the same game. When the defense plays well the offense sputters. Now the offense seems to have finally found a system that works for the most part and now the defense is iffy.

  4. Pretty sad when a Notre Dame football team needs to focus on TACKLING!! This defense is in the sissy category. Man up and grab the legs Laddys.

    1. Big Gun, every year we hit a skid on tackling…even under Elko and Lea…even under Yonto…they all addressed it between games.
      There are a lot of teams, a few elite, that are looking at third tier bowls, or second tier by name brand rule. Our team has won almost all the close games. Only Cincinatti answered us every time in one way or another. The two most dangerous games are Virginia and Navy. Does anyone know our new DC’s
      history against military academies? This could matter.
      BGC 77 82

  5. Correcting an earlier post where I said BK should be Coach of the year if he gets us to 11-1: Tucker of MSU is the obvious choice.

    BGC 77 82

    1. I agree, Bruce. He’s done better than what I thought he would for MSU. He may end up going to LSU. It’s not like LSU hasn’t traveled the E Lansing road before, AKA Nick Saban

  6. No Storespook… Elko’s defense against Clemson fell apart when Julian Love went out during the playoffs.
    We better not lose another game, or we will be 10-2 and headed for the Tangerine bowl against a 5 loss Iowa State team.

    BGC 77 82

    1. It’s really my point Bruce, the program is not developing overall depth if the team is overly dependent on the presence of 1 player to be effective. Yes, Love going out in that Clemson game was a downer but in all honesty, that Clemson team was just better than that ND team and I don’t think a win would have occurred even if Love stayed in the game. The current D certainly is not where it has been, especially in the years Lea was running it. IF ND goes 11-1 with a possible NY6 bowl, they have to play better D than what they are now.

      Go Irish

  7. Defensive woes go beyond Hamilton’s absence and if it’s being conceded the D is that dependent on 1 player to be effective, that’s even a bigger problem. Freeman had a lot of hype but his D sure isn’t anything to hype about at all. We haven’t seen D this poor since the Van Gorder days.

    As to the “Beast”, what a season for Kyren. He will be a tremendous asset on Sunday’s next year

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