Beyond the Boxscore: Notre Dame Gets Past Weather Distraction in 45-24 Win Over N.C. State Win

The effort took some extra time, but the Notre Dame Fighting Irish ended up improving their record to 3-0 with a 45-24 road win over the North Carolina State Wolfpack on Saturday. Rolling up 456 yards of total offense, the Irish managed to get past some shaky moments to remain in the hunt for a national title.

Winning in Raleigh required patience. That’s because, with just 15 seconds gone in the second quarter, the game was suspended for close to two hours due to weather conditions. The situation had some parallels to the last visit to Raleigh for the Irish in 2016, when hurricane-like conditions led to a sloppy loss for Notre Dame.

Below are some of the key aspects of the win:

Slow Going Early On

Unlike the ease with which Notre Dame dispatched its first two opponents, the Irish offense began the game virtually powerless. The team’s first two series netted a pair of three-and-outs that netted -11 yards. On their opening drive, Sam Hartman was sacked and fumbled, though the ball was recovered by Notre Dame guard Pat Coogan.

That frustration was eased by a strong early effort from the Irish defense, which forced a pair of three-and-outs that gained a mere four yards. Once play resumed, the Irish made an immediate statement on Audric Estime’s 80-yard touchdown run, part of a 134-yard afternoon that also included another score for the running back.

Secondary Matters

The potential danger posed by Armstrong’s passing ability was effectively negated by the Irish defense, with a major nod going to the team’s secondary. On three occasions, Notre Dame defensive backs picked off the Wolfpack signal-caller, with the latter two coming in North Carolina State territory and helping to set up crucial second-half scores.

Armstrong finished the day completing 22 of 47 pass attempts for 260 yards and two scoring tosses. Notre Dame defenders helped knock away some of those incompletions but he wasn’t helped by multiple drops from his intended targets. The quarterback’s notable running was also held in check when he was limited to just 26 yards on 12 carries.

Making a Mess

Mistake-free football is always the goal but seven penalties for 53 yards in just two quarters ruined that opportunity for the Irish. On one single drive in the second quarter, the Irish committed three penalties that gave their opponents 33 yards.and helped lead to the Wolfpack’s first score.

For the game, the Irish ended up getting flagged 10 times for 82 yards, a stat that Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman will no doubt harp on during the coming week. Some of the flags were especially needless, such as Benjamin Morrison’s unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after a Wolfpack reception. With each ensuing week, developing more discipline during game action becomes more vital.

Drawing the Line

Hartman had another impressive day, throwing for 286 yards and four touchdowns. However, unlike his past two efforts, this one was accomplished while dealing with a much more furious pass rush. On the day, he was sacked four times and fumbled twice, with the Irish losing possession in the latter instance.

During Hartman’s prior games against North Carolina State while he was at Wake Forest, he’d struggled to deliver on the field. That concern was noted in the buildup to this game and appeared to be taking shape in the opening period. In the end, that fear dissipated, though the offensive line will now be looking to bounce back in preparation for the stiff challenge against Ohio State on September 23.

Nothing Staes the Same

For the previous three seasons, the presence of Michael Mayer at tight end was one of the keys to the Notre Dame passing attack. In Saturday’s game, sophomore Holden Staes made his presence felt at the position by not only surpassing his career reception total with the Irish of two but also crossing the goal line twice.

Staes led all Notre Dame receivers with four grabs for 115 yards and provided more than half of his offense on one scoring drive. That came when he snagged a 28-yard pass from Hartman just past midfield. Just two plays later, he then caught what turned out to be a 40-yard catch-and-run for his first score of the day. His later tally on a 35-yard reception with 4:35 left in the contest closed out the scoring for the Irish.

Next Up for Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame returns home and once again will again be heavily favored against the Central Michigan Chippewas of the MAC. This will be another first-time matchup in Irish history and should follow a similar path to Notre Dame’s rout of Tennessee State. The Chippewas were taken to the limit at home against New Hampshire on Saturday, emerging with a 45-42 win. In their only other game on September 1, Central Michigan held tough during the first half against Michigan State but were outscored 21-0 after the break.

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  1. The commentators made me feel a little of the hostility that the team was facing in the stadium.

    The unfair advantage we had for using an older and much more experienced quarterback.

    They were too busy babbling about something during most of the Estime 80 yard run.

    Hot dogs – the new superfood. What if they had found a supply of spinach?

    How about a NIL deal for Estime and the rest of the team from the hot dog company?

  2. Anyone esle smelling this?
    I haven’t smelled this since Brian Kelly’s B.O. stunk up the joint for a decade.
    This right here is the sweet, delicate smell of actual hope.

  3. ABC is ESPN, right? Easy to tell, really.
    The ABC crew were really feasting on Sam Hartman being so old playing college football. After several snide references, they even had a “quiz” asking how many starting QBs were in college the same time as Hartmen (A: 17).

    The astute will realize this question covers more than a decade of drafts, and was a period that uniquely produced a LOT of fine college QBs. But no matter…..ABC had their big laugh.

    ‘Old Man’ Hartman turned 24 at the end of July.
    NC State’s QB Brennan, not subjected to birth certificate inspection, is a “youthful” 23.
    Until October. A whole 3 months younger.

    1. And oh, how ESPN can’t stop sucking Deions’s dick dry !
      You’d think they’re elbowing Fox aside to make room on the President’s List of a Buffaloes IPO.

  4. I had concerns about the secondary going into this game, but they played very well and my concern was unwarranted. Two things I notice about this team so far.

    1) Sam Hartman was pushed hard in the quarter, He did not, however, lose his composure – unlike many previous ND QBs. He kept working and found a way to win convincingly. BTW – still loving the way that he spreads the ball around to different receivers.

    2) This team is well coached. Under Brian Kelly, it always seemed that they waited until half time to make a few adjustments. Under Freeman and his crew, the adjustments seem to come when they are required. I also love the enthusiasm that Freeman shows for his players. Once again, we didn’t see much of that with Brian Kelly. He yelled at them a lot when they made mistakes. Freeman is a very active and responsive coach. Watch him sprinting down the sidelines to congratulate a player on a great job. I love that enthusiasm.

    I’m heading down to South Bend to see the Central Michigan game in person. Hoping that I get more of the same.

    Go Irish!!!

    1. ….Under Brian Kelly, it always seemed that they waited until half time to make a few adjustments……

      I must have missed that charactetristic of Kelly’s coaching.
      All I ever saw was a team come out of halftime equally confused, less certain and less confident in their game preparation, and less motivated to bother laying it on the line for such a self-promoting asshole.

      But that was Sundays on tape. Because I spent Saturday watching other, better games.

    2. A telling moment in the TN St. game
      Marty Auer, #19, a walk-on who I believe just recently got a scholarship, missed a tackle. At the exchange of downs, Freeman trotted out onto the field, put his arm around Auer, quietly coaching him, with a 6 or 7 TD lead.
      Auer isn;t in the depth chart, but Coach Freeman was still coaching him.
      No rant; no red-faced venom spewing forth from the last decade or so from our recent past. During an interview, Freeman spoke of his players feeling “I (he’s) got their back!”
      Just another striking reminder how relieved all ND fans ought to be now that the lazy toxic narcissist has left the building.

  5. Notre Dame is a much better team than last year mostly due to QB play and coaching. I still think 10-2 is the best this team will do this year. There are some teams out there that I just don’t see ND keeping up with due to physicality and speed.
    Michigan, Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Ohio St, USC, Florida St, and LSU just to name a few.

    1. I guess will find out on Ohio State and Usc. I think Notredame has enough speed and physicality to match up with any of those teams. Can they match up on the lines with those teams to me will determine if they can beat Ohio State and Usc.

      1. They might not beat either, but I think they do have a shot against tOSU.
        IF USC players quit…like they’ve done in the past after a couple of losses….you never know.

  6. Good win, but there’s a ton to work on.
    Against Ohio St, the offense needs a faster start. Can’t wait until possession 3 or 4 to adjust.
    They want the defense to know McCord is going to have to try to throw to Harrison.
    Hopefully next week is cleanup week.

    1. Notredame I feel has a shot at Ohio State and Usc because Hartman gives them a chance to outscore them and win a shootout 42 to 38 or 45 to 40. Imo. Maybe.

  7. Refs love throwing personal foul penalties. I’m convinced the refs wanted to hear the fans cheer for them yesterday.

    1. Some of the penalties were legit. But some were ticky tacky. And the refs did seem to let NC State have more leaway than the Irish.

      But….. gotta keep the refs out of it.

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