Duranko’s Digest: What Did We See Against Temple?

Photo: Matt Cashore // USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame fashioned another thrilling fourth quarter rally to defeat pesky, resilient, tenacious Temple 24-20.

Temple played up to Notre Dame’s level rather than Notre Dame playing down to Temple’s.

Temple played as if:

  • They had confidence from already beating a Power Five team, as in Mount Nittany’s Llions
  • They were looking for the first victory over a Top Ten team since right after VE Day and VJ Day in ‘45
  • It was the biggest game in their football history
  • They were coached by a guy, Matt Rhule, who along with Justin Fuente of Memphis and Jeff Brohm of Western Kentucky, will soon be coaching a Power Five Team

Rhule made a choice in combat tactics that would have made von Clausewitz proud. He had edicted through his defensive coordinator that C.J. Prosise would not make big plays against the Owl, neither running nor catching the ball in space. That was the fulcrum of the Owl defensive strategy. All such decisions have tradeoffs. Kelly, Sanford Denbrock and Kizer knew that.

Deshone Kizer

We saw the good, the bad and the ugly.

The GOOD was Kizer rushing for 143 net yards including the moment when he channeled his inner Bill Etter and scampered (sic) 79 yards for an Irish TD. That was the price Notre Dame charged Temple for locking down Prosise.

The other GOOD was 299 passing yards. That number understates Kizer’s passing effectiveness as the multiple interference penalties called against the Owl secondary ought be pro forma’d to reflect the true passing yardage.

The BAD was the two interceptions. Notre Dame had the chance to snap Temple’s will twice in the second quarter. The first happened with the Irish ahead 7-3 and driving methodically. With 3rd and 7 on the Owl 14 Kizer made a horrific throw, granting the Owls a reprieve. Instead of 14-3, Temple grabbed the ball and went on its longest drive to lead 10-7.

Later, with the Irish up 14-10 Kizer threw into a tight window to Fuller at the goal line, but the ball was deflected into the grabby hands of Tyler Matakevich. 21-10 would have been more comfortable entering the halftime break.

The UGLY was the game’s last play.

They’ll work on that one.

Fourth Quarter

Team 127 is mentally tough. Down 20-17, Kizer hit Brown on the third down play. Kizer hit Alize Jones on a carefully crafted crossing pattern for 45 yards. Kizer hit the returned native Fuller for the Irish lead 24-20. KeiVarae Russell, who plays best in the fourth quarter made another acrobatic interception. MENTAL TOUGHNESS IS THE WILL TO WIN.

Superlatives for Notre Dame's Class of 2020 Early Signees

Notre Dame’s Defense

The defense was outstanding. On an evening when the offense left somewhere between 6 and 14 points on the plate in two red zone interception the defense held its ground. Shumate’s targeting call was technically correct, and we live with consequences, but it was unfortunate as it came after the ball was free on the ground. Another 4 point differential.

Notre Dame 24-Temple 20. Irish move to 7-1, handing Temple its first loss. Temple is the best football team the Irish will play between USC and Stanford.

The Opposite of Irrelevance

Four times this year, the Irish have been a “circled” opponent on the calendar: Virginia, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Temple.   Good! It’s the first robin on the spring of Notre Dame’s return to football excellence.   No one will rest until all 12 opponents are “circling” Notre Dame as the most important opponent.

Metrics of Notre Dame’s Performance

Coming into the game, Temple was scoring 27.6 ppg, allowing 17.6 ppg.   This time they allowed 24 and only got 20. Temple was aggregating 356 yards of total offense and allowing only 296 yards in total offense. This time they accumulated 295 and allowed 467. Notre Dame slammed through all the standards in all four categories. The two red zone interceptions compressed the final margin. It is only points, in REAL, MANLY FOOTBALL, that matter, not statistics.

Special Teams Ranked 29th

Phil Steele has a ranking of all teams based on their overall special teams performance. Notre Dame was ranked 29th going into the weekend. Keep in mind that the precocious Newsome, because of his ability to hit the coffin corner, suffers in average because of that.

Other Contenders

The following Power Five teams were unbeaten on All Saints Day, Nov. 1


Big 10-14-OSU, MSU Iowa

ACC Clemson

Big 12-Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma State

The following Power Five teams had one loss

SEC-Florida and Alabama

ACC Florida State and North Carolina

Big 12- Oklahoma

Pac XII Stanford and Utah

That’s 15. The number is dwindling, and will continue to do so. November is the season to separate wheat from chaff..

What Will We See Against Pittsburgh?

  • Pat Narduzzi, a former nemesis at Michigan State,. whose defenses often bedeviled Kelly’s offenses, but to no avail. The Irish may have lost the battle to Narduzzi but won the last three wars against MSU.
  • Another Notre Dame crowd. Notre Dame dominated the stands in Philadelphia and will again at Pitt.
  • Another team that relies on running the ball to set up the pass.
  • A statistically outstanding defense, but they have not yet seen an offense on the same lap as this, Kelly/Denbrock/Sanford/Hiestand/Booker’s best offense at Notre Dame.
  • A more colorful setting, better than old Pitt Stadium, as Heinz Stadium sits right there on the confluence of the Allegheny and the Monongahela whelping the Ohio.
  • Another “Road” stadium that the Irish fans will control.
Return of Shaun Crawford is Huge for Notre Dame Secondary in 2020



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  1. NDfanCanada 4 years ago

    Thanks, Duranko. Watching LSU get stuffed by Bama reminds me that no matter how good the run game, if a quality defensive side decides to shut down a runner at all costs, they can do it. I agree on Schmidt as well, and wondered if it was just me. Hoping Kelly gives Morgan some real reps in the next two games.

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  2. uncle_evan 4 years ago

    A rematch with Clemson would be nice.

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  3. Ron Burgundy 4 years ago

    More ND bias!

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  4. Michael the Archangel 4 years ago

    @ spiceyirish and 45yearfaithful
    Agree with your above comments,
    as does BK reacting in his recent press conference- that wins over two undefeated teams and SC the last three games boosted NDs appeal to the committee- along with SC destroying previously ranked # 4 Utah after its loss to ND.

    Will be watching to see if the LSU- Alabama loser will drop out of the top four since their loss will be vs. another top four team. ND winning out, no easy task for any team, especially on the road three more times, and Clemson remaining undefeated and ranked near the top, are NDs best chances to finish in position for placement among the national championship final four. It’s looking a lot better than it did during the 4th quarter of the Temple game! Thinking this year there will again be more than four making a rightful claim for their inclusion- which will bring us sooner than later to an expansion to eight- or at least six teams placed in the national championship elimination based more on end of the year success vs. each other than the incredibly subjective outcome if limiting the field to only four remains in place.

    But as for now, beating Pitt is all that matters.

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  5. spiceyirish 4 years ago

    I just saw the rankings on the bottom scroll. Notice that Clemson was #1 right away. I thought that was an indication that Notre Dame might have a pretty good ranking… Maybe #7 or #8. I almost hit the floor when I saw the #5. I was expecting Baylor and Michigan State to be ahead, but it looks like Notre Dame has earned a lot of respect in the committee’s minds.

    Besides losing away to #1 Clemson by two points. Notre Dame has beaten three teams that have victories over one loss teams. G-Tech beat FSU, USC beat Utah, and Texas beat Oklahoma. Even though those teams have multiple losses, they help ND a lot with those great victories. Add the wins over one loss Navy and Temple, Notre Dame has a pretty good argument to be #5.

    Still have a lot of football left. Just take it a week at a time.

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  6. 45yearfaithful 4 years ago

    Very surprised. I was guessing 13 vicinity. I won’t go as far as to say running the table locks it. But your right, lot better chance at #5. ND young men had better strap them on for Pitt this weekend. We’re going to see some hitting and a fight. They thought Temple played tough. Pitt is going to be playing way over their heads. This is going to be fun. ND really has a target on them now. We thought they had one before……… Duranko. I agree. I noticed the D line pressure also and rallying to the ball. Was pleased. Short drops by QB’s of most opponents too. Wondered why ND would blitz against it. Sometimes delayed. Great times ahead. Win out. Thanks.

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  7. jeff 4 years ago

    Playoff committee has Notre Dame ranked #5. Didnt see that coming and not sure its warranted but i will take it. Xmas comes early. Now its entirely up to Notre Dame to take care of whats in front of them. Dont even need to worry about what anybody else does. Win out and the irish are in.

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  8. jack 4 years ago


    I disagree with one thing about the d-line. I have saw both Sheldon and Rochell getting in the QB’s face quite a bit. Cage and Tillery at times have flashed ability but no consistency. When Temple was put in 3rd and long ND’s pass rush got in his face. 3rd and short and 1st & 2nd downs teams are 3 step drops and get rid of the ball in 2-3 seconds. They are following the Umass playbook in that aspect of the game. I would like to see more press and the dbacks in the receivers face at the line of scrimmage instead of playing off. As far at the secondary is concerned they need to learn how to break down, hit and wrap. To many times do I see dbacks flying by the ball carrier out of control. Also, Joe Schmidt seems a step to late at times like the TD catch. I think the injury is an issue with his speed.

    Teams are concentrating on stopping the run up the middle because it was so successful against other teams. Temple sold out on the run up the middle, which allowed Kiser to run the ball more on the read option. They want Kiser to beat them and he is proving he can. I think you will see teams now respecting Kiser’s run ability and passing ability. Once they respect Kiser more the running lanes will open. CJ reminds me of Ryan Grant, straight up runner with blazing speed. The games he was shut down running they should get him the ball in the flat or wheel routes. I just don’t think the line is as bad as everyone is saying.

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  9. 45yearfaithful 4 years ago

    Seeimg these defenses throughout the season now. Just give the “Student Body” left and right a try too. It’s not run to the alley. But what the hell. It gets outside fast against these stacked interior defenses. Kizer needs the benefit of a run game. Obviously. Seems odd we’re concerned with Procise having so many rushing yards.

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  10. 45yearfaithful 4 years ago

    Would like to see how faster developing plays to the alley would work against these Type “D’s” and fronts. Just a quick pitch. Anything that is not so slow developing. Does ND have guards that can pull? Need to adapt the run game to take advantage of these defenses. Passing can’t be the only answer. Also could involve tight ends more. Doesn’t have to be 20 yards downfield either. Answers? Thanks.

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  11. 45yearfaithful 4 years ago

    Regarding the O-line. They handle pass blocking very well. Also picking up interior and edge blitzes. Seems they are just not quick enough for dominant run blocking. Temple had a veteran team. There front 7 were just to fast for ND’s offensive front. Either the line is doubling. Not chipping and getting after a backer. Maybe I’m blind, but I’m not seeing backers being hit at 2nd level. Or kept there. Teams with quick front 7 do well. Temple also loaded box and scrimmage line.

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  12. Michael the Archangel 4 years ago

    What continues to characterize this team is their big play production, and their consistency to make that big play defensively with seemingly every 4th quarter win. I trust those of us without a plan B that watched each play of each game have noticed- without me having to elaborate. The OL does not consistently dominate. Nor does the DL – although they played their best game of the year in Philadelphia since game 1 and were vital to securing this win – while the LBs not named Jaylon and the DBs remain inconsistent, with too many WTF lapses making the numerous spectacular plays more necessary- and maybe even more gratifying.

    But ND 127 each week (other than the multi- TO and dropped passes in the Clemson monsoon slosh-a-rama) is a team that makes the critical play with the game on the line trumping anything ND has had this century other than 2012, when many of those victories weren’t very dominant either.

    One win from perfection re: wins and losses so far- with obstacles yet in place along the way!
    As Sammy Sosa often said after a late walk-off victory from both the north side and the Southside:,
    “I’ll take-uh- thatta one!”

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  13. david 4 years ago

    Ronny Doody. Good for something. Someday.

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