Is it possible for a soccer team to win in a dominant fashion by 23 points while still looking like a trash fire? for you Notre Dame Irish Fighting They create new fan experiences every week, and they chose that Saturday by answering that question in the affirmative in a 44-21 win over UNLV Rebels. I can’t think of a better way to summarize it than the following timeless image:
There were obviously a lot of good moments in this match, with the Irish quickly seizing an insurmountable lead and never really threatening the Rebels, but there were also plenty of moments that made the prospect of seeing this team go toe-to-toe. Syracuse orange And the Clemson Tigers For the next two weeks it seems less than appetizing. We’ll look at both in Three Things this week.
Perhaps the biggest thing that made this game less palatable than it should have been the utter futility of Notre Dame in the red. Three touchdowns and three field goals is a perfectly good offensive result for the half, but less tolerable in the context of seven trips into the red, with multiple engines already starting within 20. As was the case with the general futility of the previous week, a mix of factors was at work over here. There was questionable questioning, with Tommy Reese picking a faltering QB pass twice in a row for third, fourth and short within 10; Poor execution, with a lot of drops and Drew Payne locking Michael Mayer to the detriment of all other goals And the Throwing the ball overturned interception. None of this hurt in a game where the Irish outdid their opponent completely, but in the upcoming matches Notre Dame will have to take advantage of these opportunities or else they will lose.
I would be remiss to ignore the Irish defense’s red-zone struggles as well, as UNLV turned the fourth touchdown inside the Irish 20 on two different leads to score the touchdown – one of which saw Harrison Bailey run across or around several Irish passing strikers in one of the most annoying plays I’ve ever seen – and marred Hard effort otherwise. Once again, with the Irish needing to play and win close matches against strong teams moving forward, they cannot afford these breakdowns moving forward.
To the extent that the Irish showed consistency in this game, it was in the areas that Marcus Freeman highlighted as defining the programme: offensive and defensive linear play. Harry Heistand’s unit generally did what it should be against the superior Seven Rebels, keeping Drew Pyne on his feet and creating tractor-sized holes for Logan Diggs in the second half.
In terms of defense, the Irish were always in the Rebels’ backyard, racking up four sacks and four other spurs, with a total of nine TFLs. Isaiah Foskey was of course the star, with two blocked kicks and three sacks, but special recognition also goes to Rylie Mills and Howard Cross for consistently squeezing UNLV up front and creating a constant inconvenience to the quarterbacks. The Irish allowed two great plays, like tradition, and had the aforementioned red zone divisions; But for the vast majority of this match, the Irish defense was to attack and stifle the rebels.
The most worrisome development in this long-running game has been Drew Pyne’s continued decline: the Irish caller once again saw his accuracy slip from the 70-80% clip we saw earlier in the year to 14 from 28, with 35.8 quarterly. More often than not, Pyne seems to be in his head, doesn’t see the pitch and rushes to safety in Michael Mayer form even when he’s very protected and the play is still developing. Analog plays were made in both Notre Dame first-quarter drives on field goals: On both drives, Pyne locked Mayer early in third and shot before the sticks even when Notre Dame receivers were just starting to pop up. One was caught by Meyer without sticks, the other was incomplete – both finished promising engines. Mayer, who had a great game, still only caught half of his goals, many of which came with multiple defenders across tight America.
In fairness to Pyne, other Notre Dame receivers weren’t always an attractive option, with Lorenzo Styles in particular disappearing into a game he should have controlled. Then again, there were numerous occasions when the Irish receivers – Braden Lindsey in particular – were open and the Irish midfielder did not see them. Yes, the players have been disappointing this year, but they wouldn’t be able to improve without quarterback giving them chances. Oddly enough, Pyne has thus far seemed more comfortable on the road and in adverse situations – one hopes that is true given the roster the Irish will be showing.