As newly discovered 20th Notre Dame shares faded from one week of turmoil for the ages on Saturday at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Arena, an equally disturbing afterthought punctuated an awkward narrow Irish escape.
The Navy’s defense in the second half left a blueprint for future ND opponents, Boston College and the University of Southern California, to ponder, if not outright plagiarize.
“We have to go back and look and see what exactly happened,” said the Irish coach Marcus Freeman He said after 35-13 Farah’s trip in the first half deteriorated to a white joint 35-32. “And we have to make sure somehow, that we are somehow better because of what happened in the second half.”
The first-year Irish coach deserves to be commended for his poise after the game and the spin after one of the two worst halves of Irish football in recent memory. But it shouldn’t have come to that.
First, this is what the second half looked like numerically:
Twelve yards full on attack. minus 23 yards. Average 0.9 yards per game. Five bags were abandoned. An interception abandoned on a slash pass at the line of scrimmage. Turn one down in six attempts. Overall, the Irish got a score of 19-0 and six penalties were marked for 49 yards after the break.
It wasn’t even Matt Salerno They pounced on a kick on the sea side with 81 seconds left as the middle (3-7) ran out of rudeness.
The inability of the coaching staff at Notre Dame to make obvious game adjustments after a week of running a top-five team in Clemson off Notre Dame with three touchdowns was baffling.
The Irish (7-3) extended the nation’s longest winning streak in November to 18 games and kept their chances of turning to a host of less-attractive options, for now, not making up for the big picture concerns that were unearthed Saturday a week after it was buried.
Consistency should be the next step in the evolution of the program after Brian Kelly. Irish quarterback Drew Ben Saturday was a picture of how far the Irish are from that.
In the first half, Pyne was the absolute best in ND, having a hand in all five touches – four passes and one in a neat 11-yard scramble. He was 14 of 16 for 234 yards against the nation’s 122nd passing defense and exceeded the total passing space in his two previous games, Clemson and Syracuse, combined.
In the second half, the Navy stepped up the pressure on the pass and was immediately sold out.
Helping the Irish create the storm for this strategy to flourish was a combination of offensive coordinator Tommy Race Calling overly conservative play, Pyne’s lack of awareness to get the ball out quickly when he needs to, and Freeman’s inability to use a head coaching tourniquet.
“They were putting no pressure on almost every game,” Freeman said. “What does that mean? It means they bring everyone in and play no cover unaided in the middle of the field. And we have to be able to find ways to attack that.”
“We did it in the first half. We hit some balls. We were able to check a few things when we saw them coming, but in the second half we couldn’t beat zero pressure. And that’s something we have to improve because other teams will.
People will see that they have had some success in all-out lobbying. And what you have to do is make the defenses push in the scrolling game.”
Curiously, the Navy, ranked 129th out of 131 nationally in passing attack and 108th in passing efficiency, made the Irish pay for their passing game. And in the late fourth quarter, brokers were able to do this using QB in Maasai Minor who was the Navy’s third passenger in late October.
Minor was 4 of 7 for 51 yards and 20 yards from TD Michael Haywood With 1:21 left after resting a wounded person Xavier Arlene. QB1 Thai Lavatay He lost the season two weeks before a knee injury.
marine instructor Ken NumataluluMeanwhile, he won X and O chess with the Irish Defense Coordinator Al Golden late in the game. Mediums found large tracts of running room when the Irish went to “block the defense”. And when the Irish positioned their personnel to stop the Triple Option, the Navy soared.
“Again, you don’t want to be able to let teams run around the field,” Freeman said. “But at that moment, it goes up 10 or 11 points and says, ‘OK, we know it’s a two-goal game. So let’s be smart and not give up on an easy, big game – a pass – and make them gain every inch and keep the clock (moving),’ because they were out of timeouts. This kind of happened.”
Notre Dame played without two of its brightest defensive stars – the full-back Dinar Bertrand (Thigh) and safety Brandon Joseph (Ankle) – Safety Xavier Watts He made use of his first college start to score eight high-profile interventions.
He and a graduate large-scale recipient Braden Lindsay Two of several bright spots were overshadowed by what happened after the first half.
Special teams also continued to shine. Jack Kiser Blocked Punt, the leading seventh-placed ND, set up a 37-yard TD hit from Pyne to a wide receiver Jayden Thomas In the next play. With 1:10 left in the first half, it was the last time the Irish scored.
Pyne was a mixture of philosophy and challenge in the aftermath of the match, perhaps an appropriate reaction given the extreme highs and lows of the season.
“I’m the same every week,” he insists. “I code the same thing every week. I learn from it, and I get better. I mean, that’s how I work. That’s how I live.”
“I’m going to take this match – and I’m sure I made mistakes in the first half too. I’m not perfect. I’ll just learn from it and keep getting better. That’s all I did. That’s all I’m going to do.”
As for Freeman, his biggest decisions and learning moments regarding the program’s long-term trajectory will unfold in the off-season. Not the least of which is what the middle ground looks like in 2023.
But Boston College and USC this season are still very important. How the Irish are perceived, especially by recruits, going into December is very important.
Notre Dame is actually a noticeably better team than it was in September. Now is the time to prove it.
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