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Notre Dame Football

Instant Reaction | Notre Dame 45 Stanford 24

November 30, 2019

Winning by three touchdowns is not a bad way to end a losing streak. Especially one that lasted for six games and a dozen years.

Brian Kelly coached Notre Dame for four of those losses at Stanford and I’m sure he was tired of being asked about it. He would have been bombarded with questions if he didn’t win this game against a below average Stanford team.

Those questions are going to be about what might be next for Notre Dame after they won their fourth straight game by more than 20 points. It looked like it could be a struggle, but the Irish settled in and dominated the game once they hit the middle of the second quarter.

Notre Dame forced Stanford into a three and out, Isaiah Foskey blocked a punt, and the Irish scored right after to get the game within three.

From that point on until they took a 21-point lead, Notre Dame outgained Stanford 7.1 to 3.06 yards per play. The better team took over, especially on defense, and what was supposed to happen happened.

Notre Dame won the game convincingly and at no point in the second half did Stanford present themselves as a threat to win the game.

- The start for the Notre Dame defense was far from ideal. They had no negative plays from the front seven on the first six drives of the game and Davis Mills was in a rhythm passing early. But when you can’t run the ball, and Stanford couldn’t, you ask too much from your quarterback.

He couldn’t stay that hot all game and settling for quick game throws wasn’t going to work for more than a couple of quarters. In the second half (before garbage time), Mills threw 12 passes. He completed five of them for 31 yards (2.6 yards per attempt).

It was all two and three step to avoid the rush, but any time he held on to the ball Khalid Kareem or Jamir Jones seemed to be in his face.

- Notre Dame played with their third and fourth string Drop ends in this game and had to move a defensive end and a nose tackle to 3-technique to replace their top two players there. They did that and handled it pretty well.

It could have been disastrous, but the depth on the defensive line showed itself again today.

- So I guess it was a good idea that they didn’t save Foskey for the bowl game. What a huge play when Notre Dame didn’t have a punt blocked called. That’s just a guy making a play on his own.

- Kyle Hamilton had that one hold on Colby Parkinson. Besides that, his coverage against him was outstanding.

- The field in this game was terrible and I think it hurt Notre Dame much more than it did Stanford. Players slipping in the backfield, tacklers slipping in space early in the game, and receivers not being able to plant and explode on the ball was an issue that didn’t really go away.

- I didn’t think Stanford was bracketing Chase Claypool all the time in the first half, but I’ll have to go back and check to see if there was anything else behind Notre Dame only targeting him once (on a ball that was knocked down at the line) until that final drive of the half for them.

He ended up with three catches and could have had many more if not for some issues with footing. That 41-yard touchdown catch was not his best play of the season, but it sure felt like a big deal in the moment.

- At this point, the false starts are a problem that are an issue that is on Jeff Quinn and Chip Long as much as it is on the players. At home or on the road, how can this keep happening so consistently again and again?

- How about the FOX telecast praising Kurt Hinish for his run defense when he wasn't in the game? Or Spencer Tillman praising Colby Parkinson for his blatant hold on Shaun Crawford?

I hope Stanford gets good again just so no Notre Dame fan has to listen to Tim Brando and Tillman when the Irish play on FOX in future years.

- Cole Kmet was a beast in this game and Claypool was Claypool, but having Braden Lenzy be a bigger part of the offense was massive. With no Chris Finke in this game (not sure why he didn’t play in the regular offense), they needed Lenzy and he can provide things that Finke can’t.

Six touches for 98-yards was huge. I’m not sure where Notre Dame would have been without those yards today.

- I don’t know where Notre Dame will end up with the rankings after all is said and done, but this team played well enough down the stretch to earn the right to play in a New Year’s Six bowl. They certainly deserve it much more than a Virginia team that they beat by 18 and is going to have four losses after getting spanked by Clemson next week.

We’ll see where all the chips fall after the conference championship games. Hopefully things start to move in the right direction and the Irish get an opportunity to prove that the improvement they showed in November wasn’t a fluke.

- Was there anything more fitting that David Shaw taking timeouts when the game was essentially over and then Notre Dame getting the strip sack to avoid the backdoor cover?

It wasn’t going play-action and throwing deep to end the game, but it sure felt like it. That was the perfect cherry on top for Brian Kelly even if he’ll never admit it.

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