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Notre Dame Football

Instant Reaction | Notre Dame 45 Pitt 3

October 24, 2020
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The critics were loud after last week and they had every right to be. It wasn’t the type of game expected from a team with the kind of aspirations that Notre Dame has.

Those critics don’t have much choice but to be silent after this game. Notre Dame averaged over 3.0 yards per play more than Pitt in non-garbage time. Their 6.3 YPP was only the second time a Brian Kelly team averaged over 6.0 against a Pat Narduzzi defense. They knew they needed big plays in the passing game to win and they got them. Finally.

Ben Skowronek flat out Mossed a cornerback and kept running for his second touchdown. Michael Mayer was a beast and won a big 50/50 ball in the end zone. Javon McKinley made a big play after the catch. So did Avery Davis. The receivers stepped up and so did Ian Book.

While not his sharpest day in terms of accuracy, his pocket movement and decision-making was very good today. And he was fantastic escaping the rush when he needed to and made some key plays after he did.

10.4 yards per attempt and 312 yards against one of the top defenses in the country was a pretty good answer after last week. 40 yards rushing was just as big.

PFF had him as the 10th best quarterback in the ACC coming into this game. I’d say he is going to move up after this performance.

More than just the offense, this was an all three phases win for the Irish. I don’t know if we can call it a statement game, but Notre Dame played their best team game of the season against Pitt and were rewarded for it.

- It was huge for Notre Dame to get a score on the first drive and it involved some key 3rd down conversions. Book was good when he needed to be on 3rd downs, but the running game on 3rd and short was massive.

Pitt’s run defense was as advertised, but when Notre Dame had to move the sticks running the ball, they did. Kyren Williams didn’t have the numbers today, but he was strong after contact and maximized every run against a loaded box.

Notre Dame was 9 of 13 on 3rd downs before garbage time.

- Great job by Tommy Rees today spreading Pitt out more with formations and mixing in more RPOs this week. If Book was a bit more accurate today, everyone would be praising Rees a lot more.

- One of my keys to the game had to do with the defense creating turnovers. They delivered with three interceptions. I know this was a young quarterback in place of Kenny Pickett, but Joey Yellen played much better against Miami’s defense the previous week. Notre Dame held him to 3.74 YPA in addition to those three picks.

Yellen had those two big plays for 22 and 33 yards. That was all he had all day.

As expected, Pitt couldn’t run the ball at all so it was going to be all on Yellen. Welp to that for all the people cheering for Pitt.

- Still wondering what happened with the Liam Eichenberg penalty that killed the second drive. They didn’t show a replay and it should have been offsetting penalties with a pass interference call on the deep shot to Braden Lenzy.

- It’s crushing for Notre Dame to lose Lenzy with what looks like a serious hamstring injury on the same day we find out Kevin Austin hurt his foot again in practice.

It’s less crushing if they can get the same kind of YAC from the receivers who played today, but there is no denying that losing both is going to hurt.

- Isaiah Foskey had a punt block and half a sack today. He saw the field more and deserved to. As great as that punt block was, the more encouraging thing was to see Justin Ademilola play his best game as well and Ovie Oghoufo generate some pressure off the edge. 

We’ve seen good play from the defensive tackle depth and other than Foskey, we hadn’t seen as much from the depth at end. That changed today.

- Another game with over 20% Havoc Rate for Notre Dame. 22.6% on the day and even Isaiah Pryor was getting involved as a blitzer with a sack and a forced fumble in garbage time.

- Jordan Addison was the guy to stop for Pitt today. He had that one 33 yard reception.

On his other five targets he had two catches for seven yards.

Clark Lea. He’s good at his job. So is Kyle Hamilton who blanketed Addison when they got matched up in coverage.

- Pitt had 12 tackles for loss in the game. It’s how they play. They outnumber teams in the box and the front is very good.

But the guys who could have wrecked the game for Notre Dame didn’t.

Rashad Weaver had flashes of dominance today, but was held in check for the most part. Patrick Jones had his only TFL of the day in garbage time. He was a non-factor.

Book’s ability to avoid the rush helped out the offensive line when they needed it. The protection they gave him for most of the day was very good, though, against a front that had dominated most other offensive lines.

 
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