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Notre Dame Football

Instant Reaction | Notre Dame 31 USC 16

October 24, 2021

Sometimes a week off can be a bad thing when a team is rolling. Notre Dame’s performance against Virginia Tech, while not close to spotless, was a step in the right direction in some ways and it could have been perceived as unfortunate to not get back on the field the next week to build on that.

I think we can safely say that Notre Dame took advantage of their bye week and were better for it.

They were ready for USC and the plan was a good one. Tommy Rees did a heck of a job setting up Jack Coan and the offense for success with plenty of quick game.

He took advantage of an undisciplined defense and the Irish had what might have been their most efficient performance of the season. They had five drives that went for 70-yards or more. The offense had been dreadful on 3rd down for most of the season, but were 8 of 12 tonight.

Coan checked down when he needed to and continued to look like the guy he was at the end of the Virginia Tech game. Notre Dame hasn’t executed well all year on offense. They finally did tonight and it paid off with a big win against their rival.

- I wrote earlier in the week about Coan being better when the ball gets out of his hands quicker and the ball was out quick on almost every drop back other than when he had to let some 3rd and long plays develop.

The Irish attacked the perimeter in this game and that’s something I hope to see more of the rest of the way. Doing that opens up opportunities for players like Lorenzo Styles Jr., who hit the turbo button and broke a long one for 29-yards. (He’s going to be a star)

- The only area where Coan wasn’t good was the deep ball and that is likely going to continue to be a problem. He simply hasn’t thrown it very well since early in the season.

Believe it or not, that pass to Styles was the only reception longer than 20-yards for Notre Dame. That’s what makes what the offense did so impressive. They didn’t have many explosive plays and still managed to put together several drives.

- How many tackles did Kyren Williams break in this game? It had to be in the double digits.

What a player.

The offensive line did a nice solid job in all aspects in this game and definitely opened up some holes that weren’t there in previous weeks, but there had to be at least a handful of runs where he should have been tackled for two yards or less than he turned into gains of eight or nine yards.

- Edge defender Drake Jackson had that one sack in the game, but I can’t remember any other time that he even pressured Coan. I know he is projected to be a first round pick, but I haven’t seen that from him this season and I definitely didn’t see that from him in this game.

- I thought Rees did a really good job managing the quarterbacks in this game. To bring Tyler Buchner into a drive and then go RPO on 1st down and throw it down the field to Michael Mayer on 2nd and 1 were perfect calls to go against tendency.

I know that many questioned why he wasn’t used in the red zone when Notre Dame had first and goal after the Bo Bauer interception, but that was remedied on future trips inside the 10-yard line.

- No one is going to be telling tales about a defensive performance that gave up 6.1 yards per play, but this secondary already had their issues before Kyle Hamilton was injured so things could have been much, much worse.

In the end, points matter the most. The Irish didn’t give up many of them. In fact, they gave up less than anyone has to USC in a long time.

- Anyone who was frustrated with the defensive approach simply hasn’t watched an Air Raid team to know that playing this style against them is the best way. It doesn’t mean that Notre Dame couldn’t have played better, but dropping eight frequently has been proven to be the most effective way to combat this offensive scheme.

- 15 catches for 171 yards might sound like they gave up a lot to Drake London, but he never got into the end zone. That’s what matters the most.

He’s a beast and was as good as advertised, but he’s now had 40 targets in the last two games. I have no idea how they sustain that volume and frankly that can’t be good for developing the rest of the receivers on the team. No other USC receiver was targeted more than four times.

- It might seem odd to say that Isaiah Foskey didn’t have his best game when he had two strip sacks, but that’s how talented he is.

USC had only given up 7 sacks on the season so Notre Dame’s three in this game was an accomplishment.

- I know that the defensive backs missed some tackles today, but TaRiq Bracy had a nice game and tackled well. His blitz on the final play was what caused the sack from Foskey as well. This had to have been the most snaps Bracy played all season with so much nickel being played and I thought he responded well.

- Two tremendous plays from Justin Ademilola helped keep points off the board.

The first was a E-T stunt where crashed down the tackle and left Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa free to hit Kedon Slovis. That turned into the Bo Bauer pick.

The next one he was lined up inside and pinballed off of the left tackle to get pressure on 3rd down and forced a field goal.

No sacks on the day, but those plays were bigger than anything that showed up in the box score.

- This Notre Dame team doesn’t win pretty. They just win and that’s the only result that matters, especially when playing USC.

The alternative is what it would be like to a USC fan and watch them lose ugly. That was a gross performance by them overall with the lack of discipline, the clock management mistakes, and the continued poor tackling on defense.

The next USC coach has his work cut out for him. They are far away from being anything close to what they should be.

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