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Notre Dame Football

Instant Reaction | Notre Dame 45 Stanford 14

November 28, 2021

There wasn’t one second of the game where I thought Stanford had a chance at winning. That had as much to do with Stanford as it did with Notre Dame, but anytime that can happen, it’s a good night for the Irish. From the three offsides penalties on Notre Dame’s opening scoring drive to complete lack of creativity with Stanford’s offensive scheme, this was game over before it started.

It wasn’t even that Stanford gave up or that they didn’t play hard. They simply were outclassed in several areas and that showed with them only having 79 yards (2.3 per play) of total offense through three quarters.

It might not have appeared like the same level of beatdown that Notre Dame handed to Georgia Tech the previous week, but it was just that outside of an interception by Jack Coan and a bad angle taken from Xavier Watts.

They did what they needed to do and took care of business against a bad Stanford team. Now they wait to see where the rest of the chips fall, but they did their part by beating a bad team like they should have.

- I was a bit surprised by Notre Dame coming out throwing so much with the way Stanford had played the run in recent weeks, but it’s hard to argue with the results. Coan averaged 9.9 yards per attempt and even that interception was understandable when he had thrown some seeds into tight windows earlier.

They exploited Stanford repeatedly with slants and crossers and the yards after catch were plentiful. Even on the drive when Tommy Rees may have got too cute with a fake reverse and got caught in a sack off a safety blitz putting Notre Dame in a long yardage situation, he dialed up a great call on 3rd and 19 with a crosser to Kyren Williams that was similar to a screen.

It went for 14 yards and allowed them to go for it on 4th down, which they converted.

- The Irish defense had a 23.4% Havoc Rate and none of those Havoc plays were bigger than Clarence Lewis swiping the ball out to cause a fumble in the fourth quarter.

It wouldn’t have changed anything for someone who watched the entire game, but in terms of beating a team by 31 or only winning by 17, it was a pretty important play.

The broadcast team mentioned that David Shaw felt Stanford could win some matchups with Notre Dame’s corners. That couldn’t have been further from the truth with Lewis, Cam Hart, and TaRiq Bracy all making plays on the football and tackling well.

- Stanford ran 47 plays! 11 of 14 drives were four plays or less.

How can Shaw watch any of this season and think he doesn’t have to fully re-evaluate what they are doing everywhere in their program? The offense is dreadful. It’s a schematic disaster that relies on 50/50 balls as primary cogs in their passing game.

- It was so great to see George Takacs get into the end zone and the reaction of all of the guys on offense after it happened. That was one of the coolest moments from this season in my opinion. Seeing the players celebrate that even more than Michael Mayer breaking the catch record for tight ends or Kyren Williams getting over 1,000 yards rushing says a lot about how much the team likes each other.

- Okay, that Mayer block was something else. He took that defender’s soul. - Clemson has finished with 40 sacks or more in a season every year since 2014. Notre Dame hasn’t done it once...until they accomplished it with two sacks in this game.

- What a November for the Irish. I can’t imagine they have had a more dominating month in the Brian Kelly era and they dominated on the scoreboard when they needed to. They needed to have that to help get into the College Football Playoff.

I don’t know what will happen next week, but Notre Dame gave themselves a chance to be in the conversation if one or two things break their way. That’s all they could ask for after the start they had to this season and they did all of this while being near the bottom in the country in returning production.

They did their part and they can celebrate tonight with a chance to celebrate from their couches next week.

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