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Notre Dame Football

Instant Reaction | Notre Dame 41 Syracuse 24

October 29, 2022

Everyone knew coming into this game that Notre Dame couldn’t rely on their quarterback if they were going to beat Syracuse. They didn’t have to as the Irish defense, special teams, and running game carried them to a huge win on the road.

Notre Dame won the turnover battle. They decisively won the special teams battle with another punt block. They dominated the line of scrimmage against a smaller opponent, just like they should.

That was going to be the recipe for the Irish to win the game and they cooked it to perfection.

- What a way for Brandon Joseph to let everyone know he can be a difference-maker. To say people had been waiting on it would be an understatment.

That pick six got it all started and he should have had another pick to ice the game as well if it wasn’t taken back by an offside (that sure didn’t look like it was offside at first glance).

- Syracuse’s “Big Three” of Sean Tucker, Garrett Shrader, and Oronde Gadsden have been players the Orange have relied on all year.

Gadsden made some plays, but a couple of drops stood out more than anything else. Tucker had a 21 yard run early. His other 15 carries went for 39 yards. Shrader was knocked out of the game and probably came into the game a little beat up after the hits he took vs Clemson.

Syracuse wasn’t winning the ball game without them having big games and none of them did.

- The defense more than did its job today, holding Syracuse to 4 of 16 on 3rd and 4th down and they had a Havoc rate of 19.7%. They made plays when they needed to and would have had more if not for some horrendous no-calls by the refs.

There were more than a few blatant holds, a terrible spot on 3rd down, and an illegal touching penalty that the ACC refs basically just shrugged their shoulders at.

They held Syracuse to their lowest yards per play of the season and just as important as that, they responded when the team needed them to.

Drew Pyne throws a pick late in the second quarter and then thet get Syracuse to turn the ball over on downs right after. The Irish scored and pretty much controlled the game from there.

Then when Syracuse was getting back into it, Howard Cross tipped up a pass that was picked by a diving Marist Liufau. The Irish scored again off of that turnover.

Add in the pick six and the punt block by Clarence Lewis and that’s four touchdowns that came off of some sort of turnover. That’s how they won the game.

- Syracuse’s average distance on 3rd downs was 9.3 yards. I mentioned in the scouting report this week that Shrader was bad in 3rd and longs and he ended up being 0 for 4 on 3rd or 4th of six yards or more in the first half.

- Woo, the offensive line and tight ends were moving people off the ball in this game. They were running against a loaded box for most of the day and it didn’t matter because of how well they did their jobs and because Audric Estime and Logan Diggs were equally good at making people miss and running through contact.

After Estime’s fumble problems, it was a question if he’d be a big factor in this game. The coaches put their trust in him and he proved them right.

- When you’re this deep into the season and someone has made no impact, it makes you think you’re not going to see much from someone the entire season.

Deion Colzie is apparently the exception.

He looked good out there today and they needed him to. If he’s making moves, there is something to be excited about with their young skill players when he’s added to the mix.

- Speaking of players who are late to the party this year, it was great seeing Jordan Botelho get some playing time at Vyper and come through with a couple of sacks. They need him to not just be someone for this year, but the next one as well.

- Pyne had no answers when it was 3rd down and Syracuse dropped eight into coverage. 2 of 8 on 3rd downs is simply not going to get it done.

He missed some throws early and then he probably took some chances on those deep throws that he didn’t need to when it looked like he could have checked it down.

- I know there were at least a couple of play calls today that made Notre Dame fans want to throw their remote at the television. They all were passes when it seemed like the only option that should have been called were runs.

Tommy Rees did run the football on 73% of plays in this game so it’s not like he didn’t have the right game plan for this matchup. They ran it 56 times. I think many would have preferred it if they ran it over 60.

- This was a critically important win for a lot of reasons.

Beating a ranked team on the road is always a good thing and winning a game like this when you aren’t getting great quarterback play proves to the team that they can do that as well. The biggest thing is that now they go into playing Clemson with a completely different feeling than if they had lost to Syracuse.

This Syracuse team just had Clemson on the ropes. I know they are undefeated, but they have plenty of flaws and Notre Dame will have a shot to beat them. They now can come in with some confidence and the crowd can come in with a bit more too.

Notre Dame won this game handily and even if it was ugly in certain respects, that’s how they are all going to look the rest of the way. Winning with defense, special teams, and the running game might not win a program the national championship in this era. It can lead to wins the rest of this season and that can mean a lot for Freeman in his effort to build his program.

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