There’s a load of responsibility that comes with dawning the Notre Dame golden dome. When you tap the “Play Like a Champion Today”, you better take it to heart. What us Notre Dame fans saw on Saturday was just that, pride. And it showed in the final score…
Notre Dame Pride Materialized
It was plays like a Bo Bauer one-on-one tackle at the goal line on a 3rd & Goal. Michael Mayer putting the entire squad on his back with a whopping 11 receptions for 118 yards and two touchdowns. Lastly, it was the gritty effort by Audric Estimae between the tackles and even busting a GIANT run to nearly score.
This is why Notre Dame won. They executed and executed with purpose. With heart. Sure, the game got a little too close for comfort – but we pundits can nitpick all we want, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Fighting Irish came away with a win against a ranked team, and a dangerous quarterback.
Notre Dame Expectations & Apprehensions
My biggest fear going into the game was Jaren Hall running and tossing all over our defense. He didn’t. A close second was the lights being too bright for Drew Pyne. They weren’t. Now, the biggest criticism I have from Saturday would be to tighten up a little. For example, there was a should-be pick 6 that was dropped. There was also a bone-headed 4th & Goal to call a run from a pistol formation. But, things like that will happen in any given game. And it says that much more that the Irish were able to win even with missed opportunities like that.
Overall, other than the pride, the most impressive aspects to me were the offensive line and the defensive line. The Irish were able to get a solid push on most running plays. Conversely, the defensive line was able to pressure Jaren Hall without the need to blitz. As mentioned, it was also the simplistic game plan of “get Michael Mayer the ball” that put numbers on the board.
Furthermore, it was also the offensive tempo that visibly tired out the BYU defense, and made the ND running game that much more effective. Lastly, on that note, the running game and passing attack worked hand in hand all game. When Notre Dame was hitting Mayer, it opened the routes for the other receivers and provided a solid lane for running backs – since the BYU D-line had their ears pinned back.
A Notre Dame Win, Notre Dame Style
Overall, it was a solid win all around. It’s games like these that make us ND fans remember the glorious days of old. It may be too early to christen Marcus Freeman with a long-term contract after a three-game winning streak, but it’s evident to see that the guy isn’t a total schlub. Hell, even Tommy Rees for that matter!
Notre Dame isn’t, nor has ever been, a flashy school with electric players like Reggie Bush, Kyler Murray, or Peter Warrick – and that’s perfectly fine. The Fighting Irish are the type of team that does their job, and does it well. And that’s what we’re starting to see as the tides turn this year. The devil is in the details, and success is in flawless execution – especially with a back up quarterback. On top of that, it’s the effort, determination, and grit that truly wins games for the Fighting Irish.
All of that said, it’s beginning to get a lot more exciting for us Notre Dame fans, and it feels awfully nice to look forward to Saturdays. We’ll see what happens next with Stanford – which should be a cakewalk. But nothing is granted this year, so for now, let’s relish the sweetness of a win against a ranked team.
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