First things first, let’s take a moment to acknowledge a hard-earned win. Let me be clear, I am not trying to take away from success. Although we’re finally relieved with a win – it wasn’t pretty. Even the win showed many of our flaws. Our O-line’s struggles. Our Defensive lack of attention to detail. The Notre Dame Quartberack situation. It also showed a lot of positives. We scored when it mattered. Tommy Rees called a decent game. The heart, and competitiveness was there. That’s what counted most. But, in the spirit of chasing “Playing Like a Champion” perfection, here’s just some of what can be improved as the Fighting Irish move forward.
Notre Dame Quarterback Conundrum
Drew Pyne is not the solution. To be fair, there’s a reason he started the year as the backup. However, Buchner’s struggles looked like a switch-up was inevitable. Due to an injury, we had the chance to see what Drew Pyne could do. And it wasn’t pretty, either. When you can’t even execute the simplest part of the game, the center-QB exchange… you have a problem. Ironically, he led us to our first win, but he certainly wasn’t the reason why the Fighting Irish won. The clamors for Steve Angeli were already there, and those clamors will only get louder now. And, I’m all for it…
The Notre Dame Defense
To put it bluntly, the Defense needs work. A lot of work. The most confusing part to me, was how we could stop all-world talent C.J. Stroud, and yet – we made Cal QB Jack Plummer look like Patrick Mahomes. The amount of missed tackles was out of this world. Our linebackers didn’t fill the gaps. Our D-line didn’t get push back. Plummer had all day to throw in the pocket. We let the Cal Offense walk all over us. Sturdviant was open on a consistent basis. So if the first 2 weeks of the season weren’t a cause for Defensive concern- this should be too. The strength, grit, and intensity need to be improved – the Defense needs to play with heart.
Thunder & Lightning
The 1-2 punch of Tyree/Estimae is effective. My article last week was an outcry for more usage of Chris Tyree. And you know what? We got it. Sure enough, Tyree caught a beautiful touchdown pass. On the other hand, Audric Estimate ran the ball well, too! Thus, I propose Notre Dame navigates through the rest of the season using an equal balance of the two. Utilize Estimae’s power and toughness with which he carries the ball. And also, get our home-run hitter the ball in any way possible. If we can do that, good things will happen.
Nonetheless, the Fighting Irish finally got their first win in the Freeman era. Sure, things like the QB situation won’t immediately change overnight. But things like Defensive intensity sure can. The running game philosophy certainly can be adjusted. Clearly, there’s a lot we need to work on, so I say we use the rest of the year to do such. Find an identity, create a culture, and play with some pride. And, although we’ve been playing soft – we still showed some heart out there on Saturday. Some NCAAF fans think we’re soft and overrated – and while we certainly won’t be in the CFP discussion, we can still make a statement through our perseverance. That’s what I hope to see as we move forward, and it even almost gets me excited. As always. GO IRISH.
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