It was yet another thrilling game this week and the defense did one heck of a job at holding North Carolina’s offense when it mattered most to pull of another win. This win, ugly though it may have been, was still a win … but leaves me less than confident as we look ahead to Florida State. How did we look on defense you ask? Lets have a look!
Lets start with some overall stats. The Notre Dame defense allowed North Carolina to complete 30 first downs. North Carolina had 42 rushing attempts for 184 yards and completed 25-of-42 passes for 326 yards, for a total of 510 yards on offense. The Fighting Irish defense stopped North Carolina from completing any fourth-down conversions, but the Tar Heels did manage to complete 9-of-17 third down conversions.
Looking at some individual player stats, Joe Schmidt had eight solo tackles and three assists for a total of 11 (with 48 tackles for the year). Max Redfield had seven solo tackles and three assists for a total of 10. Elijah Shumate had five solo tackles and three assists for a total of eight. And Cody Riggs had five solo tackles and one assist for a total of six. I’d also like to mention that while Jaylon Smith only had four tackles in this game (one solo and three assists), he has a total of 49 for the year.
Joe Schmidt’s career high 11 tackles topped his eight earlier this year against both Rice and Purdue.
Cole Luke intercepted a Marquise Williams’ pass in the fourth quarter. Luke now has three interceptions in the last two games.
The 26 first-half points scored by North Carolina are the most the Irish defense has given up before halftime since Michigan scored 27 in 2013.
The Tar Heel field goal at 3:37 of the third quarter marked the first points that the Irish have allowed this year in the third quarter.
The 43 points the Irish defense allowed North Carolina to score marked the most points scored by an opponent in a Notre Dame win. The previous high was 42 by Hawaii in a 48-42 Notre Dame victory in November 30, 1991 at Hawaii.
The Tar Heels totaled 510 yards of offense. The last time the Irish allowed 500 or more yards of offense was against Alabama in the 2012 BCS National Championship, when the Crimson Tide totaled 529 yards of offense.
Here are some quotes from after the game.
COACH KELLY: Our experience is still there. You know, we lost Collinsworth unfortunately early on, and we started him for a reason, because we knew we needed a great communicator back there. So we were left back there with two guys that, you know, struggle sometimes communicating effectively.
Couple of occasions they were both spinning down on the same play. When one is supposed to be spinning to the high hole, both of them were spinning down on several occasions. So those are real issues that we have to continue to work on.
Communication is still there. Some young guys, playing in space, Jaylon Smith trying to figure out where the hook and curl is when the formation flips so quickly that he doesn’t know whether it’s 3 by 1 or 2 by 2, and it’s happening quickly. The game is moving quickly for these guys.
When it’s settled down a little bit and these guys can get their eyes on what the formation looks like, they’re okay. We got to get better at that. But that’s an inexperienced group that you saw out there today and they’ve got to get better.
Coach Kelly talking about the confidence of the defense looking forward to FSU next week. (Do you feel with the young group, the confidence of this team is hurt at all going into a marquis match up next week?)
COACH KELLY: No. Look, last week, and I told them, you’re going to have some of these games. You shake it off. You go back to practice, they’ve done some great things this year. They will be ready to play their very best against Florida State.
But the nice part about it is we got great film and great teaching off of another win, that’s the best thing about it.pass in the fourth quarter. Luke now has three interceptions in the last two games.
Joe Schmidt, on the lessons he learned from this game.
SCHMIDT: “Yeah, a lot of learning. They have a bunch of great players. We have to do a much better job next week. A win is a win, but at the same time you have to say great job to North Carolina. They put us in a lot of compromising circumstances. We just need to make sure we’re making plays, and we’ve got to be better next week.”
Joe Schmidt on the key to success for defense at next week’s game.
SCHMIDT: “We have to make sure we’re right emotionally and come ready to play. I’m not saying we didn’t do that today, but we didn’t start very fast and that’s something we have to make sure we’re ready for. It’s going to be a big week of preparation. Obviously, we’ll take the next 24 hours to get healthy and make the corrections. We have to come back strong for next week because they’re an amazing opponent.
Despite the fact that our defense does seem to be working pretty well together, the fact that they gave up 43 points this week against North Carolina doesn’t sit well with me looking forward to Florida State. I don’t know if it was the “trap game” syndrome or what, but I hope they can go into the FSU game much more focused and settled than they seemed this week. I have to admit, I am pretty worried about Florida State. I know we “can” beat them … I guess it will just depend on which ND team takes the field. That’s why they play the game, right?
Cheers & GO IRISH!