This was definitely not how I pictured the season ending, with a 49-14 loss to Southern Cal, but this is the hand we’ve been dealt. Academic suspensions, numerous injuries, new defensive and offensive coordinators and a talented but young team finally caught up with us. So, how did we look on Saturday against the Trojans? Lets have a look!
The Fighting Irish defense gave up 35 points in the first half which is the most points scored against the Irish before half time since Michigan State led 42-3 at the break on Sept. 12, 1998 in East Lansing.
The 49 points USC scored against Notre Dame’s defense are the most scored against the Irish since scoring 55 in 1974.
Notre Dame’s defense allowed USC’s offense 34 first downs. This ties the Notre Dame opponent record set in 1997 by Stanford.
Defensive linesman Jacob Matuska became the 19th different player to start a game on defense for the Irish during the 2014 season. (Today was also Matuska’s first career start.) Only three players (cornerback Cole Luke, defensive linesman Isaac Rochell and linebacker Jaylon Smith) have started all 12 games on defense for Notre Dame.
Three defensive players either set or tied career tackle highs today. Jaylon Smith had 14 tackles, Elijah Shumate had 13 and Nyles Morgan had 11. (Morgan had 11 tackles and only played in the second half due to last week’s infraction. This game was Morgan’s third-straight game with double-digit tackles.)
Jaylon Smith surpassed the 100-tackle plateau for the season today, with 103 tackles on the season. He is the first Irish player to record 100 tackles in a season since Manti Te’o had 113 in the 2012 season.
Cole Luke had one pass breakup today. He entered the game tied for 17th in the nation in passes defended.
The Fighting Irish defense gave up a total of 577 yards, 372 passing and 205 on the ground. Notre Dame allowed USC to convert on third down 13 of 18 times (0.722) and on fourth down 2 of 3 times (0.677).
Week after week since the loss to Florida State the defense has been overpowered, giving up countless yards and simply not stopping anyone. My ray of hope looking forward with this team is three-pronged. One, they are young. Hopefully they learned some very important lessons this year and can implement them next year. Two, we had a ton of players out between those on academic suspension and countless injuries. A healthy squad will look much different than this team did. Three, we had two brand new coordinators this year on both sides of the ball. I think some coaching mistakes were made with two brand new guys to the system, but by year two those should decrease significantly.
There is definitely no lack of talent on this team. I am very excited about all that is to come next year.
Bring on a bowl game and GO IRISH!!