It was a bittersweet end to a hard-fought season riddled with injuries and adversity. If any team deserved a happy ending this year, it was Team 127. But alas, the happy ending has eluded us. Before I start my review, I’d just like to take a moment and express how proud I am of this team. Notre Dame has yet again produced another group of outstanding young men, who stood together when the going got tough, who had each other’s back at every step of the journey, who never gave up, and who are not only teammates but will be family in Notre Dame forever. Team 127 has shown the world what it means to be a Notre Dame man. Thank you for that! And now, time to review the defense.
The Notre Dame defense allowed Stanford’s offense 22 first downs (in comparison, Stanford’s defense allowed the Notre Dame offense 24 first downs). The Fighting Irish defense had a solid night in defending the Stanford rushing game, allowing Stanford only 153 yards of net rushing, but they struggled in defending Stanford’s passing game, allowing Stanford 269 yards of net passing. The Stanford offense was able to convert on third down 8-of-12 times and was 0-for-0 on fourth down. What really hurt our defense was having to be out on the field for more than half of the game. The Stanford offense had possession of the ball for 35:59, giving the Notre Dame defense a break for only 24:01. The fatigue became quite apparent in that last drive of the game.
#4 Notre Dame vs #13 Stanford (Nov 28, 2015 at Stanford, Calif.)
|NET YARDS RUSHING||299||153|
|Average Per Rush||8.5||3.6|
|Yards Gained Rushing||304||166|
|Yards Lost Rushing||5||13|
|NET YARDS PASSING||234||269|
|Average Per Attempt||9.4||12.8|
|Average Per Completion||18.0||15.8|
|TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS||533||422|
|Total offense plays||60||64|
|Average Gain Per Play||8.9||6.6|
|Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD||0-0-0||0-0-0|
|Third-Down Conversions||3 of 9||8 of 12|
|Fourth-Down Conversions||1 of 1||0 of 0|
How did the team perform on an individual basis? Jaylon Smith came out to a quick start and ended up finishing with eight solo tackles and seven assists. Jaylon Smith has now achieved more than 100 tackles in consecutive seasons. The last Fighting Irish player to do that was Manti T’eo’s run of three straight years from 2010-12. Smith has also reached double digits in tackles in five of the last six games. Elijah Shumate had eight solo tackles and two assists, Max Redfield had six solo tackles and four assists, Romeo Okwara had five solo tackles and three assists, Joe Schmidt had two solo tackles and three assists, and Isaac Rochelle, Greer Martini and Jarrett Grace all had two solo tackles and one assist. Greer had the only sack of the night, late in the second quarter, which was his first of the season. Devin Butler started his first game of the year at cornerback. Butler is the 37th different player to start a game for the Irish this season and the 17th on defense.
Of course this wasn’t the outcome we were hoping for, but finishing week 12 with a 10-2 record is not too shabby. We were just two losses and four points shy of a perfect record. I’m incredibly proud of this team and am looking forward to seeing who we face in a bowl game, and then onward to see what Team 128 can accomplish next year. The seniors on this defense will be greatly missed next year, but as we’ve seen so many times this year, the next man in will step in, and step up, and find his place in the system. Thank you, Team 127! It’s been a wild ride!
Cheers & GO IRISH!