Friday’s game wasn’t exactly how the Notre Dame faithful wanted to start 2016, but with a final record of 10-3, we should be tremendously proud of Team 127 and everything they’ve accomplished this year. Between injuries both new and old (Jaylon Smith, Te’von Coney, KeiVarae Russell, Devin Butler, Shaun Crawford, Drue Tranquill, Avery Sebastian, Sheldon Day, and Daniel Cage) and suspensions (Max Redfield: repeatedly missing curfew, Jerry Tillery); the Ohio State Buckeyes were just too much for the men left standing on the Fighting Irish squad to handle. How did the Notre Dame defense perform against the Ohio State Buckeyes? Lets have a look!
The Notre Dame defense allowed Ohio State’s offense 27 first downs (in comparison, Ohio State’s defense allowed Notre Dame’s offense 24 first downs). The Fighting Irish defense struggled all day to stop Ohio State’s offense, allowing the Buckeyes 287 net yards rushing and 211 net yards passing. The Notre Dame defense allowed the Ohio State offense to convert on third down 10 of 18 times (0.556) and on fourth down 1 of 1 times (1.000). Two Notre Dame defenders (Trumbetti and Onwualu) were able to sack the Ohio State quarterback for a total loss of 11 yards (in comparison, three Ohio State defenders sacked Kizer a combined four times for a total loss of 25 yards). All things considered, time of possession in this game was fairly even, with Ohio State’s offense having the ball for 33:36 minutes and Notre Dame’s offense having the ball for 26:24 minutes.
|Net Yards Rushing||117||287|
|Net Yards Passing||285||211|
|Total Offense Yards||402||498|
|Fumbles: Number-Lost||1 – 1||1 – 0|
|Penalties: Number-Yards||3 – 20||4 – 45|
|Punts – Yards||6 – 289||3 – 124|
|Third-Down Conversions||6 of 13 (0.462)||10 of 18 (0.556)|
|Fourth-Down Conversions||1 of 1 (1.000)||1 of 1 (1.000)|
|Sacks By: Number-Yards||2-11||4-25|
|Field Goals||0-0 (0)||3-3 (1.000)|
How did the team perform on an individual basis? Jaylon Smith finished his Butkus Award-winning season with 114 tackles. He was the first Irish player with consecutive 100-tackle seasons since fellow Notre Dame Butkus Award winner Manti Te’o (2010-12). Joe Schmidt also went out with a bang with 10 solo tackles, three assists and one interception. This was Joe Schmidt’s first interception of the season and the third of his career on Ohio State’s first drive of the third quarter. Elijah Shumate had nine solo tackles and four assists, Jarrett Grace had eight solo tackles and one assist, Matthias Farley had seven solo tackles and one assist, Cole Luke had six solo tackles, Isaac Rochell had three solo tackles and two assists, Romeo Okwara had three solo tackles and two assists, Sheldon Day had four solo tackles and two break ups, and Trumbetti had four solo tackles and one sack for a loss of six yards.
Sheldon Day: I would say Ezekiel Elliott. He makes it challenging. He’s a physical back. He makes his presence known. He did some special things with his feet today. I would say that was the most difficult thing about it.
Joe Schmidt I would say schematically they do a great job of creating challenging situations with changing numbers and unique plays. You combine that with Ezekiel Elliott and J.T. Barrett’s ability to run the football, then their offensive line doing a great job all day.
So I would say their back is very talented. But they did a great job scheming, especially early on. They had some good plays.
Coach Kelly: Yeah, I’ll reiterate what I said to them in our mental edge meeting. I felt like, you know, this game would ultimately be decided on who was tougher and who was more physical. We didn’t get out-toughed. They ran the ball effectively. I’m not taking anything away from their ability to do so.
But we didn’t flinch. That’s the mark of this team this year, that they played hard and physical. Regardless of who was out there, they gave us everything they had. We were a little shorthanded, but they didn’t make any excuses for it. They battled. We were missing a rotation inside defensively at the tackle position, but they didn’t complain. They took extra reps.
That’s the mark of a group that just has bought in to do whatever is necessary to win.
Nick Martin: It’s been very special. Went above and beyond expectations coming in. These four years have been unbelievable.
This team, I couldn’t be more proud or honored to be part of this team. Selfless guys that really care about everyone else more than themselves.
Joe Schmidt Yeah, you know, I kind of echo that sentiment from Nick. There’s no guys I’d rather play this game with. It didn’t matter if it was practice, a game, doing the program in the off-season. I’ve never had more fun. This last five years has been just a remarkable experience. I wouldn’t trade it for absolutely anything in the world.
Sheldon Day: I would definitely say I would reiterate what everybody said. It’s been a special year for everybody. Just going through these four years with these guys, it’s been fun grinding with them. Most people can’t say that. We definitely enjoyed the process. Wouldn’t change it for the world.
No, it wasn’t the win we wanted.
No, we still can’t win a bowl game on a big stage. (Though we’re getting closer.)
Yes, the defense still has a long way to go.
No, our defense is not as good as Ohio State’s defense.
Yes, Jaylon Smith’s injury is an absolutely heart breaking way to begin 2016.
Even despite all of these hurdles we’re going to inevitably have to climb in 2016, I must say I’m extremely proud of Team 127 and all they’ve accomplished this year … “what though the odds.”
Okay, time to reload and reset. Who’s ready for Team 128?
Cheers & GO IRISH!