In a game where both Notre Dame and Stanford were hungry for a win, Notre Dame finished short, bringing their current record to a shocking 2-5. In the pre-season, this game was being billed as a prime time night game between two top-ten teams, and what we got was far from that. In a season where Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator was fired just a few short weeks ago, the Notre Dame defense brought a ray of sunshine to an otherwise gloomy evening. How did the Notre Dame defense under Coach Hudson perform against Stanford? Let’s take a look!
The Notre Dame defense allowed the Stanford offense 18 first downs; 8 rushing, 9 passing and one penalty. Notre Dame allowed Stanford to amass 296 yards of total offense, 176 yards of net rushing and 120 yards of net passing. In comparison, the Stanford defense allowed the Notre Dame offense 307 total yards of offense, 153 yards of net rushing and 154 yards of net passing. With numbers as close as that, the two teams were definitely evening matched. Stanford was able to convert on third down 7-of-12 times (that’s 58%), and on fourth down 0-of-0 times. Stanford had possession of the ball 32:52 minutes, and Notre Dame had possession of the ball for 27:09 minutes.
STAN ND FIRST DOWNS................... 18 16 Rushing..................... 8 9 Passing..................... 9 7 Penalty..................... 1 0 NET YARDS RUSHING............. 176 153 Rushing Attempts............ 40 35 Average Per Rush............ 4.4 4.4 Rushing Touchdowns.......... 1 1 Yards Gained Rushing........ 191 195 Yards Lost Rushing.......... 15 42 NET YARDS PASSING............. 120 154 Completions-Attempts-Int.... 10-20-1 14-29-2 Average Per Attempt......... 6.0 5.3 Average Per Completion...... 12.0 11.0 Passing Touchdowns.......... 0 0 TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS........... 296 307 Total offense plays......... 60 64 Average Gain Per Play....... 4.9 4.8
The defensive play of the game went to Jarron Jones, who had a sack, forced fumble, and fumble recovery. Jarron Jones provided the Irish a much-needed spark in the third quarter, beating the Stanford center one-on-one, sacking quarterback Ryan Burns, forcing a fumble, and then leaping over Burns to recover the ball.
The defensive player of the game was James Onwualu, who had five tackles, three passes broken up, one forced fumble. Onwualu came into the Stanford game with four career passes broken up, and then added three more to his career total, along with five tackles.
The three takeaways that the Notre Dame defense had on Saturday (two fumble recoveries, one interception) established a season-high for the Irish defense. Notre Dame’s defense also prevented the Stanford offense from entering the red zone on each of its first seven offensive possessions.
After Stanford gained 117 yards on 20 offensive plays in the first quarter, the Notre Dame defense rallied and held them to 55 yards on 13 plays from scrimmage in the second quarter. Stanford then went on to have only 53 yards on 11 offensive plays during the third quarter.
How did the rest of the defense perform on an individual basis? Drue Tranquill had eight solo tackles, Nyles Morgan and Onwualu had five solo tackles, Luke had four solo tackles, Love had three solo tackles and one assist, Martini, Rochell and Studstill all had three solo tackles, and Fertitta had two solo tackles and one assist.
Notre Dame ## Player Solo Ast Tot TFL/Yds FF FR-Yd Intc BrUp Blkd Sack/Yds --------------------------------------------------------------------------- 23 TRANQUILL 8 . 8.0 1.0/1 . . . . . . 5 Morgan, Nyles 5 . 5.0 . . . . . . . 17 ONWUALU 5 . 5.0 . 1 . . 3 . . 36 LUKE 4 . 4.0 . . . 1-0 . . . 27 LOVE 3 1 3.5 . . 1-0 . . . . 48 MARTINI 3 . 3.0 2.0/4 . . . . . 2.0/4 90 ROCHELL 3 . 3.0 1.0/2 . . . . . . 1B STUDSTILL 3 . 3.0 . . . . . . . 28 FERTITTA 2 1 2.5 . . . . 1 . . 35 VAUGHN 2 . 2.0 . . . . . . . 94 JONES, J. 2 . 2.0 1.0/7 1 1-0 . . . 1.0/7 55 BONNER 2 . 2.0 . 1 . . . . . 22 BILAL 2 . 2.0 . . . . . . . 9A Hayes, Daelin 1 1 1.5 . . . . . . . 8 SEBASTIAN 1 . 1.0 . . . . . . . 83 CLAYPOOL 1 . 1.0 . . . . . . . 18 PRIDE 1 . 1.0 . . . . . . . 4 CONEY . 1 0.5 . . . . . . .
Coach Kelly’s post game comments regarding the defense (from UND.com):
Q. Could you just kind of give an overall assessment how your defense played today? Statistically they did really well, only gave up eight points in this game.
BRIAN KELLY: I thought they were solid. We’re playing a lot of freshmen back there, so we don’t want to expose them in every scenario, so they’re learning a lot as we go, right, so we want to minimize big plays, which I think we’ve done a really good job of keeping the points down. The thing that I wanted to do when we made the change was keep the points down and limit the big plays. Now, you can’t be everything that you want to be defensively with just those two things, but you can keep your football team in what I felt was a good position to win games, and we just haven’t been able to do the things that I expected to do to win games. They’re doing what I’m asking them to do.
Q. Can you talk about Jarron Jones? He played with a ton of energy tonight. Can you talk about what you saw from him tonight and what has resulted in the surge we’ve seen from him the last couple weeks?
BRIAN KELLY: You know, he’s committed. All these guys want to get through this really tough part of everyone’s career I guess you could say, mine included. We’re going through a tough spot. But they’re committed to wanting to get through this together. As I’ve said, for those that have been at our press conferences, their attitude is incredible, their commitment is incredible. I love coaching this group. I can coach them hard and hold them to high standards, and that’s what they want. They want to be held to really high standards, even though they’re going through a tough period. They’re all bought in. I guess that’s the way I would put it.
James Onwualu – Sr. – Linebacker – Notre Dame
On the defense’s improved performance… I think it really comes down to everybody just trying to get better. Every man in this locker room is trying to get better every week, and some guys on the defense have started to play well and it’s just continuing to do that. Evaluating defensive performance… There’s always things you can try to fix, but I thought we played tough, we played strong, and I’m proud of the guys I was playing with.
Jarron Jones – Grad Student – Defensive Line
Notre Dame On moving forward in practice… Our Tuesdays with our scout team will be harder than any game we play. Just the physicality of it, as much as we hit each other, tackle, emphasize the physicality portion of it, and making sure we master the technique and do our jobs. Just going through these Tuesdays, I just feel like that’s going to be harder than any game we play. On personal pride and managing teammates… Even if we’re winning, it’s always going to be like that, but, when you’re going through a tough time that’s when our true character comes out. And through these tough times, nobody has changed, nobody has decided to not care anymore, and I commend all my teammates, especially the young guys, because this is their first year and they have three, at least three years ahead of them. On what he wants to leave for the younger players… Always buy into the system. You may think that you are going to be this or going to be that, but if you don’t buy into the system, you never know what’s going to happen. You believe in your teammates, your coaches, and just buy in.
I’m not really sure what happened to Notre Dame on Saturday. At halftime, I was fairly convinced that we were going to have no problem winning this game. And then everything just fell apart. Somehow this team has got to find away to accept the fact that mistakes are going to happen and be able to shake them off. Crumbling after each mistake is toxic. This team has got to not only find a way to regain momentum when lost, but they also have to figure out how to finish, and win games. I think the defense has shown marked improvement with each consecutive game under Coach Hudson, now how to we get the team as a whole to make similar improvements? I think it is fortunate that this week is a bye week. They are going to need every bit of the next two weeks to right the ship and ready themselves to take on Miami.
What say you?
Cheers & GO IRISH!