There were some rumblings across the college football world that this Saturday could be a special kind of Saturday. Still... I don’t think anyone was prepared for the type of day that it was going to become — least of all fans of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Notre Dame was a 3 touchdown favorite against the Pittsburgh Panthers, but we found out pretty quickly that the spread Vegas gave us was going to get thrown out of the damn window.
Now, if you’re still feeling pretty crappy about that 19-14 win over Pitt, let me remind you what happened on Saturday:
- #2 Lost
- #3 Won kind of meh
- #5 Hello ND
- #6 Lost
- #7 Lost
- #8 Lost
- #9 Close Win
- #10 Close Win
So... four of the top eight lost, while 4 of the top 10 won close games (Ohio State was 2 scores... but meh). The only two not to be involved in this mess... Alabama and Clemson. The former still played the sloppiest game of its season, and the later had a bye.
It was SCARY AF SATURDAY. Notre Dame won, and we should be a lot happier than what we are probably feeling. 7-0 y’all.
2 PLAYS FOR 2 SCORES WAS SPECIAL
The Notre Dame defense actually played lights out today. Pitt scored two touchdowns today, and they were both directly related to something the special teams unit did. The first was the offsides call on Nicco Fertitta on a punt return. It kept the Pitt drive alive in the first quarter, and they punched it in the endzone.
The second was a kickoff return for touchdown by Maurice Ffrench at the start of the 3rd quarter.
AND THAT’S IT.
Pitt racked up a grand total of 242 yards. With no Troy Pride Jr. (ankle) today, their performance was more than acceptable.
2 MUCH PRESSURE
While it can certainly be said that the “pressure got to ND this week,” by those that follow the program, it was much more specific. The offensive line could not handle the different pressures, schemes, and blitz packages that Pitt was bringing regularly. At one point, I had flashbacks of a flying Ram Vela (Navy 2007) when Dennis Briggs cam flying in off the edge to sack Ian Book.
Pitt recorded 3 sacks, but somehow only managed 3 QB hurries. It felt like Ian Book was being pressured all game long, and perhaps that’s because he played like there was pressure around him when there wasn’t. That’s a credit to Pitt, but also an indictment of the Irish offensive line.
They have a lot to work on over the bye, and maybe that’s some movement along the line.
After two weeks of Dexter Williams heroics, the senior running back was shut down by the Pitt defense. Williams had 13 carries for 31 yards, and 2 receptions for 2 yards. Once again, the biggest culprit was the Irish offensive line. There were, basically, no running lanes to be found. I think we all kept waiting for Dexter to break one wide open — and yet it never came.
It really was one of those days that Notre Dame probably needed to throw more as Brian Kelly suggested in the post game presser. I really can’t believe I’m agreeing with that, but the best way to beat all that pressure from Pitt’s front 7 (and 8) would be to use some screens.
That could have been Dexter’s big breaks for the game — but Notre Dame can’t run a screen to its running backs to save its life or its season.
2 LEGIT PLAYERS
Even with all of the frustrating play during the game, there were two players that stood out the most against Pitt.
- Miles Boykin. The Book to Boykin combo still proves deadly, and Miles caught 4 balls for 84 yards and that TD.
- Julian Okwara. The Irish defense had an astonishing 10 quarterback hurries against the Panthers, and Julian had SEVEN of them. YO! He also had a pass break-up and 6 tackles.
MORE THINGS 2 SAY
- Freshman cornerback, Tariq Bracy, was second on the team in tackles with seven. Six of those were solo tackles. Well done.
- Chase Claypool showed incredible effort on that TD reception. It was a nice route, and he exploded up the seam after the catch to get in the endzone. MAPLE BANDIT!
- As poor as the special teams were today, Notre Dame’s defense made a great special teams play by totally snuffing out the fake punt towards the end of the game.
- Somehow I still haven’t mentioned Chris Finke with his 6 grabs for 62 yards. He was clutch (except for that one drop).