Notre Dame VS Marshall Review: Buckle Up Edition

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame lost to Marshall. I don't know about you, but I spent the rest of the weekend in a drunken catatonic state. What happened? It's not like there were a couple of fluky ball bounces or kick off returns or muffed punts. Marshall just flat out beat Notre Dame. There's a lot of questions and not a lot of answers. Buckle up folks, this season gon' get ugly.

To put in perspective how historically bad this loss is, here are some Fun Facts:

  • Marcus Freeman is the first ND head coach to start 0-3.
  • ND is the third team to lose their first 2 games after being ranked in the preseason top 5 (FSU 2017 & Michigan 2007.)
  • This loss snaps ND's nation leading wins streak against unranked opponents (40+ wins.)
  • It is only the second win over an AP top 10 for Marshall (2003 vs Kansas St.)
  • ND was 40-1 when favored for the past 5 seasons. Now 40-2.

I don't even know where to start. Let's go with the most glaring- Offense. Bad. All around bad. The offensive line being the worst offender. They couldn't get push up front during run plays, and were average to bad in pass protection. It doesn't make sense. These are all high 4* players in at least their second year of starting. Legendary OL coach Harry Heistand is back. They should be the strength of the team and instead they're not. I hesitate to say it's like last year's start cause I don't think they're that bad, but still pretty bad. You can't say it's cause Marshall loaded up the box. In 2017 with Wimbush behind center we ran the ball down our opponents throats even when they loaded the box. Or at least we could against inferior opponents so again - WTF is going on?

I personally thought the receivers were average. Not bad cause there were plenty of plays I saw multiple WRs open downfield. Buchner would not see it, completely miss it, or throw to double covered Michael Mayer. But they also weren't good either with crucial drops in clutch moments. It honestly felt like watching a low tier opponent play offense. Oftentimes ND's opponent would get open for a potential huge gain, but either the QB would miss or the WR would drop the ball. It's the exact same thing except now it's ND not taking advantage of opportunities. How about Braden Lenzy streaking for a TD wide open at the end of the half and Buchner totally out throws him.

We start the second half with a great stop by the defense. Reese changes up the offense going wide with screens and Buchner's legs. And it started working. The offense started moving the ball and I actually started feeling confident, like "here we are! We're finally starting to look like the offense I remember." We got to a crucial mid field 3rd and 4th down and go max protect goalline formation and f*in Marshall stops us.

That's embarrassing but I want to talk about the lack of counters to counters by Reese. For most of the game Marshall was running cover 2 (remember, 2 deep safeties) and loading up the box. To counter that, finally, Reese started calling screens (throwing to WRs wide near the the line of scrimmage.) But then Marshall's DC adjusted and the safeties would look to the wide side and zip down to cover the screen. Rendering the screen plays ineffective too. Now how does Reese counter that counter? Well, he didn't. Arm chair QB here, but because the safeties left their position, that leaves a hole. I think you glance or pump fake to the screen, get the safeties to bite, and then throw over the top with a post route. But, what do I know. I dunno, maybe Buchner is too inexperienced to have that explained to him and the WRs in the middle of a game.

Buchner is injured with some shoulder injury, likely out for a long time, and Drew Pyne is now QB1. Who on his first play, in the red zone, with the crowd cheering for him- throws an interception. * vomits *

I've gone on for long enough, but the defense was mostly a no show. Foskey had his first sack of the game, but was largely absent as was the rest of the DL.

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