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Notre Dame Notebook: Irish can breathe a little easier after crazy last minute against Cal

2-headed monsters

California v Notre Dame Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish did everything they needed to do to get the first win of the season — it just looked a little rough at times as the Irish put away the California Golden Bears, 24-17.


For most of the day, Notre Dame’s defensive front was very aggressive in getting after Cal QB Jack Plummer. The Irish racked up 6 sacks on the day with Jacob Lacey leading the way with two, while Jayson Ademilola and Isaiah Foskey both accounted for 1.5 sacks. The Irish were also credited with 6 quarterback hurries — but it felt like double that number.

In fact, the Irish probably left at least 4 sacks on the field with whiffs and missed tackles on Plummer. All in all, it was a day of wins up front, and they never let Call get comfortable.


Notre Dame used a combination of three running backs in its first two games. but with a Logan Diggs illness this week, the bulk of the load fell to Audric Estime and Chris Tyree. The two back were Notre Dame’s top two ball carriers for the day — but they were also the top two pass-catchers for the day as well.

Tyree accounted for 22 touches for 108 yards and a touchdown, while Estime had 21 touches for 119 yards and a touchdown. Maybe the goal for Notre Dame moving forward should be more of two and less of three.


It was an incredibly shaky start for Drew Pyne in the football game. He missed a number of easy throws, mishandled the ball several times, and ultimately fumbled the ball away to put Cal in position for their first touchdown drive. It was enough to make Tommy Rees throw a fit on the phone (the video of which was seen by Pyne prior to the postgame presser).

But he stayed out there and battled. He didn’t throw an interception, and was able to get the ball out to playmakers around him to help move the chains. It wasn’t perfect or pretty or what we want to see 5 weeks from now, but it helped win the game. He was 17-23 for 150 yards and 2 touchdowns — which has a very Ian Book feel to it.


This was Marcus Freeman’s first win as the Notre Dame head coach and at least the ending will be memorable. In those final four minutes the Irish punted away a chance to drive an ending home, had an interception by Clarance Lewis get called back because of targeting, had a Tariq Bracy fumble return for touchdown get overturned by replay, and then Cal had a Hail Mary pass that bounced all over the place before it finally fell to the turf.

While Freeman was all smiles after the game, one of the very first mentions he made to the media was that winning is hard.

Because it is.