After three weeks of having a long list of issues for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to fix, a 45-32 win over the North Carolina provided plenty of brights spots — bright enough to table a few of the lingering issues. I’ll preface everything here with of course we know UNC’s defense is bad, but that doesn’t matter right now. Notre Dame needed to execute and they did.
If you were told nothing else about this game other than the facts that Notre Dame ran for 287 yards and 3 touchdowns — you would have a pretty good picture of what happened in Chapel Hill. The Irish offensive line ripped open holes all day, and the Irish backs battered through them and past them.
Audric Estime had 17 carries on the day for 134 yards and two touchdowns — he looked exactly like the back we thought we had back in fall camp. Had it not been for trying just a little too hard at the goaline where he fumbled towards the end of the game, he very likely would have had the hat trick on the day. He looked incredible and ripped off runs of 29, 14, 10, 16, and 18 yards.
Chris Tyree also looked like a determined runner for the day and netted 80 yards and a touchdown on his 15 carries. Logan Diggs was a surprise this week with 50 yards on 10 carries. In fact — each of Notre Dame’s running backs racked up over 100 yards of offense for the day and combined for 4 touchdowns.
DREW PYNE’S RESPONSE
Even though the running backs had a banner day, we have to give Drew Pyne the respect he deserves. The Cal game left little to be desired, and the opening series against North Carolina didn’t offer anything different. And then he got it together — and then he stretched the field. Pyne completed 71% of his passes for 289 yards and three touchdowns.
While he used the obvious combos of tight ends and running backs that we’ve become accustomed to this season, the 7 targets to Lorenzo Styles and 4 targets each to Jayden Thomas and Braden Lenzy are very encouraging.
Pyne protected the football, made plays with his feet, and found open receivers through his progressions. In short, he commanded the offense that Tommy Rees called. We can’t ask for any more than that.
Irish linebacker J.D. Bertrand had to sit out for the first half of the UNC game due to a targeting call against Cal. After about 6 minutes into the 3rd quarter, Bertrand was called for another targeting call and will have to sit out the first half against the BYU Cougars in two weeks.
BIG PLAY BACK BREAKER
Notre Dame’s defense had a bit of a weird day. Overall, I thought they played quite well. North Carolina was supposed to light up the scoreboard, but the Irish held UNC to 367 yards with 287 of those yards coming from big 9 plays out of 60. The Irish forced a fumble and three, 3 and outs on the day which also included 3 sacks.
It was a good day with a couple of coverage breakdowns late.