Now that was more like it! The Irish were able to cruise to a 52-0 victory over the South Florida Bulls on Saturday and improve to 2-0 on the season. After getting off to a much faster start offensively, this was the Notre Dame performance that we were all hoping for. Granted, it wasn’t 100% mistake free, but that is ok. With major improvements observed after week one, the Irish showed their ability to assert their dominance over inferior opponents.
When taking a deeper dive into the stat lines from Saturday’s victory, I couldn’t help but laugh at some that stood out to me. In a 52-0 victory, I would have expected for Book to have at least one passing touchdown. Nope, that wasn’t the case. Book finished his outing completing 12 of his 19 attempts for 143 yards in the air. Granted, the Irish were never in a position where they needed to really throw the ball as the damage done on the ground was sufficient, but that was still interesting to see. While staying on Book’s game stats, he did carry the ball four times for a total of nine yards…but three touchdowns! Yes, you read that right, nine total yards on the ground but three TDs – another line that made me laugh. The Notre Dame offensive line was able to get their push and provide the holes and leverage for the Irish rushing attack.
On the ground, we continue to see the carousel of backs getting touches and racking up the yards. This week, C’Bo Flemister took over, getting 13 carries for 127 yards and one touchdown. Chris Tyree added eight carries for 65 yards and one touchdown while week one standout, Kyren Williams, tacked on 10 carries for an additional 62 yards. I think that all of Notre Dame’s running backs are extremely talented and I am very interested to see how the Irish coaching staff continues to use them in the weeks to come. Being able to provide that rotation and variance in running styles could prove to be extremely valuable throughout the season. With Ian Book’s day ending early after the Irish jumped to a commanding lead, we got an in-game look at freshman quarterback Drew Pyne. Pyne was responsible for completing one of two passes for five yards and added on one run for four yards. With the lead that the Irish had built up, I was hoping to see more “game time scenarios” given to Pyne. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to still allow him to run 80% of the normal playbook – not constantly handing the ball off – so that if he does need to come in later in the season, he has these reps under his belt. Pyne came in as a four star prospect and the seventh ranked pro-style quarterback in his class. I would have loved to see the coaching staff give him the full reigns, but that will have to be in another game.
Defensively, linebacker Jack Kiser led the Irish with seven tackles and was the recipient of the game ball. In case you haven’t seen yet, Kiser was so excited about this accomplishment that he carried the game ball with him into his post-game press conference. Definitely worth the watch! Houston Griffith and Clarence Lewis both totaled five tackles a piece and took care of the Irish secondary with Kyle Hamilton not playing. Lewis came to Note Dame as a high three star recruit but I was very please with his performance, confidence, and football IQ shown on Saturday. I think he has a very bright future ahead of him.
Taking a quick look at the South Florida side of the ball, the Bulls – using the combination of Jordan McCloud and Noah Johnson – were held to 125 total passing yards. Johnny Ford was the leading rusher accounting for 70 yards on six carries. The Irish defense didn’t have many problems shutting down the Bulls attack. Now the question arrises: was that due to Notre Dame’s true dominance or South Florida’s lack of skill? In my opinion, it was a combination of both. Yes, it was an awesome win for the Irish that showed the improvements that we were looking for after a shaky first performance, but I believe that we will continue to know more after our upcoming game against Wake Forest. In Saturday’s contest against South Florida, Irish kicker Jonathan Doerer was one for two on field goals which proved to be insignificant, but in games down the road (specifically Clemson), all scoring opportunities are going to be imperative. I know, that’s really searching for something to be “down” on after a shutout victory, but luckily there is still plenty of time before that ACC showdown.
Overall, what’s there not to be happy about when the Irish pitch a shutout? Both sides of the ball showed jumps from week one and that’s what it’s all about. With the Irish having numerous players out (some with injuries and some for other undisclosed reasons), those who did see the field stepped up and took care of business. At 2-0, the Irish are ranked seventh in the nation and take on Wake Forest this Saturday.