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Irish Dominate Trojans on All Ends, Secure Signature Win

By Liam Farrell|Senior Staff Writer|Twitter/X: @LiamFarrell_IT


Via Notre Dame Football


Notre Dame played their most complete game of the season in their 48-20 thrashing of arch-rival USC. With the Irish coming off their second loss of the season in a brutal fashion to Louisville, the Notre Dame defense was met with the task of corralling the reigning Heisman trophy winner; and man, did they step up. By collecting three interceptions, which all resulted in touchdowns, the Notre Dame defense deserves to take a bow. Al Golden deserves all the credit in the world for formulating such a brilliant gameplan. Caleb Williams looked like he was seeing ghosts all game, and could never get comfortable in the pocket. The Irish pass rush continued to get pressure on him and force him to make plenty of bad decisions. On the opposite end of the ball, Audric Estime and the Notre Dame offensive line took control in the second half and established their dominance in the trenches. Jadarian Price also completely shifted the tide with a 99-yard kickoff return early in the fourth quarter. It was quite the night for Notre Dame fans, and something they deserved after a brutal three week stretch. Let's take a look at this one.


Offense


Via Notre Dame Football


Converting on Turnovers. Caleb Williams is one heck of a quarterback. He is brilliant and without a doubt should be the number one overall pick; however, he struggled mightily with protecting the ball in tonight's game. With that being said, the Notre Dame offense did a great job turning those turnovers into 7 points a pop.


Physicality. Notre Dame wanted to go into this game and establish their dominance. The best way to do so is handing the ball off to the nation's premier big back, Audric Estime. Two early touchdowns by Estime had the offense being efficient with the great field position they were being granted in this one.


Hartman Still Performs on an Off Night. Sam Hartman looked out of sink in this one. On the drives that the Irish weren't blessed with great field position, the Notre Dame offense struggled. Hartman had a couple questionable decisions trying to move the ball downfield, instead of taking what was in front of him. He also had a couple throws to tight ends off the mark which stalled drives and ended in quite a few punts. However, in the third quarter facing back-to-back three and outs, Hartman orchestrated a big touchdown drive that ended with a 46-yard bomb to Chris Tyree.


Defense

Via Notre Dame Football


Xavier Watts. With a safety room that received some questions at the beginning of the season, Xavier Watts made the progression every Notre Dame fan wanted him to make. Some injuries and position turmoil halted his development; however, the kid is currently playing like a man possessed. He has a great knack for finding the ball and putting himself in a great position to make the play: tonight, he displayed that he is a big time performer. Two interceptions, a scoop and score, and a forced fumble, might have people label this the "The Xavier Watts game."


Al Golden. A lot of people hate on Al Golden and I don't understand it. Besides the Louisville game, Golden has done a great job through and through. Tonight, Golden had a great gameplan going into this one. He pressured Williams at every turn, and trusted in his secondary to make the needed plays.


Defensive Line. The D-Line played a good game from all standpoints. They limited the big run play from the tandem backs Jones and Lloyd, along with getting consistent pressure on Williams. On the second Watts interception, Howard Cross got a hand on the ball and deflected the ball, as well. Also, Javontae Jean-Baptiste did a great job containing Williams for a majority of the night.


Secondary as a Whole. The secondary had the tallest task in front of them tonight. Golden bought into sending pressure and not having much help on the backend. The Secondary responded in an extremely positive way, and did a great job in their downfield coverage, especially when Williams was running around in the backfield extending plays. Benjamin Morrison had a great interception, while also doing a great job making open field tackles.


Special Teams


Just Punt it Out of Bounds. Zach Branch is an elite talent. That was displayed in all facets of his game, especially on special teams. Notre Dame should've just treated him like he's Adoree Jackson, and just kick the ball away from him and mitigate any possible big returns.


JD Price. I really loved Marty Biagi's three back on the kickoff formation and it was something USC wasn't prepared for. When Notre Dame needed a big upcoming drive from their offense, Jadarian Price said, "I got you". The 99-yard touchdown return killed all of USC's momentum after their big touchdown.


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