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Irish Fall On The Road Again, Questions Arise: Postgame Review Inside The Numbers

Written by Cade Harper|Writer|Twitter/X: @CadeHarperIT


Notre Dame falls on the road yet again against an ACC opponent for the second time this season, recently moving them to #22 in the most recent AP poll. Hartman struggles continue, coaching questions arise, something needs to change. The defense looked spectacular in places but the offense simply could never capitalize on the opportunities given to them. What do the numbers tell us about Saturday's disappointing loss? Offense - Bad, Defense - Still good, pretty much to dumb it down. The numbers are quite frightening, fair warning.

Photo by Clemson Athletics


So do we want bad news or good news first? I say let's get rid of the bad news first so we can go into the bye week on somewhat of a positive. So the bad part of Saturday was obviously the offense I think we can all agree, Hartman having a yet another bad game, Parker's very questionable play calling and so called "execution". And apparently, the defense not being able to even slow down Clemson's back up running back, Phil Mafah, who absolutely torched the Irish for 186 yards and 2 Touchdowns on, checks notes, 36 carries? Sure sounds like someone knows how to use their best player on the field. Speaking of best player, Audric Estime had a total of 17 carries on Saturday, 3 of them came in the second half. Three. On top of that, attempting to fool Clemson's defense didn't come so easy, but that's also because Parker didn't even attempt to fool anyone, except the fans when he called for Hartman to throw multiple 3rd down screen plays. Notre Dame called a grand whopping total of 2 play action passes the entire game, that's accounting for 6% of total drop backs from Hartman, just after 40% of the drop backs a week ago in Notre Dame's 58 point win over Pitt. To make this sound even crazier, despite being 0-5 vs Clemson in his career, Hartman threw 6 touchdowns for 337 yards with a play action on 54% of his drop backs when he was in a Wake Forest uniform. Now this is what's interesting, Notre Dame's offense averages 6.81 yards per play, ranked 13th nationally in that category, and then 2nd in all time school history. Notre Dame also averages 36.8 points per game, which is ranked 15th across the nation and is currently tied for 6th in school history. Now against power 5 opponents? The Irish rank 21st in scoring and 23rd in yards per play. You can take this information for what you will. For more on Hartman having yet another bad game, he is now 31/55 (56% completion rating), 0 Touchdowns, 4 Interceptions in his last two games, a very rough back to back outings for a guy with incredible experience. Matter of fact, the same guy who threw for a touchdown pass in his last 31 games while at Wake Forest, is yet to throw for a single touchdown pass in three of the past five games.





As far as the defense goes, there was a lot of good and very little bad. An extremely strong second half allowing just seven points wasn't enough and gave the offense multiple chances to go and tie this ball game. On the last 6 drives, Notre Dame managed to gain a grand total of 44 yards along with an interception and a turnover on downs, Estime had 2 carries on those last 6 drives and only one more of those would come in the second half. The defense stopped Klubnik and the Tiger offense several times, yet the Irish offense simply could never capitalize. Notre Dame outgained Clemson by 44 yards, 329 to 285, more in both passing and rushing, yet it felt like the offense could never move the ball downfield. Safe to say the turnovers killed this team on Saturday as it resulted in 10 points for the Tigers, Notre Dame finished with 3 total.





Before we get to the good-ish news, we need to discuss the Irish rushing defense. Phil Mafah, a guy who was supposedly given the start for Saturday's game approximately 4 hours or more based off what media reports have said, had a career day. By career day I quite literally mean career day. The guy had 36 total carries, career high, 186 yards, career high, and 2 Touchdowns, tying his career high. At multiple points throughout the game, he was averaging 10+ yards a carry, which isn't human-like to most people. The Irish now rank 40th in the nation in the rushing defense category, and 7th in the nation for total defense after being within the top 4 just last week, Clemson is now also ahead of Notre Dame at 6th.





Onto somewhat of the good news, Notre Dame has a bye week next week. Just kidding. The Notre Dame pass defense continues to absolutely dominate. They allowed just 109 passing yards, and forced yet again, another turnover. Who was credited the turnover you ask? The nation's leader in interceptions, with seven, Senior Safety who started his Notre Dame career as a Wide Receiver, Xavier Watts. This performance ranks the Irish 2nd in passing yards allowed, 3rd in total interceptions, tied for 2nd in total turnovers, 3rd in pass efficiency defense, and 7th in total defense. Very impressive stuff from Al Golden despite allowing the big game from Phil Mafah. Another nice fact to know is that Estime played a phenomenal 1st half of football, saying first half only because I want everyone to know how frustrating it is that the best running back in the country only received 3 carries in the second half in what was a one score game for most of the football game. 17 carries, 87 yards, and another score. Audric's touchdown count is now up to a total of 13, Blake Corum from Michigan leads with 16. I just want to make it very known, in Notre Dame's 3 losses, Audric Estime doesn't have 20+ carries. To jump towards the passing offense, it was very evident Hartman missed his favorite target in Mitchell Evans who will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Rico Flores led receivers with 35 yards despite having just one catch. Estime and Tyree tied for the team high 4 catches in Saturday's game. Final notes : It will be very interesting how Notre Dame football, much less athletics as a whole, will be with AD Jack Swarbrick stepping down next to Father Jenkins next year. Maybe some coaching changes, maybe everything stays the same, who knows? Now headed into the Irish second bye week on a loss, there's a lot to improve on before they return home for Senior Day in Notre Dame Stadium when they will host Hartman's former team, 4-5 Wake Forest.



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