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Irish Report Card: Clemson 31, Notre Dame 23

Written by Phil Kowalis|Writer|X/Twitter: @PhilKowalisIT

Photo By The Irish Tribune

That thud you heard Saturday afternoon was the door being slammed shut on Notre Dame's NY6 bowl chances after the Irish suffered their second inexplicable loss of the season 31-23 to a Clemson Tiger team that entered the game begging to be put out of their misery in what had been a forgettable season for the Tigers. Instead, despite missing key starters on both sides of the ball, the Tigers thoroughly outplayed the Irish in all three phases of the game to send the Irish to their third loss of the season. The Irish offense moved the ball efficiently in the first half, but could not find the endzone on three trips deep into Clemson territory.

Clemson took advantage of two Irish turnovers to build a commanding 24-9 lead at the half.

The Notre Dame defense held the Tigers to a lone touchdown in the second half and repeatedly gave the Irish offense a chance to claim a come from behind victory, but the Notre Dame offense could only muster 60 yards of total offense on their final six possessions of the game.

Notre Dame drops to 7-3 on the season and leaves the Irish with two meaningless games remaining in the season after the team's final bye week of the season.

Let's take a look at the grades for the Irish in the loss to Clemson.


Offensive Line/Tight Ends: Grade C -

The Notre Dame offensive line played a solid overall game against the Tigers as the Irish offensive front paved the way for 183 yards on the ground on 31 carries for an average of 5.9 yards per attempt but once again struggled in crucial short yardage situations as the Irish were not able to punch the ball into the endzone after having first and goal from the three-yard line late in the first half.

The Irish tight ends were nonexistent in the passing game as Holden Staes had the only catch for the Notre Dame tight ends.

Quarterback/Running Backs: Grade: D

My mother always said if you can't say anything nice say nothing at all, so all I will say about the play of Notre Dame quarterback Sam Hartman is thanks for the effort you have given this season.

Hartman struggled mightily against the Tigers defense finishing the day completing only 13 of his 30 pass attempts for 146 yards and was intercepted twice.

Hartman has four interceptions and zero touchdowns over the past two weeks.

Audric Estime looked to be in the midst of having a huge game as the Irish running back had 78 yards rushing in the first half but inexplicably had only two carries over the last 28 minutes of the game despite Notre Dame only trailing by one score for most of the second half.

Estime finished the game with 87 yards on 17 carries good for a 5.1 yard average. Estime also caught four passes for 33 yards.

Wide Receivers: Grade F

The Irish receivers continue to struggle to provide any production in the passing game this season as the group was limited to eight catches good for only 106 yards and no touchdowns.

Chris Tyree led the group with four catches, but they garnered only 29 yards.

Former walk-on Jordan Faison continues to make the case that he may be Notre Dame's best wide receiver catching two passes for 32 yards.


Defensive Line: Grade C

The Notre Dame defense struggled in the first half as the Clemson offense produced 17 of their 24 points in the opening 30 minutes. Clemson running back Phil Mafah had a huge day finishing with 186 yards rushing and two scores on 36 attempts.

The Irish defense played much better in the second half and kept giving the Notre Dame offense multiple chances to produce the tying score.

Rylie Mills led the defensive line with eight tackles and Howard Cross continued his strong play with seven tackles.

Javontae Jean Baptiste was once again all over the field for the Irish with a sack and 2.5 tackles for loss.

Linebackers: Grade B-

Jack Kiser led the Irish linebackers with with nine tackles seven of them being solo.

JD Bertrand also had a good day with six tackles and was also credited with breaking up two passes.

Secondary: Grade B

The Irish secondary had an up and down day much like the defense as a whole.

The Notre Dame secondary limited Clemson quarterback Cade Klubnik to 109 yards passing and allowed only a 50 percent completion percentage on the day but did allow a touchdown pass in the first half as Clemson built a big lead.

DJ Brown led the secondary with five tackles, Benjamin Morrison was credited with three pass break ups and Xavier Watts had an interception for the third straight week, bringing his season total to 7.

Special Teams: Grade C

After producing return touchdowns the previous two games, the Notre Dame return unit was kept off the scoreboard.

Chris Tyree did muff a punt that led to a Tigers field goal in the first half.

Spencer Shrader made three field goals as he accounted for all of Notre Dame's first half points.


Clemson turned two Notre Dame turnovers into 10 points and provided the margin of victory for the Tigers in their upset of the Irish.

The Notre Dame defense held Clemson to under 300 yards of total offense but the Irish could not overcome the costly turnovers, as the offense continues to struggle.

Notre Dame has their final bye week of the season this week and returns to action in two weeks to host Wake Forest on Senior Day at Notre Dame Stadium.

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Nov 08, 2023

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