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Irish Report Card: Notre Dame 41, CMU 17

By Phil Kowalis ⏐ Writer ⏐ Twitter: @PhilKowalisIT

Photo By: Matt Cashore /USA Today sports


For the second week in a row Notre Dame football has turned in a performance that has

left many fans scratching their heads, wondering exactly how good this year's team will be and what the remainder of the season has instore. A 34.5-point favorite over CMU at kickoff, the Irish turned in a sloppy first half effort filled with missed tackles and assignment errors on defense and inconsistent play on offense that left the Irish leading only by seven points at halftime. The Irish regrouped after intermission to play a much stronger second half to post a fairly convincing 24-point victory and improve to 4-0 on the season. Let's take a look at how the Irish's grades in the win over the Chippewas.


Photo By: Matt Cashore/USAToday Sports


Offense:

Offensive line/Tight Ends: Grade - B

Once again, the offensive line turned in an inconsistent performance struggling at times to open running lanes against an undersized CMU defensive front. The Notre Dame line finally started to find success in the second half wearing down the CMU defense and opening gaping holes for Audric Estime to run through.


The Irish front did not allow a sack of quarterback Sam Hartman, but Hartman did spend time running for his life and took several nasty looking hits that saw Hartman limp to the sideline on multiple occasions.


The Offensive line, despite their struggles, still managed to pave the way for 236 yards rushing on 37 attempts, good for an average of 6.4 yards per attempt. Irish tight ends were only targeted twice in the game and Holden Staes pulled in the only catch, a one-handed grab of a 4-yard touchdown pass from Sam Hartman for Notre Dame's final touchdown of the day.


Quarterback/Running Backs: Grade - A

Sam Hartman torched the Chippewas secondary for 330 yards and three touchdowns on the day. Hartman connected with Tobias Merriweather for a 75-yard touchdown pass on Notre Dame's opening position of the game. He later added a 76-yard strike to Chris Tyree in the second quarter to put Notre Dame up 21-7. Audric Estime led the Irish ground attack with 176 yards and 1 touchdown on the afternoon.


Wide Receivers Grade: - B

After not recording a catch last week at North Carolina State, Jayden Thomas led all receivers with four catches for 63-yards and Rico Flores Jr. added three catches for 60-yards as wide receivers grabbed 13 of Hartman's 16 completions on the day. Dion Colzie was once again missing in action, failing to record a catch for the third straight game.

Photo By: Matt Cashore/USAToday Sports


Defense:

Defensive Line: Grade - B-

Defensive line struggled for much of the first half as they found themselves being pushed off the line of scrimmage by the Chippewas offensive line. The group rebounded in the second half holding the Chippewas to a total of 131-yards on 34 carries on the afternoon. Rylie Mills led the defensive line in tackles with five, all of which were solo, and Donovan Hinish chipped in with four.


Linebackers: Grade - B-

The absence of defensive captain J.D. Bertrand had an effect on the defense throughout the first half as the Irish defense struggled with missed assignments and poor tackling. Like the rest of the defense, the linebackers regrouped and played much better in the second half.

Jack Kiser led the linebackers with 10 tackles on the day and had one of Notre Dame's two sacks of Chippewa quarterback Jase Bauer. Marist Liufau added two tackles for a linebacker group that at times seemed to lack aggressiveness.


Secondary: Grade - B

Other than the one blown coverage that resulted in a 31-yard completion to Tyson Davis that set up the Chippewas final touchdown of the game, and a very controversial pass-interference penalty against Jaden Mickey, the Irish secondary had a very solid afternoon. Safety Xavier Watts led the secondary with five tackles and one pass break-up. Thomas Harper contributed four tackles, a sack and forced a fumble. The secondary held CMU to 137-yards passing on the day as Bauer completed only half of his total attempts for the game.


Special Teams: Grade - C

The special teams unit struggled on the afternoon. Chris Tyree had two blunders in the punt return game, fielding one punt inside his 10-yard line that resulted in poor field position and not catching a second Chippewa punt allowing the punt to roll deep into Irish territory. Again, leaving Notre Dame with poor field position. Kicker Spencer Shrader also was penalized for having a kickoff go out of bounds.


Shrader was perfect on all five PAT attempts and was two of three on field goal attempts, with his only miss coming on a 59-yard attempt in the second quarter. Shrader did make a 50-yarder in the second half. Punter Bryce McFerson had another solid game, averaging 49-yards on his two punt attempts.


Overall:

The Irish have plenty to work on ahead of their top-10 matchup against Ohio State next weekend at Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish will have to have much better play along both the offensive and defensive lines in order to come out victorious against the Buckeyes. Notre Dame will also need to clean up the penalty issues which have now plagued them for the past two weeks, as the Irish have been penalized 18 times between their last two contests.

Ohio State will enter the matchup against the Irish with a 3-0 record, after defeating Western Kentucky University by a score of 63-10.




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