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Irish Report Card: Week 0

Written by Phil Kowalis |Writer |Twitter: @PhilKowalisIT


Photo by ON3


Notre Dame opened the season in style with a dominate win over Navy in Dublin, Ireland. The Irish jumped out to a 14-0 lead after one quarter of play and were never really challenged by the Midshipmen. Notre Dame turned in a nearly flawless performance in posting the 42-3 victory. Let's look at how each position group performed in the season opening win over Navy.


Offense:


Offensive Line/ Tight Ends - Grade B+

The Notre Dame offensive line dominated this game from the opening snap as the Irish front had one of their best season opening performances in recent memory.

Any concerns about the performance of Junior guards Pat Coogan and Rocco Spindler were quickly put to rest as Coogan and Spindler along with center Zeke Correll opened gaping holes for the Notre Dame running backs as the Irish used the interior running game to perfection on an opening drive capped by a 1-yard Audric Estime touchdown plunge.

The Irish line paved the way for 194 rushing yards on 32 carries averaging six yards per carry for the contest and did not allow a single sack of quarterback Sam Hartman.

The only negative for the group was the lack of production of the tight ends in the passing game, and tight end Mitchell Evans being called for holding on the opening series of the game.


Quarterback/Running backs - Grade A+

Sam Hartman was nearly perfect in his Irish debut completing 19 of 23 passes for 254 yards and four touchdowns in the game. Hartman also displayed a calmness in the pocket that was lacking from the position last season. The Irish ground attack was led by Audric Estime's 95 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, good for a 5.9 yard per carry average. Jadarian Price also found paydirt for the Irish offense on a 19-yard scamper that increased the Irish lead to 14-0 in the opening quarter. Freshman Jeremiyah Love made his debut rushing for 40 yards on four carries, as all five Irish running backs managed to see the field in the blowout win.


Wide Receivers - Grade B

While no individual produced eye-catching numbers, the group as a whole had a very solid season opener. Freshman Jaden Greathouse had a strong debut for the Irish making three catches for 68 yards and two touchdowns. Jayden Thomas led the team in catches with four for 63 yards, and he also added a touchdown catch. Deion Colzie added three catches and a touchdown, and new slot addition Chris Tyree had three catches in his first start as a slot receiver.


Photo by the Baltimore Sun


Defense:


Defensive line - Grade A-

It took a couple of possessions for the Notre Dame defensive front to get a handle on Navy's triple option, but once the Irish front settled into the game, they turned in a solid performance.

Howard Cross and Rylie Mills clogged the middle most of the day, limiting Navy fullback Daba Fofana to just 32 yards on 16 carries after Fofana torched the Irish defense in last season's matchup. Cross and strong side defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste led the Irish front line with four tackles each, and Mills and Josh Burnham added sacks of Navy quarterback Tai Lavatai.


Linebackers - Grade A

The Notre Dame linebackers turned in a fantastic performance playing fast and roaming sideline to sideline to shut down the Navy running game as the unit helped the Irish defense hold the Midshipmen to only 126 yards rushing on 48 carries for the game, a 2.6-yard per carry average. Jack Kiser led the linebacking corps with eight total tackles six of them solo, and Marist Liufau added seven total tackles four of them being solo.


Defensive Backs - Grade B-

The Notre Dame secondary did not face much of a challenge from the Navy offense as the Midshipmen only attempted a total of seven passes for the game completing only three for a total of 43 yards. The opportunity was there for the Navy offense to hit on a couple of big plays through the air, as twice Navy receivers were running wide open through the Irish secondary only to have the pass be off the mark. The Notre Dame defensive backs did play well against the run reacting aggressively to stop Navy ball carriers from being able to turn the corner and pick up big yardage.


Special Teams - Grade C

The Irish special teams unit did not play a big role in this one as punter Bryce McFerson never took the field to attempt a punt, and six of kicker Spencer Shrader's kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. Shrader was perfect on all six point after touchdown attempts, but did miss his only field goal attempt a 42-yarder late in the third quarter. The Irish kick return team was just average on the day, as Gi'Bran Payne returned two kickoffs for 41 yards averaging 20.5 yards a return and Tyree returned one punt for 11 yards.


Overall

It was a fun day to be a fan of Notre Dame football as the Irish took an early lead and unlike past games against Navy never let the Midshipman get back into the contest as they cruised to an easy opening victory. Most importantly the Irish came out of the game without suffering any major injuries (Gabe Rubio is expected to return for Ohio State). Notre Dame fans should be in for a similar performance next week as the Irish host Tennessee State in their home opener. It will be the first time in school history that Notre Dame will face an FCS opponent.


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