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Irish Run Through Syracuse, Look Ahead to Clemson

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☘️ Written by Nick Kremer, Editor for The Irish Tribune

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish made the trip to the JMA Dome to take on #16 Syracuse on Saturday. Syracuse came into the game with momentum coming off their close loss to Clemson. The Irish excelled in all three phases of the game to beat the Orange 41-24.

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☘️ Offensive Line/Running Game

The Notre Dame offense has officially found its identity. The game plan in this one was clear from the start; run the ball down their throat until they stop it.

Audric Estime had 20 carries for 123 yards (6.2 yards per carry) and 2 touchdowns. Logan Diggs had 20 carries for 85 yards (4.3 YPC) and 1 touchdown. Many times throughout the game Syracuse had better numbers in the box, but it was not enough to stop this rushing attack.

Harry Heistand’s offensive line is playing some phenomenal football. We are seeing the OL come off the ball well, get a great push, and finish their blocks. The group is working well together, knowing when to leave double teams, working to the second level, and knowing their pass protection assignments. Add in the excellent blocking by the TE group, and it's clear why the Irish running game has been dominant. Look for this group to continue to excel in the coming weeks.

☘️ Defensive Gameplan

Al Golden and the Notre Dame defense led the way for this victory over the Orange. Garret Shrader and Sean Tucker were playing impressive football and putting up good numbers coming into this game. Al Golden and the defense minimized their impact throughout the entire game.

The Irish defense played with a different energy and swagger in this game, and when your game plan is right, it is much easier to do that. Golden took a more aggressive approach in this game; well-timed blitzes, stunting/slanting up front, and disguised coverages. This led to Shrader going 5/14 for 35 yards (Shrader left the game at the half). Sean Tucker, arguably their best player, was held to 60 yards rushing (3.8 YPC).

Golden’s game plan was highlighted by Isaiah Foskey, Jordan Botelho, JD Bertrand, and Brandon Joseph. Isaiah Foskey finished the day with 2 tackles for loss and a sack. Jordan Botelho, who has not seen much action on defense, found himself getting some snaps and didn’t disappoint as he finished the day with 2 sacks.

Bertrand has received a lot of criticism from Irish Nation throughout this year, but he was outstanding in this game. Bertrand finished with 5 total tackles and one of those being a tackle for loss. Bertrand, and the rest of the linebackers looked extremely improved in this game, and it paved the way for the defense in this game.

Brandon Joseph started off this game the right way with a pick six. Joseph finished with 2 total tackles, 1 interception, and 3 punt returns for 23 yards. ‘This was a coming out party for Joseph, who played his best game of the year so far.” (God Country Irish)

☘️ Special Teams

Brian Mason has been an outstanding addition to this coaching staff. With all the Special Teams success Mason had at Cincinnati, it was likely that Notre Dame’s Special Teams was going to look improved, but nobody predicted it would be improved this much.

For the second week in a row, Notre Dame was able to block a punt. This brings their total to 5 blocked punts this season which is tied (South Carolina) for most in the country. God Country Irish has also been impressed with this unit “This continues to be the most exciting and impactful unit on the team.”

☘️ Deion Colzie

The Wide Receiver unit has struggled all year, and that starts with a lack of quality depth. Deion Colzie finally made an appearance in this game, and made his first significant impact in his Notre Dame career. Deion Colzie finished the day with 3 catches for 44 yards.

The emergence of Colzie could be huge for this receiver room for a variety of reasons. First, at 6’4 210 pounds, Colzie adds a combination of size and speed that is missing on the depth chart. Additionally, having more players in the rotation will help to keep the receivers fresh throughout the game and season. The Wide Receiver group is slowly starting to come together, and we just need to hope that Pyne can continue to get them the ball.

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☘️ Passing Game

Drew Pyne finished the day 9/19 for 116 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. Pyne does not seem to be improving much from game to game, and this forced the Irish to run the ball on almost 75% of the snaps against Syracuse. While the run game should be a focus against Clemson, they will not be able to control the game by just running the ball against the Tigers like they did the Orange.

If we want to beat a team like Clemson or USC, we are going to have to throw the ball more effectively. Clemson’s defensive coordinator had this to say about the upcoming game against the Irish: “You know what you have to stop. You have to stop the run game and the ball is going to No. 87” (Wes Goodwin) Tommy Rees and Drew Pyne are going to have to be better this week. Rees has to find a way to get Pyne to calm down, build some confidence, and find open receivers. If our offense is forced to be one dimensional on offense against the Tigers, the Irish may be in for a long night.

All in all this was a big win for Marcus Freeman and the Notre Dame football team. The Irish showed that they have the ability and talent to win any game that they play. For the Irish to pull off the win against #5 Clemson, Tommy Rees and the offense are going to have to find a way to get the pass game going to compliment their running game. Either way, this is setting up to be a classic, heavyweight battle at Notre Dame Stadium.


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