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South Bend But Don't Break: In Depth Stats, Onto Louisville

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

Photo by Yahoo Sports


This past weekend was an emotional roller coaster to say the least. Controversial penalties, confusing offensive play calls, blown coverages, we saw it all. Until 2:33 left in the 4th quarter, the Irish had other plans. Today we're going to take an in depth look into some notable Irish players that had extremely impressive stat lines that led to the 30th straight win over an ACC opponent with a 21-14 victory over the #19 ranked Blue Devils on the road, as well as looking ahead into a sneak peek for Notre Dame's third consecutive ranked primetime matchup, again on the road - this time against #25 Louisville.

Photo by Athlon Sports


I think majority of the Irish fans, and maybe some college football fans around the world expected one thing, except for the College Gameday hosts: Notre Dame would blow Duke out of the water. This obviously did not happen. Credit to Duke for putting up a heck of a fight, they definitely proved to be one of the leagues top defenses. The offense obviously struggled all game converting just 3/15 on 3rd Down, the lowest all season, however, converting on all three of their attempted 4th Down Conversions including Hartman's run on the final drive. The offense seemed as if they couldn't get a first down all night in the second half of that game except for the opening drive, as they punted on three consecutive drives until the final drive. The final drive alone consisted of an offensive pass interference, defensive pass interference, two dropped interceptions, the gutsy 4th down conversion by Hartman, and the final stab in the heart, the 30 yard run from, in my personal opinion, Heisman Candidate Audric Estime. The Irish defense held one of the NFL's top 15 QB prospects to just 134 yards through the air, but he was also the Blue Devils' leading rusher (88 yards) putting up more yards than Notre Dame's leading rusher, Estime (81 Yards). Notre Dame finally capitalized on turnovers as they forced two including the game sealing sack/fumble from Howard Cross who played absolutely out of his mind with his first career double digit tackle performance. However, Cross wasn't the only Irish defender who hit double digit tackle numbers as Captain LB J.D. Bertrand put up his season high of 11 total tackles. One of the biggest takeaways from this weekend was that this was definitely the most hostile environment Notre Dame has played on the road all season. The amount of false starts was extremely frustrating for all fans, especially considering the seniority of the offensive line. Notre Dame managed to notch 12 total penalties for 70 yards, and walked out with a win... somehow.

Photo by ON3


Going more in-depth into some stat lines from key players on Saturday, the most noticeable line is either Howard Cross or Mitchell Evans. If you watched the game, it felt like you saw these two guys on both sides of the ball just about every other play. Starting with Evans, Hartman was already without his top 2 targets being Jayden Thomas (Hamstring) and true freshman Jaden Greathouse (Hamstring), that didn't stop the connection of Hartman to Evans. Duke had not let up a pass gain for 10 or more yards until they played Notre Dame, and sure enough the Irish attacked with a 28 yard gain to - you guessed it - Mitchell Evans, for the first passing play of the game. A few guys in that thin WR core stepped up to the challenge but none more than Evans did as a tight end. Evans was the only pass catcher on the Irish roster that recorded more than 4 receptions - Evans had 6. He was also the only one who recorded more than 30 receiving yards. Evans managed to amass a career high 134 yards and is now the team's receiving leader in terms of receptions and yardage. Although he didn't get in the end zone, he got the Irish down the field when it mattered most, including another incredible one handed tip drill catch early in the game. Another guy people may have missed, but had a very impressive outing was Jeremiyah Love despite his small workload. On five carries, Love rushed for 44 yards. As if I need to mention again, if you don't agree with the Heisman comment on Audric Estime, then you haven't been watching the same games as I have. Estime currently leads all FBS running backs with 672 total yards rushing as well as sharing the third highest amount of rushing touchdowns on the board with 7 total so far, and many more to follow, along with being in the top 10 for yards per carry with 7.07 on average. Proving again, that Notre Dame might just have the best Running Back core in the NCAA.

Photo by USA Today


Onto Howard Cross, who is the team's new leading tackler with 35 total. Cross had an incredibly impressive performance putting up a team-high 13 tackles, 3.5 being TFL's, and the game-sealing forced fumble. It seemed like Notre Dame had lacked a little on the defensive line to start the year as they couldn't find a way to put pressure on any quarterback they faced. This week that changed, the only problem was playing against one of the league's most mobile quarterbacks in Riley Leonard. The Irish managed to still sack him just twice and pressure him enough to only complete 12/27 of his passes with help from the secondary who also played very well. Leonard finished with a QBR of 47, which was a season low, as well as an interception from Xavier Watts for his second on the year.

Photo by Jaylynn Nash


The Irish are 5-1, and now halfway through the season. Just when you thought the boys get a break, here comes undefeated #25 Louisville. Now in week six of the college football season, Notre Dame will play not only their third consecutive primetime matchup, but they will play their third consecutive undefeated and ranked opponent. So hopefully the stigma of, "Notre Dame plays nobody!" is over. The Cardinals are coming off a win on the road just down the street from where the Irish were this past weekend in Raleigh, as they knocked off North Carolina State, who Notre Dame had no problem with earlier this season. I watched this game as well and it was an interesting one as I could not tell who wanted to lose this game more: Jack Plummer or Brennan Armstrong. In the end, it was Armstrong. Plummer threw for a heavy amount of passes being 32 total for 286 yards, a single touchdown, and two INTs along with a lost fumble. Louisville also ran the ball 20 times for a light 44 yards. Something this Irish front seven has struggled with is containing running backs and stopping the run, this game I'm hoping changes that. The Cardinal's offensive line allowed the Wolfpack to record 8 TFL's with 4 sacks. Again, something Notre Dame has struggled with that they look to correct this week. As for the Cardinal defense, not really sure what to expect. Currently they are ranked 37th in total defense allowing 327 yards per game. They have allowed 548 rushing yards this season and are ranked at 33rd in rushing defense, and 56th in passing defense allowing 218 passing yards per game on average from opposing quarterbacks. Sam Hartman's past with this Louisville defense isn't the best, as last season he had a whopping total of 8 turnovers, 4 fumbles and 4 interceptions to be exact. However, the critics said the same thing about North Carolina State. I'm confident our defense will show out against Louisville as well as the offense hopefully putting up more than 21 points in this game. However, we all said the same thing about Duke so let's pump the brakes and just win and get to the game we all care about next week. The Irish opened up as 6.5 point favorites on the Cardinals with an over/under set at 54. As for the fans who are attending, it's looking like a projected 60-40 ratio of Cardinal to Irish fans in L&N Federal Credit Union Stadium, so expect it to look quite like Christmas. Show up, show out, and enjoy yourselves. As always, go Irish, and beat Louisville!

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