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Sun Bowl Success: Angeli, Irish Surge Past OSU

By Liam Farrell|Senior Staff Writer|Twitter/X: @LiamFarrell_IT


Via Notre Dame Football


EL PASO, TX. - The Fighting Irish wasted no time making their presence known in the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl. An offense led by Sophomore QB Steve Angeli produced 14 first-half points, with major contributions from Freshman Jeremiyah Love and Jordan Faison, along with Jayden Thomas. The revamped offensive line held their own in this one, as well, with highly-touted Freshman Charles Jagusah stealing the show. On the defensive side of the ball, Al Golden had a clear gameplan coming into this game, which was to pressure Oregon State on every opportunity possible. The defensive was outstanding in this one, and rookie newcomers Jaylen Sneed and Christian Gray filled in seamlessly. This Sun Bowl win was a great way to end the year and get second-year Head Coach Marcus Freeman his first double digit win season. Let's breakdown the 40-8 victory from all sides of the ball.


Offense


Steve Angeli. Angeli had a very impressive showing in his first collegian start, throwing for 232 yards with 3 TDs. Angeli's mobility and athleticism were the two components that stood out to me in this one. He appeared to be way more comfortable when he was navigating outside the pocket, rather than sitting in the pocket. Angeli had great success when rolling out to his right and was in command of the offense. Hopefully Angeli stays for the 2024 season because he displayed that he is a significantly capable backup quarterback.


Run Game Success. After Audric Estime opted out of this bowl game for the 2024 NFL Draft, the Notre Dame running back room lost their superstar. However, this didn't stop interim Offensive Coordinator Gino Guidugli from leaning on the run game in this one. The two-man-tandem of Jeremiyah Love and JD Price were keeping the Beavers on their toes in this one. Steve Angeli even had success in the RPO game running the ball. The Irish were getting whatever they wanted when they put the ball on the ground, which was an encouraging site.





Offensive Line Dominance. After the transfer of starting Center Zeke Correll and the two NFL draft opt outs in All-American Joe Alt and Blake Fisher, the Irish were left with an inexperienced offensive line. Nonetheless, the departures of these three players seemed to not matter in the end, as the Irish maintained physical dominance over the Oregon State front 7. Freshman Charles Jagusah was the biggest standout in this one, but all players on the line played a fantastic game. Since the Correll injury, Ashton Craig has established himself as a bona-fide stud at the Center position, as well.


Mike Brown Impact. While Faison and Thomas sure made him look good, Mike Brown is inheriting the most talented wide receiver room he has ever coached. Jordan Faison ended with 115 yards and a touchdown. Faison has established himself as a high quality college football player, not only because of his speed, but his spectacular hands and route running abilities. A fully healthy Jayden Thomas also made his presence felt, recording 59 yards and a touchdown, as well.


Defense


Keeping the Beavers Off-Schedule. The Notre Dame defense did a fantastic job keeping the Beavers behind the sticks on all offensive drives. This allowed for Golden to dial up his blitzes on third downs, which left the Beaver offense struggling. The inexperienced Oregon State offensive line was apparent in this one as Javontae Jean-Baptiste was getting his way on almost every rep. This pressure was getting to Oregon State QB Ben Gulbranson all day, and the Irish defense never let him get comfortable.


Al Golden Finishes his 2023 Masterclass. Al Golden has been fantastic all year round. I have sung his praises year-in and year-out, and rightfully so. He held Oregon State to 196 total yards, along with forcing the Beavers to go 1 for 9 on third down. It is imperative that the Irish keep Golden for the 2024 season as he has established himself as a top-tier defensive coordinator in all of college football.


Young Guns Fill in Perfectly. The Sun Bowl was the perfect opportunity for Marcus Freeman and his staff to see what they have in their young talent. This was the perfect showcase to see where Freeman might need to recruit in the transfer portal, if need be, and honestly, there were no real holes from the younger players in this one. The cornerback trio of Benjamin Morrison, Jaden Mickey, and Christian Gray is one that will be near the best in all of college football next year. Jaylen Sneed is another face that will make a significant impact at the linebacker position next year. The Irish's future is absurdly bright, especially on the defensive side of the ball.





Special Teams and Miscellaneous


Spencer Shrader. This 2023 rollercoaster season in the kicking game ended on-brand for Shrader who missed his 50-yard field goal attempt but made a 44-yarder. It has sure been a "hold-your-breathe" year during FGs, but in the end, I was slightly happy by the work the USF transfer put in this year.


Fake Punt Stop. Oregon State decided to push the envelope late in the 2nd quarter trying a fake punt on 4th and 6 on their own 49. The play was snuffed out by Josh Burnham and Jaden Mickey who provided the Irish with excellent field position. This propelled the Irish to score their second touchdown of the first half.


Lack of Penalties. In a game where Notre Dame had plenty of players playing their first college game, discipline could have been an issue. This was simply not the case, as the Irish only had 3 penalties which resulted in only 14 yards. This speaks volumes to the work done by the position coaches getting the young players ready for this big spot.


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