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The al GOLDEN Standard

Written by Nick Kremer, Editor for the Irish Tribune

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Marcus Freeman has been relentless on the recruiting trail while he has been the Head Coach of Notre Dame. He has received commitments from an abundance of top targets, but the most important of them all may have been recruiting Al Golden to join his staff as the Defensive Coordinator.

In the 2021-2022 season, Ohio State was the clear leader in points per game averaging 45.7. Ohio State came into this game as having the best offense in the nation, and the Buckeyes had not scored less than 30 points in a game since 2018; the entire Ryan Day era. Day is credited as one of the nation's best play-callers with one of the nations best QB's, WR's, and RB's; a tough debut for the Irish DC, but one he was ready for.

Al Golden's defense stepped up to the nation's top offense, and stood toe to toe. The Irish held OSU to under 6 yards per play, and only one play of 30 yards or more. Notre Dame made CJ Stroud uncomfortable for most of the night, and it paid off. Stroud and the explosive OSU offense passed for 223 yards, and only 6.6 yards per attempt. For reference, Smith-Njigba had 346 yards receiving by himself in the Rose Bowl.

Major credit needs to be given to Coach O'Leary and Coach Mickens. The secondary was considered a weak point headed in to this season, and they absolutely showed out in this game. Tariq Bracy, Senior, played the best game of his career at nickel, and corner during the game. He was an absolute difference maker. Brandon Joseph showed All-American type ability, and Clarence Lewis bounced back in a big way from his disappointing bowl game performance.

We can't forget the freshman. The future is BRIGHT in the secondary, showcased by Benjamin Morrison and Jaden Mickey. Both players showed that they are headed for stardom in their near future; this is huge for Golden's defense going forward.

The front 7 of the defense had some amazing moments, and some moments that left a bit to be desired. Touted Senior DE Isaiah Foskey came in with high expectations, but was unable to make any major impact in the game. Jayson Ademilola, another returning starter with big expectations, did not have his best game. To be fair, it was clear that the OSU offensive line was MUCH improved.

JD Bertrand and the linebackers had a solid night. Bertrand did what he usually does; plays disciplined, triggers quick, and plays aggressive. Bertrand had some missed tackles, but that is to be expected against the athleticism and speed of OSU. Liufau had a solid game, but was still out of position at times. His athleticism and explosiveness still make him a key piece to this defense.

Howard Cross was the player of the game on defense (in my opinion). Although undersized, Cross continues to show an elite first step, phenomenal hands, and exceptional quickness for an inside defensive lineman. What he lacks in size, he more than makes up for in other areas. Rylie Mills was another player that stood out on the defensive line, and he will only continue to get better as he gets more reps.

All together, the outcome of the game was not what Irish Nation wanted, but there are still a lot of positives to take away from the game. The biggest positive was the Notre Dame defense. If Al Golden can continue to game plan his defense to perform like this, there will be a new defensive attitude in South Bend. A GOLDEN standard for the Irish defense; a defense that can win championships.


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