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Vegas Hangover? Notre Dame Upset by Stanford - Stock Up/Stock Down

Written by Nick Kremer, Editor for the Irish Tribune



Recovering from Vegas can be a challenge at times, but nobody thought the hangover would result in a loss. Notre Dame took on Stanford Saturday night at home under the lights. What was setup to be a big night for the Irish quickly turned to disaster as Stanford beat Notre Dame 16-14.


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Photo from uhnd.com



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Offense

Stanford rolled into South Bend with 11 straight losses to FBS opponents, and their defense came into the game ranked as one of the worst in the country. The Irish offense started the game with a penalty, and that was a sign of things to come for this game.


Notre Dame has shown the last couple of weeks that a dominant running game is their identity. With three very capable running backs, the running game was not as effective as it should have been. The Notre Dame offense has shown that they do better when they are running gap-scheme, down-hill plays. This has always been a strength for Heistand coached Olines. For some reason, we did not see as big of an emphasis on this style of running game against Stanford. Rees, instead, opted to go with more slow-developing, zone scheme running plays.


This is a Stanford team that gave up more than 200 yards rushing per game. The fact that the running game was not emphasized correctly, and more often in this game, is a huge concern. For a team that claims to start up-front, the play calling did not reflect that attitude in this game.


Notre Dame struggled on 3rd down in this game converting only 3 of 12, which is not a ratio that can produce a winning product. On top of that, the Irish struggled to take care of the football with 2 lost fumbles. Additionally, the Notre Dame offense struggled in the red-zone; this is a formula for losing to a bad team at home. The Irish offense has to figure some things out, and figure them out fast.



Energy/Fight

The most disappointing part of the Freeman Era up to this point has been the lack of energy and fight from this team. Because Marcus Freeman is a young, energetic player’s coach, I truly thought we would see a boost in the demeanor of this team. Even when things are going well for this team, they do not seem to get very excited. Football is an emotional game. Get excited when something good happens, and get pissed off when times are tough. The body language of the team is a huge concern of mine.


The leadership of this team needs to step up. The coaches are responsible for ensuring the team is getting the proper preparation and putting their players in a position to win, but the players are the ones that have to execute those plays on the field. There should be a certain amount of pride that comes with playing for The University of Notre Dame, and even more so playing at home for the Irish. If you are going to lose at home, at least do it showing a little bit of fight.


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Photo from NBC Sports



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Special Teams

It’s never a good sign when one of the only positives is Special Teams play. Regardless, this unit continues to be a strength of this team. The Irish were finally able to get home and block a punt, which unfortunately did not lead to points. Additionally, Jon Sot has been phenomenal all year and continues that play with his punting duties. Jordan Botehlo is a monster and a tone-setter on special teams; hopefully we can see him get some action on defense some time soon.


DL

The defensive line as a whole played solid, but there were some players that really impressed me in this game. Nana Osafa-Mensah had the best game of his career at Notre Dame. Nana finished with 3 total tackles, 2 solo, and 1 tackle for loss, but his impact was felt all game long.


Howard Cross continues to be the heart and soul of this defensive line. He finished with only 1 tackle, but his play in the middle of the defensive line has been exceptional. We have to hope that his lingering injuries heal up quickly for this unit to continue to play well. Chris Smith, the transfer from Harvard, has not been talked about enough. He won’t show up big on the stat sheet, but his ability to eat up double teams and disrupt the run game has been great.


Running Backs

Audric Estime ran for 57 yards and a touchdown on 8 carries. Logan Diggs ran for 57 yards on 9 carries, and Chris Tyree ran for 25 yards on 8 carries. I am still struggling to understand why Audric Estime did not get more action in the first half of this game. Going forward, I hope that Estime is the lead back with Tyree and Diggs filling in as needed.


Tobias Merriweather

Tobias Merriweather made his debut for the Irish with his first reception going for 41 yards and a TD. Notre Dame nation has been waiting to see the touted Freshman get some reps, and he did not disappoint. Going forward, I will be very disappointed if the Irish don’t find a bigger role for him in this offense.


Photo from Sports Illustrated


All in all, this Notre Dame team has a lot to get figured out. For those that are calling for coaches to be fired, it’s time to calm down and let things play out. Marcus Freeman will be just fine, but it will take time. As fans of this great university, we have to be patient and support a coach that WILL get it figured out. The ride won’t be without some bumps, but the destination will be worth the tribulation of the trip.



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