For the second week in a row, Notre Dame got off to a fast start and never looked back. Highlighted by two long runs from Josh Adams and a long touchdown pass to Miles Boykin, the Irish held a 45-14 lead at halftime over Miami of Ohio. Both teams would coast through the 2nd half to a 52-17 final. It was expected that Notre Dame would win big in this game, but maybe not by this wide of a margin. The Irish looked unstoppable on offense and mostly strong on defense as well. In their wins, the Irish are outscoring opponents 47-17.75 on average. While none of Notre Dame’s 4 wins have come against ranked opponents, their execution has been impressive. Let’s take a look at how the match ups played out last Saturday.
Notre Dame Offense vs. Miami Defense
Notre Dame could’ve scored 70 points on Saturday. Had they kept the starters in and stuck to the running game, the Irish would not have been stopped. Instead, with a big lead, Notre Dame tried to work on the passing game and allowed plenty of backups to play. The big lead was built up mainly due to Josh Adams who had an astounding 159 yards on just 8 carries (19.875 YPC) and 2 long touchdowns. While his campaign certainly was damaged by an ineffective performance against Georgia, I think it’s time to take Adams seriously as a Heisman contender. Although he is not as involved in the passing game as much as Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, his rushing statistics are more impressive. Adams statistics are even more impressive this season considering he has sat out six quarters this season.
Brandon Wimbush had an up and down performance. He did set a new career high with 3 touchdown passes. He also delivered two of his best passes of the season on a fade to Chase Claypool and deep ball to Miles Boykin. However, his final stats were just 7-of-18 for 118 yards. Although he’s not turning the football over, Wimbush’s timing and accuracy remain concerns. I do believe the coaching staff was trying to challenge him with more difficult throws Saturday, but even so he has to hit more of them. The other concern is Wimbush may be injured, but I’ll have more on that in the preview for North Carolina.
Miami certainly put in their best effort on defense. However, their defensive line was just no match for Notre Dame’s dominant offensive line. I suppose the only positive for Miami is that they only allowed 7 points in the 2nd half. Even then, Notre Dame played most of the 2nd half with the 2nd string. I suppose Josh Allen deserves credit for leading the team in tackles with 7 and having a tackle for loss. Other than that, this defense was ran over all night.
Notre Dame Grade: A-
Miami Grade: D
Miami Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense
Before this game, the one concern for Notre Dame’s defense was the combination of quarterback Gus Ragland and receiver James Gardner. That combo had a fine day for the Redhawks. Ragland hooked up with Gardner for a couple of touchdowns. In total, Gardner finished with 5 catches and 115 yards to go with the 2 TDs. While the passing game had some success for the Redhawks, they could not get anything going on the ground. Miami had just 115 yards rushing, and most of that came against the 2nd string. At one point in the 3rd quarter, Miami had -2 yards rushing.
The Irish defense did have some struggles defending the pass in this game. In particular, Nick Watkins lost his matchup with James Garnder on a couple occasions. However, the Irish did well in other phases of the defense. The Irish had 3 sacks and forced 2 turnovers. With the 2 turnovers, the Irish are now tied for 14th in FBS with 11 turnovers gained thus far. The player of the game for the Irish defense was Jerry Tillery, who had 1.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, and a forced fumble. For the 5th consecutive game, the Irish did not allow more than 20 points. Notre Dame is currently tied for 22nd in scoring defense, allowing just 18.2 PPG.
Miami Grade: C+
Notre Dame Grade: B+
Other than a well executed fake punt by Tony Jones, it wasn’t a great day for Notre Dame’s special teams. Justin Yoon went just 1-for-2 on field goals and Tyler Newsome had a long of just 43 on his 3 punts. Once again,the return game was non-existent for the Irish.
For Miami, Samuel Sloman was 1-for-1 on field goals. Punter Kyle Kramer had his worst game of the season averaging just over 35 yards per punt. Jaylon Bester averaged 23 yards per kick return, and took one return 34 yards. The low point for Miami was getting fooled on a fake punt and allowing the Irish to keep a drive going in the 2nd quarter
Notre Dame Grade: C+
Miami Grade: C+
Although Notre Dame does not have a marquee win this season, they are beating inferior teams the way they should. Past Brian Kelly teams would allow lesser opponents to hang around, and sometimes beat the Irish. That has not happened in 2017. Notre Dame has gone into games with the mentality that they’re going to dominate and then they go do it. The Irish will have another chance to dominate this upcoming Saturday, facing a 1-4 North Carolina team.