South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame’s passing game fizzled out much of the day for the offensive coordinator. Tommy Rhysâ understandable frustration. The snap of the ball sometimes became an Irish concern, the most basic part of the attack, suddenly causing concern. Third downs were repeatedly exacerbated by false starts. But when Notre Dame (2-1) needed an effective, winning drive, all those fears in attack disappeared.
Irish defender Drew Pine found a star hard end Michael Mayer for a 6-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to give Notre Dame a 24-17 victory over Cal (2-1) on Saturday, the first victory Marcus FreemanThe career of the head coach was the first beginning of a career for Pine.
âIt’s hard to win football games,â Freeman said. “It’s difficult. You saw it in those first three games.
âI am so proud that this group of guys found a way to finish. Obviously, there is a lot of work to be done. We have to get better, but tonight we will celebrate this victory.â
That win was not secured until literally the full 60 minutes had passed, with the Bear’s latest run to the end zone bouncing around the hands of different players for so long that it could feel like another week of restlessness on the sideline for the Irish. As he broke free from Cal’s latest receiver, Freeman was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief, even if his basic nature wanted to jump straight into his team’s practice on its many miscalculations and mistakes.
âI keep telling myself to enjoy it,â he said. âThere’s been a lot of practice on this field today that we can learn from, but if you don’t take a moment to enjoy these things, you’ll regret it.
“That’s what I constantly remind myself, enjoy this victory.”
The only offensive drive that shouldn’t draw any coaching remarks is a seven-game 66-yard drive that culminated in Mayer’s second touchdown of the year. That march in the third quarter was Notre Dame’s first attacking performance not only of the day, but of the season.
sophomore running back Audric Estim started possession with a simple three-yard run, but by that point the Bears needed to respect the threat of Estim’s physical ground play after he set off a previous Irish touchdown. Reese and Pine then alternated Estim’s touches with rallies for Notre Dame’s more dynamic playmakers, the junior running back. Chris Tyree gained 11 yards on two plays while sophomore wide receiver Lorenzo Styles caught a pass for six yards, perhaps meager numbers on the surface but ones that kept the movement and the multi-dimensionality going.
Estim then caught a fast pass and thundered for 32 yards before tripping without touching, narrowly missing the 5-yard line. Cal may have expected the bowling ball in the boots to take a few hits in the next snaps, as he ran twice from behind the 3-yard line on the previous Irish touchdown: “You give the ball to Audric, it falls forward,” Pyne said. , but instead Pyne found Mayer wide open.
The preseason All-American ended with just two 10-yard throws while Pine threw for 150 yards and scored two points on 17 of 23 passes. Although they only connected twice, Pine targeted Mayer more than anyone else, one of only three players with five goals from Pine (Tyree and Styles). Thanks to two points – the first on the 21-yard butt run to Tyree – Pine’s day looked better on paper than it really was. He lost his fumble in one flip and narrowly escaped that fate in another. But in his first start against Cal’s strong offense, things could have gone from bad to worse.
Until that drive ended with Mayer’s touchdown, it looked like it would. Pyne missed out on Mayer twice for a significant win in three games in the first half, prompting Rees to express clear frustration from the coaching booth. Summarizing his day in a way that only those who watched the NBC broadcast could understand: “I saw that video,” Pine said with a smirk expressing Rhys’ dissatisfaction with the workout.
It’s not like Pine was the only one with problems. Missed passes were among his six unfinished passes. On four separate first-half third downs, Notre Dame’s false start turned manageable distances into stretches, with three of the culprits being seniors or fifth-year veterans. While the Irish defense largely contained the Bears – Cal’s first touchdown covered just 33 yards after Pine’s clumsy flick – the Notre Dame offense collided and cornered itself before the break.
Estima’s straight-forward approach to four straight carries in the third quarter was the first sign that the Irish offense would find a way out on Saturday.
Trailing 10-7 in the third quarter, Notre Dame had to gain a yard at the goal line to prove their offense had some power. A targeted challenge against the Bears extended the Irish push, giving Rees’s offense 1st and 10th at the 14-yard line. Rhys then called Estima four times in a row and he pulled through, taking the fourth of those carries over the goal line and briefly taking the lead at Notre Dame.
Cal will respond relatively quickly, but the Irish have found a proof of concept. Estim finished with 76 yards on 18 rushes, averaging 4.2 yards per try, which was Notre Dame’s defense against another all-too-familiar underperformance and a major part of the ground offense that gained 157 yards on 39 rushes, 4.03 yards per carry . medium (bags adjusted).
“I wanted to control the ball,” Freeman said. âIt felt like we were moving the ball and let’s keep moving it, but you can’t control the ball the whole game. For me, it opens up some holes in the passing game.â
Including a hole for Mayer for the win.
After telling NBC’s Zora Stephenson that the win would be “one of many to come,” Freeman was already thinking about the week that was and the week that would be.
“It’s been a tough week for all of us, for me downstairs,” he said. âWe had to really look at ourselves and really say what we need to do to get better. Sometimes you don’t want to hear it, you don’t want to know what the negative aspects of what you are doing are. â¦
âWe didn’t show the perfect game, but we found a way.
âWe’re going to do it after the win. We’ll have to come back on Sunday – enjoy it tonight – and dive deep into where we can work better.”
SUMMARY OF RATINGS
2:27 p.m. – Cal landed. Jay Michael Studivant 18 yard pass Jack Plummer. Dario Longhetto PAT is good. California 7, Notre Dame 0. (4 games, 33 yards, 0:26)
8:54 – Notre Dame touchdown. Chris Tyree pass 21 yards from Drew Pine. Blake Grupe PAT is good. California 7, Notre Dame 7. (10 plays, 60 yards, 5:28)
4:11 – Cal from the game. Longhetto 34 yards. Cal 10, Notre Dame 7. (10 plays, 69 yards, 4:43)
9:14 â Touchdown Notre Dame. Audric Estim 1 yard dash. The PAT group is good. Notre Dame 14, California 10. (9 games, 60 yards, 4:00)
4:48 – Cal landed. Plummer dash 1 yard. Longhetto Pat is good. Cal 17, Notre Dame 14. (10 plays, 75 yards, 4:26)
14:48 – Notre Dame field goal. Group 47 meters. Cal 17, Notre Dame 17. (10 plays, 46 yards, 5:00)
9:16 a.m. Notre Dame touchdown. Michael Mayer pass 6 yards from Pine. The PAT group is good. Notre Dame 24, California 17. (7 plays, 66 yards, 3:46)
South Bend, Indiana Marcus Freeman said he had a conversation with God. Just when it seemed that Notre Dame had brought him his first victory with Clarence Lewis interception, flag pointing at the Irish captain JD Bertrand gave Cal a new life. Back then, Freeman’s first triumph as head coach looked like an exclamation point. Tariq Bracey raced into the end zone with fumble restored in tow, for Bears quarterback only Jack Plummer be excluded beforehand.
As much as Freeman wanted to think the worst while Notre Dame clung to a 24-17 lead, it was only human nature.
âIt’s a challenge,â Freeman said. âOur thoughts, including mine, can drift towards the outcome, towards the future, towards ‘OK, last weekâ¦if we can beat Cal’, but that’s not how it works. The minute that happens, go back to what it takes to give yourself a chance to succeed.”
Freeman could at least work on defensive signals every time Cal returned the ball. Junior running back Chris Tyree couldn’t do anything but watch as Plummer tossed the ball into the end zone and it bounced off the hands of four players – credit to Jack Collinsworth for adding seven extra ‘and’s to ‘is’ as this call (below) suddenly demanded a lengthening, presumably not an intentional reference to Clay Davis’ catchphrase.
“I told [safeties DJ Brown and Brandon Joseph]they almost gave me a heart attack there at the end of the game,” Tyree said…