Notre Dame knew that in North Carolina it would have to rely on runners. It wasn’t so much a reflection of the soft Tar Heels defense as it was a reflection of the Irish lineup, although that defense was certainly ripe for use.
with a sophomore Logan Diggs healthy after missing out on Notre Dame’s victory over Cal with illness, the Irish could change three guards throughout their 45–32 victory over North Carolina on Saturday.
And they did, every one of the Diggs, Jr. Chris Tyree and sophomore Audric Estimé, who received at least 13 touches. Their 49 combined hits on 83 genuine attack shots give a good indication of how much Notre Dame depended on them. Add to junior tight end Michael Mayernine targets for seven catches and 88 yards, and 70 percent of Irish snaps come from 76 percent of Notre Dame’s yards.
Irish head coach Marcus Freeman would have you believe Mayer’s lead frees those backs, and given that Notre Dame had one game for Mayer from the backfield, perhaps that’s as literal as it is figurative.
“Michael Mayer is making sure everyone is performing at the right level,” Freeman said Saturday night. “These guys have a standard and they will have to learn. It will be nice to see him lead.”
Freeman’s tone had already changed to a pragmatic, forward-looking one despite the aggressive outburst the Irish had just enjoyed. This is because Notre Dame’s already thin skill depth charts lost another piece last week when the junior tight end Kevin Bauman tore the cruciate ligament of the cruciate ligaments. Bauman has caught three passes for 44 yards this season, including a 22 at Ohio State and an 18 at Marshall.
“We knew we were going to have to be strategic about what kind of personnel we were going to use,” Freeman said.
In the future, this will mean more Estimé, Tyree and Diggs, as well as more Mayer.
junior defender Drew Pine he may have tied Mayer with a touchdown each of the past three weeks, but Saturday’s seven catches on nine targets were the most effective year since a preseason All-American tight end. Clearly one of those finishes, a quick serve behind the line of scrimmage, helped the percentage, but even without that Mayer would have outpaced his eight catches on 12 targets against Marshall.
“This week I was able to find Mike a couple more times and just do my job,” Pine said. “Give him the ball.
“I am very happy because he is such a great player. Putting the ball in his hands is something that can benefit our offense.”
Talk about understatement.
This emphasis on Mayer and efficiency in getting the ball will need to continue. that the crime of Notre Dame should continue in line with these positive trends.
And these are positive trend lines. The 45 at Chapel Hill was about a foot away from 52, which can be misleading, but with Estime fumbling for the goal line in the final minutes of the game, it’s a fair guess in this case. A week after the first start of Pine’s career was marred by missed snaps and wild shots, the effective performance perfectly complemented the dominance of the runners.
Pine was 1 for 3 with Lorenzo Styles’ 30-yard touchdown on throws from 20-plus yards downfield.
He was also 19 of 25 for 166 yards and 1 TD on throws under 10 yards downfield.@insideNDsports
— Tyler James (@TJamesND) September 25, 2022
“Sometimes we let the result mask things,” Freeman said. “Keep looking at it, is it a football team that is getting better? It.
“They play better, train better. It’s a challenge. Keep getting better.”
Improvement during the season goes against the global demand for immediate results, but it’s a vital part of college football. These players are between 18 and 22 years old. If you do not focus on improving in season, a third of the year is lost in their development.
Consider a player like Diggs, who survived a shoulder injury in mid-April. He was capped for much of pre-season training. If he doesn’t look better in mid-October than he did in early September, then Freeman’s coaching staff has failed.
Lately, Freeman has made it a habit to emphasize how young Notre Dame’s offensive line is, and while he may be inaccurate in this description, he is not accurate. Correct sophomore tackle Blake Fisher played two games so far this season. Sophomore left tackle Joe Alt had a difficult end for most of his high school career and only came out as a starter in the middle of last year despite largely weak competition.
What Freeman somewhat overlooks is that they surround a fifth-year veteran in his fourth starting season, a sixth-year veteran who started in parts of four seasons, and a senior center who started part of three seasons, but again, on the offensive. A line is only as good as its connection. To pass the word from Alto to Fischer or vice versa, both sophomores must be tuned in all aspects.
This will improve from Fischer’s third start to his, short of injury, 14th. (Fischer left Saturday’s game early after being poked in the eye, according to Freeman. He had no long-term concerns.)
“Specifically, this is the group that you see from game one to game four, they really got better,” Freeman said. “… They gelled. They are doing a good job.”
Of the two principles of a successful talent pool within the college football roster, Freeman has long established himself in recruiting. The other half is talent development, which should not be neglected from September to November.
Notre Dame has relied on development for the past three weeks to find an offensive groove, and with Mayer in the lead, it could pay off.
THREE MORE NOTES
To the dominance of the runners and the explosion of the Irish against North Carolina should be added some asterisk, simply because it is clear that the Tar Heels defense is in complete disarray. Main coach Mac Brown can point to a defense coordinator Gene Chisick won a national title with Brown at Texas in 2005 and another as head coach at Auburn in 2010, but coaching in just two seasons since 2012 may have overtaken Chisick in his return to Chapel Hill this year.
The Irish have won 25 consecutive regular season games against ACC rivals, and that’s tied with a loss in Miami in 2017.
Ankle injury hampered juniors’ safety Ramon Henderson on Saturday, and a hamstring strain tore DJ Brown out of fifth safety during a game. Freeman was bullish on both projections given that the upcoming week of downtime would give them some time to recover.
Senior midfielder JD Bertrand most likely, you will have to use this time to simply extinguish. His second targeting penalty in as many weeks will cost him another first half, short of revisiting and overturning the decision within a week.
“It’s aiming,” Freeman said. “You can argue all you want, but as I said to JD on the field, our job is to learn from the situation. It’s a whole game he missed now. He missed the first half of this game, he will miss the first half of the next game. We must learn from this. We have to change or you will continue to receive targeted calls.
“It doesn’t matter if we agree or not. So we have to understand what the judges called it, so we have to practice different ways of wrestling. You have to make sure you don’t lead with your head. Firstly, it’s safety, and secondly, you need to be on the field.”
A rule change this off-season allows teams to appeal such suspensions within an interim week, or in this case, two weeks. At this point in the season, this space is not aware of any successful such call-up, and assuming Bertrand isn’t first, he’ll have to miss the first half of Notre Dame’s game against No. 19 BYU in Las Vegas in October. 8 at 7:30 AM ET on NBC.
“sons and daughters” united with ease. https://t.co/cVyXeGI6rV
— Douglas Farmer (@D_Farmer) September 25, 2022
In the last two seasons at Notre Dame Kyren Williams was one of the most complete defenders in the country and certainly in the recent history of Ireland. His tenacity, constant threat of the big game, and convenience as a receiver made him an offensive player in his own right.
It would be an exaggeration to compare current Notre Dame sophomore running back Audric Estimé to Williams after just four games this season, even after Estimé had 17 carries for 134 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday’s 45 win over North Carolina. -32. But what Estimé did was rare enough to warrant such a comparison, if only this week.
During this Irish renaissance, since the 2017 season, only four running backs…