Last week sucked. ND getting embarrassed for 75% of the game sucked. Almost coming back to suddenly trust this ‘defense’ to make a stop with three minutes remaining and punt the ball away down one score sucked. Watching Brian VanGorder watch helplessly as the Spartans dismantled this Irish D sucked. Basically everything I said needed to happen for the Irish to win didn’t happen. ND fans are left with an unranked team and dead playoff dreams, which were a long-shot to begin with. For the Irish to get back to their winning ways, this is what needs to happen:
- Get creative defensively: I thought VanGorder’s defense last week was simple, and easy to exploit. They made Tyler O’Connor look like Peyton Manning for Christ’s sake, and they gave up a smooth 5.0 yards per rush (260 rushing yards total). It was the second time a team had broken the 500 total yard plateau, so let’s try to mix it up. Bring in some more blitzes, mix up your coverages, and stop being so basic. I don’t care if the defense is young or inexperienced. You need to try something else, because obviously this defense hasn’t made a good stand yet.
- Improve third down conversions: Notre Dame only had the ball for a hair over 22 minutes. Putting up 28 points in that amount of time is solid, so consider what they could’ve done had they been able to give DeShone Kizer more chances to get to the end zone. I get he threw a bad pick on his own side of the field, but you can’t possibly expect him to keep pace with a team who had twice as many chances. That starts with third down conversions, as the Irish were only successful 4 times out of 11 opportunities. For ND to be able to salvage themselves after a bad start to the year, they should start getting into the habit of holding the ball longer, cutting down on the three-and-outs, and keeping their defense off the field.
- Run the ball with more authority: This one was a tough one to expect, because the Irish trailed for most of the game. But the strongest members of the offense not named DeShone Kizer are Josh Adams and Tarean Folston. 57 total rushing yards when that’s the strength of a team is completely unacceptable. It does not help manage the clock, it does not help when passes aren’t being completed, and it does not help to have Folston and Adams simply picking up blitzes.
Duke isn’t that good of a team, and coming halfway across the country has an effect on any team. I expect the Irish to bounce back in a big way, especially with two road games following this tilt.
Cover photo from Twitter.