The Irish celebrate the Avery Davis TD pass from Jack Coan. (Photo: Chad Ryan)

Halftime observation (written at halftime ND 17 USC 3)

Game Wrecker and Missed Opportunities Yep, Drake London can be a game wrecker-9 catches for 109 yards in the first half, and Kyle Hamilton is apparently out with a “lower body” injury. Oh my, this worries me, A LOT. Horrible clock management by SC at the end of the half. Missed opportunities by the Irish. Drive one, ND came fast out of the gate then stalled and Doerer missed a very makeable FG from 36 yards. He only makes the tough ones I guess. Another missed opportunity came when the Irish had to settle for a 21 yard FG after the Bo Bauer interception and return to the USC 4 yard line. Bauer showed what I thought was impressive speed on the 79 yard return, but got caught by Kedon Slovis who took a pretty good angle. Why no Buchner here when you are inside the 5 yard line? All that said no sacks of Coan in the first half. If that keeps up, the Irish will be just fine.

Now down, I expect USC to throw and then throw some more in the 2nd half. With or without Kyle Hamilton, ND should get another interception. Cam Hart are you out there? Drake London no doubt goes over 200 yards for the night, but if he is all USC has got and you keep him out of the end zone multiple times, he is NOT a game wrecker.

Post game analysis of my halftime observation:

No interceptions by the Irish in the second half, and London was “stopped” at 171 yards. So my halftime hunches were not so accurate this week. That said, London never did not get into the end zone, so he didn’t wreck anything. I was surprised also that USC got away from London in the 3rd quarter and handed the ball to Keaonty Ingram more. London was targeted just 3 times in the quarter and Ingram carried 10 times. I’m sure that had something to do with taking what the defense was giving them, but after his 9 catch first half I was starting to feel like London was unstoppable. In fact, I think most likely that he is unstoppable, unless you stop throwing to him. Thank you USC. And thank you to the “injury gods” because apparently Kyle Hamilton’s injury was not serious.

Drake London (15), left, makes a cut move to avoid the tackle of Notre Dame cornerback Clarence Lewis (6). (Photo by Chad Ryan)

Post game observations

Freeze Thaw Cycle Freeze Jack Coan’s last four minutes of the Virgina Tech game and defrost each week, that apparently is the new offensive identity for the Irish. According to Kelly post game, after self scouting it was determined that Coan would benefit from speeded up play and operating out of the shotgun, like what led to 7-9 passing down the stretch against Virginia Tech. Thisnk two minute drill-but run it ALL THE TIME. Kelly commented on the decision to make these changes with the approach to Coan, “I know it sounds crazy because he…grew up with…a much more direct snap play action….so, when we self-scouted and went through the bye week, we spent most of our time putting the offense together with Jack being in much more of a tempoed offensive structure. ” Simply put, stop lining Coan up under center, and speed up the pace of running plays.

It worked, at least to a not expecting it USC. Coan was a very efficient 20-28 for 189 yards and 1 TD Saturday night.

Lorenzo Styles Jr. (21) focuses on the football as he catches a pass from Jack Coan (17). (Photo by Chad Ryan)

Appreciate Kyren, while you can. A terrific game by Kyren Williams, for which he was awarded the game ball (which he with a big smile carried into his post game press conference). On the night, he posted 139 yards rushing on 25 carries and 2 TDs and also 6 catches for another 42 yards. Add in some pretty good blocking skills and a sparkling personality and you have an NFL package. He would have plenty of eligibility left if he wanted to come back next year, but don’t get your hopes up. This kid is a football junkie’s dream to watch run , speed, body lean, vision, strength, It is almost as if when he gets the ball you may as well just add at least one extra yard on to the carry no matter what, because he is Kyren, and he always finds something, even when there is nothing.

See you on Sundays young man.

Kyren Williams powers into the end zone Saturday night. (Photo: Chad Ryan)

Weekly Offensive Line Report. Part of the reason for Williams’ big night and 170 yards rushing by the Irish overall is that the line is doing their job much better at the point of attack which opens up the possibility, when a play dictates, of getting to the second level and engaging linebackers and safeties. Add to that the fact that the Irish only gave up one sack to USC after giving up just two at Virginia Tech, and for the second straight game the Irish pass protection has been pretty good. Freshman Joe Alt at left tackle and Junior Andrew Kristofic at left guard now for two games plus a bye week of practices together. I smell chemistry.

Left Guard Andrew Kristofic celebrates a Kyren Williams touchdown run. (Photo: Chad Ryan)

6-1, What it means. With losses this week by Penn State (in NINE overtimes!) and Oklahoma State, ND will surely advance to the threshold of the AP top ten. The first meeting and ranking of the college football playoff committee (CFP) will be held the Tuesday after next week’s game against North Carolina. Once the the CFP’s opinion is out there we can have a serious conversation about just where this season may end up for the Irish.

Until then I remind you that since the start of the 2017 season the Irish have now run their overall record to 49-9. So next week they have a shot at getting to an even 50.

Until then, gird for another late night next Saturday (I filed my last piece just before 1AM Sunday), enjoy the fall weather, pick out a pumpkin and relish the historic roll of winning the Irish are on.

By Phil Houk

For 25 years, bringing you the glory of Notre Dame football.

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