Photo credit: Chad Ryan

Take some advice from a loyal fan of the Irish for over 50 years who also has 26 years experience covering them, objectively.

Analyze a loss, and move on. After all it’s up to the coaches to figure it out, not you.

So, point by point from my notebook compiled during Stanford week, lets analyze.

Time of Possession. ND’s run first play good defense identity has been resulting in good time of possession numbers. 40:55 against BYU, 38:13 against North Carolina and 33:02 against Cal.  Stanford flipped this trend on its head.  Tanner McKee employing Stanford’s efficient, “mesh” RPO passing game, possessed the ball a dominating 36:07.  

During Marcus Freeman’s Monday press conference last week, he off handedly admitted that he hadn’t seen much Stanford film yet. Well, why not?  I know you are out recruiting nonstop, but there are only 24 hours in a day and while the Irish recruiting game is trending up, the play on the field at 3-3 is trending down.  Think about it.

Notre Dame played good defense, “sort of”.  For the 6th time out of 6 games this season the defense held their opponent to under its season average for points.  In this case just 16 by Stanford.  That should be plenty good to win any game you play.  Unfortunately, with the offense struggling, the defense needed to play perfect, and they didn’t. (see “Time of Possession”, “Pass rush”, and “Turnovers”)

Tanner McKee is going to the NFL and he had some good receivers. According to NFLbuzz.com, McKee is the third best quarterback prospect nationally for the 2023 draft, and did I mention the Stanford receivers? Yes I did and they were experienced, skilled and BIG. 6-2, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4, and 6-5.

The pass defense played reasonably well overall.  But, it would have been better with their best pass defender, the injured Tariq Bracy in the lineup, his presence could have changed the result of the close game.  Oh, by the way, Bracy’s back-up, Jaden Mickey, also was out.

Pass rush. Stanford had been, statistically one of the worst at protecting the quarterback. The Irish notched just one sack. Someone needs to light a fire under Isiah Foskey.

Slow Starts. Notre Dame still hasn’t scored a TD in the first quarter, this season. This obvious inability of the team to come out of the locker room emotionally prepared to play is the coaching staff’s fault. Period.

Turnovers. The Irish have one fumble recovered and have made one interception, this season. Getting turnovers is a bit like voodoo. Maybe ND needs a witch doctor.

Tipped Passes. Drew Pyne is susceptible to having his passes tipped or blocked at the line of scrimmage. I’ve seen it in practices, you’ve seen it in games.  Pyne had two passes tipped Saturday. The Irish were hurt by this. Maybe Tommy Rees could every so often dial up a play or two that gets Pyne moving outside the pocket.

Michael Mayer. Against BYU half of ND’s completions went to the best college tight end in the world and it worked. That kind of distribution will not always work. It didn’t work against Stanford, but Notre Dame force fed him anyway. The 41-yard TD catch by Tobias Merriweather was a lonely bright spot for the Irish Saturday. I’m calling on Tommy Rees, to please find more ways to get the ball to receivers like Merriweather down the field, also send out a search party out for Lorenzo Styles, because the guy playing this season must be an imposter, he bears no resemblance to the guy we saw last year.

Homefield disadvantage. After winning 30 of their previous 31 home games from 2017-2021, the stand at 1-2 in NOtre Dame stadium this year. Marcus Freeman, your team seems to be playing better on the road. What is the difference in your routine on home game days that might be causing this?

That is what I noted against Stanford, now I’m moving on from it.

Marcus Freeman, the rest is up to YOU.

Photo credit: Chad Ryan

By Phil Houk

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

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