Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 18, 2021

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 22 of 55 SEPT. 18, 2021 23 NOTRE DAME PASSING OFFENSE: A Notre Dame is going to take 317 yards through the air on 8.8 yards per attempt every Saturday. The Irish passed for 237.4 yards per game last year. Through two games in 2021, they are averag- ing 341.5. It wasn't smooth sailing for graduate student quarterback Jack Coan and his teammates against Toledo. But in the end, the numbers checked out. And when Coan needed to lead the Irish on a scor- ing drive in the final two minutes of the game, he was able to do so in 26 seconds. He completed all three of his attempts for 58 yards, the last 18 of which came on a go-ahead touchdown pass to sophomore tight end Michael Mayer. Even true freshman Tyler Buchner had a stellar day throwing the ball. How about 3-of-3 passing for 78 yards with a touchdown to finish with a passer rating of 428.4? That'll do. His touchdown throw to sophomore running back Chris Tyree was perfectly placed to allow Tyree to take off down the sideline. NOTRE DAME RUSHING OFFENSE: C- Take away junior running back Kyren Williams' 43-yard touchdown and Buchner's 26-yard run, and Notre Dame ran the ball 37 times for 63 yards. Those numbers would have been worse than the Irish's 35 carries for 65 yards in the season opener against Florida State. Those rushes from Williams and Buchner are needed to tell the whole story, though. Notre Dame found something in going to Buchner for ground game support. He ran seven times for 68 yards, and that's even including a five-yard loss on a designed run. Williams eventually did what he does best in creating a big play. He did it against Florida State in the passing game, and this time he did it as a natural runner. He finished with 78 yards on 16 attempts, but unfortunately lost a crucial fumble late in the fourth quarter that allowed the Rockets to take a late lead. Notre Dame still needs to find a way to get Wil- liams and Tyree going at the same time. Tyree had seven carries for 12 yards. But like Williams did against Florida State, Tyree made his presence felt as a receiver. NOTRE DAME PASSING DEFENSE: B- Notre Dame gave up 93 passing yards in the first quarter. The Irish couldn't contain Toledo quar- terback Carter Bradley. From there, though, they rebounded and did a much better job. Toledo didn't surpass 70 yards through the air in any of the remaining three quarters, including just 16 in the third quarter. Notre Dame senior safety Houston Griffith was responsible for a large chunk of Toledo's 221 pass- ing yards. He allowed Toledo wide receiver Devin Maddox to break free for a 67-yard catch in the first quarter. Maddox caught a 23-yarder later in the first quarter to account for nearly all of To- ledo's first half passing total. Toledo did not gain 15-plus yards on any pass- ing play until the fourth quarter, and even then it only had two. If Notre Dame can prevent the big plays, then the Irish passing defense could evolve into a solid unit for defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman. NOTRE DAME RUSHING DEFENSE: B Just like the passing defense, the Notre Dame rushing defense was the prevention of a big play away from turning in a very solid showing against the Rockets. Sixty-seven of Toledo's 132 rushing yards came on one play. It was a very costly play for the Irish, too. Running back Bryant Koback ripped up the mid- dle of the Notre Dame defense and took the ball to the Irish 22. He scored five plays later to cut Toledo's deficit to two points with 7:48 remaining. Toledo quarterback Dequan Finn scored on a 26- yard bootleg keeper that would have stood up as the game-winner had Coan not led Notre Dame's comeback drive in the final two minutes. Without Finn's touchdown and Koback's long run, Toledo would have had 29 rushing attempts for 39 yards. That's 1.3 yards per carry. Again, you need those carries to paint the full pic- ture. But Notre Dame's rushing defense was much improved from last week's effort at Florida State. NOTRE DAME SPECIAL TEAMS: B- There is only so much a team can do when four of the seven punts the opposing punter boots end up inside the 20-yard line and two of the seven were 50-plus yard kicks. That's why Williams did not return a single punt. There's also only so much Tyree can do when majority of the kicks he's back to return are sailing over his head for touchbacks. At some point, though, Williams and Tyree are probably going to have to take a chance they oth- erwise wouldn't in order to get something going from a special teams standpoint. Notre Dame's return game is just nonexistent at this point. Graduate student kicker Jonathan Doerer nailed a 48-yard field goal that gave Notre Dame a 17-16 lead in the fourth quarter, but he missed a 55-yarder earlier in the game. Junior punter Jay Bramblett quietly outdueled Toledo punter Bailey Flint; Bramblett averaged 49.3 yards per punt to Flint's 45.4. REPORT CARD BY TYLER HORKA Junior running back Kyren Williams' 43-yard touchdown in the second quarter provided a big chunk of Notre Dame's rushing total (132 yards). PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER

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