Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct 9, 2021

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

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Page 22 of 55 OCT. 9, 2021 23 NOTRE DAME PASSING OFFENSE: C- It's never a good thing when the starting quar- terback gets benched. It's also never a good thing when a quarterback only attempts two passes and one of them gets intercepted. Graduate student Jack Coan completed 14 of 22 passes for 114 yards with an interception before he was replaced by sophomore Drew Pyne, who connected on 9 of 22 throws for 143 yards with a touchdown. True freshman Tyler Buchner was the signal-caller who had one of his two attempts picked off. The lack of production and overall inefficiency can't be pinned solely on the quarterbacks, though. Notre Dame's wide receivers lost way too many battles against Cincinnati's defensive backs. The offensive line played better statisti- cally with only two sacks and four quarterback hurries allowed, but the overall product suffered again as Notre Dame still searches for offensive consistency. NOTRE DAME RUSHING OFFENSE: D There's just nothing positive to be said about this aspect of Notre Dame's game. It was that way in the first four weeks of the season, and it remained that way against Cincinnati. The Irish flat out can- not run the football. Junior running back Kyren Williams had 13 car- ries for 45 yards and a touchdown, which came on a three-yard sprint to the edge in the fourth quarter. Sixteen of his yards came on one run, his first of the game. Sophomore running back Chris Tyree had five carries for 20 yards, but with Williams struggling so much (mainly as a result of the porous offensive line) there have not been many opportunities for Tyree to get into games. Even Buchner, a run-first specialist behind center, only went for eight yards on four carries. The Notre Dame rushing offense finished with 84 yards, just above their season average of 80.0 yards per game. NOTRE DAME PASSING DEFENSE: C It took Cincinnati senior quarterback Desmond Ridder a while to get going, but once he did the Notre Dame secondary was picked apart. Ridder completed 9 of 11 passes for 174 yards in the second half. He finished the game 19-of-32 passing for 297 yards with two touchdowns. The Bearcats had eight passing plays of 15-plus yards. Three of those went for 25-plus. An Irish defense that did not give up many big plays in its previous two games against Purdue and Wisconsin dropped the ball in that area against Cincinnati. Sophomore cornerback Clarence Lewis did not have his best game in pass coverage. Senior safety Houston Griffith was replaced by fellow senior DJ Brown in the second half for a poor play he made coming across the top on a 44-yard connection from Ridder to senior wideout Alec Pierce, who finished the game with six catches for 144 yards. NOTRE DAME RUSHING DEFENSE: B+ This would have been an A if the touchdown Cin- cinnati scored to put the game out of reach late in the fourth quarter was not a six-yard rushing score from Ridder. Notre Dame limited Bearcats run- ning back Jerome Ford to 67 yards on 17 carries. His most effective rushes came down the stretch, though. He rattled off runs of 16 and 11 yards on the drive Ridder eventually scored on. Overall, Notre Dame held Cincinnati to 89 rushing yards on 30 carries. Less than 100 yards on roughly three yards per carry will work against most oppo- nents, but the Irish rushing defense didn't get much help from the back end. It obviously didn't get much help from the other side of the ball either. NOTRE DAME SPECIAL TEAMS: D Fumbled kickoffs just aren't acceptable. Neither are missed extra points. Notre Dame had one of each. The former came when Tyree misplayed Cincinnati's ensuing kickoff after the Bearcats took a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter. The Notre Dame defense hung tough and held Cincinnati to a field goal, but those were three free points. Graduate student kicker Jonathan Doerer could have made it a three-point game with 8:20 left, but missed an extra point that kept the game at 17-13. Notre Dame's saving grace in special teams was junior punter Jay Bramblett who punted six times for an average of 46.3 yards per boot. He had a long of 52, and two of his kicks were downed at the Cincinnati 10- and 6-yard line. NOTRE DAME COACHING: D It just wasn't a winning effort from the Notre Dame coaching staff. There is no reason for zone reads to be in the playbook as long as Coan is behind center, but there were a few called while he was still in the game. There is no reason for this Notre Dame team to call consecutive rushing plays, but it happened multiple times. It's no coincidence Notre Dame's smoothest drives seem to occur at the beginning of each game. The Irish seem just fine offensively while operating on a script. Then they go off the rails. The product on the field reflects coaching in the end, too. Head coach Brian Kelly said after the game his staff needs to do a better job. Take it from the head man himself. This isn't just a player problem. There are issues from top to bottom. REPORT CARD BY TYLER HORKA Notre Dame continued to have hard time running ball, with junior running back Kyren Williams compiling just 45 yards on 13 carries. The Irish were limited to 84 yards on the ground by Cincinnati. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER

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