Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2022

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

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Page 24 of 47

BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM FEBRUARY 2022 25 NOTRE DAME PASSING OFFENSE: B It's hard to knock a unit that produced 509 yards, but that wasn't the only revealing number related to Notre Dame's passing game. Graduate student quarterback Jack Coan threw the ball a staggering 68 times. He completed 38 of those attempts, which means 30 passes didn't end up in the hands of Irish receivers, running backs or tight ends. One of those ended up in the hands of Oklahoma State linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez at a critical juncture of the game, too. Coan broke the Fiesta Bowl record for passing yards by a single player. But the Notre Dame passing offense was ineffec- tive and inefficient in the second half. It wasn't an A-worthy effort. NOTRE DAME RUSHING OFFENSE: F Notre Dame just wasn't the same without junior running back Kyren Williams. The Irish completely failed to establish a running game. The team com- bined to rush 21 times for a net gain of 42 yards. Sophomore Chris Tyree ran six times for 18 yards, while freshman Logan Diggs ran nine times for 29 yards. He also lost a fumble. Offensive coordinator Tommy Rees got away from even attempting to run the ball, further hampering the Irish's overall attack in the second half. Freshman Audric Estime only recorded one carry for a loss of one yard. With Tyree and Diggs unable to get going, Estime was never able to become a factor either. NOTRE DAME PASSING DEFENSE: F It seems harsh to give two failing grades in one report card but try to justify the Notre Dame pass- ing defense receiving anything else. That's a tall task. Sophomore cornerback Clarence Lewis was no match for OSU senior wide receiver Tay Martin, who scored three touchdowns. It was pitch and catch for Cowboys redshirt ju- nior quarterback Spencer Sanders. He threw for 371 yards and four scores. He completed 10 passes to two different receivers, Martin and sophomore Brennan Presley. Eight different Oklahoma State players caught at least one pass. On paper, it wasn't a game Oklahoma State was going to win through the air. In the end, that's what it turned out to be. That's a failing effort in that regard from the Irish. NOTRE DAME RUSHING DEFENSE: C- Notre Dame knew Sanders was a threat with his feet, but the Irish still couldn't stop him. Sanders ran 17 times for a career-high 125 yards. Whether it was scrambling or on designed quarterback draws, he ran at will. Redshirt senior running back Jaylen Warren ran 19 times for 82 yards to help Oklahoma State rack up 234 rushing yards. Three different Cowboys had rushing plays that gained at least 20 yards. Of course, Sanders and Warren were two of them. Even senior LD Brown got in on that action despite only carrying the ball three times all day. Missed tackles doomed Notre Dame when the Cowboys ran the ball. NOTRE DAME SPECIAL TEAMS: B The game wasn't necessarily won or lost on spe- cial teams. Graduate student kicker Jonathan Do- erer missed a 41-yard field goal, but the Cowboys' kicker missed one, too, though it was a 48-yarder. That was a wash. Neither side could get anything going in the kick or punt return game either. Notre Dame had a new look in the latter department with Williams not playing. Wide receiver Matt Salerno took over, and he couldn't get loose. Salerno was credited with four returns resulting in a net gain of just nine yards. Tyree had two kick returns of 28 and 16 yards for an average of 22 yards. Senior punter Jay Bramblett punted seven times for an average of 41.6 yards. Five of his punts were downed inside the 20-yard line, and he had a long boot of 53 yards. NOTRE DAME COACHING: C- Everything was going so well for so long. Rees' offensive was clicking despite the lack of a running game. Head coach Marcus Freeman's defense held Oklahoma State to just seven points through the first 29 minutes. There wasn't any reason to call into question defensive line coach Mike Elston's play calling for nearly half the game. Then everything went sideways after Notre Dame took a 28-7 lead. It's fair to call into ques- tion Freeman's damage control, or lack thereof. The game spiraled out of control, and the Irish weren't able to get it back. There is something to be said for that. Freeman's defense couldn't adapt to Oklahoma State's offensive tempo. Rees' offense couldn't stay hot through the air without a running game to complement the aerial attack. It was a collapse. A meltdown. And it very nearly warranted another grade of F. REPORT CARD BY TYLER HORKA Sophomore running back Chris Tyree caught six passes for 115 yards and one touchdown, but he was able to gain only 18 yards on six rushing attempts. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER

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