Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct 08, 2022

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

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Page 22 of 55 OCT. 8, 2022 23 NOTRE DAME PASSING OFFENSE: A+ What more could you ask for? An offense that averaged 2.8 yards per depth of target against California in Week 3 exploded for 289 yards and 3 touchdowns against North Carolina in Week 4. The most impressive part? Seven different Irish players caught at least 1 pass. Junior tight end Michael Mayer led the way with 7 catches for 88 yards, much more productive than his 2 snags for 10 yards against Cal. He caught another touchdown pass, too. Sophomore wide receiver Lorenzo Styles contin- ues to be the Irish's top wideout. He caught 5 passes for 69 yards and 1 score. The running backs were involved in the passing game again with 4 catches for 24 yards from junior Chris Tyree and 3 catches for 65 yards and a touchdown from Logan Diggs. The day belonged to junior quarterback Drew Pyne, though. In just his second career start and first on the road, he completed 70.6 percent of his passes and didn't look limited at all in terms of the types of throws he was asked to execute. He hit short, intermediate and long passes, including a perfectly placed 30-yard touchdown to Styles. Who said he couldn't throw downfield? NOTRE DAME RUSHING OFFENSE: A+ This might have more to do with North Carolina's rushing defense being so putrid as opposed to the Irish's ground and pound mantra, but 287 yards on 51 carries is 287 yards on 51 carries any way it's dissected. Sophomore Audric Estime led the way with 17 carries for 134 yards and 2 touchdowns, Tyree ran 15 times for 80 yards and a score and Diggs carried 10 times for 50 yards. Even Pyne got in on the act in gaining 12 on a third-and-7 at the end of the first quarter. Notre Dame had its way in the running game. Credit it to a three-headed monster of a running back trio and the Irish offensive line having its best game of the year. Credit it to North Carolina just not being able to hold its own in the trenches. Either way, this was an A+ result for the Fighting Irish. NOTRE DAME PASSING DEFENSE: B Caution: Beware of box scores. This one doesn't tell the whole story. It shows North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye throwing for 301 yards and 5 touchdowns. But 3 of the touchdowns came after Notre Dame took a 38-14 lead in the third quarter, and a considerable chunk of those yards did, too. By and large, Pyne outplayed Maye for most of the game. At halftime, Pyne had 181 yards passing to Maye's 99. The Irish defense flustered the redshirt fresh- man after he exploded for 39 passing yards and 33 rushing yards on UNC's first drive of the game. Notre Dame got home for 3 sacks. The Irish also made throws that Maye made easily in the first three weeks incredibly difficult. The coverage was tight, and Maye was never truly comfortable in the pocket. Like Notre Dame's own passing of- fense, the way the Irish defended the pass was everything Notre Dame could have asked for until the fourth quarter. The only things Notre Dame will want back in this regard are the big play touchdowns of 80 and 64 yards by UNC wide receiver Antione Green. The rest was stout. NOTRE DAME RUSHING DEFENSE: A+ Anytime a team is held to 28 carries for 66 yards, it's going to have trouble winning a football game. North Carolina found that out the hard way. Maye only finished with 36 rushing yards after losing 20 yards to sacks. Freshman running back Omarion Hampton ran 10 times for 28 yards. The way in which holes opened up for the Notre Dame offense and did not do so at all for the North Caro- lina offense was telling. The Irish won the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. And it played a significant role in the outcome. NOTRE DAME SPECIAL TEAMS: A Notre Dame only punted once. Jon Sot's lone boot went for 54 yards. Brandon Joseph was effec- tive in the punt return game with 3 returns for 43 yards. He had a long of 17. Blake Grupe missed a field goal from 44 yards out but connected from 40 to put Notre Dame up 24-14 with 23 seconds left in the first half. A 10-point lead at that time looked a lot better than 7. NOTRE DAME COACHING: A Head coach Marcus Freeman had the troops ready to roll on the road. The bulk of this "A" be- longs to offensive coordinator Tommy Rees for call- ing his best game of the year, though. The wheel- route touchdown to Diggs was a thing of beauty. Rees schemed multiple ways for Pyne to get out on the run where he has proven to be highly effective. A 1-3 record would have been a painful mark to stew on during a bye week. In a way, Notre Dame has a new season at 2-2. The coaching staff deserves credit for rallying the team to this point. REPORT CARD BY TYLER HORKA Sophomore wide receiver Lorenzo Styles notched 5 receptions for 69 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown grab in the second quarter. PHOTO BY KAYDEE GAWLIK

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