Notre Dame Rushes For 376 Yards
The Fighting Irish eclipsed their earlier season high of 293 yards against the Naval Academy with their dominant performance against the Hurricanes. 376 yards of rushing was the most churned out by an Irish offense since November 11, 2000. In that game, Notre Dame rushed for 380 yards against Boston College. After looking stagnant for three previous games, the offensive line of Martin, Watt, Cave, Golic and Lombard put the “fight” back in the Fighting Irish. Cierre Wood proved why he is the best Running Back that Notre Dame has currently. He has an excellent combination of vision, size, speed and athleticism. Wood had the bulk of the carries. He rushed for 118 yards on 18 carries. Wood added two touchdowns on the ground. George Atkinson had the best statistical evening. He rushed for 123 yards on 10 carries. Even though Wood has the best combination of skills at the position, Atkinson has the biggest upside. He has a rare combination of size and speed that is only seen in big time NFL running backs such as Adrian Peterson. Notre Dame has a really special player in Atkinson and he demonstrated that on Saturday night.
Brian Kelly Expands the Playbook
For the past couple of weeks, it seemed like Everett Golson’s capabilities were not being utilized. On Saturday night, Brian Kelly expanded the playbook to include read-option plays. This allowed Golson to run for 51 yards on 6 carries. In addition, it allowed him to make easy throws to wide open receivers off play action. Overall, this forced the Hurricane defense to think more and be stretched out. This created throwing and running lanes that were wide open for the taking. If the Fighting Irish offense is going to take the next step, this is the type of play calling that is going to do it.
Everett Golson Looks Accurate
As stated above, Golson had several open throwing lanes on Saturday. However, he also demonstrated that he can be accurate when throwing the ball in general. Golson went 17 for 22. This is a 77.3% average, which is extremely good. More over, Golson put the ball only where his receivers could make the play. In addition, when he made throws to open receivers. He threw the ball ahead of the receiver so that the receiver was able to make a decent run after the catch. Being accurate is more than just completing the pass to the receiver. It is being able to put the ball where the receiver can actually make an effective play with the ball. This may be a major difference between Rees and Golson.
Notre Dame Stops an Excellent Passing Attack
The most concerning aspect going into this game was Miami’s ability to pass the ball. In the two previous game, Stephon Morris had thrown for over 1,000 yards. The first few plays of the game struck fear into Notre Dame fans. However, after those first few miscues, Notre Dame dominated the Hurricanes but forcing all throws underneath. Morris ended up throwing for only 200 yards. Inaccuracy and inconsistency catching the ball played right into Notre Dame’s “bend but don’t break” scheme. Notre Dame can use this experience to build on when they face teams like Oklahoma and USC who have more polished throwers and receivers.