After decimating the Rice Owls yesterday, there’s no doubt that Notre Dame is back as one of the elite teams in college football. The Fighting Irish were able to win with ease scoring 48 points and allowing just 17 points, with one of those touchdowns conceived with Notre Dame’s second-team defense on the field.
The biggest storyline of the game came from the much-awaited return of quarterback Everett Golson. After missing out on last season due to poor academic judgement, Golson made quite the splash in his return scoring five total touchdowns for the Irish. But let’s not overlook the rest of the success the offense had against the Owls’ defense.
Offensive line: A-
In a near perfect performance, the starting offensive line allowed just one sack while helping lead the Irish to 34 straight points to end the game. Led by senior center Nick Martin, the linemen were able to dominate the trenches helping the Irish rushing attack run for 281 yards and four touchdowns. In addition, the linemen gave Golson more than enough time in the pocket to allow him to play the game of his career.
Running Backs: A-
Between Cam McDaniels, Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston, the running backs compiled a total of 181 yards and a touchdown. On only 28 carries between all three backs, the rushing attack was more than sufficient enough to pound the Owls’ defense to staying honest to the run whenever Golson carried out the play-action. Besides their solid stat line, the backs all played tough finding the holes in the line and bursting through them. McDaniels, especially, showed his strength running over Rice defensive players and pushing for extra yardage on every carry.
I’m not sure if Rice’s secondary had great coverage on the Irish receivers or if Notre Dame’s receivers just weren’t playing up to their full potential, but it looked like it could have been better for Notre Dame’s receiving corp. The Fighting Irish’s pass-catchers hauled in 14 passes along with two bombs through the air that each went for six. While the numbers don’t look terrible, the receivers were a bit inconsistent throughout the game. There were countless times where because the receivers weren’t getting separation from the Rice secondary, Golson was forced to run out of the pocket and make a play on his own, and having three dropped passes that could have gone for scores doesn’t make it look any better. However, the receivers made the plays they needed to make in order to help win the game. Let’s just hope they’re able to step it up against a much better Michigan secondary next Saturday.
Of course, this is what we were all in awe about. The quarterback play for the Irish could be described as nothing less than phenomenal. Everett Golson started off slow with two three-and-outs with the offense, but that quickly turned around after scoring on an 11-yard run into the endzone on his next drive with the offense. On the very next play of the following drive, Golson showed his his arm strength tossing up a 60-yard bomb for receiver William Fuller, which eventually went in as a 75-yard touchdown pass. Play after play, Golson continued to flash his Heisman-caliber abilities scoring two more rushing touchdowns and a last second 53-yard touchdown pass to receiver C.J Prosise to end the first half. Besides one forced pass that should have been intercepted, Golson played a perfect game. Malik Zaire also displayed his skills in this game coming in the fourth to relieve Golson. On the very first play of his collegiate career, Zaire took off running for a 56-yard run, which erupted Notre Dame stadium with excitement. He helped finish off his first drive with the offense with a 17-yard touchdown run from running back Greg Bryant. If Golson can play just as well against Michigan, there’s no doubt that the Irish can come away with the win.
In an all-around fantastic effort from the offense, Notre Dame has reminded America that it can compete as a national championship contender.