Notre Dame Football – Notre Dame @ Air Force: Negatives


Oct 10, 2013; Colorado Springs, CO, USA; Air Force Falcons cadets hold a sign during the game against the San Diego State Aztecs at Falcon Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

2013 Notre Dame Football

The Irish marched their way to a decisive victory on Saturday in Colorado Springs, improving to 6-2 on the season and 2-0 to start an important second half.

At the end of the day, the Irish had no business doing anything other than winning big, and frankly, it was nice to see this team dominate.

While a 35 point victory leaves little to dissect and critique, many of the same issues that have plagued the Irish all season, reared their ugly heads, yet again.

George Atkinson:

Atkinson had started running the ball tough and exploding into open holes in the last few weeks, but yet again, he alluded to running away from contact and bouncing nearly everything outside. His speed is world-class, and when he breaks free, he’s at another level; but many of his big runs this year have actually come from hitting the hole with speed and lowering his pad level. Some holes were slow to open up, but that’s when a veteran running back needs to get up-field and earn some tough yards.

With Tarean Folston and Cam McDaniel producing consistently, Atkinson could find himself next to Amir Carlisle on the Notre Dame sideline.

Run Defense:

The Falcons offense is predicated on a triple option attack that keeps defensive assignments at a premium, this is something the Irish defense struggled with.  With Louis Nix sidelined and Stephon Tuitt playing inside, the Irish were a thin on the edge and looked undisciplined, especially early on. The lack of discipline killed the Irish as over-pursuit and an inability to set the edge allowed the Falcons to gash the Irish defense for big gains.

The Irish have to do a better job communicating against the option, especially with Navy coming to town this weekend.  The Midshipmen average about 20 more yards a game on the ground and a better defense; the Irish need to play more disciplined and improve on setting the edge.

Overall, this was an important win. With Christian Lombard out, Steve Elmer got some needed experience under his belt and should only improve in the coming weeks. Rees played well, again, and it looks like the timing in the passing game is getting better. Look for Cam McDaniel and Tarean Folston to take control of the responsibilities in the running game unless Atkinson can prove he should stay in the mix. Defensively, the Irish are improving and the presence of a couple good rushing attacks (AFA and Navy) in back to back games will bode well for the Irish going forward. 

With young stars like Jaylon Smith, Cole Luke, Devon Butler, Tarean Folston, Corey Robinson and others on the rise, there’s a lot to look forward to as the Irish march on.