Grades: Offense


In the final meeting between the two schools, Notre Dame sent Michigan home with a goose egg in what was an overall impressive victory for the Irish.

This game couldn’t have been scripted better for Notre Dame. The defense forced the Wolverines to turn the ball over four times and got to the quarterback twice. Offensively, the offense was able to put up a solid score, but when you go back and watch the film, the Irish could have put up an extra touchdown or two on the board. Everett Golson, like last week, played a great game, but his supporting cast on the offense didn’t play as well. Don’t get me wrong, Notre Dame has a great offense, but looking towards the future, where the Irish have to play three ranked teams in a row (Stanford, North Carolina, and Florida State), there’s no doubt the offense needs to be better if they want to win those key games.

Offensive Line: C+

The offensive line was good enough to allow Golson to run around and make plays, but their ability to push in the running game and keep Golson in the pocket was sub par. Let’s be honest with ourselves, if Tommy Reese was playing quarterback last night, Michigan’s front seven would have had a field day in the Irish’s backfield. Golson was sacked just once, but that’s only because he was able to escape the pocket whenever Michigan brought the pressure. Golson was forced to throw the ball away before the play was able to develop.

More from Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Michigan is a pretty good team, but let’s not forget that they went into the game unranked coming off a win against Appalachian State. The level of competition coming up in the Irish schedule is only going to get better. If Notre Dame can fine tune its offensive line in time for their key games, they’ll have a better chance of outplaying most defenses.

Running Backs: C

This game was really one-dimensional for the Irish. As much as Brian Kelly tried to integrate the run-game into the offense, it just wasn’t working for them. On 26 carries, the Notre Dame running backs picked up a mere 68 yards along with a touchdown from Cam McDaniels. The most disappointing statistic out of the rushing attack was the 2.6 yards per carry. I understand that the offensive line play a big part in how the running backs perform, but at some point, the backs just have to make the plays necessary to make the rushing attack relevant in a game. There’s no way Notre Dame will be able to beat teams like Stanford picking up a little more than two yards per carry.

Receiver: B+

Seven different receivers caught passes for Golson giving the offense a wide range of targets. As a receiving corp, the Irish hauled in 23 passes along with three touchdowns. Both William Fuller and Amir Carlisle played great games. Fuller caught nine passes for 89 yards and a fantastic touchdown grab at the end of the first half. Carlisle played extremely well in the slot catching the ball seven times for 61 yards to go along with two great touchdown passes. Despite the solid play from the receivers, I can only give them a B+. Why? Drops.

Quarterbacks: A-

Everett Golson. If I could leave it at that, I would, but Golson deserves to be praised on how well he’s been playing. Brian Kelly joked about Golson being included in the Heisman race, but I think Golson should seriously be considered if he keeps up the high level of play. Although he wasn’t able to make much of an impact on the ground last night, his numbers through the air surely impressed many Heisman voters. Completing about 68% of his passes, Golson racked up 226 yards along with three touchdowns. Regardless of his offensive line’s average play, Golson was able to shred the Michigan defense inside and outside the pocket. There were a few times where Golson wasn’t on the same page with his receivers, but that should improve with time and practice. After yesterday’s win, Golson now has 521 yards passing to go along with 8 total touchdowns and 0 turnovers. Those numbers should improve next Saturday against Purdue, who lost yesterday 38-17 to Central Michigan.

Notre Dame ended its play with rival Michigan on the highest note possible going into the Shamrock Series against Purdue. If Notre Dame can continue to fix the minor details in their offense, there’s no doubt that they’ll be considered one of the more explosive offenses in college football in weeks to come.