Notre Dame’s Defensive Grades Vs. Florida State.


I am going to use the obvious cliché and call Notre Dame’s defense a “tale of two halves.” Notre Dame held the high-octane offense of Florida State to only ten points and 107 total yards in the first half. Then Jamesis Winston showed the nation why he is the reigning Heisman trophy winner when he essentially shredded the Irish defense. Winston didn’t put up huge numbers, but he was efficient his throws and they went for huge chunks of yardage. Winston’s 15 for 16 passing in the second half was good enough for a Seminole victory.

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Defensive Line – A

Notre Dame’s front four outplayed and dominated the Seminoles offense live and there is no doubt about it. Sheldon Day and Jarron Jones disrupted whatever Florida State tried to do upfront. The Irish held the Seminoles’ rushing attack to only 56 yards on 26 attempts. Jones had his best game in a Notre Dame uniform by constantly getting pressure on Winston and clogging up running lanes. His best play was an almost sack that set up a pivotal interception in Florida State territory. With Winston scrambling to avoid the sack, Jones’ hit lodged the football into the air and right into Joe Schmidt’s hands. Romeo Okwara stepped up to the occasion with his huge sack in the third quarter. This came after he missed a sack that led to a Noles’ first down. Overall, the defensive line played like an elite unit Saturday night and if they play like that for the rest of the season, Notre Dame will be in business.

Linebackers – B+

This is usually where I talk about how brilliant Jaylon Smith played in Saturday’s game. Smith did play exceptionally well, but Joe Schmidt outshined him. Schmidt’s biggest play of the night came on the aforementioned interception in the second quarter. Schmidt played his most complete game of the season and didn’t let the eyes of the nation rattle him. The Irish will need that if they want a run at the playoff.

But for the missed tackles that plagued the Irish against North Carolina, the linebackers were excellent on wrapping up ball carriers. So I am going to attribute the missed tackling as a one-time deal against UNC, and not the norm.

Secondary – D

Blown coverage after blown coverage allowed Florida State to hang around with Notre Dame and ultimately win them the game. A blown coverage in the first quarter set up the Noles’ first touchdown. It was way too easy for Winston to pick up ten to twelve yards per completion and get the Noles’ down the field to score. If it wasn’t for Jamesis Winston the Irish win huge. Hopefully VanGorder can fix this before the Irish travel to Los Angeles to take on Cody Kessler and USC.