Notre Dame’s Defense Grades vs. Northwestern


This is bad. This is really bad.

For how dominate and suffocating the defense looked in the first half of the season, it has been the polar opposite in the second. The Notre Dame defense surrendered 43 points and 547 total yards in Saturday night’s loss to Northwestern. One area of concern for the Irish defense is giving up huge chunks of yardage. On Saturday night, the defense allowed plays of 44, 45, and 60. With the Notre Dame’s last scoring drive putting the Irish up 40-29, it appeared the Irish would be picking up their eighth win of the season. But a collapse by the defense and mental mistakes on both the offense and Brian Kelly, the Irish left a win out on the field on Saturday night.

DL: D 

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It feels like decade since I was praising this unit for the job they did against the physical offense of Stanford. Now the defensive line is allowing opposing offensive lines and running backs to have monster games. Northwestern ran for 263 yards and three touchdowns on Saturday. Justin Jackson gutted the unit 23 times for 153 yards. Although some of these stats can be contributed to the linebackers, giving up huge rushing yards starts in the trenches. Jarron Jones and Sheldon Day are wearing down and this could be devastating for the rest of the season. If these two aren’t ready to go against Louisville and USC, start reserving your hotel rooms for another trip back to the Bronx.

LB – D 

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Nyles Morgan looked like a true freshman more times that I can count on Saturday. On a play where we saw Northwestern running back Treyvon Green burst for a 45 yard run, Morgan was physically dominated on the play. The linebackers were nowhere to be found on Trevor Siemian’s fourth quarter rushing touchdown. Defensive breakdowns lead to every one of Northwestern’s scores and most of them started because of the linebackers.

Secondary – D

I feel like I am beating a dead horse when saying that defensive breakdowns doomed the defense, but defensive breakdowns doomed the secondary. I am not sure why Drue Tranquill started and played most of the game, but how many times did you see him on scoring plays? The answer is more than there should have been.  It would be unfair to place all the blame on this unit, but they had a chance to deny Northwestern a field goal. But with the game on the line, they allowed the Wildcats down the field and set them up for the game-tying field goal.

Overall, it was a terrible defensive effort against a team that only scored 15 to Northern Illinois. And right now, I am scared for what might happen Thanksgiving weekend.