Notre Dame’s Defensive Grades Against Louisville


Nov 22, 2014; South Bend, IN, USA; Louisville Cardinals quarterback Reggie Bonnafon (7) rushes the ball against Notre Dame Fighting Irish cornerback Cole Luke (36) during the second quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Big plays.

Another week in the books and another week where Notre Dame’s defense is giving up huge plays. But the thing that is most troubling on Saturday afternoon was that a lot of those plays came on third down. The most blatant instances of this were Louisville’s first two drives of the game.  On the first drive, on third and 14, Michael Dwyer outran Jaylon Smith for 26 yards and the first down. Louisville would end up driving down the field and scoring a touchdown. Then on a third and 16 on the Cardinals’ second drive, Reggie Bonnafon hit Kai DeLa Cruz for 52 yards, which took them down to the Notre Dame 13 yard line. And just like that, Notre Dame was down 14-3 and would have to fight their way back. The defense would improve throughout the rest of the game, but it wouldn’t be enough for the Irish to pull out the win on Senior Day. But here are the grades for Notre Dame’s defense against Louisville:

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Defensive Line – C

Just like last week, the defense surrendered massive amounts of yardage on the ground. The Cardinals ran for 229 yards in the game while Brandon Radcliff led all backs with 136 yards on 17 carries. For you guys keeping score at home, during Notre Dame’s current three-game skid, the defense has given up 680 rushing yards at an average of 226 yards per game. I would like to also note that Jarron Jones Sheldon Day not being in the game helped boost those numbers.

The defensive line was able to get constant pressure on Bonnafon though. Jacob Matuska and Issac Rochell were able to record sacks in the loss. But, if there are any more injuries along this unit against USC, STS editor Andrew Hall might be suiting up on the line in the bowl game.

Linebackers – B  

Jaylon Smith finally has shown up after having relatively pedestrian games during the last few games. Besides not being able to hunt down Dwyer in the first quarter, Smith looked like the leader of a defense that Notre Dame desperately needs. Nyles Morgan game will be summed up by the two personal fouls he committed including a targeting call that got him ejected. But, before the targeting call, Morgan racked up 10 tackles and flashed the skills that made him such a highly touted recruit. The Irish won’t have Morgan for the first half against USC, but hopefully he will come in and the second half and play with the high intensity he did on Saturday.

Defensive Back – B- 

Let me get this out of the way first, Cole Luke receives an A for the play he had on Saturday.  Notre Dame only gave up 180 yards on Saturday but it could have been worse. But the aforementioned DeLa Cruz catch in the first quarter was a back breaker.

With that being said, what is going on with the safeties? You guys remember when I was praising Max Redfield and Elijah Shumate for picking up their game after a terrible Rice game? Well they have now been demoted and the safeties are getting torched. I am not sure what they did to deserve this, but they need to be on the field against USC. Notre Dame can’t afford to let the USC athletes to run wild behind the defense. I am not going to be able to sleep thinking about Cody Kessler and company playing this defense.