Notre Dame’s Defensive Grades Vs. USC.


Nov 29, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans receiver George Farmer (8) is defended by Notre Dame Fighting Irish cornerback Devin Butler (12) on a 31-yard touchdown reception at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


What a fall from grace this unit has suffered over the last few weeks. It didn’t seem like long ago when I was ready to compare this year’s defense to the 2012 unit. But I’m having flashbacks to those Weis-ran defenses where a team can score on any given play. And this was the case all day Saturday afternoon against the Trojans in which I had to hold my breath every time Cody Kessler dropped back in the pocket. Is this unit going to be fix by the bowl game? I am not sure but I am going to take a guess and say probably not. But here are the grades for Notre Dame’s defense against the USC Trojans:

Defensive Line – D

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Going into the game and during the Notre Dame’s three-game losing streak, the defense has given up 680 rushing yards at an average of 226 yards per game. Well the defense followed suit again and allowed 205 yards on the ground. A chunk of this yardage was allowed on first and second down runs, and this set up USC’s 13 of 18 third down conversions. To be but bluntly, USC’s offensive line overmatched the Irish’s defensive front and the stats showed it.

Linebacker – D 

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  • I thought the defense was going to be okay when Jaylon Smith stopped the Trojans’ first possession with a sack. But that was just a little tease because USC would score on their second possession and not look back. Smith did have a productive day by tallying 14 total tackles along with his lone sack. Nyles Morgan’s first half suspension robbed us on seeing his progression. But by the time he saw his first action, the game was well out of reach. Greer Martini was exposed on Kessler’s second passing touchdown in the second quarter. Would Morgan have prevented that play? Probably not, but the youth of this unit was shown Saturday afternoon.

    Secondary – F 

    Kessler looked like Uncle Rico out there Saturday by dropping passes wherever he wanted on the secondary. The return of Max Redfield and Elijah Shumate did not help the cause because we saw Kessler have a career day Saturday afternoon. The Trojan play-caller tossed six touchdown passes in which we saw 5 of them coming in the first half. For how well Cole Luke has played all season, he looked exposed and vulnerable most of the game. Devin Butler looked like he never defended a receiver in his life and he was picked on early and often.

    This is the time where I say the is unit needs to get better before XYZ quarterback comes to town, but my predictions have come to fruition. It doesn’t matter which quarterback the Irish will face in the bowl game, the norm is that he will look like an All-American when he does. All we can do is hope that the players can recover in the next few weeks to compete.