Notre Dame Football: Defensive Grades vs. Virginia

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Sep 12, 2015; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Virginia Cavaliers quarterback Matt Johns (15) throws the ball over Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive lineman Daniel Cage (75) in the fourth quarter at Scott Stadium. The Fighting Irish won 34-27. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive Line: C-

Throughout most of the first quarter, the Notre Dame defensive front looked to be on their way to another A-effort game. Senior Sheldon Day was essentially unblockable and was single-handedly making it difficult for Virginia to run the ball up the middle or for Johns to have any time in the pocket to find receivers. Junior Isaac Rochell was also wreaking havoc, and finished with seven tackles, one of them a tackle-for-loss, when it was all said and done.

The rest of the game went the complete opposite of how it started, however. The defensive front was perpetually unable to put pressure on Johns, allowing him to sit back and wait for WR Canaan Severin (11 catches, 153 yards) to get open. The Irish secondary didn’t help too much with that most of the game, but the defensive line has to be more disruptive so as to force opposing quarterbacks into making bad decisions.

Their run defense was adequate, allowing just 127 total rushing yards and mostly bottling up Virginia RB Smoke Mizzell, but if the Irish intend on defeating teams with decent quarterbacks, they’ve got to do more up front or they will be leaving their secondary hanging out to dry.

Next: Grade: Linebackers