There’s only one name you need to know after Notre Dame’s game against Georgia Tech, and that’s C.J Prosise. Even with the injury-bug taking players out week after week, the Irish have found a way to effectively move the ball down the field to score touchdowns and keep opposing offenses out of their end zone. Zaire is no longer at the helm at quarterback, but Prosise has had no problem carrying the load.
Last week, Prosise rushed for 155 yards and scored a pivotal touchdown after Zaire went down. This past Saturday, he carried the ball 22 times for 198 yards and three touchdowns. Despite being looked at as an underdog at home, Notre Dame found a way to prove the critics wrong once again after their 30-22 win against Georgia Tech.
Offensive Line: A-
This offensive line is without a doubt proving to be one of the most effective in the country thus far. For the third straight game, Notre Dame has rushed for over 200 yards. Without the push of this offensive line, Prosise can’t have the success he’s had in recent weeks. In addition to elevating the rushing attack to an elite level, the offensive line has done exceptionally well in keeping DeShone Kizer upright. In his first start, Kizer was able to take his time in the pocket for the majority of the game and make the necessary reads to manage the game.
The most notable play came on the 91-yard rush by Prosise in the third quarter. If you watch that play closely, each offensive lineman hits their block perfectly. Quentin Nelson pulls out and takes care of the defensive end in what looks like a power run out of the spread. Right tackle Mike McGlinchey and right guard Steve Elmer both move up to the second level of the Georgia Tech defense and take care of business there giving Prosise a clear lane past the linebackers and through the secondary for a 91-yard score. If the line can play as efficiently and precisely (let’s not forget to stay healthy either) as they did against Georgia Tech, this offense’s potential has no limits.
Running backs: A-
My evaluation on the backfield this week is similar to last week’s. Prosise carried the running backs on his own for an outstanding 198 yards and three touchdowns, and not one other running back carried the ball for more than 10 yards. I don’t like that Prosise has to carry the load on his own. He shouldn’t have to, and I get that some may argue that if Prosise is doing well, Brian Kelly should just keep feeding him the ball, but placing all the pressure on one player can be taxing. Josh Adams needs to step up as a legitimate back up to make this backfield complete.
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Looking just at Prosise, he played a magnificent game, and I can not stress that enough. After Saturday, all I heard the experts talk about was how great of a game Leonard Fournette played for LSU. He ran for over 228 yards and three touchdowns in LSU’s blowout win over Auburn. That’s a pretty good stat line for a running back, but that’s just 30 yards more than what Prosise did against Georgia Tech. Take away 30 yards from Fournette and they have the exact same numbers. So why isn’t anyone talking about Prosise? He’s the leader of this offense and the reason the offense has produced the way it has this season.
Before this season started, Prosise was considered a dark horse pick for the Heisman. If he keeps playing the way he’s playing now, he could have a legitimate shot at winning college football’s most prestigious award.
Wide Receivers: B+
I shouldn’t even grade the receivers as a group. Fuller is the clear-cut number one receiver for this team, and he’s shown why once again Saturday. He caught six passes for 131 yards and a touchdown, which is now his third straight game with a least 100 yards receiving. He ranks fifth in the country in receiving yards and tied for first for most receiving touchdowns. It’s clear that he’s a guy that Biletnikoff award voters should be looking closely at.
Outside of Fuller, Notre Dame’s wide receivers didn’t really play up to their potential. Chris Brown had a solid performance hauling in eight passes for 65 yards. He didn’t produce much in the first two games, but his ability to help Kizer move the chains was key. Whenever Fuller was covered by two defensive backs, Brown found an opening for Kizer to throw to. Notre Dame needs more consistency from the rest of its receiving corp to give Kizer more options. The tight ends were once again nearly non-existent. Alize Jones made three grabs, but gave away the ball late in the first half on a fumble.
DeShone Kizer had a solid game against Georgia Tech considering it was the first start of his career. He completed 21 of 3o pass attempts for 242 yards and a touchdown. He didn’t make any flashy plays or do anything spectacularly note-worthy, but he managed the game well. That’s all Notre Dame needs him to do. When Fuller goes deep down the field, throw to him in stride and let him do the rest. When the offense needs a first down, make the right reads and throw it to the receiver with the best chance of moving the chains.
It’s clear that Kizer still has work to do when looking at the interception he threw. There was a good amount miscommunication between him and his receivers on his incompletions. With more reps with the first string offense in practice and game experience, Kizer will eventually get the offense down, and maybe at that point, he’ll be able to let loose a little bit and take more chances. But until then, Kizer looks like he’s simply going to be a good game manager.