Notre Dame football: Grades from turnaround win against Syracuse

Oct 1, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer (14) hands off in the third quarter against the Syracuse Orange at MetLife Stadium. Notre Dame won 50-33. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 1, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer (14) hands off in the third quarter against the Syracuse Orange at MetLife Stadium. Notre Dame won 50-33. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports /

In desperate need of a win, Notre Dame football came to play Saturday, cruising by Syracuse after a wild first quarter. Here is how everyone graded out.


Notre Dame. DESHONE KIZER. A. Kizer turned in perhaps his finest performance of the year, throwing for a near-school record 471 yards and three touchdowns. He tied his career high for completions with 23, and he added yet another rushing TD to his resume. When the defense was shaky, Kizer was solid and never lost his head. Simply put, he’s the reason Notre Dame won and the Irish’s best chance for a rebound moving forward.. QB

A. Any time you score two touchdowns on 65+ yard passes within the first four minutes of the game, you know you’re having yourself an afternoon. St. Brown was simply unstoppable on ND’s first two drives of the game, showcasing his rapport with DeShone Kizer and providing a deep threat the Irish have lacked without Will Fuller and which Torii Hunter Jr. cannot replace. Oh, and his next two catches both resulted in first downs. Not too shabby.. WR. Notre Dame. EQUANIMEOUS ST. BROWN

JOSH ADAMS. A-. Adams enjoyed an impressive game against the Orange, cracking 100 yards on 20 attempts for an impressive 5.1 yards per carry average. He was also explosive in the passing game, snagging a 44-yard reception and another for eight yards. Just about the only complaint one could have is that he never found the end zone. But given how integral he was to the Irish attack anyway, that’s a minor quibble.. RB. Notre Dame

A-. A week after Brian Kelly cited him as just about the only player with the fire and grit he wanted to see, Williams exploded for 80 yards on just eight attempts Saturday, including an absolutely insane 59-yard dash to the end zone for his third TD on the season, second most on the team behind DeShone Kizer. However, Williams’s grade suffers just a little because outside of that one run, he averaged only three yards per attempt.. RB. Notre Dame. DEXTER WILLIAMS

Sanders reminded us all of how dangerous a return man he can be with a classic 93-yard kick return for a score in the first quarter. From there on out, he had a pretty quiet afternoon, collecting four passes for 39 yards, which is especially limited given how prolific DeShone Kizer was. But still, a 93-yard return is pretty special.. WR/KR. Notre Dame. C.J. SANDERS. A-

WR. Notre Dame. TORII HUNTER JR.. B. Hunter Jr. had a rather pedestrian game, considering the gaudy numbers put up by some of his teammates. But four catches for 64 yards certainly is nothing to sneeze at. Hunter remains DeShone Kizer’s most reliable target when healthy and brings some much needed stability and experience to the wide receiving corps. Saturday merely reaffirmed that.


A-. Morgan remains the most consistent player on Notre Dame’s defense (granted, that’s not much of a compliment), and he maintained his high level of play against Syracuse with eight tackles and a sack. It says something when, five games into the year, one player accounts for an entire team’s total sacks. He also added a tackle and a half for loss. It was an improved tackling Irish defense overall, and Morgan helped to lead the charge.. LB. Notre Dame. NYLES MORGAN

B+. Tranquill was all over the field for Notre Dame on Saturday, leading the Irish with 13 tackles, four of them solo. He was also solid in pass defense, settling in after a chaotic opening to limit Eric Dungey and one of the nation’s best passing games. But with a secondary as young as ND’s, the onus is on Tranquill to play at another level.. S. Notre Dame. DRUE TRANQUILL

B. It was a bounce-back game for Coney, who Brian Kelly said had struggled with fatigue against Duke. Playing Syracuse, he was third on the team with seven tackles, including half of one for a loss, and he also added a QB hurry, the importance of which cannot be overstated when playing a pass-first team like the Orange.. LB. Notre Dame. TE'VON CONEY

CB. Notre Dame. COLE LUKE. B. Moved to the inside as a nickel back, Cole Luke played decently against Syracuse, recording five tackles without defending any passes. But he also didn’t blow any coverages or was made to look foolish either, which is a step in the right direction for the embattled senior. Returning a blocked PAT for two points is also a good way to make an impact.

Next: Is the world ready for a more fiery Brian Kelly?

B+. As a huge part of Notre Dame’s leadership, Rochell needed to have a good game Saturday to allay fans’ worries regarding the defense, and he did just that, registering three tackles, including one for a loss. He wasn’t all over the place, but the defensive end was solid and helped the line to hold strong for a 3.4 yards per carry average.. DE. Notre Dame. ISAAC ROCHELL