The Notre Dame football team dropped their third game of the season. The defense played well and held Stanford in check for most of the game. However, with the Offense turning the ball over in “minus territory”, it was difficult for the defense to sustain its effort. Here are the grades for the Notre Dame defense.
For the vast majority of the game, the Defensive Line played very well. Jerry Tillery had his best game in a Notre Dame uniform. Tillery contributed 6 tackles including 3 tackles for loss, a sack and 2 Quarterback hurries. Overall, the Notre Dame Defensive Line neutralized Stanford’s front allowing the Linebackers to make tackles.
The biggest issue for the group was their lack of sacks. The Defensive Line was credited with only 2 Quarterback hurries. All were generated by Jerry Tillery. With that being said, other players got close but were not credited. For example, Julian Okwara came off the edge quickly. This forced Stanford Quarterback KJ Costello to step up into the pocket. Unfortunately, he threw a touchdown pass. By not getting Costello on the ground, he doomed a beleaguered secondary.
Like the Defensive Line, the Linebackers played well. The unit had 3.5 tackles for loss. With the front four clearing the way, the Irish Linebackers were able to make many tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage.
Te’von Coney, Drue Tranquill and Nyles Morgan all played very well. As the game wore on, they began to break down mentally and physically. The defense missed several run fits late in the game.
The Notre Dame secondary was exposed by a Quarterback with 6 career starts. KJ Costello threw for 4 touchdowns, the most against the Notre Dame defense.
In addition to the touchdown passes given up, the Notre Dame Cornerbacks and Safeties were called for several interference penalties that kept Cardinal drives alive.
Field position, penalties, and turnovers made for a situation that was not ideal for the defense. A “good” defense cannot overcome these things. A “great” defense, similar to the 2012 unit, does not let these things affect them. The Irish defense showed that they are just “good.”
Mike Elko’s game plan was very smart. He matched Stanford’s personnel with a 4-4 defense. In reality, it was still a 4-3 defense but Tranquill was playing Safety. So, another “Linebacker” was on the field and in the box.