The defense turned in another solid performance for Notre Dame football on Saturday.
Every week, we grade each position group on the Notre Dame football defense the day after the game. This week, that was difficult to do, mostly because each position group benefitted from the play of one of the other groups throughout the game.
Be that as it may, we’re handing out grades, and not everyone was equal.
Defensive Line: B+
I liked what I saw from the defensive front. There was penetration, quarterback pressure, finishing (three sacks) and the ability to eat up offensive lineman and prevent them from getting to the second level.
Wake Forest’s tempo increased the degree of difficulty early on and probably prevented two or three more sacks. All in all, a solid effort.
The Irish linebackers had the toughest job against the dynamic, fast-paced Demon Deacon offense. For the most part, they got the job done all day. I did, however, see a handful of plays where the defensive line got penetration, taking more than one lineman per man with them, and no linebackers stepping in to fill the gaps. The end results of those plays were chunk runs of over ten yards. Granted, nothing too explosive or game-changing, but definitely something we want to see cleaned up before Stanford and Virginia Tech.
It was nice to see freshman Bo Bauer get some run at the end of the game. For what it’s worth, he looks the part out there, and I think he’s going to be special when he gets his chance to start.
Defensive backs: A
This group was special on Saturday. They play an instrumental role in eliminating receiver Greg Dortch as a factor. Dortch came into the game as the nation’s leader in all-purpose yards. He finished the day with just 56 receiving yards on six catches and did not score. Wake Forest wanted to move quickly and were unable to be effective in doing so all day thanks largely to the tight coverage provided by Julian Love and Co.
This was arguably the biggest test of the season for the Notre Dame secondary and they flat out answered the bell.