There are many reasons why Notre Dame football is currently 7-0, and the impact of the defensive unit and underclassmen stepping up are some of the biggest.
At the beginning of the season, we questioned if the Irish would redshirt some of their freshmen players on such a talented defensive unit. If there was any question of Houston Griffith being redshirted, he put it to rest right away. He has been key to the success Notre Dame football is having this year.
If you watch the games, you know who he is. Outside of that, getting his name out there is more difficult due to the players around him on head coach Brian Kelly’s stout defensive unit.
As Kelly has started to dress fewer and fewer freshman, Griffith’s spot has become more solidified.
Griffith has been a clutch player after securing the starting nickel job.
Irish Illustrated defines a “third down win” as a player who contributed to stopping an opponent from moving the chains. Griffith has eight of those wins.
But, as is true with any freshmen, there is a learning curve. Stanford was able to really target Griffith and find success when doing so. Thankfully for the Irish, the rest of the defense played superbly that night in the 38-17 victory.
You can expect the learning curve to balance out with how talented Griffith is. Before playing a single snap in a college football game, the Irish worked him from cornerback, safety and eventually to nickel.
With his current level of play, it’s safe to assume he has the highest ceiling on the defense and maybe on the team.
For now, we’ll stick to the fact of what we’ve seen, which is Griffith being the unsung hero of the first half of the season, making plays and providing depth in a position group that is talented but thin.