Notre Dame football went down to Georgia with major questions about its defense. It comes back with most of those questions answered.
Normally, this weekly post is dedicated to grading Notre Dame’s defensive positions groups and how they performed in the past week’s game. Today, however, it might be best to simply suffice it to say that Notre Dame football has a defense that is good enough for them to compete at a championship level.
Was the defense completely dominant? No. After all, the Irish was unable to force Georgia into a turnover, excluding the recovered fumble on a muffed punt in the second quarter. But the Irish defense went toe-to-toe against perhaps the most physical opponent it will face all season.
Unfortunately, the defense didn’t get a lot of help in the second half. It’s fair to point out that the Irish defenders looked to be wearing down as the game progressed as the time of possession war became more and more unbalanced in Georgia’s favor.
In the end, however, the Irish defense tightened when it needed to tighten. It held Georgia to 23 points and forced a talented quarterback in Jake Fromm to make a few perfect throws to beat them.
The Irish had Georgia stymied for much of this game.
Perhaps most impressively, however, down 23-17 late in the game, the Irish defense had its back against the wall. If the Irish were going to complete the comeback, it would need the defense to force a three-and-out. It did just that and gave Ian Book and company an opportunity to win the game.
There’s not a lot more you can ask of a defense who replaced its two starting middle and its two starting interior defensive lineman, especially against a physical team like Georgia.
The bottom line is this: There isn’t much to worry about in regards to this Notre Dame defense in terms of talent and scheme. The Irish defense should be the backbone of this team as the season progresses.