The Notre Dame football team prevailed on Saturday against Cal, but many questions remain about the Irish moving forward.
The Notre Dame football team emerged victorious on Saturday afternoon for their first win in the Marcus Freeman era. Here are three things we learned from Saturday’s victory over Cal.
Notre Dame football vs Cal: Things we learned
Irish might be a shade of what experts initially predicted.
Out of the gate, Notre Dame football experts and pundits expected the offensive and defensive lines to carry this year’s squad. In their first two contests, both groups failed to dominate as expected. The offensive line frequently missed their assignments and failed to get a push that would allow the running backs to find daylight. The defensive line played decent but really failed in major moments.
On Saturday, both units took steps forward. Notre Dame generated 147 yards on the ground while getting a noticeably increased push. The defensive line helped the Irish hold the Bears to 112 rushing yards and constantly harassed Cal quarterback Jack Plummer. Led by defensive tackle Jacob Lacey, the defensive line tallied 6 sacks against the Bears.
Although it was not a dominating performance, it is a step in the right direction. If Notre Dame can build upon this performance, the team will be very strong by the end of the year.
Tommy Rees isn’t always calm and cool.
As thousands witnessed on the NBC broadcast and later on plastered all over social media, offensive coordinator Tommy Rees ripped into starting quarterback Drew Pyne. The normally calm and collected Rees expressed the frustration that all Notre Dame football fans felt in the moment. Fair or foul, Pyne performed better as the game progressed.
Rees has many detractors. However, fairly assessing the situation, the former Notre Dame quarterback called an excellent game. He found creative ways to get Pyne easy throws and put the ball in the hands of the best players. It was not terribly exciting but effective with the limitations of the offense.
Even if the Irish finish with a decent record, this is going to be a struggle.
Yesterday, Notre Dame won despite several critical errors down the stretch. Captain J.D. Bertrand was ejected for targeting that negated a game-sealing interception by Clarence Lewis. A selfish attempt by Brandon Joseph almost resulted in a successful Hail Mary for the Cal Bears.
Regardless of the opponent, Notre Dame football is going to make 2022 one of the more exciting and nauseating seasons in recent memory.