The Notre Dame football team took on UNC in Week 4, and here is what surprised us in the 45-32 victory on the road.
In their final game before the bye week, the Notre Dame football team hit the road to take on the North Carolina Tar Heels. For the Irish, a win would move their record to .500 on the season, as they continue to climb out of a 0-2 hole to start the 2022 campaign.
After Saturday, the Notre Dame football team seems to be back on track, as the offense was clicking, and the defense played very well against a tough UNC offense. The Tar Heels came into this game firing on all cylinders on the offensive side of the ball, and looked good early, but the Irish defense clamped down and got the job done.
While the score ended up 45-32, the game was not as close, and the defense played much better than the final score would have indicated. That being said, we look at some things that surprised us on Saturday afternoon.
Notre Dame football at UNC: What surprised us in the 45-32 victory
The play of Drew Pyne
When Tyler Buchner went down with an injury against Marshall, nobody really knew what to expect from Drew Pyne. After struggling out of the gate in his first start against Cal, Pyne has taken off, and it is clear he is starting to gain the respect, and trust of offensive coordinator Tommy Rees.
On Saturday, Pyne showed incredible leadership on the field, and the statistics were there in what would be a breakout performance for him. He threw for nearly 300 yards and three touchdowns against no interceptions, and you have to think his arrow is certainly pointing up going into the bye week.
Explosion on the ground
The Notre Dame football team had to establish the run game on Saturday, keeping an explosive North Carolina offense off the field. The Irish not only established the run game, they dominated on the ground, with three players carrying it ten or more times, led by Audric Estime.
Estime, a true sophomore, ran wild over UNC, rushing for a career-high 134 yards and two touchdowns. Chris Tyree ran the ball 15 times for 80 yards and a score, while Logan Diggs was a dual threat for the Irish, rushing ten times for 50 yards, and also catching three passes for 65 yards and a score.
If they run the ball this way the rest of the year, they are going to be a tough out.
Linebacker JD Bertrand is a captain of this Notre Dame football team, but he has been hit with targeting calls the last two games. Late in the win against Cal, Bertrand had a targeting call that forced him to sit out the first half against UNC, and now, he will be forced to sit out the first half against BYU.
With under 12 minutes left in the game, Bertrand was called for targeting once again and while the call was borderline, it is not something the Irish defense can afford to happen.
The Notre Dame football team takes on UNC in Week 4 on the road, and here are the keys to victory for them against the Tar Heels.
Notre Dame football can now go into their bye week on the heels of back-to-back victories, and you have to think they have turned the corner on both sides of the ball. With eight games remaining, they have a chance to get back into the national picture, with games against Clemson, USC, and BYU on the horizon.