BlueAndGold - Defensive Grades: Ends Apply Pressure, PFF Wrong About Bilal, Bracy
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Defensive Grades: Ends Apply Pressure, PFF Wrong About Bilal, Bracy

Often using a three-man front, the Notre Dame defense did its job well enough for the Irish to get a 30-27 win over rival USC.

In the first half, the three-man front kept the Trojan's pass-heavy offense out of the endzone, but that changed in the second half.

(Andris Visockis)
(Andris Visockis)

On all four second-half offensive possessions, USC scored. This included three touchdowns and a field goal.

As it may have seemed, this did not come from the Trojans deciding to run the ball more. USC running backs carried the ball a combined 27 times during the game, and just 12 of those came in the second half. The Trojans did, however, produce a higher average yard per carry, with 5.6 yards per attempt in the first half compared to 7.3 yards per attempt in the second.

The biggest difference between the first and second half appeared to be a lapse in pass coverage, some of which can be attributed to fewer defenders than usual rushing the passer.

Still, the defense had a disruptive day, despite USC protecting the ball and never turning it over.

By looking at the Pro Football Focus grade for each regular defensive rotation player and the number of snaps they played, the defense averaged a 63 rating.

Defense Overal PFF Grade: 63 - "Average"

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Standout of the Game

Pass Rush — Throughout most of the game, the Irish defensive ends had a strong pass rush against the Trojans, even with just three players going after the quarterback.

By looking at the PFF grade for each defensive end and the number of snaps they played, they averaged a 77.5 pass rush rating, which is considered "Good."

Notre Dame vs. USC (NBC Sports)
Notre Dame vs. USC (NBC Sports)

On the play above, it's third down and technically four defensive linemen are on the field, but Jamir Jones (44) actually drops into covers.

Khalid Kareem (53) actually gets the quarterback and gets the sack, but you can see the nasty spin move Julian Owkara (42) puts on USC right tackle Drew Richmond (53) keeps quarterback Kedon Slovis in the pocket.

Notre Dame also used some well-timed blitz to assist the three-man front and get to the quarterback.


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