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football Edit

Offensive Grades: Despite Stats, Book Improves, O-Line Bulldozes

It's hard to think about Notre Dame's offense performance against USC without honing in on the running game.

The Irish finished with 308 yards, which includes negative four yards from running back Jafar Armstrong, who is still in the process of getting back to full strength after suffering an abdominal tear in week one against Louisville.

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 Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet celebrating his touchdown against USC with offensive linemen (Andris Visockis)
Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet celebrating his touchdown against USC with offensive linemen (Andris Visockis)

Much of this rushing production comes from running back Tony Jones, who ran for 176 yards, but quarterback Ian Book and wide receiver Braden Lenzy also combined to chip in 100 total yards on the ground.

Notre Dame wasn't quite as effective in the passing game, with Book throwing for 165 yards, but it's important to take what the defense gives you.

Plus, it's hard to complain about 473 yards of total offense against a team as talented as USC.

By looking at the Pro Football Focus grade for each offensive player and the number of snaps they played, the offense averaged a 63 rating.

Offense Overal PFF Grade: 63 - "Average"

QUARTERBACK

Areas Where Book Stood Out Positively

Ian Book — Sure, he still had moments where he looked too agitated and flustered in the pocket, but for the most part, this was an improvement in comparison to his performance against Virginia two weeks ago (when he also threw for 165 yards).

This is particularly true on the last drive he led, which finished with Book diving into the end zone for a pivotal touchdown.

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

While Book's touchdown run at the end of this drive might get more play on Sports Center, this was one of the more impressive plays of this drive from the Irish signal-caller.

On this play, Book (12) actually feels pressure on both sides of him by the two USC defensive ends. Earlier in the year (or perhaps, earlier in the game), this may have prompted him to move out of the pocket or even unnecessarily escape for the first down.

Instead, he actually steps up in the pocket and throws a good ball to tight end Cole Kmet for the big first down on third and seven.

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