Ten Initial Thoughts: Notre Dame Outlasts Louisville
Here are 10 thoughts, musings and observations from Notre Dame's 12-7 win over Louisville on Saturday, which moved the Irish to 4-0 and 3-0 in the ACC.
1. Weird Day
What an odd game script. In some ways, the numbers suggest the win should’ve been more comfortable. Notre Dame had the ball for 36:15 and went 8-for-14 on third downs. But this was a close game because it was devoid of finished drives and big plays. Notre Dame averaged 9.7 yards per catch, had no completions 20 or more yards downfield and no plays of 30-plus yards. It scored one touchdown on its first four red zone trips.
2. Initial Downfield Emphasis
The lack of downfield completions stood out because Notre Dame started the game trying to hit them. Given the numbers and personnel, it made sense. Kevin Austin was fully healthy. Javon McKinley had 107 yards the week before. And Louisville was allowing 8.2 yards per attempt through four games, with 10 plays of at least 30 yards allowed.
Notre Dame hammered Florida State with 12 and 13 personnel. Its first drive against Louisville, though, was spent mostly in 11 personnel and (one running back, one tight end, three receivers) had eight pass calls against four designed runs.
But nothing was really available downfield. Notre Dame’s longest passing gains were 18 yards to Austin and 16 yards each to freshman tight end Michael Mayer and grad student Bennett Skowronek, and those were shorter routes with yards after the catch. Receiver concerns that went on the backburner after the win against Florida State resurfaced today.
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