Notre Dame football: Stock report after Week 6
Notre Dame was coming off a big win against Duke last week and was hoping that momentum would carry on to the road game against Louisville. However, it wasn’t meant to be as the Cardinals pulled away in the second half to get a 33-20 victory.
The offense had a brutal day, as Sam Hartman threw for 254 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. As bad as it was passing the ball, it was the ground game that completely let Notre Dame down.
The Fighting Irish carried the ball 28 times, gaining only 44 yards. Audric Estime, the leading rusher on the season, got the ball 10 times for 20 yards.
Let’s take stock of Notre Dame after Week 6.
Player of the Week: LB JD Bertrand
The senior linebacker has been a tackling machine, as he followed up an 11-tackle game against Duke with another 9 tackles and one sack against Louisville. The defense was solid against the Cardinals’ passing game, holding Jack Plummer to 145 passing yards.
That type of performance by the passing defense is big because they have a different breed of passing attack coming in. USC will be coming to South Bend in Week 7, so the secondary is going to have to be ready to go. Having Bertrand able to get teammates in the right spot is a must in that game.
Freshman/Newcomer of the Week: WR Jordan Faison
Faison got in the stat book for the first time in his career, catching 2 passes for 48 yards and 1 touchdown. His touchdown was in the second quarter, tying the game at 7-all.
The Fighting Irish have a lot of young talent on the team, especially at the skill positions. While it was a tough night for Notre Dame in this game, there is a lot of potential and excitement for the future, and Faison is definitely a part of that.
Biggest surprise: The inability of the offense to do anything
It hasn’t been the best start for the offense for Notre Dame this year, but Saturday night was a new low for the offense.
The ground game was absolutely terrible, as the Fighting Irish rushed the ball 28 times for 44 yards. That is just barely over 1.5 yards per carry. The passing game wasn’t much better, but Notre Dame football is known to be a grind-it-out kind of team. Simply put, on Saturday night, the Fighting Irish got dominated at the line of scrimmage.
Sam Hartman wasn’t much better, as he threw for 254 yards and 2 touchdowns. However, it was the 3 interceptions and 2 fumbles that absolutely killed the offense. With USC coming in, the Notre Dame offense will have to put some things together and take advantage of a Trojan defense that isn’t very good.
Biggest concern: The struggles of the offensive and defensive lines
Even in the loss to Ohio State this season, Notre Dame wasn’t dominated at the line of scrimmage. In fact, the Irish imposed their will on Ohio State a decent amount. However, on Saturday, this was the first time they were dominated on both sides.
The offense couldn’t rush the ball at all. The Cardinals were able to get five sacks against Notre Dame. The defensive line wasn’t much better, as the Cardinals rushed the ball 40 times for 185 yards. Jawhar Jordan was the go-to running back for Louisville, rushing 21 times for 143 yards and 2 touchdowns.
If Notre Dame is going to get its season on the right track, then the Fighting Irish need to win the line of scrimmage.
Developing trend: Lack of ability to stay on the field
There are many things right now that Notre Dame needs to fix on offense, but all the issues are making it impossible to stay on the field.
The Fighting Irish were 3-of-13 on 3rd downs and 0-of-2 on 4th downs. When you turn the ball over 5 times, that is already making life difficult for the defense. Now, when they aren’t turning the ball over, the offense can’t convert on 3rd downs.
Asking the defense to continue to get off the field is starting to take its toll, and it could be absolutely devastating next week against USC.
Key stat: 5 turnovers
Simply put, if the Fighting Irish are going to turn the ball over 5 times a game, they won’t win another game. Hartman had five turnovers, but those turnovers aren’t all on him at all. A very solid part of the blame goes to the offensive line.
Hartman was facing a ton of pressure all day, as the Cardinals were able to apply pressure all night. Whether they blitzed or only rushed with four players, Louisville made it very tough for Notre Dame.
This is one of those games where the offense has to look itself in the mirror. It was that level of bad. Moving forward, every single player on the offense has to be much better if the Fighting Irish are going to get on the right track.
First impression about Week 7
It doesn’t get any easier for Notre Dame as reigning Hein Wisman trophy winner Caleb Williams and the USC Trojans will be coming to South Bend.
It will be a very interesting matchup as USC has one of the top offenses in the country, but a very questionable defense. Notre Dame should be able to move the ball better against USC, but the defense is facing a much tougher challenge this week.
Through 6 games this year, Williams has thrown for 1,822 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 1 interception. He is the best player in college football and will be a huge challenge for Notre Dame.
Per ESPN’s FPI, the Irish have a 61.8% chance of winning.