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Sunday, 5 October 2014

Notre Dame 17, Stanford 14: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Notre Dame touchdown


If you are a fan of old school, smash mouth, defensive football; then you were in for a treat with the battle in South Bend between Stanford and Notre Dame.

This game was a defensive coaches dream as both squads came out to play in one of the toughest, hard fought games in College Football this season.

The game was destined to come down to a late drive, a mistake, and a strong defensive stand.  Notre Dame provided all of these events, and maintained their perfect record by holding off the strong Stanford Cardinal 17-14.

Here was the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly from the game:


The Good

Notre Dame Defense – There was not just one dominant force, but a full team effort that just eliminated most chances for the Stanford Cardinal to get into any rhythm.  Notre Dame brought disguised pressure on several plays, and had Stanford QB Kevin Hogan running for his life for the bulk of the game.  It just seemed that when Notre Dame needed to make a big play, a blitz was dialed up and Stanford was just not able to get any positive momentum.  If there was an MVP to be handed out on the defense then it would go to Sophomore Cole Luke with his two interceptions, and great defense on Stanford Wide Receiver Ty Montgomery.

Henry Anderson – Stanford Senior Defensive End Henry Anderson had an outstanding game just dominating the line of scrimmage and making big plays to keep Stanford in the game.  Notre Dame tried everything to neutralize Anderson, but he was a disruption on every play.  A nationwide audience saw how impressive Anderson could play, and he gained some much-deserved respect from the viewing public. 

Notre Dame’s Final Drive – Notre Dame’s offense seemed to be stymied on offense for the bulk of the game as Stanford held the high powered offense to just 2 scores before the final drive.  Notre Dame QB Everett Golson came to life on the last drive and put the team on his back as he led them to victory.  Golson just seemed to make every necessary play at the end, and found Tight End Ben Koyack with a beautiful pass in the back of the end zone for the game winning score.  Winners make plays in the clutch, and Golson was clutch.


The Bad

Wayne Lyons – The Senior Cornerback had been solid all season up until this game.  Notre Dame targeted Lyons early and often with double-move routes and when he was on an island in one on one opportunities.  Lyons just did not seem comfortable all game as he committed several egregious penalties, including losing coverage on his man that led to the final score for Notre Dame.  Lyons has talent at the position, but he will need to shore up his cover skills, or he will be viewing games from the sideline, not as a participant.

Stanford Penalties – Stanford used to pride themselves on playing games with limited penalties. However, again, the penalty bug crept in and that led to another Cardinal loss.  Several of these penalties just killed early offensive drives for Stanford, and took them out of position to gain any rhythm.  Then again at the end of the game, a pass interference penalty gave Notre Dame prime field position to make a run at a game winning score.  Penalties are game killers, and if the Cardinal to have any chance at a PAC 12 title, they will need to shore this area of their game up. 

Notre Dame Band – It is almost unheard of speaking about how a band can hinder a football game, but the Notre Dame Marching Band almost caused a 15-yard penalty due to playing music at times when they were warned not to get involved.  During a key possession late in the first half, the officials became aware of the issue, and almost gave Stanford a first down on a drive with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.  Everyone loves to hear the band, but if the band causes the team to lose, yikes!



Notre Dame Special Teams – When your team jumps up and down like they won the game on a simple 45-yard field goal, there may be issues.  Notre Dame had several chances to score on the Cardinal, but two botched holds almost gave the game to Stanford.  Notre Dame also made a concerted effort not to kick to Ty Montgomery, but on a kickoff in a key situation, they allowed Montgomery to make a return, and he delivered with a 42-yard return that gave the Cardinal great field position on a scoring drive.  The Fighting Irish will have to correct this or they will be in severe trouble against some of the teams that they are facing in the near future.

Weather – The best way to describe the weather in South Bend for the game was “nasty”.  The weather never got above 42 degrees, and was in a constant state of rain and blustery winds.  It was almost impossible for either quarterback to make a long pass due to the conditions, and the ball just seemed to be on the ground on every play.  Normally sure handed players dropped simple passes, and several fumbles occurred due to the slippery nature of the ball.  At least this year Notre Dame had the good fortune of putting in the field turf before the season or this would have been a repeat of the mud bowl game from 2012. 



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