In the wake of the prime time debacle it is easy to lose sight of the fact that the whole team isn’t struggling. Notre Dame was able to jump out to an early lead on the strength of some big plays but was not able to do much of anything beyond that point. The defense did fine, holding the Irish to 300 total yards of offense, and a paltry 1 of 14 on third down conversions. The defensive squad did its part time and again, getting the ball back in the hands of the offense. That offense, however, was stymied by a simplistic approach that will haunt them until they can prove they can defeat it.
The Irish stacked the line against the run the majority of the time, daring the Spartans to beat them through the air. This proved to be more than the boys could overcome, though it wasn’t for lack of trying. Maxwell had 45 pass attempts(23-45, 187yds.)but could rarely find the time to take deep shots as he was harassed continually and had to settle for check down plays. Early in the contest, he was able to find a little more time but couldn’t connect on much down field as the drops once again plagued Spartan receivers. I am not trying to take all of the blame for the passing woes from Maxwell’s shoulders, but he was far from alone in making it a long day. The offensive line has to play a little better, and I think it’s time to examine the personnel at the wide receiver spot. If you drop the ball consistently they usually make a DB out of you, don’t they? There are no clear cut options, but there are options regardless. Throwing a young, less experienced player into the mix at this point really doesn’t hold too much risk.
Le’Veon Bell had a pedestrian day(19 carries, 77yds.)but it all goes hand in hand. The simple fact that he was able to get any yards is testament to his talent level. Until the Spartans can threaten opposing secondaries on a regular basis, any team with a modicum of defensive talent will load up the box, and single up the coverage. Receivers could rarely get open against what was supposed to be a relatively weak Irish defensive backfield, and whether that shows a lack of speed or a lack of experience, or both, I am not entirely sure. I believe in this coaching staff, and in the character of the players on this team. I know they will put in whatever work is deemed necessary to sort this issue out. It’s tough watching these guys learn on the job, but we all knew there would be times like this early in the season. We just had let ourselves hope we would never see it happen. Onward and upward.