Miami vs. Notre Dame: Live Game Grades and Player Analysis for the Irish
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish simply smashed the Miami Hurricanes at Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill.
Winning, 41-3, Brian Kelly's offense was unstoppable all game long on the ground and Everett Golson put on his best performance for the Windy City.
Defensively, the Irish gave up just three points and have allowed only 39 points all season. Miami entered the key matchup averaging over 35 points per contest.
Plus, special teams proved well as kicker Kyle Brindza was perfect on extra points and 2-of-3 on field goals. With all that said, let's look at Notre Dame's entire performance en route to the 5-0 start.
Fourth Quarter: Everett Golson, NA
Fourth Quarter: Tommy Rees, B
Notre Dame's offense was on the field for only one possession in the fourth quarter. Tommy Rees came in and he was given one passing opportunity which he made into a 21-yard completion.
The rest were handoffs and Rees was held in check. Nonetheless, he didn't fumble a snap or handoff and Notre Dame scored another touchdown at the end.
Third Quarter Everett Golson, A+
To this point this game has been Everett Golson's best performance.
He wasn't asked to do much here, though, as the Irish needed to run the clock and keep the Hurricanes offense off the field. Still, Golson displayed his arm strength on some throws and his accuracy is much better than given credit.
Don't expect much in the fourth quarter, however, because Notre Dame leads 34-3.
Second Quarter: Everett Golson, A+
Everett Golson's overall decision-making this quarter was impressive.
Golson didn't turn the ball over and led Notre Dame on a 14-play 65-yard drive to extend the lead, 13-3.
The drive took over seven minutes and that's exactly what Brian Kelly wants against Miami. Toward the end of the half, his three straight completion was even more impressive at getting the Irish another scoring opportunity.
1st Quarter: Tommy Rees, D
1st Quarter: Everett Golson, A+
Tommy Rees didn't last long and it was a good thing.
Although he didn't turn the ball over on Notre Dame's first possession, the Irish failed to move the ball.
So, Brian Kelly put in Everett Golson and everything quickly changed.
Golson led Notre Dame on a scoring drive that gave the Irish a 7-0 lead and they're not looking back. With Rees having gone 0-for-2 on his first possession, Golson's mobility has significantly paid off otherwise.
The 10-play 88-yard drive by Golson was impressive and he's been at the helm ever since.
Fourth Quarter: A+
The offense kept Miami's offense off the field and the Hurricanes were given just two possessions in the final quarter.
On the sole possession, Tommy Rees orchestrated the drive on 13 plays through 93 yards that took almost nine minutes off the clock. Once again no turnovers, and another rushing touchdown gave Brian Kelly's offense 41 points against the 'Canes.
Third Quarter: A+
Brian Kelly's offense put up 21 points in the third quarter.
On three drives in this quarter the Irish converted each into touchdowns and have totally gained full momentum. The running back duo of Cierre Wood and George Atkinson III worked well between the tackles and utilizing patience for the cutback lanes.
And through three quarters of play, Notre Dame has racked up 306 yards rushing and four scores on only 40 attempts.
Second Quarter: A+
Notre Dame hasn't turned the ball over and the Irish are in complete control of this game.
Winning the first half time of possession by almost double that of Miami, it's no surprise the Irish lead at halftime.
Everett Golson and Co. have executed a solid and balanced approach which in turn, has obviously kept the Hurricanes offense off the field. Totaling 263 yards, the Irish have 153 passing to 110 rushing and get the rock to start the second half as well.
First Quarter: A
The Irish have been nicely balanced and it's emphatically apparent.
Everett Golson led a scoring drive on his first possession and he's been spreading the ball around quite well.
In turn, this has allowed Notre Dame's ground game get established and it has forced Miami to honor the pass. Notre Dame's multidimensional attack continues to move the chains effectively and doing so is keeping the Hurricanes' explosive offense off the field.
Fourth Quarter: A+
To open the fourth quarter the Hurricanes were moving fast and quite well.
Stephen Morris was spreading the field and putting the rock between each zone coverage of Notre Dame. Then the red zone happened and the Irish never gave in. Facing a 1st-and-10 from the Notre Dame 16-yard line, Miami saw a 4th-and-1 three plays later.
The Irish never broke and the pressure got to Morris which forced an incomplete pass. This is what Notre Dame fans wanted to see from the defense. Refusing to give up a touchdown to this offense was impressive and expect more confidence from Notre Dame with each new week.
Third Quarter: A+
For as stellar as Notre Dame's defense can be, Manti Te'O and Co. only enhance when well rested.
Thanks to the offense, the Irish defense was only on the field for 12 plays in the third quarter. Miami's first two drives ended in punts and the Hurricanes never sniffed Irish territory. Keeping contain along the defensive line and blanketing in coverage, Notre Dame's game plan is proving near flawless.
Now, let's see if the Irish can keep Miami from reaching the end zone with one quarter left.
Second Quarter: A
After a lucky first quarter that resulted in some dropped passes from Miami, Notre Dame's defense didn't allow any chances in the second.
The Hurricanes tried hitting on the ground to keep Notre Dame honest, however, Manti Te'O and his defense have tightened up across the board. Miami was forced to punt on both its second quarter possessions and ran a total of only 12 offensive plays.
Giving up just 171 total yards, the 'Canes were also limited to being 1-of-6 on third down this half.
First Quarter Grade: B-
Notre Dame's defense has gotten fortunate more than once.
Despite getting burned deep, the Hurricanes' receivers haven't been consistently reliable for quarterback Stephen Morris.
Include some costly penalties for Miami and the Irish are lucky to be leading. Still, Brian Kelly's defense has adjusted well enough to restrict the Canes' explosiveness and minimize the damage altogether.
Fourth Quarter: A
Not much here from the Irish special teams in the final quarter.
Kyle Brindza made his one extra point attempt and that was it.
Third Quarter: A
The Irish only returned one punt and one kickoff this quarter, so the limited number of opportunities for Notre Dame's returners doesn't affect the grade.
Also, punter Ben Turk's services were not needed in the third and kicker Kyle Brindza hit all three extra points. The Irish have consistency here, which will pay dividends as 2012 progresses.
Second Quarter: B+
Three times did kicker Kyle Brindza attempt a field goal in the second quarter.
He connected on the first two from 22 and 32 yards out and extended Notre Dame's lead. Unfortunately, Brindza missed his third shot at quarter's end which would have given the Irish a 16-3 lead.
Nonetheless, Notre Dame has dependability at kicker and his first two makes have been vital to the Irish's overall production.
First Quarter: A-
No kick or punt returns for Notre Dame in the first quarter, but a crucial extra point was converted to get that 7-0 lead. After a Miami field goal, that one additional point was big because another attempted field goal would potentially tie the game for the Hurricanes.
Instead, the Irish remain comfortably ahead and that automatic extra point by Kyle Brindza has been extremely important.
Fourth Quarter: A+
Brian Kelly stayed true to the game plan and never lost sight of correcting any mistakes, regardless of how impressive Notre Dame's lead increased.
The defense didn't let up a touchdown for the third consecutive contest and that red zone stand was the Irish in a nutshell. If Kelly and his staff keep this consistency up through October, perfection is quite possible for the Fighting Irish.
Third Quarter: A+
The game plan didn't get altered and the ground game simply wore down Miami's defense.
Scoring three rushing touchdowns in the third quarter, keeping Stephen Morris off the field and extending the lead in addition ups the Irish coaching grade. And when the defense hit the field, Notre Dame locked in down.
Second Quarter: A
Brian Kelly's game plan of keeping the Miami Hurricanes offense off the field is working to a T.
His own offense remain effectively balanced and with no turnovers in either quarter, the Irish are sitting pretty for the moment. After all, Notre Dame does receiver the second half kickoff and having won the time of possession battle by almost eight minutes, Kelly's defense is feeling confident.
When the third quarter kicks off, don't anticipate much to change from Notre Dame's approach on either side of the ball.
First Quarter: B+
Getting to 5-0 is proving to be a big deal for Brian Kelly.
And it showed right after Notre Dame's first possession when the quarterback change was made. Include a nice balanced attack and the Irish have been controlling this chess match.
Provided that Notre Dame's defense doesn't get burned downfield and this game will gradually get out of hand before the fourth quarter.
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