Week 5: Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma
Not quite 2012 eh? But we knew that already. Notre Dame shot themselves in the foot en route to a 35-21 defeat by 14 points. Incidentally, this number is equal to the amount of point Oklahoma managed to score in the first 3 ½ minutes of the game off 2 Tommy Rees interceptions, one of which was a pick-six. It was a disastrous start to the game and it was almost immediately clear that Notre Dame’s fate was sealed. While there wasn’t exactly a lot to love about this game, there are still a few things worth noting. Namely, a particularly important stat to consider moving forward and (of course) one that maybe you shouldn’t stare at for too long, as it may be misleading. Let’s look at the numbers.
Stat of Importance:
George Atkinson’s Performance: 14 rush atts., 148 yds, 1 TD (Long: 80 yds)
After a first third of the 2013 season that saw fans (myself included) calling for GAII to be regulated to 2nd or possibly 3rd string in the running back pecking order, GAIII went OFF. He was hitting the holes with reckless abandon, kept his pad level low, shredded all the right cut reads and ripped off what amounted to arguably the best single-game performance of his Notre Dame career. His big night was highlighted by his ridiculous display of speed on an 80-yarder to the house. He cut behind Zack Martin on a second-level block downfield and was never heard from again as his track speed took over, all the way to the end zone. He displayed the talent both fans and coaches expected from his since the start of the season and hopes are high he can sustain these kinds of performances week to week. Meanwhile, Cam McDaniel didn’t look nearly as productive as an every-down back as in weeks prior. With the fans and coaches seemingly behind him now, GAIII need to step up and continue to take over moving forward.
Oklahoma Puts Up 35 Points:
The score is discouraging on paper, but that’s about as far as it goes. I can’t help but stress this stat because just recently ESPN reacted to OU’s performance over the first third of the season by claiming the Sooners to be a legitimate BCS title contender. This cannot be farther from the truth at this point, but I digress. Regarding the 35 points: I wouldn’t sweat it. The fan who (somehow) didn’t watch the game would say “Oh man, there’s yet further proof that the defense isn’t what it used to be.” The reality is Notre Dame essentially scored 21 points on themselves. Oklahoma should get credit for just 14 points as a result of their own offensive efforts. Aside from that, Notre Dame handed the Sooners the rest of their point output. This obviously spelled doom for the Irish in the end, having lost by 14, but I wouldn’t look too deeply into this. The reason is simple: turnovers. It is difficult to win when a team (or just a QB) throws 3 INTs in the first half. Notre Dame, meanwhile, came away with 21 points when they could get their heads out of their asses, while giving away at least 21 more to the other team. If you look on the bright side of things (which lord knows this fan base NEEDS to right now) I would argue that the team is trending upwards as opposed to downwards. Arizona State is a FAST team, and their Defense is much more established than Oklahoma’s. It will be hard to properly gauge where the Irish are as a whole following this past weekend, but if the small mistakes aren’t corrected before ASU, it will NOT be much more fun to watch (although those Shamrock series unis are gonna be the TITS!). Either way, GO IRISH!