Key takeaways from Notre Dame’s victory over Syracuse – Defense Edition


Notre Dame (5-3) earned a well-deserved and convincing 41-24 victory over #16 Syracuse, giving the Irish their second straight win and fifth win in six games. The Irish defense got off to a good start and played a big part in the win.

As is the case with most games, there were areas where improvement was needed or corrections needed to be made, but overall the Irish defense outplayed the Orange offense and again played a role. key in a victory.

Here are the main takeaways from the Notre Dame defense after the win.

Disruptive play was the key to success – Notre Dame has had times when it has been disruptive in certain areas this season, particularly when it comes to the pass rush. What we didn’t see, however, was the general disruption we saw in the win over Syracuse. In fact, there were moments in the second half when the pass rush wasn’t there, but the Irish were able to make saves through other methods of disruption.

Notre Dame entered the game ranked 16th nationally in sacks per game, but the defense only ranked 51st in tackles for loss per game. This means that the disruption of the racing game was not there. That wasn’t the case against Syracuse, as the Irish defense racked up four stoppages behind the line.

The Irish had managed just one pass all season, but they doubled that mark against Syracuse, and a third interception was nullified by an offside penalty. Cornerback Cam Hart also had a chance for another interception, but he couldn’t take it. This level of passing game disruption was necessary, and not something we’ve seen enough of this season.

Notre Dame finished the game with eight tackles for loss, four sacks and the two interceptions already discussed. Notre Dame also entered the game against Syracuse as the middle of the road team when it comes to forcing completions, giving up 58.7 percent completions on the season. Syracuse entered the game completing 69% of their passes on the season, but the Irish held them 16-36 through the air, good for a success rate of just 44.4%. Syracuse’s 104.16 passer rating against Notre Dame was its lowest all season.

The Irish also limited Syracuse to just 6.3 yards per pass attempt, 2.4 yards per rush attempt and season lows of 286 yards and 4.7 yards per play.

Run Defense intensifies – Going into the game, we discussed the need for Notre Dame’s inconsistent running defense to step up and not let talented running backs Sean Tucker Beat them.

Mission accomplished.

Tucker entered the game 19th in the nation in rushing yards per game, which comes a year after rushing for 1,496 yards and 12 touchdowns. Notre Dame held the talented rusher to just 60 yards on 16 carries, and 21 of those yards came on a run early in the game. Other than that, Notre Dame’s defense held Tucker in check.

Syracuse finished averaging just 2.4 yards per carry and just 61 rushing yards, its lowest rushing total of the season.

Stopping the ground attack has forced Syracuse to be more passing heavy, and that’s not their strength. It played into what Notre Dame wanted to achieve and played a key role in the Irish victory.

It was also a welcome sign for a defense that had been extremely erratic in stopping the run this season. Our Lady will need this to be a sign that things are moving forward.

Linebackers continue their ascent – Notre Dame linebacker play has been a major concern and issue throughout the season. The unit had a much better performance against UNLV, but against Orange it broke down and looked like the unit we expected it to have this season.

The Notre Dame fans played fast, they were active, they made impact plays and they limited mistakes. The confusion and inability to get out of blocks that plagued them for much of the season was not evident against Syracuse.

Mike linebacker JD Bertrand had a great game, attacking down the hill throughout, sniffing play on screen and Syracuse blockers struggled to get him a body. It was a comeback game for Bertrand, and the second quality performance in a row he has achieved, which is a very good sign. Notre Dame is much better in defense when Bertrand plays well.

Does the linebacker Marist Liufau also played with more speed and decision in this game. He was good in coverage, played with strong gap integrity on pressure and avoided big misses that resulted in big plays for the opposition. Liufau also made a huge interception in the fourth quarter that sparked an Irish rout.

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Vagabond Jack Kisser didn’t put in big numbers (a tackle), but his read on an early Syracuse backhand turned a 2nd-and-1 into a 3rd-and-7, which led to a quick three and out of Syracuse’s offense .

Second half struggles – Notre Dame continues to struggle to put the teams away defensively. Coming into the game against Syracuse, the Irish defense had allowed just 63 first-half points in seven games, but the defense allowed 90 in the second half of games this season.

This trend continued against Syracuse, who scored just one goal in the first half. The defense allowed 10 points in the third quarter to help turn a 24-7 lead into a 24-17 game. He didn’t get much help from the attack at times, but we saw some of the same mistakes that plagued the defense play out in the second half. This included third and long struggles (the defense gave up a 3rd and 8 conversion with a transfer), struggles containing quarterback runs and long plays in the passing game.

Syracuse had just one touchdown in the fourth quarter and the defense closed things down late, but the teams continue to come out of halftime with adjustments that are causing problems for the Irish defense.

This needs to be fixed at some point, and hopefully very soon.

The red zone woes continue – Of course, nothing is more concerning than Notre Dame’s inability to stop teams once they enter the red zone. After Syracuse turned its three red-zone trips into touchdowns, Notre Dame has now allowed opponents to convert their 20 red-zone trips into scores, and worse, 17 of those 20 resulted in touchdowns.

It’s disturbing, confusing, disturbing, choose any adjective to describe it, but it’s a problem. Notre Dame needs to come up with answers at some point, as red-zone saves – even limiting touchdowns while allowing more field goals – could be the difference between winning and losing against Top 10 opponents like Clemson and USC.

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Content of the Irish breakdown

Notre Dame List 2022
Schedule Notre-Dame 2022

Notre Dame 2023 Class Big Board
Notre Dame 2023 Commits Board – Offense
Notre Dame 2023 Commits Board – Defense

Notre Dame Scholarship Offers 2023
Notre Dame Scholarship Offers 2024

Ranking of signatories 2022 – Attack
Ranking of signatories 2022 – Defense


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