The Irish were double-digit favorites against the RedHawks, and it only took one quarter to see why.
Josh Adams ripped off two long touchdown runs, and the Irish defense stepped up and did their part, coming up with two big turnovers that led directly to touchdowns for the Irish offense. The Irish offensive onslaught didn’t let up until the final seconds ticked off the clock in the first half, as the Irish scored on all but one of their first half possessions, with Equanimeous St Brown getting back into the mix with his first touchdown since the season opener, and Chase Claypool getting his first touchdown reception with the Fighting Irish.
It was a pretty dominating performance for the Fighting Irish from whistle to whistle, but, lopsided score notwithstanding, the Irish still have quite a bit of room for improvement, which is actually quite amazing, considering how well they’ve been playing. The biggest area of concern for the Irish continues to be Wimbush’s struggle in the passing game. Despite three touchdown passes, Wimbush completed less than 39% of his passes against Miami (OH). It’s especially maddening to see Wimbush short arm screen passes, and then turn around and throw a perfect 50+ yard strike to Boykin, hitting him in stride for an easy touchdown, so one has to wonder if it’s a matter of mechanics, or if he just gets too far into his own head at times. Thankfully, the Irish run game against Miami (OH) was more than enough to make up for the shortcomings in the passing game, as it has been for the better part of the season, and the Fighting Irish easily defeated the RedHawks for the 900th win in school history.
Key Fighting Irish Plays
1st Quarter – Josh Adams 73 yard TD run. It took just two plays for the Irish to get on the scoreboard, as Adams turned on the jets and raced 73 yards on his first carry of the game to give the Irish a very early 7-0 lead.
1st Quarter – Greer Martini interception. Martini was in perfect position to make a play on the ball, positioning himself in the passing lane and coming up with an over the shoulder interception, the first of his collegiate career, and returning it 42 yards to set the Irish up on the Miami (OH) 36 yard line; the Irish would score 7 plays later to take a 14-0 lead.
1st Quarter – Josh Adams 59 yard TD run. The RedHawks had just driven the ball 73 yards on 8 plays to pull within a touchdown, but just four plays later Adams would go on another romp through the RedHawks’ defense to put the Irish back up by two touchdowns, 21-7.
1st Quarter – Gus Ragland strip sacked by Jerry Tillery, fumble recovery by Jay Hayes at the Miami (OH) 30 yard line. After punting for the first time in the game, the Irish defense came up with another big play to give the Irish the ball deep in RedHawks’ territory.
1st Quarter – Brandon Wimbush 7 yard TD pass to Chase Claypool. The Irish take advantage of the short field following the fumble recovery, and Claypool’s first collegiate touchdown reception would give the Irish a dominating 28-7 lead late in the first quarter.
2nd Quarter – Brandon Wimbush 14 yard TD pass to Equanimeous St Brown. On Notre Dame’s very next possession, Wimbush finds St Brown on a short crossing route, and St Brown does the rest, taking it into the end zone to cap off a 5 play 57 yard drive, and Notre Dame extends their lead to 35-7 on St Brown’s first touchdown since the season opener against Temple.
2nd Quarter – Tony Jones Jr. 8 yard run. An otherwise run of the mill run play turned into yet another missed targeting call that the Irish found themselves on the wrong side of. I’ll give the officials on the field the benefit of the doubt for not seeing the targeting, because of the speed of the play, but the replay clearly showed that the RedHawk defender, who was crouched down and level with Jones, thrust the crown of his helmet forward for helmet to helmet contact. For some reason, despite a good portion of Jones’ helmet disintegrating and flying off, replay officials once again refused to award the Irish with a call for targeting.
2nd Quarter – Brandon Wimbush 54 yard TD pass to Miles Boykin. Wimbush hits Boykin in stride down the middle of the field for Boykin’s first TD of the season, and a 45-14 Fighting Irish lead going into the half.
4th Quarter – Deon McIntosh 26 yard TD. McIntosh’s second touchdown on the season would cap off Notre Dame’s scoring in the game, and, with the Irish defense holding the RedHawks scoreless the rest of the game, Notre Dame walks away with a convincing 52-7 win.
Top Fighting Irish Performers
Adams only needed one quarter to do his damage, rushing for 159 yards and 2 TDs on just 8 carries. The bulk of Adams’ yards came on just two carries, his 73 yard and 59 yard touchdown runs, and he didn’t see action beyond the first quarter. His 159 rushing yards against Miami (OH) was his 11th career 100+ rushing game, and with 658 rushing yards on the season, he’s the 4th leading rusher in the country this season; a pretty remarkable feat considering he’s been on the sidelines for six quarters during Notre Dame’s blowout wins.
He’s not just a specialist run-stopper anymore, as the senior linebacker is finally getting his shot as an every down linebacker, and he’s certainly making the most of it. His interception against Miami (OH) was the first of his career, and helped the Irish establish momentum early on, with that turnover leading to a touchdown, and a 14-0 Irish lead just minutes into the game. Through five games, Martini is the 3rd leading tackler for the Irish with 34 (16 solo, 18 assisted), and leads the team with 4.5 TFL; he also has 1 Sack, and 1 FR to go along with 1 INT.
Tillery has been flying under my radar a bit this season, but his play on the defensive line has been outstanding. He had several big plays against Miami (OH), including 1.5 sacks, 1.5 TFL, and a forced fumble that was recovered by Jay Hayes; the Irish offense capitalized on that turnover, as well, reaching the end zone just five plays later. Tillery is the team’s 5th leading tackler with 22 total tackles (9 solo, 13 assisted), and now has 3.5 TFL (T-2nd), 3 QBHs (T-2nd), and is the team leader in Sacks with 3.
Next Up: Notre Dame travels to North Carolina to take on the Tar Heels at 3:30 pm (12:30 PST).