USC vs Notre Dame Recap And Reactions

Notre Dame Stadium. Photo Credit: Paul Sableman | Wikimedia Commons
Notre Dame Stadium. Photo Credit: Paul Sableman | Wikimedia Commons

USC vs Notre Dame Recap and Reactions

The USC Trojans traveled to South Bend Saturday night to take on the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame beat the Trojans 31-16 in a game where the tempo was too much for USC’s defense. The Trojans are currently sitting at 3-4, it’s a squad that has all the talent necessary to win, but can’t seem to put it together.

USC’s Rushing Attack Proves Effective

We all know how this offense is passing the ball and doing most of their damage through the air. However, I think offensive coordinator Graham Harrell is doing a great job realizing he has one of the better running backs in the PAC 12 in Keaontay Ingram.

To start the season, the average amount of carries for the running backs were about 14 for Ingram and about 10 for Vavae MalepeaiAs the season went on the amount stayed about the same for Ingram but Vavae’s carries were slowly tapering off to around five a game.

Yesterday against Notre Dame Ingram had a high of 24 carries for 138 yards. It’s clear that he’s the lead back for this offense. Where the problem lies is just a matter of how successful the passing game can be throwing the ball while running it 25 times and how successful the running game can be when throwing it 50 times.

Notre Dame’s defense, I’d say, is the best they’ll play all year. This is why Harrell most likely tried to balance the offense out more knowing this secondary is better than the ones they’ve played so far. Instead of resorting to the run game when it’s not going your way passing it, USC needs to make an effort to control the trenches early on in the game. I think you saw a great example of that when the Trojans established the run to start this game.

Kedon Slovis had a below-average game going 27-37 for 299 yards and an interception. 300 yards is by no means bad, but take away the performance of Drake London who had 171 yards, and Slovis was only able to throw 128 yards to other receivers. Like I’ve said in previous articles, the Trojans need to have other players step up in this offense to keep the defense honest. Although, the way London has been playing I don’t think anyone in the country can stop him.

Tempo Tempo Tempo

It was clear that coach Brian Kelly knew that USC would not be able to keep up with the Irish going with tempo and changing personnel quickly and often. I don’t think that’s why they couldn’t stop them, but, I do think that trying to sprint and make tackles while being winded is certainly more challenging than not being tired. There were times where it was clear defensive coordinator Todd Orlando wanted a different group out there for 3rd downs and certain situations but did not have the time to do so.

The linebacking core for this defense seems to be the weak spot and can’t be trusted in man situations. So the Irish did just that; they forced not just the linebackers but the whole defense to come up and make tackles in the open field. They got exposed, to say the least.

The Run defense continues to be a liability. I’ll give them some slack for this game because Notre Dame’s running back Kyren Williams is good, I mean really good. Williams had 25 carries for 138 yards, two touchdowns, and had another 42 yards receiving. The Trojans really struggle against running backs who are a threat running and catching the ball.

The Trojans played the pass pretty well only allowing the leading receiver to have 57 yards. The only thing is the other receivers had 54,42,39 etc. Overall 213 passing yards isn’t too bad but combine that with 170 on the ground is not ideal.

In Conclusion

Coach Donte Williams will most likely be replaced next season. It would’ve taken a miracle and USC catching some lucky breaks for Williams to retain the job. Time will tell if the program will still have Williams on the staff but as for now, Mike Bohn has to have some serious candidates on his list.

Notre Dame Stadium. Photo Credit: Paul Sableman | Wikimedia Commons

Notre Dame Stadium. Photo Credit: Paul Sableman | Wikimedia Commons