The day after: Lasting thoughts on Notre Dame’s win over North Carolina

After a rough first two games, the Irish finally righted the ship over the last two weeks. An escape at home against Cal,

and a very solid road victory should give Marcus Freeman and his team some momentum as they enter the bye week.

Saturday’s 42-35 win was nice, especially on the offensive side. A few things that have stood out in my mind since the game ended, and here they are.

Drake Maye is what Notre Dame hoped Tyler Buchner was https://twitter.com/MikeFChen/status/1573762348371812358?s=20&t=jRMwznAE3w4gJXWqgGIykg

Drake Maye is what Notre Dame hoped Tyler Buchner was

I had this thought almost immediately after seeing UNC’s first drive.

Yes, Maye is larger than Buchner, but the supposed skill sets are very similar. Good runners with the ability to move the ball through the air.

Drake Maye is what Notre Dame hoped Tyler Buchner was

Well, Maye has shown to be a more than capable passer, while Buchner hasn’t improved at all in his time in South Bend.

Maye was the 56th overall while Buchner was 71st in the 2021 recruiting cycle, and it seems like the recruiting guru’s got this one correct.

Drake Maye is what Notre Dame hoped Tyler Buchner was Though the book isn’t closed on either player, Maye seems much further ahead in his development at this stage of his career. I would love to know what Buchner is without the injuries, but that is unfortunately part of the game.

Tommy Rees called a great game but … Finally, offensive coordinator Tommy Rees looked like the prodigy many thought he was. It wasn’t necessarily the higher level talent that helped the Irish score 45 points, it was Rees schematics. 

Tommy Rees called a great game but … Multiple times he outcoached Tar Heel defensive coordinator Gene Chizik, putting the Notre Dame offense in advantageous situations. What Rees accomplished Saturday was sensational, but where was this for the first three games of the year? 

Tommy Rees called a great game but … In order for Rees to be really viewed as one of the best up-and-coming coordinators in the country, he has to be more consistent. It’s amazing what confidence will do for someone and hopefully, this game will be the first of many where Rees outcoaches his opposing defensive coordinator.

Speaking of Rees, he finally started to use the running backs better situationally First, it helps that Logan Diggs finally looked healthy, although he may have injured his shoulder during the game but continued to play through it. What I had wanted to see was Chris Tyree getting early touches to take advantage of his speed. 

Speaking of Rees, he finally started to use the running backs better situationally Then have the bulldozer, Audric Estime, pound away at the tired defense. It didn’t quite play out this way, due to the stellar play by the offensive line but it did to a degree. 

Speaking of Rees, he finally started to use the running backs better situationally During the end of the third quarter and into the fourth, Estime had runs of 10, 14, 7, 7, and 4 wearing down an already tired UNC defense. All three backs had over 100 yards on the day, and they carried the offense on Saturday.

JD Bertrand needs to play smarter https://twitter.com/NDFootball/status/1574108919936450560?s=20&t=BIHt04viDq5pE6v1N4RtEQ

JD Bertrand needs to play smarter For this second game in a row, linebacker JD Bertrand had to miss time due to a targeting penalty. Even though this call was much more questionable than against Cal, he has to reel it in a bit. I love the aggressive play, but it has to be smart and within the rules. 

JD Bertrand needs to play smarter The defense is better when Bertrand is on the field (see above the first snap in the third quarter when he was allowed back on the field) and depending on the ruling, he might be out again for the first half against BYU.

Finally a turnover https://twitter.com/NDFootball/status/1573790966112292865?s=20&t=awf2oEPIpy60WtLRCuTrhg

Finally a turnover As you see above, the defense finally created an extra opportunity for the offense, but there is still room for more. The secondary, which I thought was going to be a major advantage for the Irish, has yet to take one away from an opposing quarterback. 

Finally a turnover It was definitely nice to see the defense get one, but at this point in the season, you would have expect much more. You have to assume that defense coordinator Al Golden will be stressing this during the bye week.

Second-half woes are still bothering the Irish https://twitter.com/ACCFootball/status/1573798622596038657?s=20&t=zDNVFW_GCerS35-QA61FzA

Second-half woes are still bothering the Irish When the Irish went up 38-14, I thought the rout was on. North Carolina had other thoughts. It scored three of the last four touchdowns and kept the game closer than it should be. At this point, it has to be a focus. 

Second-half woes are still bothering the Irish This has become a theme of the Freeman era, a team of two halves and for the Irish to play a complete game, they need to fix their second-half issues. If they are being too physical then maybe the coaches need to rotate in more players.

All is not lost this year As John Kennedy said earlier today, the Irish have improved since the beginning of the year. 

All is not lost this year They are getting better and the sky is officially not falling. It’s wonderful what a win will do for a program to ignite a fire under them. 

All is not lost this year They will have a big test against BYU in two weeks, but coming off a bye, rested and prepared, the Irish will give them a run for their money in Vegas.

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