Stats can be misleading as is the case yesterday. I thought the Pittsburgh defensive stats were inflated against inferior competition but they proved their ranking by shutting down the Irish offense most of the game. Their offense moved the ball up and down the field at will until they found the redzone. The Notre Dame defense made the plays once again that allowed this team to win the game.
The Notre Dame offense managed to gain just 185 total yards but came away with the victory. The Irish rushed 32 times for a total of 40 yards. Carlyle Holday completed 16 out of 26 passes but those passes only covered 145 yards. Pitt threw for 313 yards and rushed for 89 yards. Pitt cleary had their A game on both offense and defense and out-played the Irish most of the game. They just could not turn this offensive production into touchdowns and they forgot to protect the football.
Notre Dame is 6-0 because they don't beat themselves. They don't turn over the ball in key situations and they don't give up the big play often. They do just enough to win the game on offense and somehow find the way to make the play on defense. This truly is a magical team.
What can Notre Dame fans be excited about after watching this game? Carlyle Holiday completed 16 out of 26 passes. He was just a hair off on a few others. The timing isn't quite there yet but it will be soon. Holiday was completing the short passes he struggled with earlier and that is a good sign. The offensive line protected Holiday better after a rough start. They only gave up one sack the entire game. The emergence of Arnaz Battle as a play-maker also is something to get excited about.
On defense, the Irish fans can only hang their hat on the fact that this team did bend but didn't break. They gave up a lot of yards in the first half. They fixed a lot of problems in the second half and did a much better job at getting to the quarterback. Once again, they made the key plays that won the game for this team. The defense will have days when they struggle but the end result is all that matters. They gave up a total of 6 points to an offense that managed 404 total yards in offense. That stat alone is pretty impressive.
This version of the west coast offense is based on timing. That timing just isn't there yet. Holiday has to get the ball to these wide receivers a little quicker and you will see more big plays from this offense. The good news is Holiday appears to be more comfortable in the offense. He is making the throws and many of them are right on target. If they can manage to get the running game going, you will see many more big plays from the offense. It will take time before this happens and the defense has given the offense the short field to win these types of game.
Pittsburgh is a very good football team. They have excellent athletes on defense and offense. They are going to win a lot of games this year. They will give the powers in the Big East all they want and I would not be surprised if they beat a Miami or a Virginia Tech. They can beat anyone in that league if they play the way they did yesterday and hold onto the football. That was a very good Pittsburgh team and Notre Dame was fortunate to come away with a win.
ND fans are going to have to get used to the idea of winning ugly and either winning or losing in the last minutes of the game. They will have at least 4 more games like this the rest of the year. What people should be excited about is how Notre Dame continues to win these games. They have been behind and fought back. They have had to come up with a drive on offense to win the game and have done that. The defense has been asked to shut the door countless times and has always stepped up and did the job. This is why they are 6-0 right now. This team will never doubt themselves and that is why they have a chance to win the remainder of their games. If I were an opposing coach, the last team I would want to play is Notre Dame because of the way they win.