Stanford-ND grades: RB Love, DE Thomas instrumental in Cardinal win

The top-graded players and biggest takeaways from Stanford’s victory over Notre Dame.

| 2 months ago
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Stanford-ND grades: RB Love, DE Thomas instrumental in Cardinal win


Stanford Cardinal 17, Notre Dame Fighting Irish 10

Here are the top-graded players and biggest takeaways from Stanford’s victory over Notre Dame.

Stanford Cardinal

Quarterback grade: Ryan Burns, 58.5

No viable QB for Stanford

With the offense they have, Stanford doesn’t need much from its QB. All he needs to be able to do is hand the ball off, provide a running threat of his own, and sit calmly in a pocket to take advantage of the few passes he’s asked to throw. Stanford can’t get that from either Ryan Burns or Keller Chryst, neither of whom can throw accurately over an entire game or sit in a pocket without getting happy feet and taking off. Burns missed multiple passes that could have blown this game open for Stanford and given them a far more comfortable position in the game.

Top offensive grades:

HB Bryce Love, 81.4
G David Bright, 79.0
TE Dalton Schultz, 78.1
FB Reagan Williams, 74.4
WR Trenton Irvin, 73.6

Run game strong despite missing McCaffrey 

Stanford’s offense was ugly in this game, but they were actually running the ball well most of the time. With McCaffrey injured and standing on the sideline, Bryce Love was able to average 5.4 yards per carry and notch 129 yards. He was instrumental in both scoring plays the offense was involved with, fighting to the end zone before being adjudged to have fumbled across the line, only for a teammate to recover in the end zone and then walk in untouched for the two-point conversion. The offensive line isn’t what it was, but it had strong blocking performances from LG David Bright and TE Dalton Schultz on the edge.

Top defensive grades:

CB Quenton Meeks, 83.8
DE Solomon Thomas, 82.4
CB Zach Hoffpauir, 78.9
CB Treyjohn Butler, 76.7
S Dallas Lloyd, 76.5

Thomas destructive as ever

Solomon Thomas has been one of the more destructive interior defensive linemen in the nation, and was too much for the Notre Dame linemen to handle in this game. He had a sack, hit and two hurries, but also led the team with six defensive stops — three times any other player. Thomas sheds blocks incredibly quickly and makes a mess of a lot of plays during a game. Turnovers were a big factor in this game and none more vital than the interception Quenton Meeks notched and returned for a touchdown to set the Cardinal back in the right direction, having been trailing by ten points and looking in deep trouble. The team got after both Notre Dame QBs in the game and prevented either from finding a good passing rhythm.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Quarterback grade: DeShone Kizer, 61.7

Kizer not comfortable all game long

At no point in the game did DeShone Kizer look comfortable passing the ball. His best plays came on the ground, and he tallied 101 rushing yards on just ten carries, with half of those being by design, but through the air he was poor. The pick-six was a poor play against the coverage though it was unfortunate to come back for points in the other direction, and he completed just four passes that travelled over 10 yards in the air in the game. Kizer’s passer rating when under no pressure at all was just 44.0 and he completed only 50 percent of those passes. His only solace was that Malik Zaire looked even worse when he came in to relieve him.

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Top offensive grades:

G Quenton Nelson, 83.4
T Mike McGlinchey, 81.8
WR Torii Hunter Jr., 75.6
HB Tarean Folston, 71.1
T Alex Bars, 70.2

Dominant left side

With only two players in the 80+ grade range, this wasn’t a good performance from the Notre Dame offense. The fact they lost the game with only ten points on the board also backs that up. The left side of the line though was dominant in the run game routinely caving in the Stanford D-line for big holes. Occasionally the play went nowhere anyway because of other players letting them down, but Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey combined well, and in truth were unlucky not to combine for a freak last-second play to win the game, with the ball appearing still live when it was blown dead by the officials to end the game. Tarean Folston ran the ball well, but there was little else to like about this performance by the Irish.

Top defensive grades:

CB Cole Like, 81.5
OLB James Onwualu, 80.4
NT Jarron Jones, 76.6
OLB Andrew Trumbetti, 76.3
S Drue Tranquill, 76.2

Handful of strong performances on defense

The Notre Dame defense was far from lights out, and this game for both sides was more about misfiring offenses than elite defense, but there were a few good performances from the Irish. Jarron Jones flashed some big ability, especially as a pass-rusher, as he was able to walk the Stanford center back to the QB using his long arms on more than one occasion. Cole Luke looked good in coverage, notching an interception and allowing just 36 yards from five targets, while OLB James Onwualu managed three pass breakups from his four targets.

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN.

  • Carlos E Bauza

    Brian Kelly works at a job beyond his capacity.

  • Mood_Indigo

    Ugly game by two teams playing below their talent level. From a Cardinal standpoint, Love’s running and Meek’s ball-hawking were the only good thing I saw in the game.