College Game of the Week: Cardinal @ Fighting Irish

Stanford and Notre Dame get the grading treatment in this week's #PFFGoesToCollege choice for 'Game of the Week'. Gordon McGuinness shares highlights and the full grades are shown on Page ...

| 3 years ago

College Game of the Week: Cardinal @ Fighting Irish

CFF-REFO-WK06For our Week 6 version of #PFFGoesToCollege you opted for a game that had late season implications for both teams when Stanford went on the road to Notre Dame.

The score line suggests a defensive battle and, while we did see some impressive defensive performances, both offenses will be disappointed with far too many missed opportunities. Too often we saw both quarterbacks missing downfield, and when they were accurate they were blighted by ill-timed drops.

Still the close-fought matchup held excitement right the way to the end, with both teams scoring a touchdown to take the lead in the final five minutes. Taking advantage of a coverage breakdown late, it was Notre Dame who found a way to win at home, picking up a win in a week where many of the top teams in the country fell.

Stanford Cardinal – Performances of Note

Offensive Line: Combined: +11.0

Breakdown: While they didn’t win the game, Stanford saw an impressive performance from their offensive line on Saturday afternoon, with only right guard Johnny Caspers (-0.3) finishing the game with a negative grade. Left tackle Andrus Peat was the star of the show, with some impressive work as a run blocker to go along with a perfect day in pass protection.

Signature Stat: With only three pressures given up by the offensive line, they had a combined Pass Blocking Efficiency Rating of 93.9.

Kevin Hogan, QB: -0.9

Breakdown: Hogan looked excellent on the Stanford touchdown drive that put them ahead in the fourth quarter, but for much of the game his deep accuracy was lacking, with plenty of opportunities missed. He struggled when put under pressure too, going 1-for-8 with a grade of -2.9 on plays when Notre Dame were able to pressure him.

Signature Play: His deep accuracy struggles were easy to see on 3rd-and-12 with to go in the 1st Quarter, with a lofted effort picked off by Cole Luke deep in Notre Dame territory.

David Parry, DE: +6.6

Breakdown: He spent time both at defensive end and on the nose, but he was disruptive throughout, giving the re-tooled Notre Dame interior offensive line nightmares all game long. He was solid against the run but it was as a pass rusher where he really stood out, with a sack and a hit from just 20 pass rushing attempts.

Signature Plays: On 2nd-and-13 with 1:49 left in the third quarter he beat center Matt Hegarty to the right to get in on a tackle for no gain. The following play he beat Hegarty again, this time to his left, recording a pressure as he did.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish – Performances of Note

Cole Luke, CB: +4.2

Breakdown: On a day dominated by defense, one of the brightest stars for the Fighting Irish was cornerback Cole Luke. Targeted five times in coverage, his one shaky moment came when we allowed an 18-yard pick-up. Outside of that he gave up just 7 yards through the air while picking off two passes.

Signature Play: With one interception already to his name from the first quarter, he opened the fourth quarter on 3rd-and-7 by picking off Hogan again, this time beating wide receiver Ty Montgomery to the ball.

Jaylon Smith, LB: +2.5

Breakdown: Though it wasn’t a perfect performance from Smith, you would have liked to have seen more than a sack from his 14 pass rushing attempts, he was solid in coverage and against the run. Finishing the game with all five of his solo tackles against the run resulting in a defensive stop, he had a Run Stop Percentage of 17.2%

Signature Play: His lone pressure came in the form of a sack, beating right tackle Kyle Murphy to the outside on 1st-and-10 with 1:07 left in the second quarter. 

Matt Hegarty, C: -6.9

Breakdown: While they came away with the win, one concern from Saturday afternoon for Notre Dame will have been the play of center Matt Hegarty. He struggled all afternoon, particularly against Parry, both as a run blocker and in pass protection. Too often he was beaten straight off the snap, something to keep in mind with a Notre Dame offensive line that has already made changes on the interior this year.

Signature Stat: Two hits and three hurries from 48 pass blocking snaps saw him struggle to a 92.2 Pass Blocking Efficiency Rating.

PFF Game Ball

With two turnovers in a close, low scoring matchup Cole Luke was the deserving winner of the PFF Game Ball this week. Taking advantage of some ill advised throws, he came away with the stats to back up a good day in coverage.


Follow Gordon on Twitter: @PFF_Gordon


For full Stanford and Notre Dame player grades, click over to Page 2…

| Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst

Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.

  • wva88

    This raises an interesting question. If the Stanford OL played so well, and the ND DL graded so poorly, how did Stanford only rush for 47 yards and have their lowest offensive output in 7 years?

    Or how did the ND OL play so poorly, yet rushed for 129 yards (~3x Stanford) and 4.0 ypc (2x Stanford)?

    Grades must match the actual statistics or they have no validity.

    • Mike Renner

      The numbers you quoted aren’t quite accurate if you are talking about run blocking. Those numbers include sacks and quarterback runs. On handoffs only the numbers look like this:
      ND – 26 carries for 96 yards, 3.7ypc
      STAN – 22 carries for 69 yards, 3.1ypc

      The main difference being that ND broke a long run(26 yards on Prosise’s jet sweep) and Stanford did not.

      The fact is that Stanford ran against a lot of stacked boxes and blitzes with a straight forward power running game. In those situations teams can’t account for every man and they could have four perfect blocks and all it takes is one bad one to blow up a play. So no, the grades don’t necessarily have to matchup with stats because team output won’t always equal the sum of individuals when there are other factors, like scheme, at play.

      • Paul T

        Then shouldn’t you, I dunno, grade the coaches too? Otherwise your math doesn’t add up. You end up getting numbers that don’t match the result of the game at all – what, then, is the point? If Kelly and Van Gorder were so much smarter than Shaw and his assistants, such that Shaw had his team working at a huge disadvantage going in (running a straight power game against stacked boxes and blitzes) – shouldn’t that be in the grades somewhere? Shouldn’t something account for it? Because the score certainly accounts for it.

  • mike m

    I don’t understand how you rate Stanford as “perfect” in pass protection when they gave up 3 sacks and an intentional grounding play.

    And 47 net yards rushing by Stanford is not a good day by any measure.

    Did you watch this game? I was a neutral observer and my untrained eye could tell that ND dominated this game–370 total yards vs 205. Stanford had only one drive over 40 yards all day, and only 3 over 20. If ND hadn’t made numerous mistakes (fumbling on Stanford 10, 2 errors by the holder, several dropped passes) it wouldn’t have been close.

    • Al in Chi-town

      Did you even watch the game or read the article before commenting on it? The article says that Garnett graded perfectly not the whole oline. If you did watch the game, a trained eye would have seen ND blitzing a lot. Almost every single pressure they got came from overloading blitzes where the line can’t possibly block everyone. Why don’t you spend a little less time commenting and a little more doing ya research bud