Grades for Notre Dame-Virgina

The top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Notre Dame-Stanford game.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Andrew Shurtleff)

(AP Photo/Andrew Shurtleff)

Grades for Notre Dame-Virgina

Notre Dame Fighting Irish 

– Before going down with his season-ending injury, Malik Zaire was a completely different player from the one we saw in Week 1 against Texas. He led the nation in accuracy percentage in Week 1 at 95.5 percent, but he was all over the place Saturday, finishing at 47.1 percent. He did redeem himself, however, with one of the best throws of the week, an absolute dime to WR Will Fuller that travelled over 50 yards in the air and hit Fuller in stride for a touchdown. Even with the uneven performance, Zaire’s loss is a big one for Notre Dame.

– The stars played like stars on Notre Dame’s defense, as DT Sheldon Day and LB Jaylon Smith led the way. Day was a force against both the run (+2.1) and as a pass rusher (+1.3) while Smith did his usual fine work in coverage (+2.3) to go with his five stops. One of the concerns with Smith coming into the season was his tackling, and he has taken a big step in the right direction.

– It was a strong effort by the offensive line, particularly the left side with LT Ronnie Stanley and LG Quenton Nelson leading the way. Stanley is considered a top prospect in the draft and he recovered after some early blips in the run game to make a few key blocks while not surrendering any pressures on 33 attempts. Nelson is a redshirt freshman who looks like a mauler of a run two games in to his career, so he’ll be one to watch going forward.

Top performers

LT Ronnie Stanley +4.1
DT Sheldon Day +3.5
LB Jaylon Smith +3.4
LG Quenton Nelson +2.7
WR Will Fuller +1.7

Virginia Cavaliers 

– Much like Zaire, Virginia QB Matt Johns had an up-and-down outing, missing on a number of throws, but coming back to move the ball in impressive fashion. He got away with multiple dangerous overthrows in the middle of the field but offset them with three beautiful deep passes to finish at 3-for-4 for 124 yards on passes thrown at least 20 yards downfield.

– An early-season breakout candidate, WR Canaan Severin was the clear go-to guy for Virginia on Saturday. He hauled in 11 receptions on 15 targets for 152 yards, accounting for more than half of Virginia’s passing offense. Nine of those 11 catches went for first downs.

– Yes, he got torched for the game-winning touchdown, but it was an otherwise solid game for CB Maurice Canady. He knocked away two other passes, and only surrendered two short catches before getting beaten by Fuller at the end of the game.

Top performers

WR Canaan Severin +4.0
DE Mike Moore +3.7
CB Maurice Canady +2.4
RT Eric Smith +2.3
RB Albert Reid +2.2

| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

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