College Game of the Week: Fighting Irish @ Sun Devils
Fans of the Fighting Irish might be excused for thinking that the PFF College Game of the Week is something of a hex on them. Featured for the third time this season, Notre Dame slumped to their second defeat of the season, once again in our showcase game.
In a matchup of Top-10 teams, it was Arizona State who came out on top in a game that saw momentum swing for long periods in either direction. The Sun Devils racked up 21 unanswered points to finish the game after they threatened to throw away a 31-point advantage prior to that. The aggressive play calling by Arizona State was the key to the game with the balance ultimately playing out in their favor, though it threatened to work against them as Notre Dame mounted their comeback.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish – Performances of Note
Ronnie Stanley, LT: +6.1
Breakdown: A third straight positive grade for Stanley in our featured games this season, he has not surrendered a single pressure in any of the games we have reviewed against Stanford, Florida State and now Arizona State. Also earning a positive grade as a run blocker, Stanley added some power when the Fighting Irish ran his way, though that was rare (15 runs right, 8 runs left).
Signature Stat: In our three featured Notre Dame games has earned a +13.9 overall grade.
Everett Golson, QB: +0.2
Breakdown: Another negative passing grade for Golson though his performance wasn’t as bad as four interceptions, two of them pick-sixes, might suggest. Unfortunate with batted passes and drops leading to three of his four interceptions, Golson also had ball security issues with two fumbles in the first quarter and struggled to come up with an answer to the Sun Devils’ continuous blitzes.
Signature Stat: Blitzed on 39 of his 54 drop-backs Golson went 14-of-30 for 253 yards with all four his interceptions and six of the seven times he was sacked.
Sheldon Day, DT: +0.9
Breakdown: A mixed performance from Day who paired a couple of hurries as a pass rusher with four stops and a brace of missed tackles. Was also unfortunate to be caught in coverage with Demario Richard out of the backfield when the Arizona State back was running a wheel route — when Day was picked by Jaelen Strong trying to drop, he had no hope of preventing what became a 40-yard gain for the Sun Devils.
Signature Play: Showed his ability to get up the field at Q2 12:50 exploiting an attempted power play away to beat the block of Nick Kelly to take down Kalen Ballage for a 3-yard loss.
Arizona State Sun Devils – Performances of Note
Jaelen Strong, WR: +2.7
Breakdown: Targeted on just less than half of the routes he ran (9-of-19) Strong came up with the game’s signature play, somehow snaring a high throw with one hand late in the first quarter. Running his routes from all over the field (seven from the slot), Strong caught his five passes on four different defenders.
Signature Stat: Recorded 2.9 Yards per Route Run yesterday, only Amir Carlisle topped that in the game (3.54).
D.J. Calhoun, LB: +1.9
Breakdown: Playing only 13 snaps, the true freshman made his mark on almost every single one of them. Eight of his 13 snaps came as a pass rusher and he recorded a pressure (1 Sk, 1 Ht, 2 Hu) on half of them, he only played four snaps in coverage.
Signature Play: Got pressure on Cam McDaniel at Q4 3:21, driving back McDaniel’s attempt to pick him up, spooking Everett Golson into sack on his final snap of the game.
D.J. Foster, RB: +2.0
Breakdown: Top dog in the Sun Devils’ backfield rotation, Foster’s longest carry was 15 yards but his gains were consistent with Arizona State regularly getting the better of Notre Dame on the ground. Foster forced seven missed tackles from the Fighting Irish defense, five of them on carries to the right side of the offensive line.
Signature Stat: Of his 63 snaps only 35 of them came in the backfield, Foster lined up as a slot receiver for almost half of the game, though he was only targeted twice in that alignment.
PFF Game Ball
The big plays were shared around on offense and defense with D.J. Foster providing the consistent pulse to the offense, even if he didn’t get in on the scoring and big plays.
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Notre Dame Offense
Notre Dame Defense
Arizona State Offense
Arizona State Defense