Notre Dame-Temple grades: Sheldon Day posts best game of season
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from Notre Dame’s 24-20 victory over Temple:
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
— A rare, if inconsistent, bright spot on the Notre Dame defense a year ago, Sheldon Day has been consistently excellent this season and turned in his best game of the season (+9.3) against the Owls last night. Racking up six pressures (1 sack, 1 hit, 4 hurries) for the third time this season Day also racked up four stops (for the third time in 2015), wreaking havoc on a Temple offensive line that simply couldn’t handle the rising talent on the Fighting Irish’s defensive line.
— Notre Dame hasn’t missed a beat on offense with DeShone Kizer (-1.1) taking over for the injured Malik Zaire, but this was not one of Kizer’s strongest performances of the season. Kizer almost gave Temple a Hail Mary to win the game as he fumbled on a last second play to wind out the clock. Prior to that he struggled to find Will Fuller (+1.0) and others for big plays down the field, with 116 of his 299 passing yards coming on targets behind the line of scrimmage.
— Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith (+2.1) still has not earned a negative grade in a game this season after a solid all-around display last night. Smith earned positive grades in run defense (+0.6), coverage (+0.6) and as a pass rusher (+0.7) where he collected a hit on one of his four pass rushes. With only two stops this was one of Smith’s less productive games, but he still stood out with a couple of powerful tackles to limit yards after contact.
DT Sheldon Day (+9.3)
RT Mike McGlinchey (+6.0)
DE Isaac Rochell (+4.8)
DT Daniel Cage (+2.4)
LB Jaylon Smith (+2.1)
— A year ago P.J. Walker (+1.1) finished the season ahead of only Christian Hackenberg in terms of overall grade with a -40.6 grade on his 748 snaps. Last night Walker posted his second-straight positive grade, and while still grading below zero for the season (-1.3), that represents a massive improvement over his play a year ago. Those struggles did come back to haunt Walker in the crunch last night though, with a badly forced throw down the field to call time on the Owls’ unbeaten run.
— Walker was so nearly offered an opportunity at redemption by defensive end Praise Martin-Oguike (+1.7), who forced a fumble from DeShone Kizer on the final play of the game which the Notre Dame QB was able to recover and throw the ball away to ice the victory. The strip was one of three pressures for Martin-Oguike in the game, his fourth-straight with multiple pressures, as he earned his fourth positive pass rush grade in five games as he works to put a slow start to the season behind him.
— There was production from the poster boy of the Temple defense, but Tyler Matakevich (+0.3) did not turn in a performance to match his work in recent weeks. While his four stops led the Temple defense once he again he has only recorded fewer once this season (none against UCF) and his work in the passing game (both as a pass rusher and in coverage) fell short of play that in the last two weeks has seen him earn a +5.1 grade against UCF and a +5.3 grade at East Carolina.
DT Hershey Walton (+3.8)
DE Praise Martin-Oguike (+1.7)
QB P.J. Walker (+1.1)
DE Haason Reddick (+0.9)
DT Averee Robinson (+0.9)