Postscripts and reaction to Notre Dame's 41-3 drubbing of the Hurricanes Saturday night:
### It wasn’t surprising, but that doesn’t make it any less demoralizing to watch this UM defensive line – especially the defensive tackles – once again manhandled.
Down just 13-3 at the half, UM then watched Notre Dame bludgeon the Hurricanes defense, while UM's offense could generate nothing.
Notre Dame finished with 376 yards rushing, on an absurd 7.4 per carry. UM entered in the bottom six in rush defense among 120 major college football programs. The Hurricanes could be in the bottom three after Saturday. Overall, Notre Dame outgained the Canes, 586-285. The 586 yards represented the fourth-most ever by a Hurricanes opponent.
Notre Dame's 34 first downs were the most ever by a Canes opponent.
More dismal numbers: UM is allowing 39.6 points and 541 yards per game in its five games against FBS schools. The Hurricanes already have allowed more points in six games (208) than it allowed all of 2000, 2001 or 2002.
There was Bob Golic Jr. wiping out Luther Robinson, Notre Dame’s center pushing Earl Moore literally seven yards off the line of scrimmage (no joke), Darius Smith and Corey King simply unable to get off blocks before Notre Dame’s running backs rumbled by. Even defensive end Anthony Chickillo was pushed around on a few runs.
Consider that Notre Dame's offensive line outweighs UM's defensive line by about 20 pounds, on average. But this is a talent issue as much as it's a size issue.
Face it: It won’t matter how much offensive talent this team assembles if UM can’t find better defensive tackles. Perhaps Moore, who got a lot of playing time Saturday, becomes one. Perhaps freshman DeQuan Ivery does. Perhaps oral commitment Keith Bryant will pan out. Perhaps Olsen Pierre, who was out with an injury Saturday, will develop.
But that's a lot riding on words like if and perhaps. Finding dominant defensive linemen remains Al Golden's biggest challenge in returning this program to greatness.
What a shame that two players UM was counting on this season aren't around: Marcus Forston turned pro and is now on New England's practice squad; and Curtis Porter remains out after an appendectomy.
### Of course, the defensive problems extended well beyond the line, as usual. When runs bounced outside Saturday, the linebackers and defensive backs usually were neither strong enough nor fast enough to deal with it.
Vaughn Telemaque and Gionni Paul had responsibility on one run that bounced outside for a 55-yard burst. Both looked helpless on the play. On one short third-down pass, Thurston Armbrister simply couldn’t break free from a block.
The secondary play was shaky, aside from Deon Bush’s well-defended play on a pass in the end zone. Bush also forced two fumbles. Brandon McGee had nine tackles but didn't have a great night by any stretch. Beyond Notre Dame's dominance on the group, UM couldn't do much to slow quarterback Everett Goldson, who completed 17 of 22 passes for 186 yards. UM's pass-rush was largely non-existent.
### UM also made foolish mistakes. After stopping Notre Dame on third down in the red zone, Darius Smith's personal foul penalty gave the Fighting Irish a first down, and a touchdown followed soon after. You can blame Gabe Terry for a personal foul on the punter early in the game, but he appeared to have been blocked into the punter by a Notre Dame player.
### Stephen Morris closed 18 for 35 for 201 yards, but his receivers gave him no help, failing to latch onto eight catchable balls, including Phillip Dorsett's two dropped would-be touchdowns early in the game.
Dorsett finished with just one catch for six yards, and Allen Hurns one for seven. Davon Johnson was the only UM receiver who had a particularly good night, with four catches for 68 yards. Rashawn Scott caught four balls for 33 yards.
### UM's running game numbers: Mike James had 28 yards on six carries, Duke Johnson had 22 on eight attempts, and Eduardo Clements 20 on two carries.
### The good news? At least this doesn't hurt UM's chances of winning the ACC's Coastal Division. UM is 3-0 in conference entering next Saturday's home game against North Carolina (2:30 p.m., ESPNU).
And at least a bunch of UM freshmen got substantial playing time, which should only help them down the line. That group included Tracy Howard, Tyriq McCord, Terry, Herb Waters, Moore, Johnson, Bush and linebacker Raphael Kirby, who made his Hurricanes debut. "Kirby looked like he was making some plays," Golden said.
### Golden on WQAM, bemoaned the squandered early opportunities on offense and the inability to capitalize on good field position late in the first half (a drive went nowhere, and Jake Wieclaw missed a 47-yard field goal): "We didn't play with a lot of poise. It's disappointing. We couldn't get enough going on offense.... Some of the penalties are selfish. It's important we just stay positive. We've got to stay together now. We lost to two top 10 teams. We can't point fingers. We just have to move forward. There's going to be a day when we're ready for this challenge. You can't have selfish penalties and drops."