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Grading the Offense against Stanford

Notre Dame football battled with Stanford for three and a half quarters, but in the end, the Irish offense was too much for the Cardinal defense.

The build-up to the game was as large as any Notre Dame football game in recent memory. Many thought the Irish and the Cardinal would engage in an old school defensive struggle. To a certain degree, those people were correct. In the end, however, the Irish offense kept the pressure on Stanford’s defense and won the war of attrition, allowing Notre Dame to capture a convincing top-10 victory.

Let’s take a look at how each position group graded out against Stanford.

Quarterback

For the second straight week, Ian Book did exactly what the Notre Dame quarterback should do: Distribute the ball and avoid the big mistake. Book completed 24 of 33 passes for 274 yards and 4 touchdowns. On the day, he completed passes to 10 different receivers.

In large part, Book followed the blueprint that allowed the Irish offense to put up 56 points against Wake Forest. And while there were questions about whether he would have the same success against a well-renowned Stanford defense, Book silenced any doubters on Saturday night.

The most refreshing part of Book’s play is his apparent ability to trust in the coaches’ game plan. He passed his most recent test with flying colors, earning himself an A in this one.

Running Backs

I’ll sum up my feelings with this: Welcome back, Dexter Williams.

Williams has been sorely missed by the Irish offense as he has served a four-game mystery suspension for a violation of team rules. His return on Saturday, however, came at the perfect time.

Making his first appearance late in the first quarter, Williams took his first carry of the season 45 yards for Notre Dame’s first score. After that, the Irish utilized Williams’ fresh legs, running him a total of 21 times for 161 yards.

Outside of Williams’ fine game, Tony Jones, Jr., Avery Davis, and Jahmir Smith each got some carries. That trio carried the ball a combined 18 times for 66 yards.

All in all, the group was lead by a pretty stellar performance from Williams and a “good enough” performance by everyone else. For that reason, this group gets an A-.

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

Much like the running back group, this group was lead by a standout performer and everyone else was able to fall in line behind him. That standout performance came from Miles Boykin, who caught 11 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown. For perhaps the first time all season, Boykin stood out from the pack and lived up to his billing as Notre Dame’s top wide receiver.

Behind Boykin, there was a smattering of catches from wide receivers and tight ends alike, with touchdowns coming from Chase Claypool, Alize Mack, and Nic Weishar.

There isn’t much to say here. It wasn’t a perfect well-rounded performance for the receivers, but certainly one that was good enough for Notre Dame to pull out a win. This group, too, gets an A-.

Offensive Line

I feel like I write this every week (or could, at least), but the best way to tell that an offensive line played pretty well is to not notice them. To a large extent, that’s how the Irish offensive line played against Stanford.

While it’s safe to say that Notre Dame wasn’t mauling people at the line of scrimmage, it’s also safe to say that the offensive line was effective. After all, the Irish ran the ball 55 times for 272 yards. That averages to 4.9 yards per carry. Ian Book was sacked only once.

It’s safe to say that the offensive line still has some room for improvement. Given that they’ve improved in every game so far this season, I think it’s safe to say that their ceiling remains high. For now, the offensive line gets an A-.

Next: Chase Claypool was the Unsung Hero vs. Stanford

Overall, Notre Dame’s offense did what it’s supposed to do: Move the ball, score, and perhaps most importantly, avoid the big mistake. The Irish did not turn the ball over against Stanford. Scoring 38 points and having no turnovers against Stanford is good for an A for this performance.

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