The Longhorns are taking on the Fighting Irish and it’s two very different stories. Texas blasted Washington, and Notre Dame fell short of beating Clemson, although it didn’t feel short. The Irish want to come back from the brink and return respect to the Big Ten. Beating Texas in a big way would return that. Here’s how it can be done.
Ray Tatum has been Texas’ quarterback since the Longhorns got into the league. In that time-frame he has made a regular habit of putting up nearly 400 passing yards and somewhere between three and five touchdown passes. The beneficiary of that last season was guys like Vincent McCoy, Jackson James, and Scooby Lewis. The one who had the greatest benefit from last week’s 399 yards, five touchdown performance was receiver Ray Conley. Nine catches, 128 yards, and three receiving touchdowns tends to be able to lead to happy Texas fans. Even halfback Tarraj Walker was happy, the way he dispatched Raekwon Dong.
The Texas defense then held Washington to just 20 points. In part, because linebacker Howard Cook was able to limit Ron Dayne Jr. Cook put up 11 tackles, three for a loss, with a sack. Which is odd, since safety Jimbo Smithers tallied nine tackles, two of which went for a loss and they seemed relatively quiet in relation to Cook’s performance.
Quarterback Leo Asiata may not have had the greatest debut as Notre Dame’s new quarterback. 20 for 29 with 162 yards and a touchdown. Joe Pantoja was decent, but struggled a bit. Furthermore, the receiving corps was slightly limited. Albert Saenz had five catches, Ryan Hughes had four catches, Thaddeus Jefferson had a pair of grabs and tight end Alistair Kye had four snags. Jefferson had the touchdown catch, but none of the receivers had more than 50 yards receiving. They’ve got work to do tonight.
This Notre Dame defense can ball out. Defensive end Shane Razorback had eight tackles, two of which went for a loss. Linebacker Mason Miller had eight tackles, one of which went for a loss. Then, linebacker Duke Thomas had seven tackles, two of which were for a loss while safety Michael Jerome Pluthe added seven of his own. See the trend? Four players who each had really good games. Unfortunately, they couldn’t pull off the win. They need turnovers tonight.
HB Joe Pantoja vs. LB Howard Cook
Pantoja had 21 carries last week, but struggled racking up yards. He only tallied 74 yards with a rushing touchdown. Howard Cook looked phenomenal, making his way into the defensive player of the week race. He didn’t win it, but you can’t deny his 11 tackles weren’t great.
Texas looked great, and Notre Dame had some struggles. They should look better tonight, but they’re going to have to do even more tonight. Namely, Pantoja and Asiata have got to play much better tonight. And they’ll have to have some monster performances tonight. Unfortunately, Texas is only getting started, with the way Tatum is going pretty well, and if Tarraj Walker gets going, then they’re in top shape. Notre Dame has the secondary, but I don’t know that their offense has the horses to keep up with Tatum.