Offense - B-
The grade comes as an average of the offense under four different quarterbacks and three different running backs.
Everett Golson stole the show, Tommy Rees struggled to get anything going and Andrew Hendrix and Gunner Kiel fell somewhere in between.
Combine the four quarterbacks’ numbers, and Notre Dame finished 27-48 for 312 yards in the air, three touchdowns and three interceptions. Sound familiar?
Theo Riddick led receivers with eight grabs for 63 yards and one touchdown and carried the ball five times for nine yards. Riddick looked strong on short, quick routes. The hybrid tailback/slot receiver role seems to be the perfect fit for him.
Cierre Wood didn’t see as much action, but contributed five carries for 52 yards and an 8-yard touchdown run.
George Atkinson III looks like a high-risk, high-reward back at this point in the spring. He dodged a million defenders during his 15 carries for 124 yards, but he also lost the ball two times in the process.
Tyler Eifert only had two catches, but they came from 25-yard touchdown pass from Andrew Hendrix early in the first quarter and grabbed another 31-yarder from Golson a few series later.
That said, turnovers are exactly the statistic Notre Dame has been focusing on cleaning up. With three interceptions and three fumbles Saturday, the still have a long road ahead.
Defense - A-
Defensive stars Manti Te’o, Stephon Tuitt and Kapron Lewis-Moore didn’t see much playing time, so it’s difficult to gauge a proper defensive score.
That said, the unit still forced six turnovers and linebacker Kendall Moore and cornerback Lo Wood both looked solid in their positions.
Moore led the defense with eight tackles, while Wood looked like he was covering every inch of the backfield. Combined with Josh Atkinson’s handful of breakups in the endzone, and the cornerback position may not be as green as it looks on paper.
Ishaq Williams’s athleticism was on display; the sophomore-to-be linebacker recorded an interception and a forced fumble. Matthias Farley and former walk-on Chris Salvi also each grabbed an interception.
Despite a solid performance and “winning” the game, the Irish defense still allowed four touchdowns and a field goal. They also struggled to tackle in the open field, especially against the lightning-quick George Atkinson III and the powerful Theo Riddick.
Special Teams - B+
Truly an incomplete grade in a game with no kickoffs or live punt returns.
Kicker Matt Tausch nailed a 22-yard field goal, but returning starter Kyle Brindza missed from 30 yards.
Punter Ben Turk booted a 56-yard beauty and averaged 46 yards on three punts. Brindza punted once for 41 yards.
Coaching - A-
Brian Kelly said he’d give all four quarterbacks a fair shot, and he stuck by his promise. Rees helmed five series, Hendrix and Golson ran four and Kiel was under center for the entire 16-minute, running-clock second half.
Props to defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, who was able to adapt his defense to four different styles of quarterback.
Additional props to the coaching staff to pit the offense against the defense instead of the traditional Blue team vs. Gold team matchup.
With so many questions in key positions (quarterback, receiver, corner, etc.), it made more sense to design the game around allowing those contenders as many reps as possible.