#10 Notre Dame has been dominant in their first two games. In two games, the Irish have scored a combined 98 points, and have only given a field goal in each game.
Sure, the games were against Navy (42-3) and Tennessee St. (56-3), but there is no denying they handled business.
The Irish are averaging 500 yards of offense per contest. The play calling has been fairly balanced, rushing the ball 63 times and passing the ball 55 times.
Former Wake Forest Quarterback Sam Hartman will be a familiar face for the Wolfpack defense. Through the first two games, Hartman’s ProFootballFocus grade of 90.9 is the best on the Notre Dame offense, and the 7th best in College Football. He has completed 82.5% of his passes for 445 yards and 6 touchdowns, with 0 interceptions. For good measure, he even logged a rushing touchdown.
Jayden Thomas has been Hartman’s #1 target through 2 games (8 targets), catching 8 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown. Thomas also has the best PFF grade of all the Irish receivers.
After Thomas, Hartman has spread the wealth, targeting 5 separate players 5 times: Rico Flores Jr., Tobias Merriweather, Jaden Greathouse, Mitchell Evans (TE), and Chris Tyree. Greathouse leads the team with 2 touchdown receptions, and also has 5 receptions for 98 yards.
Hartman has also involved the Running Backs in the passing game, targeting them 24% of the time.
As good as Hartman has been, the Irish have been bullies in the running game, averaging 206 rushing yards per game. Audric Estime is clearly the lead Running Back for Notre Dame. He has rushed for 211 yards and 2 touchdowns in 2 games, averaging 7.3 yards per carry. But don’t get it twisted…even though Estime is averaging roughly 15 carries per game, the Irish’s rushing attack isn’t a one-man show.
Jeremiyah Love has averaged 9.6 yards per carry (86 yards), and has logged 1 touchdown. Gi’Bran Payne has rushed the ball 12 times for 58 yards, and has 4 receptions for 40 yards and a touchdown. Jadarian Price has rushed the ball 6 times for 30 yards, and has 2 receptions for 51 yards and a touchdown.
On the defensive side of the ball, the three players tied for the most tackles (10) happen to also be the three players with the three highest grades according to PFF: DT Howard Cross III (90.1), LB Marist Liufau (82.8) and LB Jack Kiser (82.0).
3rd String Defensive End Joshua Burnham leads the Irish with 4 pressures, and his PFF grade of 80.6 is the 4th best on the team. Defensive End Javontae Jean-Baptiste ranks 5th on the defense with a PFF grade of 78.5.
Linebacker J.D. Bertrand and Cornerback Cam Hart are the defensive captains. Bertrand has 8 tackles through 2 games. Benjamin Morrison, the other Cornerback on the other side of Hart was a Freshman All-American last year.
NC State is Appealing Targeting Call on Safety Sean Brown
With a couple of minutes left in the 3rd Quarter, NC State Free Safety Sean Brown was hit with an absurd targeting call. After reviewing the hit, the call was confirmed to be targeting, and Brown was ejected for the remainder of the game, and will miss the beginning of the Marshall game this Saturday.
I’m all for penalizing intentionally dangerous tackles, where the intent is blatantly to harm. That is not what happened in this instance. Brown’s tackle was textbook. For starters, the receiver squats. Secondly, Brown drives his face into the chest of the receiver. The helmet in no way makes initial contact with the opposing players helmet.
Here’s the “targeting” call in question. Watch it in slow motion. Hit pause and zoom in.
Sean Brown disqualified for this hit.
— NMD Grant (@NMDgrant) September 30, 2023
Wolfpack Head Coach Dave Doeren shared at his weekly press conference yesterday that NC State is appealing the targeting call on Brown.
“Yes. We’ve submitted the paperwork through the league office. They turn it in and then eventually we’ll find out can he play in the first half or not. Right now we don’t have an answer.”
If the targeting call is upheld, then Brown will have to miss the first half this Saturday against the Thundering Herd. If it is overturned, he will be free to play.
Prior to the targeting call, Brown was having a career day. He had 8 tackles, 2 sacks and a forced fumble.
NC State’s Highest & Lowest Graded Offensive Players vs. Louisville
Here’s a look at which NC State Offensive players graded out the best and worst according to ProFootballFocus against Louisville this past Friday night.
WR Terrell Timmons – 72.5 – Career High
TE Trent Pennix – 68.0
WR Porter Rooks – 64.2
RT Timothy McKay – 63.8
RB Delbert Mimms III – 61.9
RG Derrick Eason – 36.1 – Career Low
QB Brennan Armstrong – 50.0
LG Lyndon Cooper – 52.3
WR Julian Gray – 52.3
WR Kevin Concepcion – 52.8
Season Top 5
LT Anthony Belton – 75.2
RB Kendrick Raphael – 74.5
RB Delbert Mimms III – 72.4
WR Porter Rooks – 68.5
WR DJ Collins – 68.9
Season Bottom 5
TE Christopher Toudle – 45.5
RB Demarcus Jones II – 52.8
WR Keyon Lesane – 53.5
WR Terrell Timmons – 56.1
RG Derrick Eason – 57.6
MJ Morris’ 2022 Highlight Reel
Yesterday Wolfpack Head Coach Dave Doeren announced that Sophomore MJ Morris would be starting at Quarterback, rather than Brennan Armstrong. To get yourself ready to watch Morris behind center on Saturday against Marshall, check out our 2022 MJ Morris Highlight Reel above.
Dave Doeren Breaks Down Decision to Name MJ Morris the Starting QB
Head Coach Dave Doeren announced today at his weekly press conference that Sophomore MJ Morris would be NC State’s Quarterback going forward, beginning this weekend against Marshall.
Here’s what Doeren had to say about the decision.
“It’s clear that we need a spark on that side of the ball. MJ Morris is going to take over as our starting quarterback. He is ready to lead the offense. As I stated in the past when I was asked, it was my plan, and our plan to redshirt MJ and allow him an opportunity to develop behind Brennan Armstrong, but plans sometimes need to change. The time is now, because it’s what’s best for our team. MJ’s excited for the opportunity to lead the football team. I do believe that he’s ready.
Brennan will be a great teammate to MJ, just as MJ has been to Brennan in his role. Brennan has a role on our team. He’s a very competitive, tough guy. He understands this is what’s best for the team right now and what’s needed. I got tremendous respect for him and what he’s gone through, but for what this team needs right now, it needs a spark. I do believe MJ can be that for our offense.
Ever since MJ’s been here, he’s come to practice with great energy. He’s always done that. Each week since coach Anae’s got here, you can see him growing in the offense. That part is now second thought to him. In the Spring, he was learning it…now he knows it. He’s always been an encourager to guys around him. He’s got a positive outlook. The way he can throw the football, he can do that pretty well. There’s certain things that he brings to the table. I think more than anything right now, he’s in a really good headspace. He’s excited. I think that’s the spark that we need.
He’s got a very calming effect on game day. He’s not a guy where the lights are too big. He jumped in as a Freshman and went and played. Some guys, you’d see them shrink in those scenarios…he doesn’t. He’s the same guy in games as he is in practice.
The decision to redshirt MJ at the beginning of the year was about development. It wasn’t about ‘he’s not a good player.’ We went with experience and wanted to give him a chance to have an extended period of time to be healthy and develop as a player. I think it served him well. He looks really good right now. We’re bailing on that a little earlier than expected, but he got an entire offseason and all of training camp and the whole month of September here under his belt. He feels good. It’s what the team needs
I came in Saturday. I watched the game a bunch of times and then sat down with the coaches on offense. We watched a bunch of it together and talked about the season so far…talked about where we’re at, and where we need to go. Then Sunday when we came back in and made that decision. I met with those guys individually and let them know what we were doing. They both handled it as good teammates and competitors would.
Like I said, Brennan’s going to be a great teammate. He handled a very tough conversation as well as you possibly can. I think my respect for him has always been high because he’s a super competitive dude, but he is an excellent teammate. He handled it as well as you can hope. You’ll see that. You’ll see him leading. He’ll be on the sideline cheering guys on throughout the game. If he’s needed to play, he’s going to play. He’ll come in and play hard.
Brennan knows the offense well. He’s been through a lot as a player. He’ll be a great sounding board. He’ll have energy down there for guys. He’ll cheer guys on. He’s going to be a good teammate down there…I guarantee that. I know that he’ll do a good job helping MJ and the other guys around him.
It’s hard. We all know why anyone transfers and has 1 year left. They want to finish out and have a great year. Like I said, this is a guy you want on your team. Brennan’s tough. He competes his butt off. He puts his body on the line every week and runs through people. He’s a good guy…He’s a good person.
Whenever you have to have tough conversations with anyone who does everything he can do and works really hard and it’s not going well. That’s not easy for anybody in life. Speak to him from the heart. Tell him you love him. This is what’s best for the organization. He understands that. He’s a great guy. But to answer your question, yeah. Delivering hard news as a leader is never the fun part of the job, but it’s also a necessary thing.