Notre Dame goes into their bye week sitting at 7-0 and currently ranked fourth in the country. It has been up and down this season but they have gotten it done to this point so what more can you ask for. Even with some rough patches along the way, getting to number four wasn’t by accident. Here are a few players that helped the Irish get to where they are.
56 total tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss, a sack, an interception and a fumble recovery. Coney is the heart of the the defense since taking over last season for an injured Greer Martini. He will be playing in the NFL come next season, but for now he helps lead one of the best defenses in the country this season. Without rambling, Coney is one of the most important players on the team and has proven his importance by leading the team in total tackles by 10. But the stat that doesn’t show up is his veteran leadership. There is a reason Jaylon Smith passed the torch to him before he left for the NFL.
it was tough to pick between Tillery and Khalid Kareem, but I chose Tillery. Kareem has more tackles and only .5 less of a sack but playing defensive end gives him the advantage. Playing defensive tackle puts more attention on Tillery and the stats are not as eye popping as defensive ends or linebackers in most cases. That is what makes Tillery so amazing. He is tied for tenth in the country in sacks with six and also has 20 tackles on the year with two forced fumbles. When you look at the Irish only giving up 3.5 yards a carry on the season, Tillery is a big reason for that. Helping shut down the run and racking up sacks leads to why he is one of the most important players on this Irish roster. Like Coney, Tillery will be in the NFL soon enough. I also can’t leave out he tied a school record with four sacks in a game against Stanford.
jerry tillery is blossoming this year pic.twitter.com/eyp03McDWw
— 𝗘𝗿𝗶𝗰 𝗘𝗹𝗶𝘇𝗼𝗻𝗱𝗼 (@EricElizondo8) September 30, 2018
His stats don’t jump off the page but he has turned the season around. Completing 75% of his passes and throwing 11 touchdowns to only three interceptions shows how efficient he can be. Since taking over for Wimbush the offense is averaging 39.5 points a game which is 16 more points a game from the Wimbush games. Even when he struggled last week against Pittsburgh, he still found some magic at the end to find Boykin for the game winner. It was concerning that Book struggled like he did in the first half but he went 13-for-14 for 158 yards and the two touchdowns and one interception in the second half. He completed his final 10 passes. That is the Ian Book difference that we have been witnessing this season. Ian Book is the Te’von Coney of the offense and has this team playing with a renewed confidence in swagger. The team believes in him and has played better ever since. That sounds MVP worthy to me.
He gets talked about because of his pass break ups but it feels like he gets left out a lot. This Irish defense has been so impressive and Love is a major reason why. While he has 12 pass break ups this season, that wasn’t the most impressive stat. He has an interception and three fumble recoveries. One of the fumbles were returned for a touchdown which helped swing momentum against Virginia Tech. He has a knock for the football and making big plays when called upon. The Junior is a game changer and has the ability to shut down the opposing teams number one receiver. He shouldn’t get left out for his efforts.
I placed him just behind Coney. He is just as important and the stats are very similar. Coney was just given the edge because of his leadership.
The leading receiver is Book’s favorite target. He seems to always make the big play when he is needed most. While Book needs to be credited with revitalizing the passing attack, Boykin deserves a nod as well.
Williams has improved the running game since his return. My only knock against him is he seems to disappear at times like the first half against VT. Not all his fault as the offensive line has struggled at points this season.
He falls into the same category as Tranquil. Tillery has had the more impressive season but Kareem is right there stats wise. I don’t knock him in the slightest for his very impressive season, just feel Tillery is more impressive based on position.
Let us know what you think below and who is the most deserving at the midway point. Follow us on Twitter for all things Irish @casualfball
Started Saturday Tailgate in 2018. Covering all things college football and talking Notre Dame on Twitter.