5 Stars: The best and worst of Notre Dame’s win against USC

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The Irish got a very nice win against USC, 31-16, extending their winning streak against the Trojans to four games. There was a lot to like about what Notre Dame accomplished throughout the game, but there were still some areas that they could have been better. Here are the best performances, 5 stars, and worst performances, 1 star, from the Irish in their win over USC.

5 ⭐️ - The offensive line / Kyren Williams

SOUTH BEND, IN – OCTOBER 23: Kyren Williams #23 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish dives in for a touchdown against the USC Trojans during the first half at Notre Dame Stadium on October 23, 2021 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

This is what we saw last year from Williams, explosive runs, shifty moves and lots of energy from the sophomore. The line, as I thought they would during the bye week, meshed and did a great job. A lot less stress on Jack Coan as he dropped back to pass and the backs had holes to run though. This unit did a great job and Williams was a benefactor of that.

4 ⭐️ - The defense

Southern California quarterback Kedon Slovis (9) fumbles the ball against Notre Dame in the first half of an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. USC recovered the ball. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Star safety Kyle Hamilton was lost early in the game. Kurt Hinish got dinged up again. The transformation from the first few games to now has been so impressive. The Trojans came into this game averaging 448-yards per game and scoring 32 point-per-game. They fell short of both those marks even though the Trojans gained a lot of yards later in the game and made the score closer than it should have been. Bo Bauer’s pick was huge. Isaiah Foskey had multiple sacks and forced the fumble late that TaRiq Bracy fell on. Great job by this unit tonight.

3 ⭐️ - The emergence of Lorenzo Styles Jr.

Oct 23, 2021; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver Lorenzo Styles Jr. (21) runs the ball as USC Trojans safety Xavion Alford (29) attempts to tackle in the second quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

As a recruit I though that Styles Jr. would start at cornerback then potentially make the shift over to wide receiver. We’ll I was wrong about that, as Styles Jr has been in the rotation making plays here and there. Against the Trojans, his biggest output so far early in his career and it was nice to see. Styles Jr. finished the game with 3-receptions and 57-yards, the emergence of a young receiver was a pleasant surprise.

2 ⭐️ - Quarterback rotation

Oct 23, 2021; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Jack Coan (17) throws a pass against the USC Trojans in the first quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

I hate it, can’t stand it at all. I have never been a Coan fan but he’s been solid for the most part and played well today. Tyler Buchner is the future and needs some experience so the Irish aren’t faced with the same issues this past off-season. Play one, then have the other come in if an injury occurs or the games out of hand. Rotating both just doesn’t work, it takes the starter out of rhythm and the back-up comes in cold. At this point, just pick a quarterback and let him go, there’s no need to flip-flop during the game to try and create momentum.

1 ⭐️ - Closing out the game

SOUTH BEND, IN – OCTOBER 23: Kedon Slovis #9 of the USC Trojans scrambles out of the pocket during the first half against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on October 23, 2021 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

The Irish went up 24-3 late in the third quarter and many of us thought that the game was over. What happened over the next three drives is exactly what we didn’t want to see. The Trojans scored a touchdown on a drive that lasted under 3 minutes. On the next Irish possession, Coan threw a pick. Then USC marched down the field again in under 3 minutes and scored another touchdown to get the game to a respectable 24-16 tally. Yes, the Irish would answer after that Trojan score, but this game should have been over much sooner than it was.

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