5 Stars: The best and worst of Notre Dame’s loss to Cincinnati

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It was a disastrous first half, even though the Irish looked like the better team. They went into the half down 17-0 and early in the third quarter it looked like the Bearcats were about to pull away. The Irish battled back to 17-13, but Cincinnati responded with a touchdown and that’s was the end of the Notre Dame comeback attempt. It wasn’t all bad for the Irish and here are the best, 5 stars, and worst, 1 star, performances during Notre Dame 24-13 loss to Cincinnati.

5 ⭐️ - Isaiah Foskey

Can we say enough about the breakout season from the defensive end. He has been magnificent all season and Foskey stepped up when the Irish needed a defense play. His forced fumble on quarterback Isaiah Ridder was huge, as the Bearcats were driving and potentially putting the game away. Linebacker Drew White scooped up the loose ball and the Irish found the endzone four plays later for their first score of the game.

4 ⭐️ - Drew Pyne

It’s time for Brian Kelly and offensive coordinator Tommy Rees to elevate Pyne to the first string quarterback. These last two weeks have shown that he gives the Irish the best chance to win. Pyne is mobile enough to scramble when needed and has an arm to make the difficult throws. He’s not a finished product by any means, but of the three, Pyne gives the Irish the best shot at being a very good offense.

3 ⭐️ - The wide receivers

Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver Braden Lenzy (0) catches a pass in the first half of the NCAA football game between the Cincinnati Bearcats and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind.
Cincinnati Bearcats At Notre Dame Fighting Irish 201

It was a good day and it was a bad for this group. Braden Lenzy was fantastic, especially on his touchdown reception. The problem however was drops with this unit. In the fourth quarter, Kevin Austin and Avery Davis both dropped catchable balls to stall a drive the Irish desperately needed. Back to the good, Michael Mayer was excellent until he pulled up lame in the fourth quarter. He did return but he just wasn’t the same. Hopefully it’s nothing major, as the Irish rely heavily on the tight end. Overall, the wide receivers had a so-so day which is why they ended up in this spot.

2 ⭐️ - The mental mistakes

Notre Dame’s Chris Tyree (25) and Cincinnati’s Bryan Cook (6) dive for a fumble by Tyree during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, in South Bend, Ind. Cincinnati recovered the fumble. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Both quarterbacks, Jack Coan and Tyler Buchner, need to understand that taking a sack sometimes is the right play. Instead of doing so, both of them decided to make questionable throws that resulted in turnovers. Both back-breakers for the Irish and took away points, Coan’s, or gave up points on the ensuing drive, Buchner’s. I can understand when a freshman makes these kind of mistakes, Buchner didn’t play his senior year due to COVID-19 but Coan? I have never been a fan and I think it’s time to move on and strictly play Drew Pyne (QB1) and Buchner. Two stupid penalties from Ramon Henderson on special teams hurt as did Chris Tyree’s fumble. The offensive line had a few penalties as well, the false start on the drive late in the fourth quarter stands out. If you want to win big games against tough opponents, you can not afford to have stupid penalties.

1 ⭐️ - The quarterback rotation

Cincinnati Bearcats defensive lineman Myjai Sanders (21) hits Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive lineman Jordan Botelho (12) as he throws an interception made by Cincinnati Bearcats linebacker Deshawn Pace (20) in the first half of the NCAA football game between the Cincinnati Bearcats and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind.
Cincinnati Bearcats At Notre Dame Fighting Irish 185

Was it the inability to choose who to play? The decision making? The play calling? It was all terrible. Lot’s of blame to go around this group, starting with Kelly and offensive coordinator Tommy Rees. To game plan for Buchner to mainly be a runner and then on a 3rd and 12 have him pass was terrible. If you wanted to play conservative, have him run then punt. Coan made freshman mistakes as a senior, that’s completely unacceptable. The “accurate” quarterback he was made out to be has been false all year, 4 questionable throws including the interception in the redzone in the first half. Pyne, last week showed poise and capability against Wisconsin, he didn’t see the field until the second half when the Irish were down 17-0. Pyne should have made an appearance much earlier than that. I wrote earlier in the week having multiple QB’s that can move the ball was great for the program, but proper use of them is paramount.