Fiesta Bowl: First-Quarter Analysis

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  • Jack Coan
    American football quarterback
  • Tommy Rees
    American football player and coach

It would be completely unfair to judge how the Marcus Freeman era is going to go based on one quarter. However, if the first quarter of the Fiesta Bowl is any indication, this is going to be one fun era of Notre Dame football. Naturally, we could have a completely different mood by the end of this game. In the meantime, we gladly will feel good about this 14-7 lead against Oklahoma State.

The first drive for Tommy Rees’ offense under Freeman lasted 99 seconds because that was all it took to reach the end zone. With Kyren Williams having opted out, Rees decided to go with all passes on the drive, and it paid off. On the first two plays, Jack Coan completed passes of 25 yards to Chris Tyree and 15 yards to Kevin Austin. Soon after, Coan found Lorenzo Styles for a 29-yard touchdown.

Despite giving up a first down on its first play, the Irish’s defense promptly settled in. With the Cowboys facing third-and-7, Isaiah Foskey sacked Spencer Sanders for an 11-yard loss to snuff the drive out. The teams then traded three-and-outs before Chris Tyree ended the Irish’s next offensive drive by taking another Coan pass 53 yards to the house on third down. That outcome had looked unlikely considering the Irish had just been penalized for back-to-back false starts.

After that, there was another swap of three-and-outs, and that served as a precursor to the Cowboys finally finding some life on offense. Mixing up runs and passes, they successfully executed a drive that started at their own 18-yard line and ended with Sanders throwing a 9-yard touchdown pass to Jaden Bray.

The touchdown was a message that the Cowboys weren’t going to just roll over in this New Year’s Six bowl. Another one was sent when Brock Martin sacked Coan to force another three-and-out for the Irish. The Cowboys had the ball when the clock hit zero on the quarter, and they would love to get this game tied soon.