Notre Dame comes back to win at Virginia Tech: 5 instant takeaways

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The cardiac kids were at it again Saturday night as No. 14 Notre Dame trailed Virginia Tech 29-21 with just under four minutes to go in regulation.

Jack Coan was a disaster in the first quarter, replaced by Tyler Buchner who gave the Irish a needed spark before sputtering and appearing to roll his ankle away from a play and being forced to exit.

Coan returned with under four minutes to lead a game-tying touchdown drive before getting the ball back and leading the Irish into range for Jonathan Doerer to hit his second game-winning field goal of the season.

It was a football game that was played and that Notre Dame won, Here are my five instant takeaways as the Irish move to 5-1:

5. Brutal Start

Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

It was well known Lane Stadium would be rocking as things got underway. It wouldn’t have mattered who the starting quarterback would have been, it would be loud and crazy.

Jack Coan provided nothing early as Notre Dame did nothing offensively, falling behind 10-0 five minutes into the second frame. I’m happy for Jack Coan and thrilled for Notre Dame escaping Blacksburg with a victory but for the life of me can’t understand why he started this ballgame.

4. Disaster Defensively on 3rd Down

Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The defense has to get off the field at some point and Saturday night they struggled to do that. When you go back and see the film and watch without the same emotion it’ll probably reveal a decent amount of holds that weren’t flagged but at some point you have to get off the field on third down.

Cam Hart’s missed tackle on 3rd and seven leads to a Virginia Tech field goal as the Hokies retook the lead. 3rd and 15 in the fourth quarter and allow a backup quarterback who can barely lift his arm to scramble for a touchdown.

It wasn’t pretty but Notre Dame was able to get away with it Saturday night.

3. Offensive Line Growth

Credit where credit is due?

The offensive line has a long way to go but it improved on Saturday night and was able to establish the run like it hasn’t yet so far in 2021.

It’s not a finished product but it was a step in the right direction, Still a long way to go but for a unit that has been so heavily criticized this year it was a better showing and something to build on.

2. Doerer Does It Again

Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Doerer has had an up and down career at Notre Dame but the moment wasn’t too big for him Saturday night as he drilled a 48-yard field goal with just under 20 seconds to play to give the Irish the eventual lead.

He’s had great moments and had some brutal ones but hats off to the young man for telling his coach to stop worrying about a laser pointer and just let him kick, then taking advantage of the opportunity and knocking the game-winning field goal through.

1. Jack Coan taketh, Jack Coan giveth

Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t know how Brian Kelly had the stomach to go back to Jack Coan after Tyler Buchner’s injury but that’s why he gets paid a lot of money to make such decisions while I get paid significantly less to write about them. I was calling for Drew Pyne since last Sunday and a week later we still haven’t seen him.

Coan was great in the final two drives and I’m thrilled for the young man. I didn’t see that coming but I’m ecstatic that it did.

If Coan is going to start again after the bye when USC comes to town can we see more of the three step drops that were showcased late in this game instead of the five and seven step drops the first few possessions were filled with?

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