Notre Dame football becomes 9-0 after win over North Carolina

Notre Dame football is just two games away from completing an undefeated regular season. The Irish took away their ninth win of the season after defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels 31-7. This was not an easy victory, as Notre Dame had to fight until the fourth quarter. The No. 19 Tar Heels started out explosive, keeping the Irish on their toes until their stamina ran out. As Notre Dame faced obstacles before traveling to Chapel Hill, it had a successful showing and continues to push through adversity.

A revised offensive line

The biggest obstacle the Irish faced going into the game was the difference in the offensive line. With Jarrett Patterson out, sophomore Zeke Correll stepped up and started as center. For Correll, this was his first career start on the road. Going against a nationally ranked opponent with the College Football Playoff ahead, Correll certainly had a lot of pressure on his back.

That being said, Correl executed well. Only having two muffed snaps, the young center could have made many more mistakes, including sailing the ball over the quarterback’s head or lacking the quickness off the ball. In the next two weeks, Correll will have more time to clean up his snap consistency. For now, Correll should be content with the first steps he made as Notre Dame’s new starting center.

McKinley’s show

There is no doubt Javon McKinley was the star wide receiver of the game. With six catches for 135 yards, McKinley proved his dominance on the field and displayed how great Ian Book‘s confidence is in him. Over the season, it has taken some time for Book and McKinley to build chemistry. In the past three games, McKinley has been performing just as Brian Kelly would like him to. His biggest gains against North Carolina, 53 yards and 43 yards were game changers and essentially led the Notre Dame offense closer to another touchdown.

Late adjustments

What kept the Tar Heels in the game for so long was Notre Dame’s inability to adjust to North Carolina’s attacks. The Tar Heels were quick to rush the run game. Notre Dame’s response was to run through stretches where the run game was not being forced. As this was a response that helped, the Irish should have designed screens to attack pressures, as well as blitzes, that came towards Book.

The delay of response allowed North Carolina to continue to score, which put more pressure on Irish defense to stop the Tar Heels, but the tactic of improvising ultimately led the Irish to a victory. North Carolina was a team that was going to pose a threat to Notre Dame football. While the Irish were able to stay in the game and pull through, they will not be able to make fly by adjustments come a re-match against Clemson.

What is next

Notre Dame will host Syracuse next week at home, which should be the Irish’s easiest competition. The Orange have had a tough season, holding a 1-9 record so far this season. For the Irish, this will be their last home game of the season, which will be heartwarming for seniors after a roller coaster of a year.

Photo by Michael Yu | The Observer