Notre Dame entered the 2021 season with one of the nation's best tight ends in the starting lineup but plenty of questions after that. Those questions still remain and the standout starter did some great things, but had some big mistakes as well.
The unit had good production but there is certainly plenty for position coach John McNulty to clean up before the Irish take the field on Saturday against Toledo.
Overall Grade: C+
Let's look at the individual player grades and analysis.
Stats: 9 catches, 120 yards, 13.3 YPC, 1 TD
At times Mayer looked like the best tight end in the country, and at times he looked like a sophomore who still makes young guy mistakes. Moving forward, Mayer needs to clean up some of those mistakes and play a cleaner game, and when he does that he'll be a major, major force.
Let's start with the good. Mayer was an absolute force in the pass game for Notre Dame. Florida State, for some reason, didn't have a game plan designed to bracket or limit Mayer and often times he had a linebacker on him, and Mayer dominated those matchups to the tune of 9 catches for 120 yards and a score. If not for two huge drops that he has to make, Mayer's numbers would have been truly exceptional, and he would have had more clutch plays on his resume.
On both drops Mayer started turning up before he secured the catch, and that's a young guy mistake a player of his talent cannot make, especially twice.
What I liked about Mayer's performance is how well he ran routes. He was clean off the line, he made sharp cuts and he was able to gain separation throughout the night. Mayer was a matchup problem for Florida State all night and his numbers could have been
The other reason Mayer's grade is down, even with those numbers, is the inconsistent blocking. Mayer's angles were very inconsistent, he was often way too forward with his lean in the run game and he didn't finish. Mayer is too big and too strong to be as average as he was in the run game in this game.
Takacs had a solid performance for much of the game, but like Mayer he was a bit inconsistent. I thought Takacs got good movement in the run game and was more assignment correct than Mayer, but he too had issues finishing at time. Takacs and the rest of the tight ends had a tough time securing the edge, and the angles were a big part of the problem.
Takacs didn't run many routes and was never targeted in the pass game. He needs to be a bit more assertive as a route runner, especially coming off the ball.
There also seemed to be too many miscommunications, and they were often so egregious that I couldn't really tell who was at fault, so I couldn't put it on one player's grade. That's why the overall tight end grade is lower than it might seem. There are too many run game issues that must get cleaned up, and the drops must be corrected.
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