Notre Dame's receivers continued a strong start to the 2021 season. Like we saw against Florida State the numbers don't tell the whole story, but I graded out the group and the individuals in the group out quite well in this game.
Overall the routes were sound; not great, not bad, just sound. With the natural talent this unit possesses that sound play allowed them to dominate a Toledo secondary that lacks their athleticism and size.
I was also pleased with the blocking from the wideouts. They were solid in the opener but the effort was mostly outstanding against Toledo.
There is work to be done with getting off press coverage, that was my one big takeaway from the game. As more teams see film of this group they are going to get more aggressive in coverage, and not getting off press forced two incompletions on deep balls on the outside and also resulted in a sack due to the in breaking route not being able to get where it needed to be for the quarterback to be able to get there.
The Irish receivers combined for 12 catches and 148 yards (12.3 YPC).
Overall Grade: B
Let's look at the individual player grades and analysis.
Stats: 4 catches, 63 yards, 15.8 YPC
Austin continues to impress early in the 2021 season, and the Toledo game was another strong performance. His numbers were solid but could have been much better. He got open on a post route on the second snap of the game but Coan went to Michael Mayer on a wheel route instead (which was also a good read). Austin was open on a number of short and intermediate throws but the ball didn't come his way.
When the game was on the line Austin made a tremendous individual play on a well thrown ball to gain 39 yards on the first play of the game-winning scoring drive. Austin also executed an effective slant route to convert a 3rd-and-1 and he drew a pass interference penalty.
His blocking was excellent for the most part. At times in the second half Austin came off the line somewhat slow in situations where he didn't think he was going to get the ball, which to me is evidence he was wearing down, but when the game was on the line he dug deep and made a big play to help the team get in scoring position.
Stats: 2 catches, 33 yards, 16.5 YPC
Lenzy's numbers don't reflect how well he played against Toledo. If the line play was better there's a good chance Lenzy has a monster game. He made a great catch on a poor decision from Tyler Buchner on one completion and executed a good curl route to move the chains in a 3rd-and-7 early in the game.
Lenzy got deep down the field on multiple snaps on plays where a quarterback with a clean pocket would have been able to hit him for big plays. Lenzy was clearly getting frustrated by not getting the ball on those deep shots, and I get that frustration. He needs to make sure that frustration doesn't turn into him not still giving great effort on those snaps, but against Toledo he did not let his frustration of not getting the ball stop him from going all out on the next rep.
Lenzy's blocking was decent in the game and the effort was there. Notre Dame needs to figure out ways to get him more touches because right now he is playing at a high level.
Stats: 3 catches, 29 yards, 9.7 YPC
Davis got on track after a rough first game. Against Florida State it wasn't his lack of production that concerned him. Davis wasn't running sharp routes and he was an afterthought in the pass game. Against Toledo it was obvious the staff wanted to get him going, and Davis hauled in three passes for 29 yards, and he had a 37-yard gain negated by an offensive line penalty.
Davis was sharper on his routes and he was coming off the ball much faster. On at least two snaps from the slot he blew past the man covering him and was open for possible huge plays down the field but the ball never came his way.
Davis has to do a better job getting off aggressive press or re-route attempts. He ran a seam route in the first half in which he got jammed up down the field, which kept Lenzy from coming underneath him on an under route, which resulted in the play getting blown up.
JOE WILKINS JR.
Stats: 1 catch, 14 yards, 14.0 YPC
Wilkins still struggles to get separation on vertical routes, but he did haul in a 14-yard gain on a crossing route that turned a 2nd-and-15 into a 3rd-and-1 that the offense converted. His blocking was solid and he gave quality snaps, but the lack of separation is a bit concerning.
Freshman wide receivers Deion Colzie and Lorenzo Styles both got snaps in the game and both hauled in their first passes. Both got much-needed snaps and hopefully this is just the beginning of them being forced into the rotation. I'm concerned that both Lenzy and Austin are already over 100 snaps after just two games. When you consider the lower body injuries both have suffered in the past that must be monitored, and getting these two young players action is a must moving forward, no matter who the opponent is.
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