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Notre Dame Offense Wakes Up In Victory Over USC

The Notre Dame offense was balanced and effective in the 31-16 win over USC

It was the kind of offensive performance Notre Dame needed after its bye week. It was the kind of complete offensive performance the Irish (6-1) have been looking for all season.

The Irish defeated USC 31-16 on Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium by running and passing the ball equally well.

Senior quarterback Jack Coan, who has been maligned at times for his slow starts, was good from beginning to end. Coan completed 20 of 28 passed for 189 yards with one touchdown pass. Running back Kyren Williams had a big day, running for a season-high 138 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. Tyler Buchner came in and spotted Coan. Buchner was 2 for 2 passing for 24 yards and he ran for 11 yards on three carries. Buchner took a knee twice at the end of the game, too.

The offensive line was solid, giving up just one sack, and it helped put the game away in the fourth quarter when Notre Dame picked up 52 yards rushing.

The Irish started in a hurry-up offense with Coan. That seemed to help him play with the urgency that he showed in game-ending drives against Toledo and Virginia Tech.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said the offense took a big step.

“We needed to see our offense mature,” Kelly said. “I thought tonight was that first step from the start of the game to the end of the game, the offense came together in a manner we wanted. We played faster and we put Jack in a position where the ball came out quick. We gave him quick, definite run and pass reads and it really seemed to give us an offensive flow that we were looking for.”

Kelly said that Williams, who had to shoulder more of the running load than usual because Chris Tyree had a turf toe injury, was really ready to go.

“I thought Kyren just ran with an attitude,” Kelly said, “that was pervasive throughout the entire offense.”

Kelly said that it’s impossible to understate how big the USC game is for Notre Dame and that Williams took that to heart.

“I think Kyren knew it was an important game for him,” Kelly said. “We had C’Bo (Flemister) available, we had Logan Diggs available but you know, we sensed during the week that he was going to put this on his back. I think he went into this game with Chris not available that he was going to get the kind of carries he was going to get and he was going to have a chance to influence the game.”

Notre Dame’s final scoring drive was exactly what good teams do.

The Irish drive 75 yards on nine plays. They rushed for 39 yards, and it ended with a three-yard TD run by Buchner. That gave Notre Dame a 31-16 lead.

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“We had five guys playing together and the ability to run the football when you needed and a quarterback that was able to still push the ball into some tight windows. We made some big throws in tight windows. I think it was all that coming together in a last response drive," Kelly said.

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