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Take Five: Notre Dame Receivers, Michael Mayer, College Football Playoff

Five takeaways from the Notre Dame victory over Stanford

Five takeaways from the Notre Dame victory over Stanford.

1. I’m thinking back to August when Notre Dame wide receiver Braden Lenzy said that this group of receivers would be “explosive.” The projection was an offshoot of last year when the Irish lacked playmakers in that area. You never know how it’s going to turn out but the word I’d use is resilient. They lost Avery Davis and Joe Wilkins Jr. to injuries. Lawrence Keys III, who would’ve played had he stuck around, decided he was going to hit the transfer portal. But Kevin Austin, freshman Lorenzo Styles, and Lenzy, along with a slew of dependable parts, like Chris Tyree, Deion Colzie, Kyren Williams, and the incomparable Michael Mayer, turned into a diverse, productive group. Mayer, Austin, Lenzy, and Styles combined for 23 receptions, 306 total yards, and one touchdown in the 45-14 win over Stanford. Tyree and Williams were running backs who were good pass catchers. Overall, this was an outstanding performance by the receivers.

2. Mayer let the Mackey Award Committee, which snubbed him by not making him one of the three finalists for the best tight end in the country, know how he felt. Mayer caught nine passes for 105 yards. He finished the regular season with 64 catches, which broke the previous Notre Dame record of 63 set by Tyler Eifert. His nine receptions tied a single-game record for receptions. There are not three better tight ends in the country than Mayer. He’s on his way to being a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft if he stays healthy. Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly had his own view of the snub.

“He's not on the Mackey Award List, which is a — I don't know — maybe it was just an oversight and they're gonna get back together and revote,” Kelly said. ‘Maybe that's what happened. But he's one of the best, if not the best tight end that I've ever coached at Notre Dame and we've had some great tight ends. He's complete in every facet. He's a beast in-line blocking. He's a guy that you double, he finds himself open. He's a leader both on and off the field. He's a difference-maker down the field vertically, option routes. I don't know what else to say. Thank you for the question.”

3. This wasn’t the kind of win I envisioned when Jack Coan started 12 of 14 for 132 yards passing with two first-half touchdown passes. It was a good enough performance but the 45-14 victory could’ve been more convincing. Coan threw a bad interception on a pass he telegraphed to Mayer that led to Stanford’s first touchdown. It was reminiscent of the pick he threw against Cincinnati on the opening possession. Coan was good enough, finishing 26-35 for 345 yards passing with two touchdowns, But he can’t make a mistake like that against a team like Georgia, which could be Notre Dame’s next opponent.

4. The Notre Dame defense had its scoreless November touchdown streak broken. The first score Stanford put up wasn’t the defense’s fault. Coan’s third-quarter interception gave Stanford the ball at the Notre Dame 13-yard line. That set up a five-yard TD run by Austin Jones. Still, the Irish defense was sharp, holding Stanford to 227 total yards of offense and just 55 yards rushing.

5. Kelly was intentionally exuberant and forceful in his defense of his team’s resume for the College Football Playoffs in his post-game press conference. It was a purposeful public display of confidence for the committee that ranks the teams for the College Football Playoffs. Let’s finish with a dose of reality. He brought Coan back into the game after Stanford scored its second TD to get one more score. The game, even in terms of style points, should've been over by the. The reality is that Stanford was almost as bad as Georgia Tech. Has Notre Dame ever finished with four teams that were as bad as Navy, Virginia (without its starting quarterback), Georgia Tech and Stanford? It’s hard to know how much better this team really is than it was in the first half of the season though it is better. Soon enough, the answer will come.

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