Top Individual Performances Of 2019
With spring ball currently shut down it is a good time to take a look back at the 2019 season. Over the next week I’m going to do a few features on last season while also starting to look forward to the 2020 campaign.
To kick that off let’s take a look at the Top 10 individual performances of the 2019 season. The top games are a combination of the quality of the play based on film analysis, the impact the performance had on the outcome of the game and at the bottom of the pecking order is the statistical output from the game.
Let’s start off with games 10-6.
10. Asmar Bilal vs. USC
Stats: 11 tackles, 2 tackles for loss
No game better signified Bilal’s breakout campaign than what he did against USC. The production was certainly outstanding, with the fifth-year senior finishing with 11 tackles and two tackles for loss. But his production was important to the success of the defense, which kept USC well under its season season averages for much of the game.
Bilal played a major role in USC’s inability to get its perimeter run game going, with both of his tackles for loss coming outside. He not only displayed outstanding speed on those plays, but he was physical at the point of attack. Bilal also graded out quite well in coverage, closing quickly on routes and closing off throwing lanes in other instances.
9. Chase Claypool vs. Iowa State
Stats: 7 catches, 146 yards, 20.9 YPC, 1 TD
Claypool finished his Notre Dame career off with a bang, dominating Iowa State in the pass game and also making a huge early play on special teams. After Notre Dame was forced to punt on its opening drive, safety Alohi Gilman stripped the Iowa State return man of the ball and Claypool was there to make the recovery. That big play set up Notre Dame’s first points of the game, a 39-yard field goal.
On the next series, Claypool got the Irish in the end zone with an impressive back shoulder catch for a 24-yard touchdown that converted a 3rd-and-12. Claypool ran a filthy corner route for a 32-yard gain to kick off the next offensive series, which set up the second field goal of the game. On Notre Dame’s next possession it was a 44-yard gain by Claypool that set up a touchdown that put the Irish up 20-6 at the half.
8. Adetokunbo Ogundeji vs. Boston College
Stats: 6 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Ogundeji had a dominant finish to the 2019 campaign, and his production against Boston College was the peak of his brilliance down the stretch. His numbers were excellent, with Ogundeji racking up career highs in tackles (6), tackles for loss (3) and sacks (2). His first big play came on a jet sweep where Ogundeji showed off his instincts and athleticism.
His two sacks were huge plays for the Irish defense. His first ended a Boston College drive and his second prevented a touchdown. With Notre Dame up just 16-7 in the third quarter, BC running back AJ Dillon was running free down the seams for what likely would have been a touchdown if not for Ogundeji blowing into the backfield with a power rush that got to the quarterback before the BC passer could find Dillon.
7. Ian Book vs. Navy
Stats: 14-20, 70.% completion rate, 284 yards, 5 TD’s / 31 rush yards
Book was brilliant against the Midshipmen, completing 70% of his passes and tossing five touchdowns en route to a 52-20 blowout win over a Navy team that was ranked #23 in the nation coming into that game. Book started off hot, completing three of four passes for 44 yards and a touchdown, but his biggest play came with his legs. Book turned a 3rd-and-16 into a 4th-and-1 with a 15-yard scramble that set up Tony Jones Jr. chain-moving run on fourth down.
He hit Claypool down the seam for a 47-yard touchdown on Notre Dame’s next drive, hit Claypool with a back shoulder touchdown on drive three and threw a gorgeous 70-yard touchdown pass to speedster Braden Lenzy on drive four. Book’s blazing hot start helped the Irish put the game away before the game even got to halftime.
6. Cole Kmet vs. Georgia
Stats: 9 catches, 108 yards, 12.0 YPC, 1 TD
Kmet was absolutely brilliant in the loss to Georgia, which happened to be his first game of the season. The Bulldogs had no answer for Kmet in the first half, and it took double and sometimes triple team coverages in the second half to slow Kmet down. He did damage over the middle, after the catch and he made contested grabs as well.
Kmet’s nine catches tied Ken McAfee (vs. Purdue, 1977) for the most in a game by a Notre Dame tight end. His 108 receiving yards was the sixth-best single-game performance by an Irish tight end. It was without question Kmet’s best career performance, and he did it on a huge stage, which makes the performance that much better.
Check back to Irish Breakdown tomorrow for the top five performances of the season.