As Doug Gottlieb watched Notre Dame dismantle Texas, 38-3, in South Bend this past Saturday, he was absolutely blown away by the athleticism that the Irish had all over the field.
Was Gottlieb seeing things? Or perhaps overreacting?
“No, (you weren’t),” former Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “You’ve got to balance it by saying Texas is not very good right now. They’re young and inexperienced. But Notre Dame’s offensive line, first of all, is as big as it’s ever been. Every one of them is between 300 and 330 pounds, anywhere form 6-4 to 6-6. Their skill-position guys, they’ve got a flyer in Will Fuller out on the outside and also Chris Brown who goes deep. Corey Robinson is a tall, lanky receiver who goes up and gets it.”
Indeed, Fuller was a man amongst boys on Saturday, finishing with seven catches for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Brown and and Robinson, meanwhile, were quiet by comparison yet still effective, combining for five catches for 73 yards and a score.
Notre Dame was just as good defensively, limiting Texas to 163 yards and three points.
The only downside? Starting tailback Tarean Folston tore his ACL and is done for the season. C.J. Prosise, a former wide receiver, stepped in and had 20 carries for 98 yards, while Josh Adams ran five times for 49 yards and two touchdowns.
“(Prosise) did very well,” Flutie said, “but they’re going to have to rely on some young kids to step in.”
Then again, having Malik Zaire at the helm covers a lot of shortcomings. Zaire was 19-of-22 for 313 yards and three touchdowns against Texas.
“He’s an amazing athlete, first off,” Flutie said. “Eeveryone looks at him or views him as a running back at the quarterback position – that he’s going to take off and scramble – so (they think) they’ve got to go to the controlled pass rush and be careful not to let him out of the pocket. He stood in the pocket and delivered the ball. Every time for the last year-and-a-half, two years, when coaches talked about Malik Zaire, they said ‘Oh, he’s erratic throwing the ball. He’s not that accurate.’ But every time I’ve seen him play in a game, a spring game – anytime the lights are on – he is at his best. He looked great. He was going through progressions, he was patient in the pocket. Now, you got to couple that with the fact that there was no pass rush on him and he had time to look around. But if you pass rush him, he’ll make somebody miss and take off on you too.”
Zaire proved that last year in a 31-38 win over LSU in the Music City Bowl. He was a modest 12-of-15 for 96 yards passing, but he wowed fans with his 96 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
“He’s only started two games,” Flutie said, “but he’s looked great.”
No. 9 Notre Dame (1-0) plays at Virginia (0-1) this Saturday before hosting No. 15 Georgia Tech (1-0) on Sept. 19.