Lesar: Five takeaways from Notre Dame's victory over Syracuse

Al Lesar
South Bend Tribune

Four victories into the Notre Dame football season, the learning process continues.

Saturday night’s 31-15 win over Syracuse gave confirmation to some areas of development while exposing others as those that need a future focus.

Here are five takeaways from the conquest of the Orange.

Numbers can deceive

Consensus was that Notre Dame’s offensive performance against Syracuse was sloppy. Five turnovers, four by quarterback Everett Golson, can make for a sleepless night for Irish coach Brian Kelly.

The best stat to take away from the game was that, in the last two years, teams that have been minus-four (like the Irish) in turnovers are 1-28.

What’s worse, Notre Dame could have had a sixth turnover when running back Tarean Folston’s fumble was negated by a penalty.

Golson is human

After pushing all the right buttons in the first three games, Golson came back to earth against the Orange. Two interceptions, including a pick-six, and two fumbles made his performance a real head-scratcher. Despite those mistakes, he completed 32 of 39 passes for 362 yards and four touchdowns. His fumble on Notre Dame’s first possession ended up inside the Syracuse 20-yard line, which meant it was the first Irish failure in the red zone this season (17 of 18).

Hunter's healthy

Just as Notre Dame slot receiver Amir Carlisle went down with a knee injury, Torii Hunter got the clearance to come back from a groin injury that sidelined him since early in preseason camp. Hunter showed his versatility by catching a 13-yard touchdown pass, while also running twice for 13 yards. His presence as a contributor should make an impact.

Defense is mobile

One play stood out above others as putting a face on the type of defense Notre Dame defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder is trying to build. Syracuse running back Adonis Ameen-Moore was stringing out a play, trying to turn the corner on a run. Freshman defensive end Andrew Trumbetti matched him stride for stride, chasing Ameen-Moore all the way to the sidelines. That sort of speed and intensity says a lot about Trumbetti’s performance.

Challenge awaits

While the Irish had problems but were effective against Syracuse, the level of competition gets amped up over the next three weeks. Stanford heads into South Bend Saturday, then, after a visit from North Carolina, Notre Dame travels to Tallahassee for a matchup with defending national champion Florida State. This will give a true picture of where the Irish stand right now.

Freshman defensive lineman Andrew Trumbetti showed impressive speed in Notre Dame's 31-15 victory over Syracuse Saturday night. (SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)