What went wrong for the Irish against Clemson?

Notre Dame quarterback Sam Hartman (10) looks on before an NCAA college football game against...
Notre Dame quarterback Sam Hartman (10) looks on before an NCAA college football game against Clemson, Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)(Jacob Kupferman | Associated Press)
Updated: Nov. 5, 2023 at 1:00 AM EDT
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CLEMSON, S.C. (WNDU) - “If Clemson’s a stock, you better buy all you freakin’ can buy right now!”

Those were the words from a fired-up Dabo Swinney after Clemson defeated No. 15 Notre Dame in Death Valley on Saturday afternoon.

The Tigers sent the Irish back to South Bend saddled with their third loss of the season. The Irish fell behind early and never caught up, with the game ending in a 31-23 loss.

So overall, what went wrong for the Irish this week? There were two big areas where the team came up short.

Early on, the defense allowed Clemson running back Phil Mafah to run wild as he racked up 186 yards rushing and a pair of scores. However, the defense did stiffen up towards the end and gave up seven points in the second half.

The bigger problem though came on the offensive end, as Sam Hartman had another ineffective road game performance. Over his last three road starts, the sixth-year signal caller has tossed five interceptions as opposed to just two touchdown passes. He’s also been sacked nine times in those three games.

After this one, the quarterback didn’t shy away from the heat and admitted that he needs to perform at a higher level.

“If you guys want to blame, put anything on anyone, put it on me,” Hartman said. “I played very poor today. I didn’t play well enough to be a winning QB or football team. All the different situations we were in today was partly my doing, and really all my doing. I didn’t execute well enough. If you want to mention people on Twitter, blame OC’s, blame Coach Freeman — no, blame me. I’m big enough and man enough to admit I didn’t play up to the standard that this team deserves or this fanbase, this university deserves.

“That’s the way it goes,” he added. “It’s the Saturdays of college football. Give everything I have and just play better.”

And the Irish special teams also cost them in this one. Down 7-3 in the first quarter, Chris Tyree muffed a punt deep in Irish territory, leading to a Tigers field goal.

Overall, a tough loss in all three phases for the Fighting Irish this week.

“We’re 7-3 right now. We’ve got two opportunities to go out there and compete, so we’ve got to improve in these next two weeks,” said Irish head coach Marcus Freeman after the game. “We’ve got to find a way to improve as a football team, schematically and as individuals. We just have to go back to practice, go back to work and figure out a way to make sure that we improve as a team so we can obviously get the outcome that we want.”

The Irish now enter their second bye week of the season and get ready to play Wake Forest at home on Nov. 18.