Irish offense breaks records left and right in Fiesta Bowl appearance
Mannion McGinley | Wednesday, January 5, 2022
This weekend the Irish took the field against Oklahoma State for the Playstation Fiesta Bowl. Despite a 37-35 loss, the Irish came away from the game with a mound of records. The Irish set two school records, four Fiesta Bowl records and combined with the Cowboys to set seven more.
Michael Mayer breaks even more records
The Irish matched their first record just before the half as sophomore tight end Michael Mayer caught a pass from graduate student Jack Coan in the red zone. Mayer would run about four yards after the catch and dive for the pylon to score his first touchdown of the game. This touchdown met former Irish tight end Cole Kmet’s single-season touchdown reception record for a tight end. Kmet set the bar at six touchdowns in 2019.
Mayer wanted more though as he went on to grab another six points at the end of the second quarter. With seven touchdowns on the season, Mayer claimed the record for himself. Additionally, he racked up 72 receiving yards on the night. This brought his season total to 840 yards, another tight end record at Notre Dame.
Mayer grabbed these two records after breaking the single-season number of receptions by an ND tight end and tying the single-game tight end receptions against Stanford where the Irish won 45-14.
Coan and the offense take over the Fiesta Bowl books
As for the Fiesta Bowl records the Irish claimed, they wouldn’t have snagged any of them without Jack Coan. The signal-caller took the most pass attempts in Fiesta Bowl history with 68. He earned 509 passing yards for the Irish. This became another Fiesta Bowl record over the existing 451 from Browning Nagle in 1991. And, his individual total yardage eclipsed both the previous record of 431 — belonging to Nagle — and Sanders’s total on the day, 496. Coan had 505.
Sanders and Coan would combine though to achieve 880 net passing yards, an overall game record in itself. This came from 119 pass attempts and resulted in 9 total touchdowns, also both records for the Bowl.
In all of that yardage, Coan also tossed five touchdown passes. This tied a record from 1990 set by Florida State’s Peter Tom Willis. The Notre Dame players Coan connected with were Mayer for two, sophomore running back Chris Tyree, senior receiver Kevin Austin Jr. and freshman receiver Lorenzo Styles.
That same squad combined with senior receiver Braden Lenzy and freshman running back Logan Diggs to achieve the most first downs through the air in Fiesta Bowl history. The Irish offense outranked the 2009 Texas Longhorns, making 24 passing first downs over the Longhorns’ 23. Here too, the Irish and the Cowboys set the combined game record with 43 passing first downs. This also contributed to the teams setting the total first downs record at 61.
The Irish left success markers throughout the match-up with the Cowboys, despite the close loss. As the Irish step into the Freeman era, it’s not a question of if more success will follow, but rather a question of when.