On a day that had a little of everything for Irish fans, perhaps the most enjoyable, if not the most surprising, was Tommy Rees’s nearly flawless start to the game. Shaking off a bewildering illegal substitution penalty to start the game, Tommy directed the next two drives right at the Owls and put all the toys at his, and Offensive Coordinator Chuck Martin’s, disposal on display. Hooking up twice with Davaris Daniels to score on thirty-yard passes, the Notre Dame signal caller had the Irish offense on cruise control.
Unfortunately, the ride went from thrilling to humdrum rather quickly. The brilliant flashes we saw in the first two drives, which featured gaudy runs by Amir Carlisle and TJ Jones, gave way to punts and horrific missed field goals. Frankly, for all the breath expended talking about special teams during the off season, I expected more than one nineteen yard return from George Atkinson, III. Both Kyle Brindza and Nick Tausch missed pedestrian field goal tries. Maybe there was something in the water, though, as Temple couldn’t put the ball between the sticks, either.
Defensively, Notre Dame clearly wasn’t showing a lot, with Michigan up next. Temple did a good job containing, and frustrating, Big Louis Nix, who goofed his way into three penalties and at one point threw his hands up in disgust as he trailed after Temple’s quarterback. Stephon Tuitt managed one sack as the Irish gave up a rushing touchdown and one hundred and thirty-four yards on the ground.
The real story, though, has to be the consistency and competency displayed by Tommy Rees. His three touchdown passes were perfectly thrown balls and he guided the offense to a healthy production that would have been healthier but for the aforementioned missed FGs. The Irish kept a clean sheet, too, on turnovers.
In all, this was a good warm up for the Skunkbears on Saturday. Nine Notre Dame freshman made it onto the field and Brian Kelly, on the heels of a new contract extension, was obviously comfortable enough to put Andrew Hendrix in to see out the win. You can expect a much tougher test from Michigan, but I think we saw enough yesterday to know that we have plenty of tools for the task.