Here is a quick look back at some of the highlights of Saturday night closer than we’d hoped win over Wake Forest
It Was Over When …
Jonas Gray surged forward on a 2nd effort to just barely get a first down on 3rd and 1. The first down allowed ND run out the clock in victory formation. It came at the end of a drive that killed the final 5+ minutes of the game, a majority of the yards coming on the ground.
Pick 1 of 2. Either Stephon Tuitt’s sack when Wake had 1st and Goal on the 9 or Darius Fleming causing a fumble inside the 10 which ND recovered. One stopped a long Wake drive and the other came after a long interception return by Wake.
Three Good Stats
- 38 carries – With Tommy having one of his more inaccurate games as an ND quarterback, Brian Kelly leaned on his OL and running game in the 3rd and 4th quarter to put the game away. The Irish finished with 175 yards on the ground.
- 0 — 0 sacks allowed. The O Line still hasn’t given up a sack since the 3rd quarter of the Pitt game. I know ND runs a ton of quick passes but that’s still an impressive achievement.
- 0 2nd half points — After a very sluggish start, giving up 10 points on the first two drives, the D stiffened in the 2nd half yielding no points to Wake. With injuries keeping Ethan & KLM from playing at all and with Lynch and Te’o getting hobble during the game, it was an impressive performance by the short-handed D. There is still room for improvement but 0 points is 0 points.
Three Bad Stats
- 2 — 2 more turnovers for Tommy Rees. Both came on plays were Tommy had other receivers open. And on the 2nd one, the main receiver, Floyd, was open but Tommy lofted up an ugly pass that was picked off and returned back onto the Irish side of the field.
- 7.2 YPA — Brian Kelly’s offense generally has a number of short passes which will keep the YPA down for a QB. But on Saturday night, Tommy had multiple receivers open on deep routes that he just flat out missed. If ND hopes to have any shot against Stanford in a couple of weeks, Tommy has to improve on this. Some of the passes on Saturday were no where close to the intended receiver.
- 118 — ND is currently dead last in the NCAA in turnover margin. That’s just bad.
- Jonas Gray/Cierre Wood — With Tommy struggling all game, especially in the 2nd half, Gray and Wood ran the ball extremely well. THey finished with 179 yards on 33 carries. Both have been outstanding all season.
- Stephon Tuitt & Aaron Lynch — Forced to be starters due to injuries, both have held up well all season. They combined for 2 important sacks but even more impressively, held up well against the run.
- Mike Golic Jr — Forced into the line-up due to Braxton Cave’s injury in the first half, Golic performed admirably. There was very little drop off in run blocking and even more importantly, no errant snaps. Wake has a very good NT and I barely heard his name all night.
- Coach Kelly announced on his Sunday afternoon teleconference that Te’o injured the same ankle that he’s been battling all season and was set back a couple of weeks in his recovery. Lynch should be okay next week and Cave’s injury (a foot sprain, I think) looked much better today than last night.
- The Irish are bowl eligible. While not a major accomplishment or something that needs to be celebrated wildly, it’s nice for it to be official.
- Ethan Johnson sat out another week with his ankle injury.
The Irish travel to Washington DC to play Maryland in the 3rd annual “neutral” site game. It will be aired Saturday night on NBC.