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Saturday, September 17, 2011
Long TD drive gives offense boost, 'D' rest

By Matt Fortuna

SOUTH BEND, Ind -- Cierre Wood's six-yard touchdown run, his second of the day, did more than just put Notre Dame up 21-10. It gave an offense that had not recorded a first down since its second drive of the game a much-needed boost.

And, consequently, it gave the Fighting Irish's defense a much needed break after a pair of turnovers and a kickoff return for a score kept the unit running onto the field without any real rest.

The Irish went 92 yards on 10 plays, taking up four minutes, 49 seconds. Tommy Rees' 33-yard pass to Michael Floyd was the big play, but Notre Dame's ground game has opened things up, with Wood and Jonas Gray each getting nine carries and running for 64 and 54 yards, respectively.

On defense, the Irish have bottled up Edwin Baker and the rest of Sparty's ground attack, limiting it to eight yards going into what is likely its final drive of the half. Kirk Cousins has had success on play-action and has completed 8 of 12 passes, but the Irish have been getting to him in the backfield, and the run threat can only last so long.