<
>

What we learned: Week 13

11/24/2013

Here is what we take away from Notre Dame's 23-13 win over BYU.

1. There is still plenty of pride left in this team. Cam McDaniel looked at me in disbelief when I brought up the fact Notre Dame is probably going to the same bowl game no matter what it does these final couple of weeks. And that's a good thing for Notre Dame, which can finish with a 10-win season if it wins out. The Irish played arguably their most complete game of the season, with the stakes arguably at their lowest. That says a lot about this program, and particularly about the seniors, who had two long weeks to think about this after losing at Pitt and came out and played inspired ball against a good BYU team.

2. The ground game has some movement. Notre Dame eclipsed the 200-yard rushing mark for the third time this season, and when the Irish needed to most. The weather conditions called for it Saturday, with snowfall and cold temperatures throughout the afternoon. Then they lost center Nick Martin in the first quarter to a hyperextended left knee. But Matt Hegarty filled in nicely as the Irish tallied 235 rushing yards. McDaniel led the way with a career-high 117 yards, and Tarean Folston added 78 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Notre Dame will need all of the help it can get from the backfield this coming week when it heads to Stanford.

3. Special teams improving. Jarron Jones blocked a crucial field goal attempt late in the fourth quarter to seal the win, his second block of the season. Kyle Brindza has turned in quite an impressive season, hitting all three of his field goal attempts on Saturday, including a 51-yarder to give the Irish a 10-point lead. And TJ Jones was oh-so-close to breaking off a big punt return, possibly for a touchdown, had the playing surface not been so poor. Kick coverage can certainly be better, but the Irish's special-teams strides, as a whole, were evident on Senior Day against BYU.