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Sunday, October 27, 2013
What we learned: Week 9

By Matt Fortuna

Here is what we take away from Notre Dame's 45-10 win Saturday at Air Force:

1. Tommy Rees can play, remember? Rees had one of the best outings of his career, completing 17 of 22 passes for 284 yards with a career-high five touchdowns to five different receivers -- a Notre Dame first. He got to take the fourth quarter off for his efforts, which came a week after a neck strain forced him out of the USC game in the third quarter. He now has 54 career touchdown passes, as he topped Ron Powlus (52) to move into third place on the school career list. He also gave way to Andrew Hendrix, who hit Will Fuller for a 47-yard strike late and ran it in himself from 4 yards out for a score in some needed extended action.

2. Freshmen step up. Corey Robinson and Fuller had their first career touchdown grabs, and Fuller caught the aforementioned deep pass from Hendrix as well. Jaylon Smith also impressed in his first action against the option, recording eight tackles (tied with Dan Fox for most on the team), had a tackle for loss and recovered a fumble that would have turned into a touchdown if not for a blown call. Right guard Steve Elmer found himself at right tackle, too, and played well in his first career start, despite a false start penalty on his first drive that accounted for the Irish's only flag on the day.

3. Injuries are mounting. Brian Kelly said Chris Watt had a knee strain, but it did not sound serious. Sheldon Day, DaVaris Daniels and Ronnie Stanley all looked like they were banged up, too. We'll know more after speaking to Kelly on Sunday afternoon, but it was already a rough week for the Irish in the injury department after Christian Lombard was lost for the season and Louis Nix III did not travel for Saturday's game.