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Sunday, October 9, 2011
What we learned about Notre Dame: Week 6

By Matt Fortuna

1. Notre Dame knows how to strike early: You could add "and often" after the last two weeks as well. The Fighting Irish jumped out to a 14-0 lead Saturday and never looked back, scoring 42 points in the first half. In first quarters this season, Notre Dame is outscoring its opponents 73-22. An early lead made all the difference against an Air Force team that simply could not keep up with the Irish, who scored touchdowns on their first six possessions.

2. The kid can play: Andrew Hendrix's debut was a smashing success, as the sophomore quarterback was inserted early and often for a Notre Dame offense that never slowed down. Hendrix finished with 111 rushing yards on six carries and completed all four of his passes for 33 yards. Brian Kelly made it clear afterward that Dayne Crist is still his No. 2 signal-caller behind Tommy Rees, but the threat Hendrix provided Saturday with his legs makes him a great change-of-pace option to have the rest of the season.

3. No turnovers = efficiency: Again, not a big lesson to be learned here. But the importance of protecting the ball really stood out Saturday when looking at Air Force, which actually outgained the Irish 565-560 but could never keep up because of two first-half turnovers. Notre Dame knows the feeling after struggling with ball protection through the season's first two weeks, but those problems have been nothing but a distant memory the past two weeks.

4. Theo Riddick can make a difference: The running back-turned-receiver lined up all over the field Saturday and finally had a breakout game, catching eight passes for 83 yards and a touchdown. He added a 14-yard run on his lone carry as well. Riddick is as versatile a threat as the Irish's offense has and makes the unit all the more dangerous when he's clicking the way he did against Air Force.