Chicago Colleges: Prince Shembo

Historic draft weekend for Notre Dame

May, 12, 2014
May 12
9:00
AM CT
Notre Dame walked away from NFL draft weekend with eight of its former players getting picked, tied with Alabama for the second most of any school in the country, behind LSU's nine. The eight picks also marked the most in a single draft for the Irish in 20 years, as they had 10 draftees in 1994.

In addition, six former Notre Dame players signed with NFL clubs after the draft, with five of those players coming from last season's team.

Seven of Notre Dame's defensive starters from the Discover BCS National Championship following the 2012 season have now been drafted as well: Kapron Lewis-Moore (Ravens, 200th), Manti Te'o (Chargers, 38th) and Zeke Motta (Falcons, 244th) last year; Stephon Tuitt (Steelers, 46th), Louis Nix (Texans, 83rd), Prince Shembo (Falcons, 139th) and Bennett Jackson (Giants, 187th) this year.

It's not a stretch to say that linebacker Danny Spond, who also started against Alabama in the title game, was on track to be drafted prior to retiring before last season because of hemiplegic migraines. It's also worth noting that safety Jamoris Slaughter, who was drafted 175th overall by the Browns last year, started on the Irish's 2012 defense before suffering a season-ending Achilles' tear in Week 3. Two defensive starters from that title game, KeiVarae Russell and Matthias Farley, still have two years of eligibility left at Notre Dame.

Here's a recap of Notre Dame's 2014 draft weekend. Irish transfers Shaquelle Evans (fourth round, 114th overall) and Aaron Lynch (fifth, 150th) were both drafted as well.

DRAFTED

LT Zack Martin, Dallas Cowboys (first round, 16th overall)

DE Stephon Tuitt, Pittsburgh Steelers (second, 46th)

TE Troy Niklas, Arizona Cardinals (second, 52nd)

NG Louis Nix, Houston Texans (third, 83rd)

LG Chris Watt, San Diego Chargers (third, 89th)

LB Prince Shembo, Atlanta Falcons (fourth, 139th)

CB Bennett Jackson, New York Giants (sixth, 187th)

WR TJ Jones, Detroit Lions (sixth, 189th)

UNDRAFTED FREE AGENT SIGNINGS

RB George Atkinson III, Oakland Raiders

LB Dan Fox, New York Giants

LB Carlo Calabrese, Cleveland Browns

QB Tommy Rees, Washington Redskins

NG Kona Schwenke, Kansas City Chiefs

C/G Mike Golic Jr., New Orleans Saints

Position battles to watch: No. 1

February, 21, 2014
Feb 21
9:00
AM CT
Our series looking at the top positions battles concludes with an area that will feature plenty of new faces in the middle of the Irish defense.

Inside linebacker

[+] EnlargeSchmidt
Chris Williams/Icon SMIFormer walk-on Joe Schmidt played significant action inside for the Irish last season.
No Manti Te'o in 2013 was a bigger adjustment than most expected. The veteran presence of Dan Fox and Carlo Calabrese kept things familiar, with Fox moving to the Mike, losing his job to Jarrett Grace, then bouncing back to play some of the best football of his career to close the 2013 season.

Now both are gone, and while the Irish lose Prince Shembo at the starting Cat linebacker spot as well, it is presumed that Ishaq Williams will step in with the chance to fill those shoes. (Jaylon Smith was a freshman sensation as the starting Dog linebacker.)

Grace figured to be the starting Mike, but his recovery from a broken leg means that the doors are open this spring for others to step up and make their marks. Kendall Moore is back for a fifth season and figures to play a big role this spring. So does redshirt junior Joe Schmidt, the former walk-on who earned a scholarship entering last season and played significant action inside in 2013.

One other thing to consider is that there is a new defensive coordinator in Brian VanGorder. And although Brian Kelly said that the Irish will still operate out of a 3-4 base and go 4-3 about half the time, it remains to be seen how much more aggressive, if at all, VanGorder is with the personnel at hand.

There will probably be plenty of mixing and matching this spring, as the Irish try to find where some of their young guys are most effective -- notably, Michael Deeb and Doug Randolph, a pair of players who redshirted last season as freshmen.

Outside linebacker has a bit more depth, with Romeo Okwara and Ben Councell, who will likely miss the spring after tearing an ACL late last season. And a major reinforcement inside could be on the way this summer in Nyles Morgan, the No. 5 inside linebacker in the nation and Notre Dame's top recruit from the 2014 class.

But that's a topic for fall practice. In the spring, the Irish need to work on replenishing the position unit that takes the biggest hit from 2013 to 2014 in linebacker, and in particular, at inside linebacker. Several players have opportunities to cement significant roles for the 2014 season.

Kelly optimistic about 2014 Irish defense

December, 30, 2013
12/30/13
9:00
AM CT

NEW YORK -- As the Notre Dame football team prepares to replace several key defensive starters and install a new defensive coordinator this offseason, former defensive coordinator Bob Diaco's words about filling those voids stand out to sophomore corner KeiVarae Russell.

"He [said it's] like it's baking the cake. Instead of putting the sugar you put the spice in," Russell said. "It's still going to turn out to be a cake. It's going to be a different taste of it."

Notre Dame's players and coach are expecting that cake will taste quite good next season.

[+] EnlargeNotre Dame
AP Photo/Frank Franklin IINotre Dame could lose defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt to the 2014 NFL draft.
As Notre Dame readies to bring in a new defensive coordinator and potentially replace six starters from Saturday's 29-16 win over Rutgers in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, N.Y., the Fighting Irish are optimistic they won't miss a beat defensively next season.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said the team has its new defensive coordinator in place, reported to be Jets linebackers coach Brian VanGorder, and an announcement will be coming soon as the contract had not been finalized as of Saturday. VanGorder will replace Diaco, who left prior to the bowl game to become the head coach at UConn.

"We're going to have a lot of really good players coming back, I feel really confident in that," Kelly said. "[I'm] really excited about the prospects next year defensively in the guys we got coming back."

Notre Dame's defense shined against Rutgers, forcing four interceptions and holding the Scarlet Knights to just 236 total yards. More than half of the starters from that game, though, might not be back next season. Defensive lineman Kona Schwenke, linebackers Prince Shembo, Dan Fox and Carlo Calabrese, and cornerback Bennett Jackson all started their final game for Notre Dame.

Junior defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt also started against Rutgers and could skip his final season and declare for the draft. If he does, he will join senior defensive tackle Louis Nix III, who did not play against Rutgers after undergoing season-ending surgery but signed with an agent to forgo his final year of eligibility.

"He'll now focus on making that decision. We've had a couple of conversations. He knows all the information," Kelly said of Tuitt. "My job is to provide him with all the information about the decisions that he's about to make. I'm pretty certain he'll make his decision here very, very soon."

As he looks to next season, Kelly likes the core group of defensive players, and believes the team will benefit if it's able to achieve more continuity. Notre Dame started 19 different players on defense this year, as freshman safety Max Redfield made his first career start in the Pinstripe Bowl.

Kelly specifically mentioned Russell, who had an interception against Rutgers, and sophomore linebacker Jarron Jones as two players the defense can build around next season. Russell is confident he can be a major player for the new defensive coordinator and be a cornerstone for the defense next season.

"I personally believe I'm going to be the best corner next year in the country," Russell said. "This game shows me the development I had from the start of last year and from the beginning of the year to where I've progressed. My man-to-man skills have gotten a lot better throughout the year. Sky's the limit for me. This shows I can really be the best corner in the country, it just takes a lot of work to do that, and this offseason I'm going to work on all my assets."

Recapping Friday's 'The Echoes'

December, 16, 2013
12/16/13
9:00
AM CT
Brian Kelly's bigger workload was on display already Friday night, when the Notre Dame head coach presented not one, not two, not three, but four different awards during the Irish's awards banquet, named "The Echoes" for the second straight year.

He did say on Saturday, however, that he does not expect any more of his assistants to leave, and that was seemingly confirmed shortly afterward by defensive line coach Mike Elston, whose first-ever tweet was the announcement he's staying at Notre Dame. (There had been some chatter that he could follow Bob Diaco to UConn to become the Huskies' defensive coordinator.)

As for the awards show, TJ Jones took home team MVP honors in a team vote that Kelly said wasn't even close. (Yours truly had predicted Jones as the winner beforehand, just as he had predicted the correct final score of the Stanford game.)

Jones easily took home best-dressed honors on the night, wearing a burgundy suit with a bowtie and some hipster glasses. Corey Robinson and Chris Watt were among the bowtie-wearers as well.

The biggest news, or non-news, of the night came when Stephon Tuitt met with the media afterward, saying he remains undecided on his future.

As for the big winners on Friday...
There was also in-show fan voting for best hit and best catch honors, which went to Tuitt and Jones for their plays against USC.

Bye week evaluations: Defense

October, 9, 2013
10/09/13
4:30
PM CT
Our series continues today with the defense, which brought back seven starters from a unit that finished second nationally in scoring defense in 2012.

DEFENSE
Grade: C


Summary: Notre Dame's defense has been the team's biggest disappointment this season, as it has allowed 34 or more points in three of six contests so far. Of course, some of that is on the offense, too, particularly in the Oklahoma game. But this was a unit that was expected to continue the dominant tone set last season, when the Irish never gave up more than 26 points in a regular-season game. (And Pitt even needed three overtimes to reach that total).

The pass rush was virtually non-existent for five games, until Prince Shembo and company turned it up a notch against Arizona State and tallied five sacks (three by Shembo). The defensive line has been negated for much of the early going, with offenses doing everything they can to get away from Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt.

Depth among the front seven has taken a hit, too: First with the Eddie Vanderdoes transfer to UCLA this summer, then with the retirement of Danny Spond and season-ending knee injury suffered by Tony Springmann in camp. Sheldon Day's ankle sprain has essentially kept him out of the past three games, while Jarrett Grace's season-ending knee injury against ASU is another big blow, especially to a thin inside linebacker corps.

Tackling, though, especially in the secondary, was less than great at Michigan and at Purdue, a sign of some of the ordinary things that Brian Kelly said his team needed to do better after the Oklahoma loss. Perhaps the defense turned a corner against the Sun Devils — Kelly said he's not doing jumping jacks just yet — but the overall body of work through six games has been mediocre, not particularly great or bad.

Notre Dame is 50th nationally in total defense (374.5 yards per game) and is 58th in scoring defense (25.5 ppg). And the Irish are tied for 86th in turnovers forced, with just seven takeaways on the season. They will be tested by skilled (USC) and complex offenses (Air Force and Navy) in the next three weeks so they need to become more reliable as the season progresses. That includes limiting big plays or forcing more turnovers to put the offense in a better position to succeed.

Week 6 helmet stickers

October, 6, 2013
10/06/13
8:00
AM CT
These three stood out in Notre Dame's 37-34 win over Arizona State:

TJ Jones, WR: The senior continues to look like Notre Dame's best all-around player. Against ASU, Jones caught eight passes for 135 yards and a touchdown, and he added a 27-yard punt return as well.

Jaylon Smith, LB: The freshman had the best game of his young career, tallying a team-best nine tackles, including 1.5 for loss, to go with one forced fumble and one pass break-up.

Prince Shembo, LB: The senior had three sacks to lead the Irish's defensive attack, as they brought pressure and tallied five quarterback takedowns on the night.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish spring wrap

May, 9, 2013
5/09/13
9:00
AM CT
2012 record: 12-1

2012 conference record: N/A

Returning starters: Offense: 6; defense: 8; kicker/punter: 1

Top returners

QB Everett Golson, WR TJ Jones, WR DaVaris Daniels, LT Zack Martin, LG Chris Watt, RT Christian Lombard, DE Stephon Tuitt, NG Louis Nix, LB Dan Fox, LB Carlo Calabrese, LB Danny Spond, LB Prince Shembo, CB Bennett Jackson, CB KeiVarae Russell, S Matthias Farley

Key losses

RB Theo Riddick, RB Cierre Wood, WR Robby Toma, TE Tyler Eifert, C Braxston Cave, RG Mike Golic Jr., DE Kapron Lewis-Moore, LB Manti Te'o, S Zeke Motta

2012 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Riddick (917 yards, 5 TDs)

Passing: Golson* (187-of-318 for 2,405 yards, 12 TDs, 6 INTs)

Receiving: Eifert (685 yards, 4 TDs)

Tackles: Te'o (113)

Sacks: Tuitt* (12)

Interceptions: Te'o (7)

Spring answers

1. Golson in charge of offense. Now in his second year as the starting quarterback, Golson is in charge of what Brian Kelly hopes will become a quarterback-driven offense. Golson has been much more vocal on and off the field since the 2012 season, and the hope is that he can help the offense dictate the pace of the game week to week this fall.

2. Jarrett Grace ready to step up. Te'o leaves a giant hole in the middle of the Irish defense after three-straight 100-plus tackle seasons, but Grace looks ready to step in and assume the starting role. Will he notch seven interceptions this season, like Te'o in 2012? Unlikely. But the staff has liked his progress from the get-go, and he has not been fazed by all of the hoopla surrounding the "Mike" position since Te'o's departure.

3. DB depth. Last season, the Irish entered the fall with two new starting cornerbacks. By Week 3, they were down Lo Wood and safety Jamoris Slaughter because of Achilles injuries. This year Wood is back, as is safety Austin Collinsworth, adding plenty of depth to a secondary that returns three starters. It will give the defense much more flexibility after the unit broke in three new starters in 2012. Several talented safety recruits are on the way, too.

Fall questions

1. Backfield answers. George Atkinson III is the most experienced of the backs, bulking up this offseason and readying for the closest thing to a No. 1 role that the Irish offense allows. Cam McDaniel has been reliable in limited action, and USC transfer Amir Carlisle impressed the staff before going down with another injury, this time a broken collarbone that kept him out for most of the spring. There is Will Mahone and a pair of four-star recruits on the way as well, but the bottom line is that none have handled a majority of the carries at the college level yet and are filling big shoes from last season in Riddick and Cierre Wood.

2. Receiver depth. Davonte Neal and Justin Ferguson transferred this spring, leaving the Irish with a bit of a numbers issue. C.J. Prosise has converted to a full-time receiver and could compete for the starting slot role for 2013, but a group already down four of its top six pass-catchers from 2012 can ill-afford another injury or defection, and will likely need some early production from a talented group of freshmen.

3. Defensive leaders. This isn't necessarily an issue so much as an unknown. Last year's three seniors were tremendous vocal presences, helping the defense become greater than the sum of its parts in finishing second nationally in scoring. This year's unit could be deeper and more talented, and if it can work together like last year's, it could see similar success in 2013. Jackson, Farley and Nix figure to emerge as front-runners for defensive captain spots this fall.

Video: Notre Dame LB Prince Shembo

January, 6, 2013
1/06/13
3:00
PM CT


Notre Dame linebacker Prince Shembo talks to Chris Low ahead of Monday's meeting with Alabama.

Player of the week

November, 12, 2012
11/12/12
1:14
PM CT
Prince Shembo's huge Saturday at Boston College earned the linebacker the game ball, along with FBS independent defensive player of the week honors.

Today, it earns him Notre Dame player of the week honors from us.

Shembo has been overshadowed throughout the season by big names and bigger plays by Manti Te'o and Stephon Tuitt. Playing alongside a Heisman Trophy candidate will often do that to you.

At Alumni Stadium, the numbers validated the work and production.

Shembo recorded three sacks, finished with four tackles for loss in total and had a fumble recovery. He had five total tackles and he helped the Irish's defense keep Boston College out of the end zone for the first time this season.

The three sacks were the most by an Irish player since Victor Abiamiri notched three Oct. 7, 2006, against Stanford.

The Eagles, like many of Notre Dame's late-season opponents, were presenting new looks to a defense that has passed every test it has faced so far. The Irish can cross another one off the list after Week 11, and the 21-6 win also gives them another distinction: the nation's No. 1 scoring defense (11.1 ppg).

Notre Dame helmet stickers: Week 11

November, 11, 2012
11/11/12
7:59
PM CT
Here are the guys who stood out the most in Notre Dame's 10th win of the season:

Everett Golson, QB: The first-year starter continued his ascent Saturday, methodically picking BC's defense apart. He finished the night 16 of 24 for 200 yards and two touchdowns, and he added 39 yards and another score on 11 carries. No turnovers and a 3-for-3 performance in the red zone, too.

Theo Riddick, RB: Fumble aside, the senior delivered for the Irish, both on the ground and through the air. Riddick finished with 104 yards rushing on 18 carries and hauled in four passes for 56 yards.

Prince Shembo, LB: Shembo has been overshadowed by Manti Te'o and Stephon Tuitt, but he is having himself one heck of a season. He finished Saturday with three sacks and four tackles for loss in all, recovering a fumble as well.

Bennett Jackson, CB: He's probably kicking himself for dropping what looked like a pick-six in the first half, but he had a great game nonetheless. The junior finished with a team-high eight tackles, including one for loss, and he had two break-ups as well.

Notre Dame helmet stickers: Week 3

September, 16, 2012
9/16/12
5:09
PM CT
No. 20 Notre Dame had quite a few noteworthy performances in Saturday's 20-3 win at No. 10 Michigan State. Here's who stepped up the most:

Manti Te'o, LB: What more can you say about the guy? Days after his grandmother and his girlfriend passed away, Te'o notched a game-high 12 tackles, one for loss, while adding a fumble recovery and two pass breakups.

Prince Shembo, LB: The Cat linebacker had the best game of his college career Saturday, recording nine tackles, two for loss, while adding a sack and two quarterback hurries.

Robby Toma, WR: Toma had arguably his biggest game in a Notre Dame uniform as well, hauling in a game-high five receptions for 58 yards and helping to keep the MSU defense honest.

Ben Turk, P: Field position played a big part in this game early, and Turk helped Notre Dame maintain an edge in that department. The punter had eight kicks go a total of 339 yards, an average of 42.4 yards per punt. He pinned the Spartans inside their own 20 four times.

What we learned about Notre Dame: Week 3

September, 16, 2012
9/16/12
5:07
PM CT
1. This could be a special season: Yes, it's been only three games. Yes, we may be overreacting. But Michigan certainly looks beatable, and BYU and USC lost Saturday. The daunting schedule looks a little less daunting, the Irish look a little better than advertised, and, well, you can be forgiven for wondering what the possibilities are for this team this year.

[+] EnlargeCierre Wood
Mike Carter/US Presswire Cierre Wood rushed for 56 yards in his first action of the season.
2. The front seven is as good as advertised: The Irish held Michigan State to 50 net rushing yards. Manti Te'o had a game-high 12 tackles, Prince Shembo had his best career game with nine, and Stephon Tuitt also notched his fifth sack of the season. If Notre Dame can slow MSU's rushing game to a halt, you have to like what this team can do against the run the rest of the season.

3. Everett Golson will grow: No, 14-for-32 passing for 178 yards won't light up any stat sheet. But this was a redshirt freshman's third career start and his first real road test. It came at night in a tough environment, as MSU had not lost inside Spartan Stadium since 2009. And it came after a horrible start, when the Irish had a false start and were forced to call a timeout before they could even get off a play from scrimmage to begin the game. Golson managed the game well, as he accounted for both touchdowns and avoided any turnovers.

4. Cierre Wood hasn't lost a step. A two-game suspension gave way to Theo Riddick taking the majority of the carries. But Wood, the returning 1,000-yard rusher, fared much better Saturday, carrying the ball 10 times for 56 yards, more than serviceable against the Spartans' defense. On Notre Dame's 12-play, 84-yard fourth-quarter drive that started from its own 4 and chewed up 6 minutes, 35 seconds, Wood carried it five times for 45 yards.

ND's spring breakout players

May, 21, 2012
5/21/12
2:07
PM CT
Who made names for themselves this spring? Glad you asked.

RB/WR Theo Riddick: Riddick seemed more comfortable this spring, as the learning curve from playing two different positions is all but gone and he is ready to make plays. The senior stood out during several intrasquad scrimmages. If Riddick can be an effective punt returner this fall, he can be the complete package for the Irish.

WR John Goodman: It's not often you see a fifth-year senior on lists like these, but Goodman, as coach Brian Kelly said, was the Irish's go-to guy this spring, and he served as an offensive captain in the Blue-Gold game as a result of being the unit's most improved player. No longer in the shadow of Michael Floyd and with one last chance to succeed after being invited back for another year, Goodman is primed for a breakout season this fall.

NG Kona Schwenke: Like Goodman, Schwenke was a captain in the Blue-Gold game, winning most improved defensive player honors while temporarily supplanting Louis Nix from the starting spot in the middle. He added some weight and improved his handwork, and he figures to see plenty of snaps next season, regardless of whether or not he starts.

LB Ishaq Williams: Kelly revealed that Williams went home to Brooklyn, N.Y., for a few days in the winter to think about his future. He has apparently come back with a new focus, as the rising sophomore had a strong spring, filling in for the injured Prince Shembo at the cat position and coming up with a pick and a fumble recovery in the spring game.

LB Jarrett Grace: Playing time may be hard to come by -- he is, after all, backing up a likely first-round draft pick in Manti Te'o -- but Grace has made the most of his opportunities. Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco loved him this spring, and, after redshirting his freshman season, Grace figures to spell Te'o every now and then this fall while also seeing duties on special teams.

Roster breakdown: Defense

March, 29, 2012
3/29/12
8:00
AM CT
Our breakdown of Notre Dame's 2012 roster continues today with the defensive side of the ball.

DEFENSIVE LINE

The players: Aaron Lynch, Louis Nix, Stephon Tuitt, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Tony Springmann, Chase Hounshell, Sheldon Day, Tyler Stockton, Kona Schwenke

The incoming: Jarron Jones, Romeo Okwara

[+] EnlargeLouis Nix
Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesTackle Louis Nix is a key cog in what should be a strong, experienced defensive line for Notre Dame.
The breakdown: Injuries forced all three current starters — Lynch, Nix and Tuitt — to play much more than expected last season, and none disappointed. They are all second-year players now, and their pass-rushing ability should have opposing offensive lines and quarterbacks on their heels. Lewis-Moore has been cleared for spring following a season-ending knee injury in 2011 but might not start, though he will likely see plenty of playing time as the line rotates. Hounshell (shoulder surgery) is not cleared yet, but he will likely see significant time this fall after playing as a true freshman last year as well.

LINEBACKERS

The players: Danny Spond, Manti Te'o, Dan Fox, Prince Shembo, Kendall Moore, Ishaq Williams, Anthony Rabasa, Carlo Calabrese, Jarrett Grace, Justin Utopo, Connor Little, Ben Councell, Joe Schmidt

The incoming: None

The breakdown: As we said with Tyler Eifert yesterday, everyone knows what Te'o is capable of, as he likely would have been a first-round NFL draft pick had he left school following his junior year. Fox and Calabrese shared the other inside role last year, and their experience should prove valuable. Shembo has been working at the cat spot this spring, and up-and-coming talents like Williams and Spond figure to see extensive playing time.

SECONDARY

The players: Bennett Jackson, Jamoris Slaughter, Zeke Motta, Lo Wood, Josh Atkinson, Austin Collinsworth, Dan McCarthy, Jalen Brown, Cam McDaniel, Eilar Hardy, Chris Salvi, Joe Romano, Will Salvi, Connor Cavalaris, Matthias Farley, Blake Breslau

The incoming: Elijah Shumate, Nicky Baratti, C.J. Prosise, John Turner

The breakdown: The loss of Tee Shepard really stings this group, which is down to four scholarship corners with a combined zero career starts. Jackson and Wood are in position to take over as the new starters, and playing time last season should help with the transition. At safety, Slaughter and Motta saw plenty of time the last two seasons, and Slaughter in particular has shown a nose for the ball and the capability of providing a leadership force that Harrison Smith is leaving behind. Collinsworth will likely also see plenty of snaps after playing last year.

Weekend rewind: Notre Dame

November, 7, 2011
11/07/11
1:00
PM CT
Here's a look at the weekend that was for the Irish in their first-ever trip to Winston-Salem, N.C.:

The Good: Notre Dame overcame a seven-point halftime deficit to beat Wake Forest 24-17. The Irish became bowl eligible and won their first-ever game under Brian Kelly after trailing at halftime. Jonas Gray and Cierre Wood combined for 179 yards on the ground and the Irish defense stifled Wake Forest's offense during the final 30 minutes.

[+] EnlargeJonas Gray
Matt Cashore/US PresswireJonas Gray added a touchdown to go with his 92 rushing yards against Wake Forest.
The Bad: Notre Dame turned the ball over twice, most notably when Josh Bush intercepted a Tommy Rees pass off a flea flicker and returned it 54 yards, putting the Demon Deacons in position to tie the game. Ultimately, it went for naught.

The Ugly: Braxston Cave left after the first play of the second quarter with a mid-foot sprain. Manti Te'o missed Wake Forest's final drive of the third quarter because of an ankle injury before re-entering the next series. Aaron Lynch left the game twice and has a lateral sprain. And, in the truly ugly department, T.J. Jones took a big hit and had a rough landing on a 6-yard catch in the third quarter, though, amazingly, he re-entered the game and is apparently doing better than his other three injured teammates.

Turning point: Wake Forest was knocking on the door, down seven in the third with a second-and-goal following a huge interception return. Then Harrison Smith jarred the ball loose from Brandon Pendergrass and Gary Gray pounced on it, and the Irish came up with a huge turnover, stopping the Demon Deacons on what would be their best chance at tying the game in the second half.

Call of the day: Going into nickel packages for a majority of the second half paid huge dividends for the Notre Dame defense, which did not allow a second-half point after giving up 17 in the first half. Jamoris Slaughter played the hybrid role for the Irish, replacing drop linebacker Prince Shembo.

Next up: Notre Dame plays Maryland in what is technically an Irish home game at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. The Terrapins, in their first year under coach Randy Edsall, are an abysmal 2-7 this season, and just 1-5 in ACC play. They also have a way with uniforms.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TOP 25 SCOREBOARD