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Sunday, September 25, 2011
What we learned about Notre Dame: Week 4

By Matt Fortuna

1. A win's a win: Cliche, I know. But a Notre Dame team that saw the football gods pull a couple fasts ones on it in Weeks 1 and 2 has to be thankful for escaping Heinz Field victorious with a 15-12 win on Saturday. The Irish are 2-2 with a favorable schedule the rest of the way, and they won't, nor should they, apologize for how they got there.

2. Tommy Rees has to minimize the mistakes: The sophomore quarterback has now accounted for nine of Notre Dame's 15 turnovers on the season, and he didn't even play the first half of the first game. His game-winning touchdown drive shows why Brian Kelly had so much faith in him, but he has to be more careful with the football, especially deep in opposing territory.

3. The pass rush is for real: A week after making life miserable for Kirk Cousins, Notre Dame's front-seven got to the Pitt backfield all afternoon, recording six sacks and coming up with four hurries. The group has proven to be a force to be reckoned with the past two weeks and should only continue to develop with a pair of talented defensive ends playing key roles.

4. Special teams, anyone?: There were at least no turnovers this week, but David Ruffer's missed 39-yard field goal -- due in no small part to a bad snap -- could have been costly in a low-scoring game. The Irish avoided a special teams turnover for the first time all season, but they still can't seem to bring it all together for four quarters without making one kind of blunder or another.