Sunday, October 2, 2011
Notre Dame helmet stickers: Week 5
By Matt Fortuna
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — That was a good one, eh? There's plenty of praise to pass around on both sides of the ball after the Fighting Irish's 38-10 drubbing of Purdue, so let's get right to it:
Tommy Rees: He competed 24 of 40 passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns. And, more importantly, he had no turnovers. Rees' most effective outing of the season should quell everyone's fears for at least one week, as he directed an offense that outgained Purdue 551-276 yards.
Offensive line: The unit played with a purpose all night, opening holes trucks could drive through on the left side for much of the game. Notre Dame averaged a very impressive 7.2 yards per carry and was able to control the game from start to finish by dominating in the trenches offensively.
Cierre Wood/Jonas Gray: Wood got the long touchdown run this week, a 55-yarder that broke the game open in the first half by making it 21-3. The offensive line created the initial holes, but the two backs did great jobs of juking and spinning out of tackles en route to 191- and 94-yard games, respectively. Each scored a touchdown, too.
Michael Floyd: Brian Kelly wasn't kidding when he said Pitt didn't provide a blueprint for stopping Floyd. The senior wideout caught 12 passes for 137 yards, perhaps none more important than his 35-yard touchdown on the Irish's second play from scrimmage. As proved Saturday, Floyd has a lot more to offer than being a decoy, and Purdue found out the hard way.
Manti Te'o: The junior has continued to lead this defense, which did not give up a touchdown until Purdue's final drive of the game. Te'o finished with a team-high eight tackles, all solo, including three tackles for loss and a sack.
Aaron Lynch: No quarterback hurries this week? Seriously, though, the freshman stepped up in a big way Saturday, recording three tackles and another sack. With fellow freshman Stephon Tuitt out because of missing class and starter Ethan Johnson leaving with a right ankle sprain, Lynch showed he's more than just a situational pass rusher.
Gary Gray/Robert Blanton: Gray made a stand in a big way in prime time, picking off Caleb TerBush's first pass of the game and setting the tone for both sides, as the offense responded accordingly. Blanton, meanwhile, seemed to be everywhere, recording six tackles, including one for loss, and teaming with Gray to limit Purdue to just 192 yards passing on 38 throws.