Monday, November 7, 2011
Weekend rewind: Notre Dame
By Matt Fortuna
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.
Jonas 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.