Notre Dame Football: Danny O'Brien

Weekend rewind: Notre Dame

November, 14, 2011
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It's time to take a look back at the weekend that was in Landover, Md., where the Irish notched their third consecutive victory.

The Good: Notre Dame played its most complete offensive game of the year Saturday, beating Maryland 45-21. The Irish notched more than 500 yards of total offense for the fifth time in 10 games this season, jumping out to a 17-0 lead early and never looking back. The victory — along with several other dominoes falling into place — has the Irish ranked for the first time since the season began.

[+] EnlargeLo Wood
Mitch Stringer/US PresswireLo Wood's 57-yard interception-return touchdown was the turning point against Maryland.
The Bad: Time to nitpick, and in this case the offensive line (and Tommy Rees) are the unlucky recipients of an extra big microscope in a week the Irish left little to complain about offensively. Still, Notre Dame surrendered three sacks Saturday after not allowing a single one in its last five games. The Irish had allowed just five sacks on the season prior to Saturday.

The Ugly: Maryland's uniforms? Or the Terrapins' play? Tough call here, though watching quarterback Danny O'Brien's season come to an early end because of a broken bone in his upper left arm added injury to insult.

Turning point: Inserted for Robert Blanton (stinger), cornerback Lo Wood came up with a 57-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter, the Irish's second third-quarter score, to make it 38-7. It probably would not have been much of a competitive game anyway, but this one sealed the deal with plenty of time remaining.

Call of the day: Jonas Gray punched it in from 1 yard out on fourth-and-goal in the final minute of the first half, making it 24-7 Irish at the half. Sure, it's not that difficult to gain a yard (or have faith in your team to), but Maryland had just scored on the previous possession to cut the lead to 10, and a Terrapins stop there could have changed the momentum of the game.

Next up: Notre Dame's next challenge after beating a two-win Maryland team will be beating a three-win Boston College team. The Eagles are coming off a 14-10 win over North Carolina State, their second victory in three games. Keep an eye on linebacker Luke Kuechly, who could finish this season as the leading tackler in the FBS for the second consecutive season. Saturday will also be Senior Day at Notre Dame Stadium.

What we learned about Notre Dame: Week 11

November, 13, 2011
11/13/11
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1. Tempo too much for Terps: Notre Dame ran 84 plays Saturday, its most in the Brian Kelly era. By comparison, the Irish entered the game averaging 67.2 plays per game. They got out to an early 17-0 lead, and the confusion and exhaustion of Maryland's defensive players were evident both through their play and through comments afterward.

2. Toma making most of time: After relaying the news last week that Theo Riddick (hamstring) would be out for Saturday's game, Brian Kelly said he didn't look at Robby Toma as a backup. A career-high seven catches for 73 yards proved Kelly right, and it proved the tiny junior can make a difference when given the chance. He did the same last year in place of an injured Riddick, making 14 catches for 187 yards. It will be tough to keep him off the field once Riddick returns.

3. If Notre Dame Stadium were to get a Jumbotron …: Saturday provided a taste of what a Jumbotron might look like if Notre Dame ever got one. The Irish had a long pregame show on the big screen at FedEx Field, and interspersed highlights of all of their athletic teams throughout the night in what was technically a Notre Dame home game.

4. Third-quarter dominance continues: I guess we actually didn't learn this Saturday, as the Irish have been dominant in the third quarter all season long. But the lesson was certainly reinforced against Maryland. Cierre Wood had a 3-yard touchdown run, and Lo Wood picked off a Danny O'Brien pass just more than a minute later, returning it 57 yards for a touchdown. Notre Dame outscored the Terrapins 14-0 in the third period. The Irish now hold a 77-13 edge in the third quarter this season.

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