Notre Dame improved to 6-2 with an impressive win over Air Force in Colorado.
Notre Dame’s offense put up 45-points against a lowly Air Force team with Tommy Rees leading the way throwing five touchdowns to five different receivers. Rees threw for 284-yards and was able to incorporate a lot of young talent before being taken out late in the third quarter. The Chicago Tribune reported that after the game Rees said, "I feel really good with where we're at as an offense. The weekly preparation has been really good. It has showed up for us on Saturdays. We've had great practices, great timing and development. It has been clicking for us. Throwing the ball the last couple of weeks has taken off after we had a couple of weeks there where it wasn't doing great."
The increased comfort and confidence is key for the offense and allows more guys to step up. Freshman receivers Corey Robinson and William Fuller both caught the first touchdowns of their careers. Continuing to find new game-ready players will give the Irish some much needed depth as they move forward towards tougher matchups.
Cam McDaniel took a majority of the carries for Notre Dame, but Brian Kelly also utilized a fresh face at running back with Tarean Folston, who ran hard and racked up some decent yardage. Folston’s strong performance now makes Notre Dame’s running back competition even more interesting with four capable guys ready to go. The Irish had success with the run game but had far more luck throwing the football.
Air Force's quick runs and options were pretty effective against the Fighting Irish early on in the game. Air Force got on the board first with a touchdown run. Notre Dame has had trouble with slow starts this year and was looking like they could be falling into another hole. Fortunately, the Irish got it going and continued to put points on the board while getting tighter and tighter on defense. Players like freshman Jaylon Smith were stepping up and making big tackles for Notre Dame. After Air Force kicked a field early in the second quarter, the Fighting Irish completely took over the game. Rees completed pass after pass while the defense didn’t surrender a point for two and a half quarters.
Notre Dame showed a lot of promise in this game. Air Force may be having a down year but having young players step up is always a good sign. Depth will be important as the season rolls on and players get more and more banged up. Rees has to be walking away from this game with more confidence which will help him along the way. The coaches and players have to continue to find ways to mature on Notre Dame’s manageable road to the Stanford game. The Irish have no room for mistakes but still have a good chance of being invited to a solid bowl game.