The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame rolled to a 4-2 record and a much needed bye week with a huge win against the nations best footballing service academy, Air Force, on Saturday. The Irish offense exploded for a first half lead of 42-16 behind some outstanding play.
Rees and company scored on all 6 first half possession's, and ended the game 23/32 261 yards and 4 TD’s. Both teams combined for over 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns on a day in which both defenses would like to forget.
It was also the second game in a row in which the Irish offense had not turned the ball over, an issue that Notre Dame had to address as mistakes in games versus the University of South Florida and Michigan cost them dearly by way of losses.With such a huge difference in the scoreline at the half, the Irish, for really the only time this season, where able to get some of their much hyped Freshmen and Sophomore players in for much needed game time in the second half
Andrew Hendrix did not fail to shine. Hendrix, the 6-2 220lbs Sophomore QB from Cincinnati, excelled in Brian Kellys spread offense. He was perfect in limited action, 4/4 33 yards and added 111 yards on the ground on only 6 carries, including a 78 yard scamper in the 4th QTR which saw him tripped up just shy of the goal line. Freshman running backs Cam McDaniel and George Atkinson III also saw playing time in the 4th.
Defensive standouts included Safety Harrison Smith, Cornerback Robert Blanton and MLB Manti Te’o.. Each recorded over 10 tackles, with Smith leading the way with 12. Freshman DE Aaron Lynch also saw his first start of the season, while fellow Frosh Stephon Tuitt was kept busy and chipped in with 5 tackles.
On A Point Of Order
Many Irish fans were found pointing fingers at the the defense after the win. The Irish surrendered a total of 565 yards against the number 3 run offense in the land. People need to give the Air Force academy a lot more credit for not given up and always playing full-on until the final gun.
Every team that the Irish have faced so far, probably with the exception of Purdue, are in my opinion, bowl bound. It also needs to be pointed out that the game was over as a contest at half time, and the fact that 141 of the Falcons yards totals came against the Notre Dames second & third string defense, at a time when game, at that stage, registered 59-19 on the score boards.
When you consider the extremely tough schedule that the Irish faced in September, Big East Co-favorites USF and Pittsburgh, Big Ten title Contenders in Michigan and Big Ten Co-Champions Michigan State, the Irish are very unfortunate indeed not to be undefeated thus far!
Next up for the Irish ? A bye week and some time for the guys to tend to their aches & pains in preparing for their annual heated rivalry with the Trojans of Southern California, under the lights and at home in South Bend.
Inside The Locker Room:
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly
On starting off well: “We were able to get some good rhythm offensively. We got two key turnovers by our defense that we were able to set up. Any time you get a chance to turn over Air Force and put points on the board, it allows you to extend away from them. You need some extension from them sometimes.”
On the bye week: “I think we need it, we need a break. Our kids, they have a lot of their plates. …You have to understand, Aaron Lynch, those kids have been up here on campus since June 16. They have not been home since June 16, and that’s hard for an 18-year-old kid.”
On converting 8-of-11 third downs: “It’s been a focus. I think good teams convert at a high rate there. We’ve got very good diversity within our offense. We can run and throw it, but we are hard to defend right now. There’s a lot of things coming together for us offensively with so many different outlets.”
Notre Dame sophomore quarterback Tommy Rees
On the offense finding its groove: “After the first two weeks, I think we just wanted to come out here and prove to everyone how good we can be on offense. Things are starting to come together right now, there’s still work to do but we’ll keep pushing forward.
On Andrew Hendrix’s 78-yard run: “We were really happy for him, we gave him a hard time for not getting in on three straight runs, but he did a great job even before that. They plays he got, he moved the ball and did everything we asked.”
Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd
On the offensive execution: “We know what we are capable of doing. When you’re playing Air Force you’re not going to have a lot of possessions, so whatever you do you have to make the most of it. That’s exactly what we did today.”
On an improved effort: “Our team is making corrections. We’re making sure to never make the same mistakes twice. We have been watching film and learning as the season goes on.”
Notre Dame senior safety Harrison Smith
On the current state of the Irish: “I really don’t think you are ever going to be satisfied with where you are at, but we are still moving in the right direction improving every week on things. I don’t think you’ll ever hear us say, ‘We’re here.’ You’re never going to play a perfect game, but as long as we cut down on mistake and improve every week that’s where we want to go.”
On a bend-don’t-break defensive effort: “That’s never the strategy. You never want to say, ‘Alright, we’re going to give up a lot of yards.’ But, I think that’s kind of how it played out. If you keep a time off the board they’re not going to beat you. When it came down to it we got some turnovers and we didn’t let them get in the end zone very much. That’s what it takes to win.”