Notre Dame improved to 3-0 in its yearly off-site home game with a relatively easy victory over Maryland on Saturday night – the third blowout win for the Irish in three years in what is now being dubbed the Shamrock Series.
Before I get into the game details, I will say that I did really like the way the new helmets looked on TV. The only thing I didn’t like about the uniforms was that the gold in the helmet and the gold in the pants and on the jerseys didn’t match up. If you are going to go all out with helmets like that, go all out with the uniform and have the colors match up better.
- Very efficient game from Tommy Rees. He completed 30 of 38 passes utilizing the short passing game almost exclusively while totaling just under 300 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Most importantly though, Rees protected the football and didn’t turn it over once. The only nit with Rees’s game was the lack of downfield passing.
- Jonas Gray is simply becoming the beast of a running back everyone thought he would be coming out of high school. Gray recorded his first career 100 yard performance with 136 yards on 21 carries with a pair of touchdowns.
- Cierre Wood ran the ball well too with 99 yards and a touchdown. Wood also had a decleating block to spring Tyler Eifert on Notre Dame’s final touchdown of the game.
- Speaking of Eifert, he had a heck of a game too with 8 catches for 83 yards. Eifert is on pace to have a more productive season than Anthony Fasano, Kyle Rudolph, or John Carlson ever did at Notre Dame.
- Third down offense was absolutely fantastic. Notre Dame converted 10 of 16 third downs compared to 3 of 12 for Maryland. Notre Dame kept drives alive all night by coming up huge on 3rd down and that was really the difference in the game.
- Robby Toma was great filling in for Theo Riddick as the slot wide receiver. Toma set a career high in receptions and yards with 7 receptions for 73 yards and looked natural playing out of the slot. I still think Theo Riddick can be a playmaker in this offense, but Toma certainly made a case for more playing time even when Riddick is healthy.
- Would have liked to see Andrew Hendrix get some more playing time given how comfortably Notre Dame was winning.
- Really liked the tempo Notre Dame was playing at. In an ideal world, I would imagine Kelly would like his offense playing even faster, but they are getting better at it.
- Mike Golic Jr played well in his first career start. Golic will have two more weeks to make a case for coming back next season.
- Unfortunately the Irish offensive line finally allowed a sack after Notre Dame went 195 straight attempts without allowing one.
- Overall the defense was solid, but didn’t make too many big plays outside of Lo Wood’s interception return for a touchdown which came as a result of a horrible pass. Notre Dame only had 1 tackle for loss and no sacks in the game.
- Notre Dame’s last interception return for a touchdown? Last year’s off-site game in Yankee Stadium when Darrin Walls picked off Army and returned it for 6.
- Third down defense was excellent limiting Maryland to just three conversions on 12 attempts in the game. The Notre Dame defense did a heck of a job getting off the field all game long.
- Notre Dame linebackers really struggled in coverage throughout the game. It’ll be interesting to see how the linebacker position shakes out next year. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some shuffling around depending on whether or not Manti Te’o leaves for the NFL.
- Liked what I saw out of the young defensive line again this week. With another off-season in the weight room and another full spring and fall camp, the Irish defensive line could really be something next year.
- Harrison Smith took a poor angle on CJ Brown’s touchdown run in the 4th quarter. Smith could have had him well before the goal line, but Brown ended up running right by him.
- Loved seeing David Ruffer connecting on a 52 yard field goal. After going through a rough patch by hitting just one of four attempts in the Pitt and Purdue games, Ruffer has hit his last four attempts.
- That may have been the best game of Ben Turk’s career. He pinned Maryland deep when he had the chance and connected on a booming 58 yarder.
- I really hope we get to see at least one half decent punt return before the end of the season. As is, Notre Dame still has a grand total of just three yards on the season on punt returns.