Notre Dame Shows The Heart of a Champion in Michigan State Comeback

( – Whether or not the Irish have the talent or depth of a championship caliber team is very debateable this year, but one thing is clear after Saturday night’s comeback – this team has the heart of a champion.

After last week’s debacle in South Bend, it would have been very easy for the Irish players to give up when they trailed Michigan State 37-21 at the start of the fourth quarter.  They were on the road in a hostile environment playing in horrible weather conditions and were trailing by 16 points, but they held tough and fought their way back into the game.

While the comeback was a total team effort, their were plenty of individual performances from players who were coming off some poor performances.

First off, there’s Brady Quinn.  Quinn took a lot of heat for his performance against Michigan.  He had to hear all week how he lost the Heisman, had no chance of winning a title, and how he was over hyped.  Then he came out and struggled early, but he turned it around and threw five touchdown passes including two in the fourth quarter to lead his team back.  Before Brady Quinn came to Notre Dame, there had never been a five touchdown performance from an Irish quarterback.  In the last two years, he’s accomplished the feet three times.

Staying on the offensive side of the ball, Rhema McKnight took a beating on the ND boards this week after dropping multiple passes last week and continually looking for pass interference calls when he made the drops.  The 5th year senior responded with two outstanding touchdown grabs in the corner of the end zone.

McKnight’s fellow receiver Jeff Samardzija was also the subject of some scrutiny for his performance in the first three games.  Samardzija responded with seven catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns of his own.

On the defensive side of the ball, you had to feel great for Terrail Lambert after last week.  Against Michigan, Lambert was abused for two touchdowns by Mario Manningham and took a lot of heat for it.  A week later, Lambert scored the game winning touchdown on a interception (his first career) and then sealed the victory with his second career interception a few plays later.

The Irish had plenty of heroes Saturday night during their remarkable comeback and in the process they showed a lot of heart, something that had been missing over the last two weeks starting with the Michigan game.

During the contest last week, something just seemed to be missing from this team.  That fire and intensity we saw last year just wasn’t there against Michigan for whatever reason.  We all thought it would be back for the Michigan State game this week, but again it just didn’t seem to be there when the game kicked off.

At some point Saturday night they found it.  Maybe it was when Matt Trannon came over the Notre Dame sidelines after a late hit was called on Chinedum N’Dukwe.  The little melee that ensued seemed to give the Irish some fight back.

Whatever it was, it was a welcomed sign for us Notre Dame fans.  While there are some obvious deficiencies with this team, they displayed a lot of heart and grit on Saturday and showed that while they may not have the talent to win a title (yet), they definitely have the heart to win one.

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