There were quite a few heroes from last night’s Hawaii Bowl win. Here’s a look at who were the stars of the show for the Irish as they broke the 9 game bowl losing streak.
- Jimmy Clausen – Had by far his best game as a collegiate quarterback. Clausen finished 22 of 26 for 401 yards with 5 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. The 401 yards and 5 touchdowns were both Notre Dame bowl game records. All four of Clausen’s drops hit Notre Dame receivers in the hands. He had all day to throw for the most part and given that time he was as accurate as I’ve ever seen a Notre Dame quarterback. This game should do wonders for his confidence which was likely shaken after a very rough four game stretch to end the season.
- Golden Tate – Tate lit up the Hawaii secondary to the tune of 177 yards on 6 catches for 3 touchdowns. He also had a spectacular punt return for a touchdown that was called back because of a roughing the punter penalty. The return was the first time this year that Tate really made something happen in the punt return game. He is still very rough around the edges in the technical aspects of playing wide receiver like route running, but his skills are pretty undeniable. If he can continue to improve on his fundamentals this off-season, he’s going to be one of the better wide receivers in college football next year.
- Kyle Rudolph – It’s amazing how much better this offense works when the Irish attack the middle of the field with Rudolph. The freshman tight end had 4 catches for 78 yards including a huge fourth down catch in the first half. Rudolph has an extremely bright future ahead of him and the Hawaii Bowl performance was just a sign of things to come.
- Armando Allen – It’s also amazing that Notre dame had went 6 years without a kick return for a touchdown before Allen took one 96 yards yesterday. He also added a receiving touchdown and flashed the speed we have all been waiting to see in the return game.
- Ethan Johnson – Originally Johnson was credited with 3 sacks in the game, but when I went back to look at the stats today, he was credited with 2. Regardless of how many sacks he was credited with, Johnson was a disruptive force in the pass rush. Johnson was playing a lot on the inside of the line in 4 man fronts in the nickel packages throughout the game and seemed to get good pressure from both inside and off the edge. We’ve been waiting for a game like this from Johnson all year and hopefully its just the first of many.
- Darius Fleming – Fleming saw a lot of action in the nickel packages and spent a lot of the night in the Hawaii backfield. He saw more and more playing time as the season progressed this year and could very well step into a starting role next year.
- Steve Quinn – Quinn came out of no where to register 2 sacks in his final game with the Irish. Quinn was all over the field and was in on more action than Maurice Crum whom he was spelling.