Over the course of the game, Notre Dame nearly managed to set a new school record for offensive yardage in a single game. The 710 yards the Irish racked up was within 10 yards of the old record that was established in 1969, with both the passing and rushing sides managing to break to the 300-yard barrier.
Listed below are some key aspects of the victory:
No Adams, No Problem
Technically, Josh Adams did play in the game, collecting 22 yards on five carries. However, once he left the game in the first quarter after sustaining a possible concussion while opening up a running path for Brandon Wimbush, he never took the field for the remainder of the game.
Adams’ absence turned out to be a footnote, with Wimbush himself leading the charge on the ground with 110 yards. In addition, four other runners had carries of 30 yards or more, while the collective output of 380 yards marked the seventh time this season that Notre Dame has ended a game with more than 300 yards rushing.
Wimbush has primarily made his mark this season as a runner, but he completed 15 of his 30 pass attempts against Wake for 280 yards. He broke off a 50-yard scoring run in the first half and also managed to throw a touchdown pass to Chase Claypool in the closing moments of the third quarter to give the Irish their biggest lead of the game at 41-16.
Prior to sitting out the fourth quarter, Wimbush did put a scare into the South Bend faithful. That came in the final minute of the first half, when he suffered a left hand contusion and was temporarily forced from the game. He showed no ill effects upon returning at the start of the second half. However, he still needs to add nuance to some of his red-zone throws, since one series saw him offer up bullets in an area where softer tosses would have been preferred.
As can be seen by the score, the Irish defense wasn’t quite at its previous level for the game. In addition to the scoreboard, the statistical chart shows that the Demon Deacons collected 587 yards of total offense. While a decent-sized portion of that came with the game already in hand, it still marked the most yardage allowed all season. The point total also was the first time that Kelly’s squad had allowed more than 20 points in a game this year.
One of the highlights on the afternoon for the defense was another interception by Julian Love, which he narrowly missed turning into his third pick-six of the season. Figuring out the reason might be as simple as Wake being familiar with the defensive schemes of Notre Dame defensive coordinator Mike Elko, considering he held the same position with the Demon Deacons last year.
Everyone in the Claypool
The chief reason that Wimbush managed to put up the passing numbers that he did stemmed from having Claypool as a consistent target. The two managed to team for nine pass receptions for 180 yards and the aforementioned touchdown. That amount might have broken 200 yards had Claypool not dropped a third quarter pass.
Claypool has emerged as a Wimbush favorite, virtually supplanting last year’s main target, Equanimeous St. Brown. The good news for Irish fans is that both Wimbush and Claypool could conceivably be working together through 2019 since both are currently sophomores.
Answering the Call
Bouncing back from a defensive lapse is the sign of not only a competitive team, but one that can possibly challenge for a national title. Notre Dame has been able to do that all season, having scored eight times on their next series following an opponent score.
Against Wake, they managed to do it four times, which accounted for 28 of the Irish’s 48 points. On all but the last occasion, their method of striking back was quick as each of the other three efforts averaged just over 90 seconds apiece.
Next Up for Notre Dame Football
After three straight home games, the Irish are presented with a stiff challenge as they make their first trip to Miami since the Lou Holtz era. Facing a Hurricane team that was undefeated entering their Saturday night home matchup against Virginia Tech, Notre Dame can’t afford any slip-up. That’s because the penalty would almost assuredly mean that their national championship hopes have died.
This once-bitter rivalry was resumed back in 2010 after a two-decade cooling off period. Kelly has yet to lose in three tries to this era’s version of The U, but then he’s yet to bring a team into the contentious atmosphere that will surround them next week.