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Notre Dame displays big-play ability on offense

Mike Monaco | Monday, November 19, 2012

On a night when style points became a moot point, the No. 3 Irish rode an explosive offense that racked up yards and points in style in a 38-0 demolition of Wake Forest on Saturday.

Notre Dame (11-0) accumulated 221 yards of total offense in the first quarter and jumped out to a 21-0 lead by way of the big play. Senior running back Cierre Wood ripped off the longest Irish rush of the season – a 68-yard touchdown scamper – and graduate student receiver John Goodman hauled in a 50-yard touchdown reception from sophomore quarterback Everett Golson.

“We’re very explosive,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said of the offense. “We had nine explosive plays in the first half. I think if you can match with what we’ve done defensively, we’re playing pretty good football.”

In roughly two-and-a-half quarters of work, Golson went 20-for-30 through the air for 346 yards and three touchdowns. The 6-foot, 185-pound signal-caller completed passes of 34, 38, 24, 50 and 27 yards and drove a potent offense down the field in style.

“Obviously, he’s a guy that makes explosive plays,” Kelly said. “He has the ability to throw it. He can run the football. He is elusive. I think we’re seeing a guy that’s growing each and every week.”

Goodman said Golson’s growth has been a gradual progression that culminated with Saturday’s stellar performance.

“He played the best game of his life,” Goodman said. “It just shows how much he has grown as a person and a player.”

And as Golson has grown, so has the offense. After posting just 21 points against Boston College a week ago, the Irish offense stormed out of the gates and exploded for 584 yards.

“I think just starting off last week the big thing we pressed was starting fast as an offense,” junior receiver T.J. Jones said. “And we were able to do that this week and I guess it just kind of all clicked. It clicked more. We’re learning as an offense. We’re growing together and every week we’re getting better.”

Notre Dame averaged 16.5 yards per completion and 7.4 yards per rush, including Wood’s 13.6 yards per carry average out of the backfield. The senior running back piled up 156 yards on just 11 rushes.

“Cierre continues to do the job we ask him to do,” Kelly said. “He ran north and south, which that is the one thing that he has continued to work on as a football player. He’s getting better.”

And with improvement across the board on offense, the Irish transformed from a team that had not won a game at Notre Dame Stadium by more than a touchdown to one that trounced its opponent convincingly.

“We showed our explosiveness and what we could do on the field,” Goodman said. “We had a lot of spurts of that throughout the season, but I think really tonight that showed a lot throughout the whole game.”

Though the Irish ended up not needing style points after losses by Kansas State and Oregon, the Irish won with flair.

“I guess tonight really just showed what we could do overall,” Goodman said. “We worked the whole season to do that. Every single play we expect it to be a big play or a touchdown. … We really put it together tonight and it looked good. Hopefully we can continue that in the next two games.”

Contact Mike Monaco at jmonaco@nd.edu