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Rapid Reaction: Notre Dame 17, Michigan State 13

Joseph Monardo | Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Good: Notre Dame’s defense had a strong performance start-to-finish. Junior safety Matthias Farley came down with an interception and returned it 29 yards in the third quarter to give the Irish some much-needed momentum. The entire secondary made their tackles and did not neglect their assignments. Junior defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt notched a sack and Louis Nix impressed, as well, knocking down one pass at the line. KeiVarae Russell made several tackles in space. Offensively, the Irish did just enough to secure the win and deserve credit for that. Kyle Brindza earned the effusive praise of Irish coach Brian Kelly for his performance punting the ball.

The Bad: The Irish needed multiple pass-interference penalties to go their way to move the ball with any consistency. Rees’ numbers bordered on atrocious, and Kelly acknowledged that his quarterback missed several targets. More often than not, 14-for-34 for 142 yards from your quarterback will not be enough. Kyle Brindza missed one of his two field-goal attempts, even if he excelled in the punting game. None of the running backs turned in strong numbers, as Cam McDaniel’s 16 carries for 57 yards constituted the best line of any Irish back. 

What We Learned: Notre Dame’s defense is back on track, even if one game is not enough to guarantee that this unit will be among the nation’s best at year-end. However, the depth at all positions of the defense is cause for optimism. Kona Schwenke and Jarron Jones played well in extended minutes with Sheldon Day’s absence, and Cole Luke and Devin Butler both found their way into a crowded secondary to log important minutes. The Notre Dame offense is still struggling to find an identity, though. Compiling 224 yards of total offense on the day is not very satisfying for anyone involved, but the Irish grinded out a tough win at home.

Contact Joseph Monardo at jmonardo@nd.edu