Bringing it from start to finish
Notre Dame outscored Pitt 10-0 in the second quarter of Saturday's 23-17 Irish victory. While still looking for that elusive four quarters of complete football, Notre Dame did show a big improvement in the second period, which had been a deadly one for the Irish in this 3-3 season. Entering Saturday, Notre Dame had been outscored in the second quarter 29-12 this season. Of course, part of the reason for the lack of points is quarterback Dayne Crist's absence because of injury in the second quarter of the Michigan game, during which the Wolverines outscored their hosts 7-0. But the Irish also lost the second quarter to Michigan State (7-0), Stanford (6-3), and Boston College (6-3), while outscoring Purdue 6-3. The Pitt second quarter included Notre Dame's 15-play, 83-yard drive that ended in Crist's 10-yard touchdown run, and a 32-yard David Ruffer field goal that came after Harrison Smith's interception. Coach Brian Kelly, asked after the game about the team's need to play a complete contest and close out opponents, said, "Certainly it takes experience more than anything else. Because really what we're talking about here is a couple of individuals, if we make a play here or there, or we get something that goes our way, we do put the game in a position where it's less in doubt with our defense having to come up with a big play."
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