Back in business
Every Notre Dame fan knows about backup running back Jonas Gray's rough first game this season. Since then, though, Gray has been a key part of Notre Dame's offense. Game 2 vs. Michigan, Gray gained 66 yards on just six carries, and caught a 15-yard pass. He led Notre Dame with 65 rushing yards on 12 carries in the first Irish win of the season, over Michigan State. He keyed Notre Dame's win at Pittsburgh with a 79-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter. And against Purdue, he nearly hit the century mark, finishing with 94 rushing yards on 15 carries, and scoring on a 2-yard touchdown run. Starter Cierre Wood gained nearly 200 yards on the ground. "The offensive line did a very good job," quarterback Tommy Rees said after the 38-10 win over Purdue. "The run game opened up the passing. They set the tone of the game." For the season, Gray has rushed 40 times for 326 yards, an outstanding eight yards per carry. Late in the evening Several backup Notre Dame players saw time late in the game against Purdue. Onetime starting quarterback Dayne Crist took over for Tommy Rees in the closing minutes. Freshman George Atkinson, the regular Irish kickoff return man, caught high first career pass, a 10-yarder. Fellow freshman running back Cam McDaniel gained a yard on his first career attempt. John Goodman, whose time from scrimmage has been limited, ran once for two yards and caught his first pass of the season, an 8-yarder. A number of reserves played in the late minutes on the defensive side as well. Not-so-special Placekicker David Ruffer made one field goal, but missed a long attempt and had another blocked against Purdue. The block, by Purdue defensive lineman Kawaan Short, was the junior's fourth career blocked kick. (And Short stands 6-foot-3, if you were wondering.) Also on the special teams front, the punt return team was again sub-ordinary. Goodman inexplicably declined to catch a punt that landed around the 30 that bounced and ended up a 61 net-yard punt for Cody Webster. Goodman returned two other punts, for three total net yards lost. A bit chippy The flags, including several personal fouls, flew often on Saturday night, and the action even degenerated into fisticuffs a couple of times. Irish long snapper Jordan Cowart got in a scuffle and suffered a broken hand. On the evening, Purdue racked up 118 yards on 13 penalties, while Notre Dame was penalized eight times for 85 yards. ‘Improving' One story from a national sports outlet recently described tight end Tyler Eifert as "improving." While it's unclear exactly how accurate that term might be – Eifert's been pretty good for a while – Eifert is certainly an integral part of the passing game, and Rees has looked for the big target more and more. Eifert had a somewhat quiet day on Saturday, with four catches for 38 yards. But he made a big contribution on an important drive, on Notre Dame's first possession of the second half. Eifert caught a 13-yard pass that brought the Irish within scoring range, and finished the drive with a 6-yard touchdown catch. The score put Notre Dame firmly in command 28-3.
IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories
Staff Picks: Miami @ Notre DameIrish Illustrated’s staff gives its predictions for Saturday’s matchup with the reeling 4-3 Miami Hurricanes.
Prister’s Preview: Miami @ Notre DameImprovement offensively will be a challenge for Notre Dame against a Miami defense that has taken huge strides under coordinator Manny Diaz.
Tough Love: How Nyles Morgan maturedIt wasn’t easy for Notre Dame to build Nyles Morgan into its next star linebacker. But thanks to an unlikely friendship with Jarrett Grace, the junior has become a reliable force.
Can ND Adhere To ‘Addition By Subtraction?’Less concern about how the defense is aligned is Kelly’s latest attempt to revive the offense. Now it’s a matter of sticking to the plan and making it work vs. Miami.