Daniels peaking, playing through

Junior wide receiver DaVaris Daniels has learned of late that "good health" is a relative term in the brutal game of college football.

Junior wide receiver DaVaris Daniels was among the first to wander through the media throng, making his way to the back of Notre Dame's post-game interview room.

Daniels had produced his best game -- at least vs. a viable, living, breathing foe -- since last year's BCS Championship loss to Alabama.

Notre Dame's second leading receiver has solid numbers through 11 games, ranking second in receptions (41), yards (641) and touchdown grabs (6).

But the bulk of his damage prior to Saturday's 23-13 win over Brigham Young came against two of the nation's worst teams, Temple and Purdue.

  • Daniels vs. the Owls and Boilermakers: 11 receptions, 236 yards, 4 touchdowns
  • Daniels vs. eight other foes prior to Saturday afternoon: 24 receptions, 298 yards, 1 touchdown

Then came Saturday's opening jolt: on Notre Dame's fifth offensive snap and first pass, Daniels ran a textbook slant-and-go for a 61-yard score. 7-0 Irish.

Daniels looked faster on the sprint and score than at any point this season.

"I can't really control how many yards I get. I just go out there and make plays when my number's called," said Daniels following six receptions, 107 yards and the aforementioned touchdown. (He also drew a pass interference call -- a pass that should have gone for an 42-yard score.)

"I definitely did. Today I felt better than I've felt in a long time," he admitted. "For that play, I had another gear I could get in to.

"We felt like we could win our individual matchups on both sides, me and TJ (Jones). I just got the calls (pass targets) early. This is something in practice, I've been getting the ball a lot more. I think the coaches are gaining confidence in me."

Jones added five receptions for 95 yards plus a pass interference drawn, his fifth drawn flag of the season.

"He was making plays all over the field, whether it was a touchdown or crucial third down, he was making the plays we needed," said Jones of Daniels.

Numbers aside, it was Daniels ability to focus on the task -- not worry about the wear and tear of a football season -- that sparked his reemergence.

"I think the wide receiver (position) has that tendency to get those soft tissue injuries," said head coach Brian Kelly when asked about Daniels' notation that he felt better Saturday. "I think they have to acclimate themselves to not being 100 percent. Maybe it's not a great analogy, but they're thoroughbreds in the sense that they want to run and they want to feel great all the time, and quite frankly sometimes they've got to get by at 80 or 85 (percent).

"TJ has been able to do such a great job of understanding that, and I think TJ was very similar to Double-D early in his career where he'd get banged up a little bit and it would affect his psyche and the way he played. I think Double-D is getting through that now and understands that he's not going to be necessarily 100 percent all the time, and he's got to play through those things. 

"I think that's what we're seeing with him, the grind of a long year. He's not going to be 100 percent and he's got to fight through those things."

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