Notre Dame Football: Five Things We Learned from Season-Opening Win
In earlier articles, I talked about how important this week 1 game for Notre Dame would be. In all, it was a very important game.
As Brian Kelly and Dayne Crist opened their Irish careers with a victory, there was also a lot of other things that went right for Notre Dame.
I've said before that this was the "tell-all" game for them, and we did learn a lot about the team from the way they played. While I realize that one game doesn't give you insights into how they will play in the future, it does give hints.
Here are the top five things we learned from Notre Dame's win over Purdue yesterday.
The Offense Is Not Reliant on Michael Floyd
Yes, he did lead the team with 82 receiving yards, but there were other receivers who stepped in and played big roles on the offense as well.
Right behind him was tight end Kyle Rudolph with 43 yards, and then freshman T.J. Jones with 41. Theo Riddick also had two catches for 13 yards in his first start at wide receiver.
However, one receiver's lack of participation in the offense did stand out to me and that was Duval Kamara who only caught one ball for a total of 12 yards. He will definitely improve on that and be more active as the season goes on.
I realize it's important that Floyd has a great game week in and week out, but Jones and Rudolph showed yesterday that they can have a big impact on the game as well. Notre Dame no longer has Golden Tate to go with Floyd, so the rest of the receivers will be critical as the season goes on.
Cierre Wood and T.J. Jones Are Going To Be Special
As mentioned in the last slide, freshman T.J. Jones stepped into his first game and played very well. Catching three passes for 41 yards, he averaged over 10 yards per reception and showed that he fits into the system perfectly.
Like I said, he's playing a very important role on the team after the loss of Golden Tate.
As for Wood, he had some electric runs, showing off his speed and athleticism. While he was only given seven touches, he still managed to run for 58 yards. As the season continues to move forward, I see Notre Dame getting him the ball a lot more.
The Defense Is Much Better Than Expected
The defense really stepped up yesterday by allowing only 10 points to a very athletic quarterback Robert Marve with a great receiver in Keith Smith (two points were from a Purdue safety).
Going into the game, I questioned Notre Dame's ability to stop both Marve and Smith. I didn't think the inexperienced secondary would be able to stop the air attack, but sure enough, they did.
They also came up with a lot of big stops on third down, and that huge interception on the goal line. Thinking back to last year, had the defense played as well as they did yesterday, that team would have been a lot better.
They need to keep this up for the rest of the season, and it will be a successful one.
Dayne Crist Proved To Be Very Talented
I realize that Brian Kelly was very conservative with the play calling in Crist's first game, but he played great in terms of doing what he needed to do.
He didn't really try to force anything and completed 73 percent of his throws.
As the season goes on, he'll have more and more opportunities to throw it deep to Floyd or anyone else and to throw a lot more passes.
However, his first start was very successful and led to an Irish win.
Notre Dame Looks To Be on Their Way to a Successful Season
I've been saying it forever, this game told us a lot about Brian Kelly and the rest of this year's Notre Dame football team. By getting the victory yesterday, they proved a lot of good things about this year's team, including the fact that they can win.
With all of the other aspects of the team mentioned in this piece, I'm still very excited about what Brian Kelly is doing in South Bend. One game isn't enough to jump on the bandwagon and say that he is the savior, but he is definitely showing promising signs of success.
He has won everywhere he's been, and it looks as if he has Notre Dame heading in the right direction as well.