Mopping up after Wake Forest
Mopping up after Saturday night's win at Wake Forest.
Coach Brian Kelly said defensive end Aaron Lynch and linebacker Manti Te'o suffered ankle injuries. Te'o turned the same ankle he sprained earlier this season. That injury limited his practice for several weeks, which will likely be the case again moving forward. Lynch's sounded less serious. Kelly said he was waiting for more information about Cave's sprained his foot.
"Obviously he's back to where he was probably two, three weeks ago," Kelly said of Te'o.
TJ Jones left the game with a head injury and later returned. His status for next week's game against Maryland is unknown.
"It was a helmet-to-helmet kind of situation," Kelly said. "Our doctors wanted to make sure there were no concussion symptoms. They sat him down, he was evaluated, cleared to go back in the game. We'll put him through a battery of tests again this week just to make sure he's good to go."
Defensive end Ethan Johnson has not played since spraining his ankle against Purdue on Oct. 1.
"He's better," Kelly said. "When he's ready, he's going to play. He's very in tune with his body. When he feels like he's ready to go, he's going to step on the field.
"I know he felt a whole lot better. I know he's anxious to get back out there."
For the second straight week, backup quarterback Andrew Hendrix did not play.
"We really work hard all week to have him prepared to go in the game and impact the game," Kelly said. "It's not a dog-and-pony show. He's preparing, Dayne is preparing. It's a feel as to when he goes into the game.
"We'll continue to prepare him. He's learning so much by being with us and being in tune with the game plan. Even if he doesn't get a rep in the game, they're so valuable, the reps he's getting in practice with our first team, that is only going to help him."
GOLIC JR. ANSWERS BELL
Mike Golic Jr. replaced Cave late in the first quarter and played the remainder of the game, helping the Irish rush for 191 yards. Notre Dame ended the game with 12 straight runs, not including three straight kneel downs to end the game.
The Irish did not attempt a pass in the fourth quarter.
"He's made great progress," Kelly said of Golic Jr. "One of the things that he has really helped himself out as a football player is his strength. In the weight room, it's really translated, his ability to control his body movements, stay on his feet, control a very good nose at times last night.
"Probably his biggest strives have been made in the weight room. And then just really understanding the center position as it relates to being in a shotgun offense. Those two areas for him were very, very much the needed areas for growth. The shotgun snapping, being a center in this spread offense, and then the physical development in the weight room. Those are probably the areas that he's obviously made great progress, from my perspective."
PRAISE FOR REES
Tommy Rees completed 14 of 23 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns and two interceptions. Although it was his lowest yardage output since a 31-13 win over Michigan State on Sept. 17, Kelly praised his performance, especially when it came to helping the running game.
"He was outstanding in his management of the running game against a team that played a lot of one safety, a lot of similar pressure looks that we had to see against Pittsburgh and USC," Kelly said. "They pretty much took the same game plan, and Tommy was tuned in to getting us in the right play. He did a great job.
"A lot of that credit in terms of the running game is always placed on the offensive line first and foremost. But when the quarterback can get you in the right looks, it helps immensely."
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
Notre Dame's defense shut out Wake Forest in the second half. Twice in the second half Wake Forest was in first-and-goal situations but came away with no points. The Irish played a nickel defense for most of the second half.
"There was great communication," Kelly said when asked about his defense. "Our coaches did a great job, our players did. As you know, we went more nickel in the second half with Jamoris Slaughter going in for Prince [Shembo]. It wasn't that Prince didn't play well, but they put him in space against skill players.
"People need to understand, it was during pregame, I looked at their DBs, I looked at their safeties, their wide receivers, and as a collection it might be the best unit that we've seen all year. So we knew we were in for a tough fight on the perimeter.
"The biggest adjustment was just the collaborative communication with our players, getting in some things to help out our linebackers because Manti was playing very, very hobbled, so we needed to help him out in the back end. I thought we did a great job there.
"Our coaches, our players, next man in, guys coming in, it was just one of those great kind of team efforts that you look for."
Harrison Smith was all over the place. Not only did he force a key fumble inside Notre Dame's 10-yard line, but he also had 11 tackles. Robert Blanton had 10.
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