Instant Reaction: Irish Defeat Arizona State, 37-34

Ronald Martinez

The much-maligned Irish defense put in their best performance of the season, staying undefeated in the Shamrock Series.

523.  468.  417.  612.

Those are the offensive yardage outputs for the Arizona State offense, which just came off a 62-41 thrashing of USC the week before.  The Sun Devils' only loss, at Stanford, is the 417 yardage figure.

Arizona State's offensive output tonight?

427.

Dan Fox recovered a fumble and ran an interception back for a touchdown and Prince Shembo added three sacks as the Irish defeated Arizona State, 37-34 in Dallas, Texas.

Notre Dame's defense looked every bit like last year's dominant squad as they forced three turnovers out of the normally potent Arizona State offense.

Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly was harassed all night by the Irish defense, who held the Sun Devils to their lowest yardage output all season.

The Irish offense started the game with a clock-killing drive that ended with a Kyle Brindza missed field goal.  After their second drive ended with a punt, the Irish went to the pass, with Tommy Rees connecting on a 19-yard strike to Ben Koyack for his first-ever touchdown in an Irish uniform.

Rees, who finished 17-38 for 279, 3 TDs and a pick, used the full arsenal of his receiving weapons tonight, tossing his second and third touchdown passes to TJ Jones and Troy Niklas.  Jones was the leading receiver for the Irish, catching 8 balls for 135 yards.  DaVaris Daniels added 67 yards on 4 grabs as well.

After George Atkinson III put in his best performance all season, it was Cam McDaniel's turn tonight.  The Texan rushed for 82 yards on 15 carries to lead the Irish rushing attack.

Despite the impressive performance, the Irish did get some bad news.  Jarrett Grace, who was injured early in the game, is likely out for the season with a broken tibia.

Daniel Smith was also injured early in the game.

Some thoughts:

- Arizona State's Offensive Yards per game:

-- W vs. Sacramento State - 523 (scored 55)

-- W vs. Wisconsin - 468 (scored 32)

-- L at Stanford - 417 (scored 28)

-- W vs. USC - 612 (scored 62)

-- L at Notre Dame (Dallas) - 427 (scored 34)

- This was the third time in four years that the Irish have faced a Todd Graham-coached team: 2010 Loss vs. Tulsa, 2011 Win at Pitt and 2013 Win vs. Arizona State

- Andrew Hendrix made his first appearance at the 11-minute mark of the 1st quarter, converting a 4th and 1 on a QB keeper.  It was his only appearance in the game.

- Notre Dame's first drive (13 plays, 58 yards) ended with a Kyle Brindza missed-fg attempt wide left

- Notre Dame's defense forced a 3-and-out for Arizona State on their first possession, making it the first time the Irish defense held a 3-and-out since the Temple game.

- The first quarter ended 0-0

- Kelly did not throw an incomplete pass in the first quarter, a perfect 7-7 for 53 yards.

- Rees was 4-7 for 38 yards.

- Even though Tom Hammond said that CJ Prosise caught his first pass of the season, the Freshman's 9-yard reception was his third catch of the year

- Jarrett Grace went out with what looked like a pretty severe leg injury with 7-minutes left in the half

- Notre Dame's first TD came in the second quarter on a Ben Koyack 19-yard catch and run.

- That was Koyack's first TD catch in an Irish uniform.

- Tommy Rees was 4-6 on the Irish scoring drive.

- Tommy Rees also ran the 2-minute drill to perfection right at the end of the half, completing a 8-yard TD pass to TJ Jones

- TJ Jones has scored a touchdown pass in every game this season except for Purdue

- Notre Dame's 1st half drive results: Missed FG, Punt, Punt, Passing TD, Passing TD

- Tommy Rees' halftime stats: 13-24 for 194 yards and 2 TDs

- GA3 was the Irish's leading rusher with 9 carries for 30 yards

- Five Irish receivers caught passes in the first half, with TJ Jones leading the way with 71 yards and a TD on 5 catches

- Speaking of TJ Jones, his 35-yard reception on the Irish's scoring drive at the end of the half might've been one of Rees' best throws of his career.

- 17:04...Irish's time of possession at the half.

- TJ Jones surpassed 100-yards receiving for the second time this season

- Kyle Brindza's 53-yard FG was a career best for him

- Alex Flanagan announced in the 3rd quarter that Jarrett Grace broke his tibia

- Prince Shembo got his first sack of the season in the 3rd quarter

- Notre Dame's defense got their first turnover since Jackson's pick six at Purdue.

Hercules!

- Tommy Rees has gone two straight games with tossing a pick six

- Prince Shembo ended the game with three total sacks.  Great game by him.

- Notre Dame's offensive line had quite a number of false starts tonight.  Perchance we might've changed our snap counts around?

- Dan Fox with a fumble recovery and a interception for a TD tonight

- Before Arizona State's final TD drive, the Irish defense had held the Sun Devils to 366 total yards.

- Notre Dame is undefeated in the Shamrock Series

- Arizona State's 34 points is the highest point total for a Shamrock Series opponent, besting Maryland's 21 points in 2011.

- Notre Dame is 2-1 against Todd Graham-coached teams.

- After an impressive game against Oklahoma, Tarean Folston did not get a carry tonight.

- The Irish offense finished with 424 yards, 279 passing, 145 rushing

- Wulfeck had three punts to Brindza's two, but Brindza averaged an impressive 50.5 yards a kick, including a 53-yarder that was downed at the 1-yard line.

- Again, worth noting that before Arizona State's garbage-TD drive, the Irish defense had held them to 366 yards.  That is 2012-esque.

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