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Notre Dame Football: A Senior Night to Remember

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The Seniors showed up in a big way against Florida State.

Mike Miller/One Foot Down

A Senior Night To Remember

In sub-freezing temperatures on Saturday night, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were on fire.

Against a cold, rattled Florida State Seminoles team, a statement needed to be made. And that they did. An emphatic 42-13 statement, in fact, complemented by 365 rushing yards by the Irish.

This may not have been quite the shellacking Clemson put on FSU (although is there really that big of a difference between 42-13 and 59-10) but the aforementioned rushing numbers are huge. In a game without Ian Book, Notre Dame needed to ground-and-pound against one of the best run defenses in the country.

Coming into the game, the ‘Noles were allowing 111.1 rushing yards per game and 2.84 yards per carry.

The Irish put up, as mentioned above, 365 rushing yards at a 7.3 yard per carry clip. Both of those numbers are season highs against Florida State.

But, the rushing game wasn’t the story of the night.

Florida State v Notre Dame Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

On Senior Night, it was the Senior class that stole the show.

Nick Coleman snagged his first interception only two plays into the game, a nice way to cap off his career in South Bend.

Drue Tranquill and Tevon Coney were the second and third leading tacklers on the night, and continued to function as the heart and soul of a quietly effective Irish defense.

Dexter Williams had his way with the Seminoles, to the tune of 20 carries for 202 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was incredibly explosive and looked unstoppable in a match-up that - on paper - was unfavorable. On top of that, he was the first player to top 200 yards against FSU on the ground since 1982, per Michael Bertsch.

Alizé Mack, for all of his athletic potential, had never been a consistently reliable target in the passing game. But in this game, he had two incredible touchdown snags that showed just how much talent the senior has.

And Brandon Wimbush, in his return to the spotlight, did everything necessary to help quell any doubts about this Irish team’s legitimacy as a playoff contender. He had three touchdowns to his name and was the engineer of a masterful first half performance from the offense.

It was a night they’ll all remember for a long time, and deservedly so.

Now, onto the Sunday Teleconference:

Notes from the Sunday Teleconference:

  • Regarding the injury front, here’s what Kelly had to offer: “We came out of the game really good. Nobody will be in a position where they can’t play on Saturday. We’re good there.”
  • Kelly praised the offensive line, “It was an overall unit victory in a sense. They all played well together. We’ve been waiting for that from this group, and that includes tight ends... When you don’t have a negative play against that type of front, it’s a great job.”
  • Touching on the timeshare between Nick Coleman and Houston Griffith, “One of the guys we highlighted in terms of playing really well was Nick Coleman. We needed to make more plays at the position and we felt like sharing reps with Houston - we wanted to give a veteran the chance to make plays and play well.”
  • More on Coleman and Griffith: “Give Nick the bulk of the work and then let [Houston Griffith] give Nick a rest when necessary.”
  • Hitting on the Ian Book situation, “We expect him to practice on Tuesday. Ian would be our starting quarterback and based on the info we received today, he’d practice Tuesday.”
  • On Dexter Williams: “His growth has certainly been one that’s not about athleticism. He’s always had that. He has grown with maturity an in the classroom. He’s doing all the right things and with his athleticism, it’s not surprising to see his success.”
  • Kelly explained why Book didn’t dress against FSU, “This was handled by the team doctors and part of the process to get cleared to play.”
  • Kelly lauded Alohi Gilman’s play, “I was well aware of his abilities from playing him at Navy. We knew he was an active, athletic, tough football player when we recruited him... He has a great sense of football savvy.”
  • On Trevor Ruhland’s injury status: “He had an elbow strain. We wanted to be careful with him because he fills in multiple spots for us... Our doctors feel good that he can be back into the rotation and see how he does at practice this week.”
  • Kelly went into detail regarding the direction of the team this November, “There are a few markers. We are going to start the same 11 players on defense against Michigan late in the season... If you look at both sides of the ball, the loss of Alex Bars, you have 21 of 22 starters playing in November. Some will say that is luck, but we say that is a design to keep guys fresh and healthy to play in November.”
  • Continuing on November: “We look at numbers in the weight room. Are they still explosive? Are the legs fresh? Can they give us the speed we need? The eye test. How are the defensive backs looking? That stuff gives us a better look at how things are going in November.”