No. 3 Notre Dame eyes defensive reset in time for Hurricanes
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — The numbers were jarring for Notre Dame linebacker Drue Tranquill and cornerback Julian Love.
The third-ranked Fighting Irish had beaten Wake Forest 48-37 on Saturday but along the way the Demon Deacons had amassed opponent season-highs of 34 first downs, 239 rushing yards, 348 passing yards and 587 total yards in 88 plays, an average gain of 6.7 yards.
“Wake Forest exposed some things,” Love said. “We celebrate the win but we got to hit the drawing board.”
Tranquill, a senior team captain, didn’t want to wait that long: “I want to put the pads back on and get back out there right now.”
The Irish (8-1, No. 3 CFP) won’t have much time to tweak. They visit No. 7 Miami (8-0, No. 10 CFP) on Saturday night for another showdown with an ACC offense.
Coach Mark Richt’s Hurricanes have the nation’s longest winning streak of 13 games dating to a 30-27 loss at Notre Dame on Oct. 29, 2016. The Hurricanes totaled 429 yards in a 28-10 win over No. 17 Virginia Tech on Saturday. Quarterback Malik Rosier passed for 202 yards, ran for 84 more and accounted for three touchdowns, while running back Travis Homer added 95 yards and the other TD.
Defensively, it will be another challenge for the Irish, whose aggressive, attacking style of play and usual attention to fundamentals and details were lacking against Wake Forest.
“Maybe (we) got too cute in terms of what we were trying to accomplish,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “Maybe (we were) trying to cover up some things that we thought they knew about us. Didn’t do what we normally do. We’ll take some of the blame for that in terms of coaching. I think that’s part of it.”
Notre Dame seemed to be in control late in the third quarter leading 41-16. But over the final 15:30, Wake Forest outscored the Irish 21-7.
“We didn’t handle ourselves in a manner to close out the game the way we have all year,” Kelly said.
Statistically, Notre Dame fell in several national categories: From 16th in rushing defense (116.6 yards per game) to 30th (130.2); from 10th in scoring defense (16.1 points per game) to 17th (18.4); and from 34th in total defense (349.1 yards per game) to 50th (375.6). Wake Forest became the first team to score more than 20 points against Notre Dame this season.
“It was frustrating, and as the game was going on, we got more and more frustrated,” Love said. “We needed to keep a level head. It’s in the back of my mind now.”
For the second straight week, Love had an interception and three passes broken up, giving him three interceptions (the first two he returned for touchdowns against Michigan State and N.C. State).
Notes: Tight end Alizé Mack, who sat out the Wake Forest game with a concussion, should return to practice along with quarterback Brandon Wimbush, who has a bruised left (non-throwing) hand and played most of Saturday’s game with a bandage. ... Josh Adams, Notre Dame’s star running back who had only five carries before leaving Saturday’s game early, is expected to be ready for Miami. Junior running back Dexter Williams (thigh contusion) is day-to-day. ... Kelly said he expects sophomore defensive end Khalid Kareem (hyperextended knee) and senior cornerback Nick Watkins (tendinitis) to practice this week.
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