With the Irish coming off a gut wrenching overtime loss to the Longhorns, and a tough match-up with Michigan St. looming large, the past Saturday’s game against the Wolf Pack had all the makings of a classic trap game. Fortunately, the Irish were up to the task at hand.
A win against the Wolf Pack wouldn’t do much to silence the doubters, but a second straight loss to an unranked team would have surely sent some portion of the Fighting Irish fan base into apoplectic fits of rage. Fortunately, though the Irish looked somewhat less than sharp at times, they played well enough on both sides of the ball to ensure that the final outcome of the game was never really in question.
Truth be told, after the emotional roller coaster ride, and eventual let down of the final result of the game against Texas, I was looking forward to a game devoid of drama, and all but decided by halftime, and on that the Irish surely delivered. DeShone Kizer played a solid game, save for the one interception, which the defense negated with an interception of their own just a few plays later. No harm, no foul. Except on the stat sheet. The run game looked solid, too, with Josh Adams getting his first 100+ yard game of the season and the Irish rushing for a combined 254 yards. Perhaps, most importantly, the Irish defense rebounded, and played a good game, as well, albeit against an overmatched Nevada offense with few play-makers.
It was, perhaps, exactly the type of game the Irish needed to get back on track heading into the Michigan St. game. And, for me, it was the perfect game for a quick 4th Quarter nap, as the Irish cruised to a 39-10 victory.
Key Fighting Irish Plays
2nd Quarter – DeShone Kizer 7 yard TD pass to CJ Sanders. It took the Irish nearly 20 minutes to reach the end zone, but Sanders’ TD would be the first of three in the 2nd Quarter.
2nd Quarter – Tyler Stewart pass intercepted by Jarron Jones. Jones read a screen pass perfectly and came up with the big interception that would lead to an Irish TD just three plays later.
2nd Quarter – DeShone Kizer 4 yard TD pass to Kevin Stepherson. The freshman took a big hit on the play, but managed to hang onto the ball for his first touchdown with the Irish.
Top Fighting Irish Performers
Adams has yet to score a rushing touchdown this season (he had 1 receiving TD against Texas), but what he does have is the team lead in rushing yards through two games. He had the same number of carries as Tarean Folston, but racked up nearly four times the yardage as his counterpart. Adams finished the game with 106 yards on 10 carries, including a run of 43 yards.
Coming into the season, Sanders had just 1 reception, for zero yards. Through two games this season, he has 8 receptions for 101 yards and 2 TDs, and has shown himself to be a reliable play-maker both on offense, and on special teams as a return specialist; early in the 2nd Quarter, Sanders returned a punt 24 yards to the Nevada 25 yard line, setting the Irish up with great field position which the Irish capitalized on with a 7 yard TD pass from Kizer to Sanders just three plays later. Sanders finished the game with 5 receptions for 46 yards and 1 TD, and on special teams, Sanders had a 24 yard punt return, and a 37 yards kick-off return.
You’d have to scroll down near the bottom of the defensive stat sheet for the Nevada game to find Jones, who finished the game with just 1 assisted tackle, but after an Irish drive was killed deep in Wolf Pack territory on a Kizer interception, Jones came up with a big interception. Three plays later the Irish found the end zone to take an 18-0 lead, putting the Irish firmly in control of the game at that point.
Next Up: The Fighting Irish take on Michigan State in South Bend at 7:30 pm, on September 17th (4:30 PST).