Celebrating stats amassed against three-touchdown underdogs is a tricky deal. On the one hand, you don’t want to read too much into them. On the other hand, if you can’t pile up stats against serious underdogs, you’ve really got problems.
And so, a lot of gaudy numbers were being thrown around after Notre Dame demolished Temple 49-16 in its opener on Saturday.
@ ND’s 457 rushing yards were the most in an opener since it ran for 363 in 1999 vs. Kansas.
@ ND, which had 14 sacks last year, notched three vs. the Owls on Saturday.
@ Josh Adams’ 37-yard TD run 33 seconds into the game was ND’s fastest offensive score to begin a season since at least 1963.
@ Adams (161 rushing yards), Dexter Williams (124) and Brandon Wimbush (106) are believed to be the first Irish trio to run for 100 yards in a game since at least 1954.
Even this owner of a B.A. in history doesn’t want to go back any farther than that.
What matters now is this current event: Wimbush acquitted himself reasonably well, completing 17 of 30 for 184 yards, two touchdowns and one interception as well as rushing for 106 yards against Temple.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
It was Wimbush's first start since a rainy December night in 2014 in East Rutherford, N.J., when he guided St. Peter's Prep to a 34-18 victory over Paramus Catholic in the New Jersey Non-Public Group 4 state championship game.
Thanks to my friend LaMond Pope, from the Gary Post-Tribune, for pointing that out.
Recapping, Wimbush is going from Paramus Catholic to Temple to. . . Saturday’s opponent, the No. 15 Georgia Bulldogs, all in three easy starts.
Irish coach Brian Kelly smartly showed restraint when asked about Wimbush’s debut:
``I thought that for a guy starting for the first time, he provided some excitement and energy to the offense. I think everybody can see the tools he has—the ability to run, throw the football. He's tough. He got hit. He got back up.
``Again, I think when you assess the quarterback position, at the end of the day they are going to assess him on wins and losses. And [Saturday] was a good day for the quarterback at Notre Dame because we are 1-0.
``There will be things that we've got to clean up. The interception. But he's telling me on the way back, `I've got to keep my eyes on the corner.’ That ends the conversation pretty quickly with me. I love that about him. Very coachable. We’ll get better, and he'll be better, next week.’’
Kelly also side-stepped the inevitable question about the Dawgs’ quarterback situation. Freshman Jake Fromm will start at Notre Dame after sophomore starter Jacob Eason injured his left knee midway through the first quarter against Appalachian State. The highly regarded freshman Jake Fromm completed 10 of 15 for 143 yards and one TD in the Dawgs’ 31-10 win.
``Both quarterbacks are at Georgia because they’re capable of being a starting quarterback,’’ Kelly said before Fromm officially was named this week's starter. ``Georgia has built their offense around two outstanding senior running backs, and they’re not going to put either quarterback in a position that they have to go out and win the football game. They’re going to be asked to take care of the football, be smart, make good decisions.’’
Fair enough. We’ll find out on Saturday if, in case of emergency, Dawgs QB Fromm is asked to, you know, win the football game.
The real question, of course, is whether the Irish are ready to take the next step, and take care of business against a quality opponent.
They haven’t beaten a ranked opponent since they won at No. 21 Temple 24-20 on Oct. 31, 2015.
Their last win against a ranked team from a Power-Five conference? They beat No. 14 Georgia Tech 30-22 in South Bend on Sept. 19, 2015.
For a team of Notre Dame’s stature, that’s a long time to go without a top-25 win.
On the other hand, if the Irish can find a way to end that drought on Saturday, they wouldn’t have to shock the world to be 6-0 when they welcome No. 4 USC to South Bend on Oct. 21.
Then again, ND wouldn’t shock the world if it was 3-3 going into Trojans week. Even though it would be the first time that happened since. . . I’ll get back to you on that.[/membership]