– Sgt Shamrock
While 2013 has been a season full of ups and downs, the Irish were able to finish off the year off on a high note, defeating Rutgers in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl 29-16 on Saturday night. While the score was not as lopsided any many Irish fans had expected, myself included, the outcome of the game was never really in doubt. Notre Dame dominated the flow of the game against a Rutgers team who came into the game with a defense that should have had the Irish coaching staff licking their chops. The score of the game was closer that it should have been, but that’s the only aspect of the game that was close. The Irish offense racked up 494 yards of total offense against Rutgers including 319 yards through the air in Tommy Rees’ last start as Notre Dame’s starting quarterback.
The Irish defense played well day long only allowing 236 total yards to the Rutgers offense and also forced 4 turnovers. Other than Bennett Jackson getting burned deep a few times, the secondary put out one of their best performances of the season. Russell was outstanding in coverage all afternoon, making multiple pass breakups in the redzone. Max Redfield made his first career start and while his name was not called much, that should be considered a good thing for a first time starter. He did not allow any big plays and played his position very well which should excite Irish fans for the future. The secondary was not the only element of the defense that had a big afternoon. The Irish defensive line was able to get pressure even without Louis Nix which was a key factor to the defense forcing turnovers.
Of all of the good things that I saw on Saturday, the running game really impressed me. Going up against a top 5 rushing defense, the Irish were able to amass 175 yards on the ground. Tarean Folston got the start in the Irish backfield and again showed off some insane jump cuts in the open field. Its no mystery that Irish fans everywhere are excited about him leading the backfield for years to come. Folston finished the game with 73 yards on 17 carries and one touchdown while Cam McDaniel who also carried the ball 17 times ran for 80 yards in another impressive outing for the Texas native. While the running backs earned the yards, it would not have been possible if not for the outstanding play of the offensive line, and in particular senior Zach Martin. Martin, who was the first offensive lineman to win an MVP award for a bowl game since 1959, dominated the line of scrimmage all game long and impressed NFL draft scouts in the process.
The 2013 season is over and now we look to the offseason. Irish fans eagerly await to hear if Stephon Tuitt will return for his senior season, or if he will enter the 2014 NFL draft. Brian Kelly also is going to be making some hires to replace Bob Diaco and Chuck Martin, who both left the program to take head coaching jobs at UConn and Miami of Ohio. While Brian Van Gorder has already been hired as the defensive coordinator, the offensive coordinator position is still needed to be filled. The offseason always seems to cause drama for the Irish, but hopefully this season that will not be the case.
We will have much more here at Down the Tunnel with all of the upcoming offseason news, signing day, and preparation for spring football. Stay tuned.