Notre Dame 45, Maryland 21: Lessons Learned
Posted on 11/13/2011 7:30:27 AM
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish crushed the Maryland Terrapins 45-21 Saturday night behind the outstanding performances of running backs Jonas Gray and Cierre Wood. The two combined for 235 yards rushing and three touchdowns, and were ripping off huge gains play after play against a porous Maryland rush defense. Tommy Rees threw for 296 yards and two scores, one to star receiver Michael Floyd, and Sophomore cornerback Lo Wood returned his first career interception for a touchdown to help the Irish cruise to victory. Here are five things to take away from this Irish victory.
1. Jonas Gray and Cierre Wood is one of the nation's top running back duos. The two Irish backs have been a great combination all season, and they were at their best today. Gray led the way with a career high 136 yards and two touchdowns, and Wood added 99 yards and a score. Both backs looked great today, breaking tackles, making cutbacks, and dragging defenders for huge gains all day long. Gray in particular has really come on as of late, leading the Irish in rushing the last 5 games. On the season, Wood has rushed for 907 yards and Gray has ran for 730. Both could reach 1,000 yards for the season.
2. Maryland's defense continues to struggle. The Terrapins defense was terrible again tonight, giving up 45 points and 508 yards to Notre Dame. Most of Maryland's defensive struggles have been against the run, and that continued today as they allowed the Irish to gain over 200 yards on the ground. This defense has been horrendous the last few weeks, giving up 56 points to Clemson, 41 to Florida St., 31 to Virginia, and then 45 to Notre Dame tonight. If this team is going to win either of their last two games and make a turnaround next season, they are going to need to fix their problems on defense and stop some teams.
3. Michael Floyd is human! Floyd uncharacteristically dropped two passes, something that hasn't been seen from him all season. However, he still had a solid game, catching nine passes for 89 yards and a touchdown, showing why he is considered to be one of the top wide receivers in the country.
4. Notre Dame's defense is talented and deep. The Fighting Irish defense played very well tonight, shutting the Maryland offense down for most of the game.This was the third straight good game the Irish defense has played since their poor performance against USC in October. The starters played great, holding Maryland to 14 points and not too many yards until the end of the game when the outcome had already been decided. The second string also played pretty well when they came in the fourth quarter. They did allow a touchdown and several big plays to the Terrapins, but they also made some nice plays and got good individual performances from several young players, including Sophomore CB Lo Wood and redshirt freshman linebacker Kendall Moore. Wood picked off a Danny O'Brien pass and returned it 57 yards for a touchdown, and Moore made three impressive tackles on one drive late in the game. The Irish again showed that they are very deep and talented on defense in this game.
5. The Green Uniforms work again for the Irish. Notre Dame came out with their green jerseys and new hand-made gold helmets with the green shamrocks and it worked for them. The Irish usually bring out the green jerseys once a year, but they have often struggled while wearing them. For years they wore them in big games against teams like USC and lost, but they have recently used them against lesser opponents, such as Navy, Washington St., and now Maryland, so they can finally win in them. The uniforms were flashy for both teams today, with the Irish wearing their new helmets and the Terrapins again wearing their "state flag" uniforms that have been getting the team a lot of attention this year, but not a lot of wins.
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