Hear It From a Student - Three Things

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eifertwake.jpg Three things we learned ...

1.) The Irish can win a grinding game ... Not all games are going to be pretty over the course of a season, but the great teams in college football can find a way to win a close game when they may not be playing perfect football, especially on the road. The Irish accomplished the feat earlier in the season against Pittsburgh when they grinded out a 15-12 victory on the road. In that game, Tommy Rees orchestrated a game-winning drive with a touchdown pass to Tyler Eifert. Rees once again came through for the Irish as he hit Michael Floyd for a 16 yard passing touchdown to take a 24-17 lead against Wake Forest this weekend in another hard fought victory on the road.

The Irish are proving that they can go into a tough environment against quality competition and consistently grind out a win. Additionally, the Irish accomplished another "first" of the Brian Kelly tenure as they battled their way back to victory after trailing at halftime for the first time under Kelly.

2.) Notre Dame's dynamic running duo has made incredible strides ... Arguably the biggest improvement over last season has been the running game this season. The Irish have been able to run the ball effectively when they need and want to over the course of the year. Both Jonas Gray and Cierre Wood had at least 14 carries and 87 yards in the contest against Wake Forest and Gray recorded his sixth straight game with a touchdown. Both players are in the top 100 in terms of yards per game in the nation. The Irish were able to run the final five minutes and 24 seconds off the clock with an effective rushing game to seal the win for the Irish. Notre Dame recorded three first downs and converted on a critical third down in their last drive to keep the Wake Forest offensive off the field. Gray and Wood have been dominating the Irish opponents this season with the help of an elite group of offensive lineman and have made incredible strides since last season.

3.) Notre Dame is bowl eligible for the fourth straight year ... With its sixth win of the season, Notre Dame is now bowl eligible for the second straight year under Kelly, and fourth straight year overall. While just winning six games would be considered a major disappointment for an Irish squad, it is important to realize the significance of the sixth win. It gives the seniors one last game to play in, it provides a great atmosphere for all the student athletes involved, it is the first checkmark on the list of season goals and most importantly it gives the Irish a substantial amount of more practice time. Kelly utilizes the early bowl practices to really develop his younger players and going into next year, this time that he has with his players will be critical. While we aren't supposed to look ahead, the Irish secondary will be depleted due to graduation and a number of other positions will also lose quality players due to attrition. These extra practices are critical to continuing to build the depth of the Irish program and for this reason alone, the sixth win of the season is a big one.

- Andrew Bartolini ('13)

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