Ir­ish spin score­board vs. SU

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Ralph D. Russo

Notre Dame will count this as progress af­ter a week of up­heaval and ad­just­ments for a be­lea­guered de­fense. They might have been only lep­rechaun-sized steps for­ward, but the Fight­ing Ir­ish will take it.

Notre Dame tight­ened up its tack­ling and held Syra­cuse to seven points in the sec­ond half, and DeShone Kizer made up for most of the Ir­ish’s ills with one of the best pass­ing games in school his­tory.

Kizer threw for a ca­reer-best 471 yards and the Fight­ing Ir­ish snapped a two-game los­ing streak by de­feat­ing Syra­cuse 5033 Satur­day.

In the first game since coach Brian Kelly fired co­or­di­na­tor Brian VanGorder, the Ir­ish (2-3) al­lowed more than 30 points for the fourth time this sea­son and 489 yards to Syra­cuse’s up-tempo spread of­fense.

“I wasn’t crazy about go­ing against this of­fense. I much rather have been go­ing against some­thing a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent be­cause of their tempo and how they spread you out and with all the fresh­man DBs that (we) play. That’s not al­ways the great­est matchup,” Kelly said.

“But I felt like the morale was re­ally good on Wed­nes­day and that’s what I was look­ing to get back. The morale.”

The tack­ling on punt cov­er­age still needs work. Syra­cuse’s Brisly Es­time had a 74-yard re­turn late in the first half that setup a touch­down and left Kelly fum­ing on the side­line. Es­time added a 38-yard re­turn.

Kizer made it all OK for Notre Dame at MetLife Sta­dium.

He con­nected on three touch­down passes — two to Equanimeous St. Brown — that cov­ered at least 54 yards each and ran for a score. Kizer hit a rough patch at end of the first half when he took a 17-yard sack that knocked the Ir­ish out of field goal range and threw an in­ter­cep­tion.

Kelly said he told Kizer at half­time to stop try­ing to force big plays.

“When we went back out, re­laxed up, took his words and ran with it,” said Kizer, who threw for more yards in a vic­tory than any quar­ter­back in Notre Dame his­tory.

Eric Dungey passed for 363 yards and two touch­downs and ran for three scores for Syra­cuse (2-3).

The takeaway

Syra­cuse: The Or­ange de­fense has al­ready been shred­ded by La­mar Jack­son and Louisville and now Kizer and Notre Dame. An in-sea­son fix seems un­likely. The mid­dle of the field al­ways seems to be open against the Or­ange sec­ondary.

“That is a very, very young de­fense,” first-year Syra­cuse coach Dino Babers said. “You have to give them time to grow up.”

FYI

Clem­son and De­shaun Wat­son play the Or­ange on Nov. 5.

Notre Dame: Kelly el­e­vated Greg Hud­son from an­a­lyst to co­or­di­na­tor and got more in­volved in the de­fense this week. Kelly kept his pledge to play more de­fen­sive play­ers and make tweaks.

The Ir­ish mixed in some 3-4 align­ments and their de­fen­sive backs changed tech­niques to bet­ter guard deep routes. Cor­ner­back Luke Cole was moved to nick­el­back, lin­ing up in­side in­stead of out.

There is still work to be done. The sec­ondary, at times play­ing four fresh­men, was por­ous and the front got lit­tle pres­sure. Pos­i­tives: The Or­ange ran for only 3.4 yards per carry and the Ir­ish did a solid job of tack­ling af­ter the catch. Syra­cuse had 266 yards in the last three quar­ters.

“We need to con­tinue to im­prove on tack­ling,” de­fen­sive line­man Isaac Rochell said. “I would say we did bet­ter, but we still left a lot out there.”

One for the new guy

The play­ers picked Hud­son to lead the singing of the alma mater af­ter the win. They did it acapella since the band didn’t make the trip.

“He put a lot of power in the po­si­tion coaches’ hands and he put a lot of power in our hands as player and said, ‘Let’s just come to­gether as a fam­ily,”’ safety Drue Tran­quill said.

Touch­down per minute

The first five min­utes pro­duced five touch­downs, one for each pos­ses­sion. Plus, Notre Dame had its sec­ond blocked PAT re­turned for a 2-point de­fen­sive con­ver­sion this sea­son.

The Ir­ish did it against Texas, too. Jar­ron Jones got the block again and this time Cole picked up the bounc­ing ball and scored.

Add it all up and it was 23-13 Ir­ish with 10:06 left in the first quar­ter.

“They have a dy­namic of­fense and when they come out it’s a big splash,” Babers said.

Up next

Notre Dame: The Fight­ing Ir­ish make their first trip to North Carolina State.

Syra­cuse: The Or­ange play at Wake For­est.

JULIO CORTEZ — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Notre Dame run­ning back Josh Adams leaps over play­ers while rush­ing for yardage dur­ing the sec­ond half of an NCAA col­lege foot­ball game against Syra­cuse on Satur­day at MetLife Sta­dium in East Ruther­ford, N.J. Notre Dame won 50-33.

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