Ir­ish turn fo­cus to Navy

The Times-Tribune - - College Sports -

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Sud­denly, Notre Dame’s “33Truck­ing. com” is in need of re­pairs.

The “33 Truck­ing” cam­paign was in­tended to tout a Heis­man Tro­phy can­di­dacy for Fight­ing Ir­ish run­ning back Josh Adams and postseason hon­ors for stand­out of­fen­sive line­men Mike McGlinchey and Quen­ton Nel­son, among oth­ers. The cam­paign has been muted now that ninthranked Notre Dame (8-2) is com­ing off a 41-8 loss at Mi­ami.

Coach Brian Kelly, whose team plays its fi­nal home game this Satur­day against Navy (6-3), doesn’t want to be re­minded of the hum­bling loss. Asked Tues­day why Notre Dame punted on its first pos­ses­sion against the Hur­ri­canes, Kelly was quick to re­ply, “I’d have to watch the film again, and I’m not in­ter­ested in watch­ing it again.”

Kelly is more in­ter­ested in get­ting Adams and fel­low run­ning back Dex­ter Wil­liams healthy again for Notre Dame’s 91st con­sec­u­tive meet­ing with the Mid­ship­men, who beat the Ir­ish last sea­son, 28-27.

Hav­ing the two backs healthy should help an of­fense that saw its five-game streak of 318 or more rush­ing yards end as the Hur­ri­canes lim­ited the Ir­ish to 109 on the ground. They also forced four turnovers, three by quar­ter­back Bran­don Wim­bush.

The ju­nior lost a fum­ble and had two passes in­ter­cepted by the Hur­ri­canes, who also in­ter­cepted backup Ian Book and turned the four mis­cues into 24 points. Kelly said he thinks Wim­bush, who fin­ished 10 of 21 pass­ing for 119 yards and one TD, will men­tally re­spond.

“Well, he’s a com­peti­tor and a com­peti­tor wants to be at his best when his best is needed, and he wasn’t (against Mi­ami),” Kelly said. “So he wants to reded­i­cate him­self this week to his prepa­ra­tion, and he wants to go out there and be the best ver­sion of Bran­don Wim­bush.”

The in­jury re­port on Adams and Wil­liams was en­cour­ag­ing.

“Josh shows no ill ef­fects from an an­kle, a head or neck,” Kelly said of the in­juries that have lim­ited Adams, who had 1,169 rush­ing yards prior to the games with Wake For­est (22 yards on five car­ries) and Mi­ami (40 on 16). “Dex­ter had the quad con­tu­sion, which was lim­it­ing, and it was the best he’s felt.”

In lim­ited ac­tion against Wake For­est and Mi­ami, Wil­liams had 56 yards on six car­ries.

Michi­gan State

At East Lans­ing, Mich., by half­time of Michi­gan State’s loss at Ohio State last week­end, it was ob­vi­ous the Spar­tans were over­matched.

In fact, the game was rem­i­nis­cent of two of Mark Dan­to­nio’s most one-sided de­feats as Michi­gan State’s coach.

It was Alabama that in­flicted those, beat­ing the Spar­tans, 49-7, in the 2011 Cap­i­tal One Bowl and, 38-0, in a 2015 na­tional semi­fi­nal. Satur­day’s game at Ohio State — a 48-3 loss — was sim­i­lar. It may ac­tu­ally have been worse than the play­off game against Alabama, which didn’t re­ally get out of hand un­til the sec­ond half.

“I just asked my play­ers one sim­ple thing: Do the very best you can to pre­pare emo­tion­ally, phys­i­cally and from a foot­ball stand­point. Do the very, very best and bring your best in ev­ery sin­gle foot­ball game,” Dan­to­nio said Tues­day. “I do not think we did that last week. That’s on everybody to look at them­selves and ask them­selves: Did I get enough sleep? Did I eat right? Did I watch enough film? What was my men­tal state when I went to the foot­ball game? That’s on all of us.”

Those blowouts against Alabama and Ohio State are easy to list be­cause they haven’t hap­pened that of­ten since Dan­to­nio came to East Lans­ing. The Spar­tans have of­ten ex­ceeded ex­pec­ta­tions against Ohio State, for ex­am­ple, so it was un­usual for them to be so quickly out­classed. It was 14-0 af­ter one quar­ter and 35-3 af­ter two.

The dif­fer­ence be­tween this game and the two Alabama routs is that this one didn’t end the sea­son. The 22nd-ranked Spar­tans (7-3, 5-2 Big Ten) host Mary­land (4-6, 2-5) next week­end in Michi­gan State’s home fi­nale. Dan­to­nio said his play­ers have moved on from last week­end’s set­back.


Notre Dame play­ers look on from the bench dur­ing the team’s blowout loss against Mi­ami on Satur­day.

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