Saturday, September 15, 2018

No. 8 Notre Dame 22, Vanderbilt 17: Irish hang on for another week

Photo Credit: Daniel Bartel- Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

By: Jon Opiela
Twitter: @jonopiela24

SOUTH BEND, IN— In another sluggish performance, the No. 8 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3-0) held a 16-3 lead until nearly the end of the third quarter before the Vanderbilt Commodores (2-1) mounted a comeback attempt that fell short in a 22-17 effort.

“Really proud of my football team and the way they competed today. You know, challenged after last week’s performance in their preparation and then how they compete,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “So, yeah, there’s things we’ve got to work on. It’s the third game of the season. If you’re a finished product after game three, you know, you’re destined for greatness, and we’re not there yet. We’re not destined for greatness.”

Wimbush looked comfortable in the pocket throughout the game, but also was ready to make plays with his feet when needed. Wimbush finished the game with 122 yards on 13 completions in the victory. Wimbush also eclipsed 1,000 career rushing yards on his way to 84 and a touchdown on the ground.

“It’s much better than it was last week. I think as an offense, we really fought play-in and play-out,” Wimbush said. “So, I guess we executed how we wanted to execute today, and we feel good coming away from it. And there is so much more to learn, so we’re excited for that.”

Tony Jones Jr. added a career-high 119 yards of rushing throughout the afternoon. In all, Notre Dame gained 261 yards via the rushing attack on 48 attempts.

Julian Love continued to cement his legacy as an all-time great in the Notre Dame secondary with a pair of fumble recoveries. Love is closing in on the all-time pass breakups record and currently sits one behind Clarence Ellis. 

For the Commodores, Kyle Shurmur threw for 326 yards on 26 competitions and mixed in a touchdown pass and an interception. Shurmur found Jared Pinkney for an 18 touchdown mid-way through the fourth quarter to bring the game to 22-17.

Shurmur’s favorite target on the day was Kalija Lipscomb, who hauled in 11 receptions for 89 yards. Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Khari Blasingame split the majority of the carries for the Vanderbilt rushing game. Blasingame had 13 carries for 49 yards, while Vaughn had 62 yards on 10 attempts.

Drue Tranquill led the Irish with nine tackles, all of which were solo. Troy Pride Jr. also had a big game in the Notre Dame secondary with seven tackles, three pass breakups, and intercepted a pass in the end zone.

“Each week, we’ve had different players from the defensive line to linebacker, to the back end of the defense— whether it’s the corner, the safety,” Kelly said. “Whether it’s Coney, whether it’s Khalid Kareem, you’re probably putting together a pretty good defensive product, and kind of that’s what we’re seeing.”

Looking Ahead:

Neither Notre Dame nor Vanderbilt will be satisfied with the result of this game going forward, but they’ll both use it as a learning opportunity. Both teams look to continue to strong starts to the season next weekend.

Notre Dame will head to Winston-Salem, North Carolina to take on Wake Forest (2-1) in their first road test of the season. The Irish and Demon Deacons will kick off at Noon ET and the game will be televised on ABC. Vanderbilt will return to Nashville, Tennessee to take on SEC East foe South Carolina (1-1).  South Carolina is coming off of a non-scheduled bye week as its game against Marshall was cancelled due to Hurricane Florence.