Irish: Georgia on their mind now
The Associated Press
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Ian Book and No. 7 Notre Dame got some kinks out Saturday against New Mexico and now have No. 3 Georgia on their minds.
“It felt good to get in a rhythm at Louisville . and in this game,” Book said after throwing a career-high five touchdown passes and adding another rushing TD in a 66-14 rout of the Lobos in the home opener.
The senior quarterback rebounded from a lackluster opening performance in a 35-17 victory at Louisville to complete 15 of 24 passes for 360 yards against New Mexico. Book finished with another 46 yards rushing yards before sitting the final 1¢ quarters.
“To come in here and get the win that we wanted felt really good,” Book said. “We’ll enjoy it tonight and once tomorrow hits it’s Georgia week and everyone knows that.”
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly couldn’t agree more.
“To get this game under our belts going into Georgia was really big for us,” Kelly said.
The Fighting Irish (2-0) had their way with the Lobos (1-1), who were without head coach Bob Davie. Saga Tuitele acted as head coach for Davie, the former Irish head coach from 1997-2001 who was hospitalized following New Mexico’s opening victory Aug. 31 against Sam Houston State and did not make the trip.
“When you turn the ball over and give anybody a chance, it’s going to be a tough uphill swing,” Tuitele said. “Against a good team like that, it could’ve gotten uglier, but our kids fought our tails off. They didn’t give in.”
The Irish had three first-half interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown by freshman Kyle Hamilton.
Notre Dame finished with 591 total yards to 363 by New Mexico, which got touchdown runs by Bryson Carroll (47 yards) and Bobby Cole (37). The Lobos outrushed the Irish 212-157.
“I think we needed this game to find some of the right pieces that are going to be needed to make explosive plays,” Kelly said. “You’re not going to beat Georgia by just 3 yards here, 4 yards. You’re going to have to make some explosive plays. We needed to see that happen today.”
Three of Book’s “long” scoring passes were short throws that receivers turned into big plays. Avery Davis went 59 yards, Javon McKinley went 65 and Chris Finke had a 54-yarder. The touchdowns by Davis and Finke came on shovel passes while McKinley turned a 3-yard cross into his score.
McKinley added another TD on a 20-yard scoring reception in the third quarter after Chase Claypool had a 37-yard TD reception in Notre Dame’s 31-point second quarter.
“We were able to make the big play when we needed it,” Book said. “I thought we might have started a little slow in the beginning, but you saw we were able to pick it up as the game went on.”