Let’s clean up the leftovers from Saturday night’s 24-17 victory over Wake Forest. For those grumpy that the Irish weren’t more impressive during their sixth win, head coach Brian Kelly is more concerned with his team developing the right mindset.
“I want winning to become a habit,” Kelly said. “I don’t want it to be something that comes and goes. We want to get to that level where we expect to win each and every week. That’s something that we’re not there yet, but we’re on that journey. That’s about playing consistently, as well, not having any games that you don’t play your best.”
A win is a win is a win, and the Irish’s sixth qualifies them for a bowl bid. As Kelly’s team gets another November W, let’s run through the good, bad and ugly.
* What a pretty throw by Tommy Rees on the touchdown catch by Tyler Eifert. Rees looked off Michael Floyd in the flat and hit Eifert perfectly in stride up the seam for the 38-yard score.
* If the throw to Eifert was pretty, the throw to Floyd was one of Rees’ best. On the roll, Rees threw a perfect ball to the back corner of the end zone, where only No. 3 had a chance at the ball. That’s a top-five throw for sure, and about as good as you can do it.
* Great sudden change defense by the Irish, with Harrison Smith and Darius Fleming coming up with a huge forced fumble and Gary Gray diving on the loose ball for the momentum changing recovery.
The Irish defense has played just excellent sudden change defense since Bob Diaco took over the unit.
* Another sign of good coaching is the dominant third quarter for the Irish. Entering halftime down a touchdown, the Irish did just about everything you’d want: Touchdown, three-and-out, touchdown.
* Great job by the offensive line controlling the line of scrimmage on the game’s final drive. (And another Saturday without a sack.)
* Two turnovers won’t do much to help the Irish improve their atrocious turnover margin, tied for last in the country with East Carolina and Fresno State.
* It was an inauspicious beginning for the Irish defense, who gave up an eight-play, 70 yard touchdown drive to open the game, doing nothing to help take the home crowd out of the game.
* It wasn’t the best day for the guys upstairs in the announcers’ booth either.
* Ankles. Manti Te’o, Braxston Cave, Aaron Lynch — add those three to Ethan Johnson’s high-ankle sprain and the Irish had a tough day with injuries. It’ll be interesting to see how quickly all three can recover, but the health woes are beginning to add up.
Everything about the 24-17 win was ugly. And that’s said in the best way possible.