Lesar: Five takeaways from Notre Dame's win over Stanford

Al Lesar
South Bend Tribune

This week will mark the halfway point of the Notre Dame football season.

Every week there's something new that we can learn from each game. Here are five takeaways from Notre Dame's thrilling 17-14 victory over Stanford.

Golson's clutch

He didn’t protect the ball as well as he could have on a couple plays, even losing a crucial fumble; he made a bad decision on the interception he threw inside the Stanford 10-yard line; but when the game was on the line, Everett Golson was a winner. The Notre Dame quarterback was calm in the huddle and focused on the objective. On the 23-yard touchdown pass to Ben Koyack, there was chaos all around him, but Golson talked about feeling like it was happening in slow motion.

That’s called development as a quarterback.

Tentative Bryant

It had little to do with the ultimate outcome of the game, but the Greg Bryant who was running the football six times for 14 yards against Stanford wasn’t the same guy who would bull through defenders earlier in the season.

Whether it’s a matter of confidence or something physical, the last couple games Bryant hasn’t been attacking the line of scrimmage with the same zest he had in the past.

Cole's coming

Sophomore cornerback Cole Luke took a big step toward asserting himself as the type of defender the Irish need on the perimeter. He had an active day against the Cardinal: four tackles, two interceptions, one sack, one forced fumble and a pass broken up.

His development has been a big part of the success of a defense that was loaded with question marks at the start of the season.

How 'bout gloves?

It was cold and it was rainy Saturday. The football was hard to hold onto. Two botched holds on field goal attempts didn’t cause Irish coach Brian Kelly to go looking for a replacement for holder Hunter Smith. Instead, he had Smith go looking for a pair of gloves. Kelly sarcastically called it, “a revolutionary idea that will probably be the biggest thing in college football.”

Once gloved, Smith easily handled the snap for Kyle Brindza’s 45-yard fourth quarter field goal.

Schedule's tougher

Last weekend’s results gave an indication that Notre Dame’s path through the rest of the season could be difficult. North Carolina is struggling, but the Irish must avoid a letdown at home Saturday. Florida State is Florida State. Arizona State’s stunning come-from-behind win over Southern Cal erased the memory of giving up 62 points to UCLA. Northwestern’s upset of Wisconsin gave notice the Wildcats are back on track. Louisville had an easy time with a Syracuse team that frustrated Notre Dame at times.

There are a lot of hurdles yet to climb.

Notre Dame QB Everett Golson wasn't at his best Saturday, but he was clutch at the end against Stanford. (SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)
Notre Dame QB Everett Golson didn't have his best day, but he was clutch when it counted against Stanford. (SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)