Notebook: Wake Forest gives DeShone Kizer 'a learning experience'

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — DeShone Kizer delivered the critique before he was even asked, and was already trying to concoct solutions for his most lackluster statistical performance before anyone else coaxed him in that direction.

And yet Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly still pulled positives from what’s easily the flattest performance from a numbers standpoint for the redshirt freshman quarterback, who still had a large hand in CFP No. 4 ND’s 28-7 Senior Day victory over Wake Forest.

Kizer ran for 30 yards on 13 carries, with his seventh and eighth rushing TDs of the season for the Irish (9-1) — one in the first quarter and one in the fourth. He threw for 111 yards on 13-of-19 accuracy, but he and the Irish went turnover-free for the 19th time in Kelly’s six season at ND. And for the 19th time they came out on top in such a game.

“I thought he did OK,” Kelly said of Kizer’s eighth career start. “The one thing that DeShone does is when the moment is big, he rises to it.

“We needed that drive in the fourth quarter. I thought he did a very, very good job of making the plays necessary in getting that 28th point on the board. He did a very good job.

“We saw a lot of different things today, a lot of different coverages, a lot of different variations. Wake Forest did a very good job using the bye week to really change things up and did a very good job, I thought.

“So I would credit them a lot in terms of what they did defensively, but I think it’ll be a great learning experience for DeShone that he can take away and really build off of this game.”

The Irish ran a season-low 49 offensive plays and amassed a season-low 282 yards against a freshman/sophomore-laden Wake team that came in ranked 32nd nationally in total defense. Next week, the Irish face the nation’s top-ranked defense in Boston College (3-7) at Fenway Park in Boston.

“There’s still some checks I really need to make sure that I’m making out there and making sure that I can avoid some sacks,” Kizer said. “There were a couple situations in which I’ve got to get rid of the ball. Other than that, we played really well as a team, I believe.

“Wake Forest is a really good defense. Their front eight is some of the best that we’ve played this year, and we came out with a victory.”

A salute to Te’o

If Saturday was junior Jaylon Smith’s “Senior Day,” he certainly went out in style and in more ways than one.

The projected top 10 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, if he opts to apply for it, finished with a game-high 14 tackles and was instrumental in two goal-line stands for the Irish. He stuffed a fourth-down run at the ND 1 and provided the coverage on an incomplete fourth-down pass from the ND 7 in the fourth quarter.

But before the game, he walked through the student section and took former Irish All-America linebacker Manti Te’o with him.

“My senior year of high school, I came to every home game as a recruit, sat in the stands and I watch him do that — go over to the crowd and our student section and basically show (respect) and appreciation,’’ Smith said.

“It’s kind of a family. Me being at Notre Dame and taking over what he essentially started. It’s something that with him being back I wanted to share that with him.”

Personnel matters

Sophomore defensive end Andrew Trumbetti’s first start of the season Saturday and second of his career was the result of nose guard Daniel Cage missing the game with an injury and defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder shuffling the defensive line.

End Isaac Rochell moved inside to take Cage’s place, with Trumbetti filling in Rochell’s vacated spot. The sophomore responded with two tackles and a 28-yard interception return for a touchdown.

• Junior linebacker James Onwualu left the game in the first quarter with a left leg injury and was replaced by sophomore Greer Martini. Onwualu watched the remainder of the game from the sideline on crutches.

“He’s got an MCL sprain,” Kelly said. “We’ll get an MRI (Sunday) and then find out what the severity of the MCL sprain is.”

• As expected freshman backup wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown (separated shoulder) was held out of action Saturday.

Kelly said the injury will keep St. Brown out for a significant period of time.

By the numbers

Gerry Faust (1981-85) and Hunk Anderson (1931-33) are the only Notre Dame head football coaches with a losing record on Senior Day. Faust went 2-3, while Anderson was 1-2.

Here are how the others, since Jesse Harper became ND’s first full-time head coach in 1913, have fared:

Harper 5-0; Knute Rockne 9-1-2; Elmer Layden 5-2; Hugh Devore 1-1; Ed McKeever 1-0; Frank Leahy 10-0-1; Terry Brennan 5-0; Joe Kuharich 3-1; Ara Parseghian 10-1; Dan Devine 5-1; Lou Holtz 7-4; Bob Davie 4-1; Tyrone Willingham 2-1; Charlie Weis 3-2; Brian Kelly 5-1

• Notre Dame now owns a 23-4 (.852) record against schools from the state of North Carolina: 3-1 vs. Duke, 17-2 vs. North Carolina, 0-1 vs. North Carolina State and 3-0 vs. Wake Forest.

• After freshman Josh Adams ran for 141 yards on 17 carries Saturday, Notre Dame has at least one 100-yard rusher in eight of its 10 games this year.

• This Irish team has scored 22 points or more in all 10 games so far this year, marking the first ND squad to do so since the 1949 team did it in every game of its 10-game season.

• The 98-yard TD rush by Josh Adams was Notre Dame’s 11th TD of at least 50 yards this year, which is believed to be a school record. The 1988 team had 10 TDs of at least 50 yards.

• Grad tight end and converted defensive lineman Chase Hounshell had his first career catch, a six-yard grab for a first down during the third quarter.

Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer (14) runs in a touchdown during the Notre Dame-Wake Forest NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend. SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN
Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer (14) pumps his fist as he is lifted up by teammates after running in his second touchdown during the Notre Dame-Wake Forest NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend. SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN