Notebook: Equanimeous St. Brown pads Notre Dame receiving numbers

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Will Fuller probably didn’t offer Brian Kelly a whole lot of coaching advice when the Houston Texas rookie receiver was wearing a Notre Dame uniform.

But Fuller tweeted Saturday about the need to get the ball more to sophomore wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, and he, Kelly and the Irish coaching staff coincidentally complied.

St. Brown padded his team-leading totals with four more catches, 182 more yards and two long touchdowns in a 50-33 squashing of Syracuse Saturday at MetLife Stadium. And with 25 for 541 and six scores on the season, the owner of one career catch coming into this season is ahead of Fuller’s All-America pace of last season.

Fuller garnered 62 receptions for 1,258 yards and 14 TDs for the Irish before leaving early for the NFL Draft and being selected in the first round by Houston. St. Brown’s stats, projected over a 13-game season, would give him 65 for 1,406 and 16 scores.

So naturally the 6-foot-4, 205-pounder from Anaheim, Calif., feels the need to focus on?

“Blocking,” he said. “I need to get better at blocking in the running game.”

The 79-yard touchdown pass from DeShone Kizer to St. Brown on the opening play from scrimmage was the longest completion of the season for Notre Dame and the sixth-longest pass play of the Brian Kelly Era.

Overall the Irish had five scoring plays of 50 yards or more against the Orange, with St. Brown accounting for two of them.

“We knew that dig was going to be open,” St. Brown said of the 79-yard connection. “We didn’t know it was going to go for a touchdown, but we try scoring on every play.”

No No. 1

The intrigue over who might emerge as the wearer of the rotating No. 1 jersey in such a critical week ended with a thud.

The custom, started by coach Brian Kelly this season, was put on hiatus Saturday. The reason given was ND’s drop last Saturday from No. 1 to No. 2 on the all-time win-percentage list behind Michigan and won’t be awarded again until/unless ND regains the No. 1 distinction.

The jersey had been awarded to the player who during the week leading up to the game best exemplified Notre Dame’s ideals on and off the field. The four players who wore No. 1 were senior linebacker James Onwualu (Texas), senior cornerback Cole Luke (Nevada), sophomore running back Josh Adams (Michigan State) and junior offensive guard Quenton Nelson (Duke).

Personnel matters

Cornerback Troy Pride Jr. made his college debut midway through the first quarter Saturday against Syracuse, and made a little history in the process.

He became the 13th freshman to see game action this season, breaking the old record of 12 during the seven-year Brian Kelly Era.

Ten of the 13 have been defensive players: Ends Julian Okwara, Daelin Hayes and Khalid Kareem; outside linebacker Jamir Jones; safeties Devin Studstill, Spencer Perry and Jalen Elliott; and cornerbacks Donte Vaughn and Julian Love in addition to Pride.

The only three who have appeared on offense are all wide receivers — Chase Claypool, Kevin Stepherson and Javon McKinley.

Ten freshmen remain on track for a redshirt year: Offensive linemen Parker Boudreaux, Tommy Kraemer and Liam Eichenberg; quarterback Ian Book; running backs Tony Jones Jr. and Deon McIntosh; defensive end Adetokunbo Ogundeji; linebacker Jonathan Jones; safety D.J. Morgan and long snapper John Shannon.

Among those 10, Shannon and Tony Jones Jr. made the travel roster.

We’re waiting …

Kickoff time for Notre Dame’s road game next Saturday at North Carolina State contractually must be announced by noon Sunday. ESPN/ABC exercised a six-day option on the game, waiting to see the results of Saturday’s games.


• Saturday’s game was the first non-sellout crowd Notre Dame played before since a 53-31 Irish loss at Arizona State on Nov. 8, 2014. The crowd as announced at 62,794 at the 82,500-seat facility, with many, many no-shows.

• A week after becoming the 128th and final FBS team to record its first sack of the season, Notre Dame got its second Saturday, again from linebacker Nyles Morgan.


Twitter: @EHansenNDI

Notre Dame’s Equanimeous St. Brown (6) breaks away on a touchdown run during the Notre Dame-Syracuse NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN