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Backup QB Wimbush, Defense Help No. 3 Irish dominate FSU

Just what third-ranked  Notre Dame does not need to go into its final two regular-season games: A quarterback controversy created…

Just what third-ranked
Notre Dame
does not need to go into its final two regular-season games: A quarterback controversy created by its coach.

“We want a full-blow controversy, front-page news,”
Brian Kelly
said with tongue firmly planted in cheek after watching senior backup Brandon Wimbush’s three-touchdown performance in a 42-1

3 victory over Florida State on Senior Night in Frosty Notre Dame Stadium.

Wimbush, who led the Irish to their first three victories, got the start in injured junior Ian Book, who suffered a rib injury last week against Northwestern and is expected to be cleared to play next Saturday at Yankee Stadium when the Irish (10-0, No. 3 CFP) play No. 13 Syracuse.

Wimbush finished 12 of 25 for 130 yards with the scoring passes to fellow seniors – a 3-yarder to wide receiver Miles Boykin and 6- and 15-yard tosses to tight than Alize Mack.

“It was really emotional, “Wimbush said.” The six weeks were tough, but they were inspiring. “The first half was one of the best I think the team has had. It felt natural. We got off to a great start.” [19659002] Fellow senior Dexter Williams ran for a career-high 202 yards and Notre Dame’s defense came up with two first-quarter turnovers at the Seminoles (4-6).

Kelly admitted it would be tough to go back to Book, who leads the nation in completion rate (74.5) and is sixth in passing efficiency (170.0) while passing for 1,811 and 14 touchdowns since taking over in week four.

“When the doctor says he’s cleared to go,” Kelly said after Being asked when Book would reclaim his starting role. But he did not want to diminish Wimbush’s performance.

“Brandon wants to win for Notre Dame, for his teammates,” Kelly said. “He’s been that way either in a starting role or as a backup. team when we needed him. “

With the temperature at 27 degrees – the third-coldest game at Notre Dame Stadium since the 1980 season – the Irish wore green jerseys for the fourth time in Kelly’s nine-year tenure at Notre Dame to honor their seniors.

Williams, who sat out the first four games of his senior season because of a university-imposed suspension, piled up the 202 yards on 20 carries , including TD runs of 58 and 32 yards, as Notre Dame Outgained Florida State, 495-322, including 365 on the ground.

“The offensive line came out with the fight,” Williams said. “I told them to keep pushing and I’m going to do what I have to do. I just told them to give me a crease and I would make a cou ple runs for them. “

Wimbush, however, did throw a pair of second half interceptions that allowed coach Willie Taggart’s Seminoles (4-6) to stay around after the Irish had taken a 32-6 halftime lead. [19659002] “We wanted to get stuck,” Taggart said. “We made mistakes. Against a good football team, you can not do that. We’re not stopping the run. It hurts you mentally. “

Cam Akers had two touchdown runs for Florida State, his second on a 7-yard run following Stanford Samuels’ interception early in the third quarter.

But Notre Dame’s defense denied points after Dontavious Jackson’s Third quarter theft when senior Drue Tranquill and junior Khalid Kareem made stops after the Seminoles had reached the Irish 1. On fourth down, quarterback Deondre Francois (23-47, 216 yards) threw incomplete.

The Seminoles, who practiced in summer-like conditions in Tallahassee before flying into wintry South Bend, saw Francois’ second pass of the game intercepted by senior Nick Coleman and Akers fumble recovered by junior Daelin Hayes. The Irish converted them into 10 points while taking a 17-0 first -quarter lead.

TAKEAWAYS

Florida State: The Seminoles were their own worst enemy in the first half, surrendering 10 points after a couple of turnovers in the first quarter and another two points on Julian Love’s return of a blocked conversion attempt in the second quarter. FSU’s defense, which entered the game allowing just 111.1 yards per game (17th nationally), surrendered 141 yards in the first 30 minutes, 58 on Williams’ touchdown run.

“Mental toughness, discipline and execution,” Taggart said. We did not execute when we had the chance. On defense, we gave up too many explosive plays. “

” You can not spot good teams like that points, “running back Jacques Patrick said.

Notre Dame : Notre Dame’s tall senior receivers dominated the banged-up Florida State secondary with three acrobatic TD catches in the first half. First, the 6-foot-4 Boykin outleaped his defender on a nicely thrown Wimbush pass. Later, the 6-foot-4¾ Mack kept one foot inbounds to give the Irish a 14-0 lead and then outleaped an FSU defender for a 15-yard TD in the second quarter that sent the Irish in at halftime up 32-6.

DEFENSE SALUTES WIMBUSH

Wimbush threw just one touchdown pass and had four interceptions while leading the Irish to a 3-0 start before Kelly and offensive coordinator Chip Long chose to change to Book.

“If any of you guys know Brandon, he’s a high-quality guy, “defensive than Daelin Hayes said.” We as a defense wanted to emphasize that we had his back. “

Standing on the sideline while Book and the offense took off did not faze wimbush.

“It gave me a different perspective,” he said. “I was here to support the team, however, I could.”

IN THE RUNNING

With Williams running for a career-high of 202 yards on 20 carries and touchdown runs of 58 and 32, the Irish exploded for a season high 365. Their previous high was 272 against Stanford. [19659002] “This team has a lot of grit,” Williams said. “People have their opinions about us, but we know what we can do and we just have to continue to trust the process each and every game.”

Notre Dame, who entered the game averaging 181.0 yards rushing (53rd nationally), did not lose yardage on any of its 50 carries and it helped the Irish win the time of possession, 32-28 minutes. Notre Dame was also 9 or 16 on third-down conversions.

Wimbush’s quick feet accounted for 68 yards on 12 carries, while Jafar Armstrong added 44 on seven rushes and Tony Jones Jr. scooted for 39 on six.

IRISH 4-0 IN GREEN

It was the fourth of the Irish who came out in Kelly (pun intended) Green tops with blue numbers outlined in gold.

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