Cierre Wood rushed for 118 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday at Soldier Field, leading a second-half offensive surge that led Notre Dame to a 41-3 win over Miami. After the game, Wood said he felt the Irish running backs bludgeoned Miami to the point where the 'Canes defense didn't want to play.
"They were all upbeat and jumping and stuff in the beginning, but you smack a team so many times in the mouth, eventually they're going to want to stop playing," Wood offered. "And that's what happened today."
But Miami defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio had a different explanation.
"I wouldn't say that's accurate," D'Onofrio said Monday (via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel). "Again, some of those guys who were on the field at the end of that game, it was the first game they were playing."
Wood rarely holds back with his comments, and explained to the media after Saturday's game how he feels he's at his best when he gets consistent carries -- something that hadn't happened much in 2012 until the second half against Miami. But coach Brian Kelly brushed those comments off as "just Cierre being Cierre."
"We love him, and he did some really good things for us," Kelly said. "But, again, he's a guy that loves to compete and he's passionate, and he wears his emotions on his sleeves."
Irish defense gets even more stingy
Notre Dame's defense has not allowed a touchdown since the fourth quarter of its game against Purdue Sept. 8, a streak of 12 quarters that's been accomplished against some fairly well-regarded offenses.
After allowing just three points against Miami on Saturday, Notre Dame ranks second among FBS schools by scoring defense, allowing opponents to average just 7.8 points per game. Only Alabama (7.0 points allowed per game) has been better, and no team has allowed fewer touchdowns than Notre Dame's three.
"Think of what Coach Diaco has had to defend in the five weeks," Kelly said, also explaining the challenge Michigan presented. "Option offense (Navy), a run-first with the quarterback in Purdue. Michigan State, a grinditout, great running back. It's been an outstanding performance to date, and we've seen it all. Now we just need to build on it."
But it could've been different...
Notre Dame's touchdown-less streak wasn't extended to a dozen quarters without a bit of luck, though. Miami's Phillip Dorsett dropped two sure-fire touchdown passes on the first drive of Saturday's game, burning the Irish secondary deep on both plays.
But after those two drops, Notre Dame's secondary made a few adjustments, and wound up limiting Miami quarterback Stephen Morris to 201 yards.
We were in great coverage. -- here was a burst at the top of the route that we did not match with the same kind of urgency," Kelly explained of the early deep balls. "We corrected that. After they came to the sideline, (safeties coach Bob Elliott) and (cornerbacks coach Kerry Cooks) got on the phone right away, made the corrections with how they need to burst to stay on top of the route, and it wasn't an issue with the rest of the game.
"Believe me, they saw what we saw. They went back to the same routes and we were on top of them. So I was really pleased with our guys picking up their game when they knew they needed to."