There are plenty of aspects to this year's Notre Dame team that one could look at and say "well, that wouldn't have happened last year." T.J. Jones' game-winning touchdown catch against Stanford, though, stands out as one of them from Saturday's game.
With the ball on Stanford's 7-yard line in overtime, Jones ran a slant route toward the end zone. Tommy Rees' pass was soft and behind the junior wide receiver, who managed to adjust and make a difficult catch to net the Irish what turned out to be a game-winning touchdown.
"Unbelievable," Rees said of Jones' catch. "It was a bad throw, to be honest, and he did a great job outside in making a play for us and he's done a good job all year coming in."
While Jones' numbers may not be to the eye-popping level of former Irish wideout Michael Floyd -- 19 receptions, 235 yards, two touchdowns -- his growth as a receiver has made him Notre Dame's most dependable target not named Tyler Eifert.
"We don't have another Michael Floyd here anymore," Jones said last week. "Last year, it was him. When we were in a tough situation, and we needed someone to be an example, we looked to Michael Floyd. So I chose for myself to be that example."
Coach Brian Kelly credited Jones' grab to the recevier's route-running ability, and dropped the "G" word when referring to him Saturday.
"He came out of his break, came back six yards for the ball. Great receivers do that," Kelly said. "They come back and get the football. They don't stand waiting for it. And that's been his progression."