Logan Marchi

Jury still out, but “new” Notre Dame has positive start to 2017

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A summer of attempting to change the narrative and a week’s worth of Brian Kelly trying to tell media outlets this year is going to be different has paid off for at least one week. Notre Dame (1-0) opened the season at home with a 49-16 win against Temple (0-1), and has a few reasons to feel optimistic about this season after one game.

For starters, there is quarterback Brandon Wimbush. Wimbush got the Irish off on the right foot Saturday afternoon with a pair of touchdown passes and 106 rushing yards and a score. Brian Kelly has liked having dual threats run the offense, and Wimbush did just that against a Temple defense that was ripe for the picking.

Then there is running back Josh Adams, who tore up the Temple defense for 161 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns. Adams was a workhorse for the Irish running the football with an average of 8.5 yards per carry. As a team, Notre Dame piled up 353 rushing yards, which was more than the total yardage picked up by Temple on the afternoon.

Notre Dame may have room to improve on the defense, but the Irish did a sound job slowing down the running game for the Owls. It was expected there would be a transition period for Temple with a new head coach in Geoff Collins and a decent amount of roster turnover, an unproven quarterback situyation made running the football a key for Temple. The Irish held the Owls to fewer than 100 yards on the ground, with a trio of sacks helping out in the box score in that department. That is encouraging, but the next game poses a much more serious threat on the ground with Georgia coming in with Nick Chubb. Time will tell if this will hold up.

It wasn’t all bad for Temple, as Logan Marchi battled and passed for 245 yards and two touchdowns in a tough spot. Ryquell Armstead ran 19 times for 67 yards and the Owls spread the ball around in the passing game. It just was not nearly enough to battle Notre Dame in this setting at this time.

Notre Dame will stay home next week to host No. 15 Georgia. The game will be a primetime affair from Notre Dame Stadium with the Irish and Bulldogs squaring off at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC (check your local listings). Georgia opened the season against Appalachian State in a game that was ongoing at the time Notre Dame wrapped up the win. Temple will look to rebound next week with a home game against a local FCS threat from the Main Line, Villanova. Villanova is ranked in the FCS top 25 polls and is coming off a top 25 victory over Lehigh.

Brandon Wimbush scores 3 first-half TDs in first start for Notre Dame

Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images
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If this is going to be a different Notre Dame team this season, then new starting quarterback Brandon Wimbush is going to playing a key role. So far, so good as Notre Dame leads Temple 28-10 at the half in the season opener.

Wimbush has accounted for three touchdowns in the first half of the season opener in South Bend against defending American Athletic Conference champion Temple. Wimbush, making his first career start for Notre Dame, has thrown two touchdown passes and rushed for one more, Notre Dame opened up a 28-3 half on the strength of a 21-point first quarter, but the Owls have started to scratch back a little bit.

Logan Marchi completed a touchdown pass to Keith Kirkwood inside the red zone to cut into the lead, but that has been all the Owls have been able to muster aside from a field goal. Temple is playing the game without their top wide receiver, Ventell Bryant, who did not travel with the team due to a reported hamstring injury.

Temple has a lot of ground to make up against a more talented Irish team in the second half, and first-year head coach Geoff Collins will have his work cut out for him to turn this game back in his favor.