SOUTH BEND – Some analysis on Notre Dame’s 48-17 victory over Rice:
What it means: The Irish improve to 1-0 for the sixth time in seven years. Some all-facets ineptitude from Rice contributed in part, but this was also a day in which Everett Golson’s talent shone through and the team's younger parts demonstrated their potential.
Golson dominates: After talk about Golson’s lack of proven targets and the fact he went nearly 600 days without playing a real game, Golson came out great. Specifically, he consistently made plays, and evaded bad ones, with his legs. Golson rushed for three scores. There is room to improve, which is scary, because Golson’s sheer brilliance proved Notre Dame can go far if this is the new standard. He was 14-of-22 for 295 yards and two TDs passing, while adding 12 carries for 41 yards.
Hot or Not: Hot -- cornerback Matthias Farley. Playing in a depleted secondary, he played a physical style and also intercepted a Driphus Jackson pass late in the second quarter to set up a 53-yard TD catch by C.J. Prosise at the very end of the first half. The senior Farley now has four career interceptions.
Defense gets by: Despite personnel attrition, Notre Dame’s defense was fairly stiff. The unit forced four punts on the first five series, which allowed the Irish offense to work through minimal kinks, and added the Farley interception. Once the competition stiffens, the offense won’t always be in that consistent groove, so the defense will need to be tough to crack if the Irish want to compete against national title contenders.
Bryant’s spark in return: Second-year running back Greg Bryant made his return after missing the final 10 games last year with a knee injury and got eight carries (turned into 71 yards and his first college touchdown) as he was integrated into the mix alongside Cam McDaniel and Tarean Folston.
Injuries to monitor: The Irish played without safety Austin Collinsworth (undisclosed), and his status will be watched closely this week. Also, star linebacker Jaylon Smith, a Bishop Luers graduate, missed a few snaps in the second half because of a hand injury.
What’s next: Michigan visits Notre Dame Stadium next Saturday night.