Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 28, 2013 Issue

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Defense Mechanism With senior quarterback Tommy Rees sidelined, the Notre Dame defense rises to the occasion with a dominant second half to top USC 14-10 W By Andrew Owens hen a neck strain forced senior quarterback Tommy Rees to exit in the third quarter with the Irish clinging to a 14-10 lead against archrival USC, it left the Notre Dame offense battered and broken. The Irish managed a measly 47 second-half yards, mustered just one first down and never threatened to score the rest of the game without their starting quarterback. All four of backup senior quarterback Andrew Hendrix's passes fell incomplete. Enter an Irish defense that — with its back against the wall throughout the second half — ensured the USC score did not change over the final 30 minutes, giving Notre Dame (5-2) a home win against the Trojans for the first time since 2001. "I think we're really starting to get that confidence that maybe at times we were lacking," Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said of the defense. "They're playing with a lot of confidence right now." Much of the uplifting play derived from junior defensive end Stephon Tuitt, who manhandled the Trojans offensive line, sacked redshirt sophomore quarterback Cody Kessler twice and hurried him another two times while also breaking up a pass attempt. "He got the game ball," Kelly said. "He was all over the place. He was outstanding in the run game. He let the ball outside the defense one time late in the game, but they held him. They couldn't handle him today. If you're wanting to talk about a defensive lineman that was dominating, you could throw that word out there. He was a force out there today." Tuitt was the focus of attention most of the week after declaring to Notre Dame's student newspaper, The Observer, that he would return for his senior season. He backtracked from those comments after Notre Dame's

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