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State of the Irish – Pittsburgh

Nov 6, 2012, 8:47 AM EDT

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We are back … and for the first time this season, Mark May is back in the win column when picking Notre Dame games!

Being a senior, there are so many moments throughout this year where I stand back, try to absorb the experience and lock it away so that I will always have the memory of the event. Last Saturday was one of those moments.

I have been working football games in the press box since the middle of freshman year and the experiences I have had working with the media relations department have been remarkable. Typically at the end of football games I run the box score down to the field as fast as I physically can so Coach Kelly can use it when addressing the media. While that task is exhilarating and one that I have always loved doing, it means I have not celebrated an Irish home victory in a while. I am always too dialed into my responsibilities after a game. But for this game, my last official game working in the press box, I got to stand on the field for the final five minutes of the contest and the subsequent overtime periods. I tried my best to capture each moment in my mind so that I would never forget them. As I looked around Notre Dame Stadium all I saw was pure joy and celebration and that is a beautiful sight to see. As this season continues to unravel, remember to cherish every moment and lock it away so you can revisit it again. These are the kinds of memories that don’t come very often – these are the memories that last a lifetime.

Back to the main point of the blog, here are three things I learned about the Notre Dame football team this week:

1) Everett Golson’s mental toughness is improving: Golson has had moments of brilliance as he weaves his way around the defensive linemen to make a huge play. Golson has also had moments where he has looked like the first-year starter that he is. On Saturday, he started the game looking like the latter but by the end of the game, Golson had transformed into the unquestioned leader of the offense. Golson did not only manage the game, he dominated it – after not being able to make the proper progressions just a couple of hours earlier. Golson has a long way to go, but he has started to develop the necessary mental toughness needed to be a great Notre Dame quarterback.

2) DaVaris Daniels took a huge step forward: Daniels has a lot of talent that has been waiting to be unleashed and on Saturday that potential was on full display. He nearly doubled his career high for receptions in a game, as he hauled in seven grabs including one that set up the score that tied the game at 20. Like most of the youngsters on this Irish team (including Golson), Daniels still has work to do to become a more consistent and polished receiver, but he is starting to see the results of the countless hours of preparation – and those results could be scary for the opposition.

3) The culture of Notre Dame football has officially changed: Last week I mentioned that when Brian Kelly became the head coach of Notre Dame almost three years ago, many said that he had to change the culture of Notre Dame football. After Oklahoma, I got the first sign that he had done just that – he had changed the culture from one of doubt to one of belief. After this week, that culture change is all the more clear and evident. I know this because I have always been the one to doubt and second-guess. But on Saturday when we were down 14 points, I wasn’t bracing for a loss. Instead I had confidence that we were going to turn it around and it was only a matter of time and as I looked around the stadium, it appeared many had the same belief. The Irish did turn it around – in the most dramatic fashion they could think.

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