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State of the Irish – Stanford

Oct 15, 2012, 1:59 PM EDT

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Matthias Farley brings down Stepfan Taylor in overtime at Notre Dame Stadium.
Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame

We are back … back in the Top 5 … and I am back to being a true Notre Dame football fan. I have to admit that over the last three seasons, I had become desensitized when it came to Notre Dame football. After dealing with heartbreak after heartbreak and working the games in the press box, Notre Dame football had become a job to me, as I made myself an impartial bystander. Wins were exciting, but nothing to get too excited about and losses didn’t hurt that bad. I had always been told of the tradition of Notre Dame football, but in my first three seasons at Notre Dame, the teams had not lived up to that tradition of excellence. Entering this season I had developed a level of apathy towards Notre Dame football solely because I didn’t want to be heartbroken again. But when I least expected it, with the toughest schedule in the country, the Irish find themselves in the middle of a special season. Maybe living on this crazy train is better than not caring at all. I am not sure about you, but I have taken that leap of faith.

That being said, here are three things I learned about the Notre Dame football team this week:

1) Everett Golson is growing up in front of our eyes: Before Brian Kelly had even mentioned it in his post-game press conference, it was apparent to me; Golson had taken another huge step forward on the field. Last week I wrote about how great Golson looked as he showcased his potential against Miami, but yesterday Golson made an arguably more important progression in his development. Golson struggled early against the Stanford defense but turned his play around and led the Irish offense on a number of very productive drives before he was knocked out of the game. That kind of resiliency was not seen in the Michigan game. During the Michigan game when Golson became lost mentally, he couldn’t get back on track. On Saturday, Golson got back on track and effectively led the Irish. Golson is growing up and soon we will consistently see the Irish offense that we have witnessed glimpses of throughout this season.

2) Tommy Rees deserves more praise and recognition: If there is one person on this team that makes me proud to attend Notre Dame besides Manti Te’o, it is Tommy Rees. Rees has responded to the criticism by the Irish faithful by working harder to represent his university in the best way he can. That work ethic has been rewarded, as Rees has entered the game as a backup three times this season and in all of the games, he has led the Irish to victory. When one looks at what Tommy Rees has been through over the past three seasons, especially when he was booed at the beginning of this season, it is truly remarkable to see how he has continued to persevere and perform on the gridiron. He has been a class act for the University of Notre Dame and he should be treated as such by all of the Irish faithful.

3) The young Irish secondary has been the surprise of the first half of the season: After graduating three-fourths of the secondary last season, few people, if any, thought the Notre Dame secondary – that is composed of mostly underclassmen – would match the production of last year’s squad. To compound the losses due to graduation, the Irish lost cornerback Lo Wood before the season and then safety Jamoris Slaughter suffered a season-ending injury during the Michigan State game. However, the youngsters in the Irish secondary have not missed a beat. Led by senior Zeke Motta, the secondary, which usually features junior Bennett Jackson, sophomore Matthias Farley and freshman KeiVarae Russell, has played exceptional football throughout the first half of the season. While many thought the secondary could be the weak link of this Irish team, it has turned out to be one of the team’s strengths.

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