SOUTH BEND —
Jaylon Smith, a Fort Wayne Bishop Luers product, became the first true freshman to start an opener for the Irish since 1995. Smith won the 2012 Butkus Award as the nation’s top prep linebacker.
Kelly said Smith played like a freshman at times, which was pretty much what was expected.
“He had some great energy,” Kelly said. “But he has a lot to work on. I’m sure glad he’s on our football team.”
A big splash
Amir Carlisle’s first career carry in a Notre Dame uniform was a memorable one.
On first-and-15 from the Notre Dame 18, Carlisle – a junior transfer from USC who sat out last season due to injury – ripped off a 45-yard run that helped set up the Irish’s first TD of the day.
Carlisle ended his day with seven carries for 68 yards.
Daniels’ big day
Irish junior WR DeVaris Daniels had just three catches before calling it a day at halftime with a slight groin pull – but he made them count, with two going for TDs.
Daniels finished with 68 yards on the day and could have played in the second half, Kelly said, but coaches elected to hold him out in preparation for Michigan next week.
A Jones for the ball
Irish senior receiver and co-captain T.J. Jones expressed an interest on Media Day in being a go-to guy for Rees … and Rees seemed to take Jones to heart, as the pair connected six times for 138 yards on Saturday.
Kelly said he was pleased with the ball distribution from Rees on Saturday.
“I thought you saw what I was hoping for,” Kelly said. “You had Daniels catch a touchdown. You had T.J. Jones and obviously Chris Brown. You had Troy Niklas, you had the running backs catch footballs. You had Tarean Folston catching a nice ball coming out of the backfield. I think you’re going to see great distribution of the football across the board, and it’s going to be somebody new each week.”
Neither kicker set the world on fire on Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium: Owl and Irish kickers were a combined 0-for-4 on field goals and Temple freshman kicker Jim Cooper tossed in a missed PAT for good measure, though the kick was blocked.