SOUTH BEND – There is a lot to like about what the Notre Dame offense showed in its initial outing of the 2013 season Saturday.
The unit produced 28 points. It gained 543 yards of total offense. The 11th-ranked Fighting Irish scored through the air (three times) and also on the ground (once).
Oh, and most importantly, Notre Dame never turned the ball over. It was just about an ideal performance.
“Anytime you can win in an opener, you can learn so much more about your football team,” fourth-year Irish coach Brian Kelly said. “Here's what I know, to win football games at the BCS level, you've got to take care of the football. We took care of the football today. No turnovers. That's extremely important. You've got to keep the points down on defense. We continue to do that.”
Certainly the defense was stout, as it was last season and how it is expected to be this year. The questions surrounding this team mostly centered on the offensive side of the ball and all of its unproven players.
Those questions were answered.
Notre Dame got spectacular play from its quarterback (senior Tommy Rees), had seven different players catch passes from Rees and had five different runners get at least a couple of carries, as it totaled 188 yards on the ground and 355 passing yards.
“I was very pleased,” Kelly said of the offensive balance. “I thought you saw what I was hoping for. You had (DaVaris) Daniels catch a touchdown. You had (receiver) T.J. Jones and obviously (receiver) Chris Brown. You had (tight end) Troy Niklas. You had the running backs catch footballs.
“You had (running back) 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.”
That is bad news for Irish opponents. And there is more.
Notre Dame also got solid play from its offensive line, which Temple coach Matt Rhule referred to as “an NFL offensive line.”
In essence, the Irish showed play-making capabilities all over the place.
“Yeah, we got a lot of depth,” Rees said. “We've got a lot of depth out there. There (are) a lot of guys that can go out there and make plays that we have confidence in. Anytime you have those numbers, it really helps.
“I had a lot of confidence in those guys. I'm with them every day, so I know the ability that they have. Aside from T.J., DaVaris and Chris Brown, really our younger guys that are maybe not as proven, but I'm with them all the time. I have all the confidence in the world in all the receivers we run out there.
“I knew they had the ability to make plays for us, and I'm happy they did it.”
Rees hit Daniels for a pair of scores, but it was Jones who really made an impact on the game with a team-best six receptions for a career-high 138 yards.
“I thought it was dynamic,” Kelly said of Jones' game. “Dynamic is a word that I would use as a receiver when we're talking about after the catch. So he caught the football, and then he was dynamic after the catch. And that's what we were looking for from him.
“T.J. Jones is going to be in the mix every single week, because he's one of the best wide receivers in the country. But you're going to see a lot of guys contribute offensively. I think it's for the better. I really do. I think it gives us great balance across the board.”