Of all the units to take the field last week, none had a better, more satisfying performance than Notre Dame’s defense. The Irish stymied Georgia Tech’s earth-churning offense, allowing the nation’s most efficient ground and air attack only 4.6 yards per carry (Georgia Tech averaged 6.06 last year, sixth nationally) and 4.8 yards per attempt on 8-of-24 passing (GT averaged 9.3 yards per attempt last year, third nationally). The Jackets’ mustered only seven points through three quarters and 22 on the day, their lowest output in 16 games.
There was downer, though, and it was a significant one. Safety Drue Tanquill suffered one of the game’s cruelest injuries in recent memory, as a routine post-play celebration resulted in a torn ACL, costing him the rest of his season.
In a snippet from this week’s “A Season with Notre Dame Football,” Showtime cameras captured Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly awarding Tranquill the game ball following the Irish’s 30-22 win.
“Drue set the tone, and the way we play defensively, in the first half, the way we need to play defensively,” Kelly said. “Playing as one, playing together, playing with one heartbeat, playing with everything we have. And on behalf of the whole defense, he’s got the game ball.”
Tranquill, fighting tears, said, “I’m not feeling sorry for myself, I’m just sorry I can’t be back out there with y’all. But, man, I’ve never had so much fun running around back there, everyone contributing to one goal. It wasn’t about any one individual. I’m so glad to accept this on behalf of the defense. It really means a lot.”