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Notre Dame’s defense takes big step forward

Michigan State running back Jeremy Langford battles with Notre Dame cornerback Bennett JacksSept. 21. | Michael Conroy/AP

Michigan State running back Jeremy Langford battles with Notre Dame cornerback Bennett Jackson on Sept. 21. | Michael Conroy/AP

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Updated: September 22, 2013 10:03PM



SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Michigan State switched quarterbacks late in the game Saturday against Notre Dame, but the Irish’s stingy defense didn’t blink.

Andrew Maxwell replaced Connor Cook with 2:11 left and threw incomplete passes on the first two downs. After
two penalties pushed the Spartans back 10 yards, Maxwell threw another incompletion. Forced to run on fourth down, Maxwell came up well short of the first-down marker, essentially clinching Notre Dame’s 17-13 victory.

The Irish limited Michigan State to 254 yards of offense. But now Notre Dame goes from facing one of the lowest-ranked offenses in the country to one ranked in the top 25 in Oklahoma.

‘‘Who is going to show up now is really going to be what we’re asking,’’ Irish coach Brian Kelly said of the defense Sunday. ‘‘Are we going to see the group that showed itself against Michigan State consistently or the group that we saw the last couple of weeks that played hot-and-cold? We’re
going to look for that consistency now from our defense.’’

The Sooners are ranked 24th in the country in total
offense, averaging 490.3 yards. The Spartans are 104th at 340.8 yards.

‘‘We did what we were supposed to do,’’ Notre Dame linebacker Carlo Calabrese said Saturday. ‘‘We didn’t have a lot of mistakes.’’

Calabrese tied for the team high with eight tackles against Michigan State and has 26 this season.

‘‘One of the better games that he’s had in quite some time,’’ Kelly said. ‘‘He’s been playing solid football for us.’’

That was the case for the entire defense.

‘‘We didn’t reinvent any
defense,’’ Kelly said. ‘‘We didn’t create any new schemes. We just demanded more and expected more from our players, and we got it.’’

Email: lpope@post-trib.com

Twitter: @lamondpope



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