As if Notre Dame needed another way to get Jake Smith with some space in front of him…
In the first half of Notre Dame’s win over Horizon on Friday night, the Huskies did an impressive job keeping the ball away from Smith, the Texas commit who had 26 touchdowns entering the contest. In the first 24 minutes of play, Smith touched the ball once, a carry for a short gain. When he was out at receiver, Horizon coach Ty Wisdom had two players blanketed on Smith from the time he got out of the huddle to the whistle, and the Huskies went to half with a 20-15 lead.
Then Notre Dame coach George Prelock added a new wrinkle to the Saints offense: the Wildcat. In the second half, Smith notched five touchdowns, three of them coming from that formation, and the Saints won the game 51-35. In a busy second half, he had four rushing touchdowns, one receiving touchdown on a Wildcat reverse, kicked an extra point and played in the secondary.
“We started working on it last week, and (Smith), ‘It’s something I’ve wanted to do my whole life, Coach, so thank you,'” Prelock laughed. “But it takes time and timing, so that’s exactly what we did. We’ve been preparing for it for a couple weeks, showed it (Friday night) and it obviously paid dividends.”
The Saints haven’t had trouble scoring points this year, averaging 48 points per contest entering Friday. Prelock said this was a formation they had worked on in preparation for a tough Horizon offense.
“Coach Prelock nevers sleeps,” Smith said. “He’ll be up until 4 a.m. (Friday night) working on stuff and new plays for North Canyon next week, so he’s the mastermind behind it all and he puts in an unmatched amount towards our team.”
— Mike Harvey (@NDHarv85) October 6, 2018
It wasn’t just Jake Smith that fueled the comeback. In this formation, lanes opened up for running back Dominick Mastro, who ended the game with 161 yards, and he averaged eight yards a carry. Quarterback Jake Farrell had a touchdown pass on a reverse to put the game away.
It also doesn’t hurt that the defense forced four second-half turnovers.
So was this a one-and-done game-plan specifically for the Huskies or could this new wrinkle be seen regularly in the Saints.
“We’ll see,” Prelock said through a grin.
Opponents had to prepare for a lot when playing the Saints. Now, they have to deal with one more thing.