SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — There are some questions marks for No. 8 Notre Dame after a somewhat lackluster showing on the road to open the season, even if it ended with a 35-17 win over Louisville.
The silver lining for coach Brian Kelly: He was able to give his inexperienced charges some valuable playing time.
"Our young players made a significant contribution in the win," Kelly said Tuesday. "Obviously, there were some first-time jitters for some of them, but they settled nicely into the game. It's pretty apparent they have the abilities to impact this team."
Notre Dame trailed 14-7 in the first quarter before turning things around and only outgained the Cardinals 423-383 in total yards. Still, the Fighting Irish recovered three turnovers and clamped down over the final three quarters.
Junior rover Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah made his first career start and finished with nine tackles; two of them were among Notre Dame's 11 tackles for loss. Junior Drew White, making his first start at middle linebacker, had five tackles, including one of Notre Dame's four sacks.
"Drew had a slow start here with injuries," Kelly said. "We've found the right role for him; he's accepted that role and last night he showed the traits that we're looking for at mike linebacker."
True freshman Kyle Hamilton saw limited time at safety but the 6-foot-4, 210-pounder broke up two passes and had four tackles.
Perhaps the most puzzling showing was by senior quarterback Ian Book, who struggled early with some of his passes. He finished 14 of 23 passing for 193 yards and was effective when he needed to be, running for one touchdown and throwing for another.
Sophomore Tommy Tremble, playing for injured junior tight end Cole Kmet, made his first reception a big one, scoring on a 26-yard pass from Book to put the Irish up 28-14 and then had two more receptions for a total of 49 yards. Sophomore running back Jahmir Smith, who saw limited action a year ago, replaced injured junior Jafar Armstrong and scored on a 3-yard run. He later added a 1-yard TD.
Notre Dame is off this week and plays its home opener Sept. 14 against New Mexico (1-0), led by former Irish coach Bob Davie.
Notes: Armstrong left the game after two carries totaling 10 yards and a reception for 16. Kelly said Armstrong had an abdominal injury and an MRI was planned for Wednesday. ... Kelly indicated that Kmet, who had offseason surgery to repair a broken collarbone, will be checked Thursday to see when he might be available.
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/tag/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25