Coaches and teammates have insisted that, more than anything, Nunes needs time and experience to adjust to the starter's role. After all, he went almost four years since his last start at Upland High School in the Los Angeles area until beating out Brett Nottingham and Kevin Hogan this season.
Nunes has shown flashes of Luck-like ability to in big moments.
He scrambled for a pair of key first downs against the Trojans. On the final drive of regulation against Arizona, he ran for 16 yards on third-and-7 from midfield, threw 17 yards to Ertz on fourth-and-9 from Arizona's 20 and ran for the tying touchdown on a read option with 45 seconds remaining.
"If you told me a year ago that we'd call multiple run plays for Josh Nunes, I'd laugh at you," Shaw said. "The bottom line is he's a tough kid. He's not afraid of it. He doesn't back down from challenges."
The road ahead will not ease up any.
While Stanford has beaten Notre Dame by at least two touchdowns the last three seasons, this appears to be a more a difficult trip to South Bend. Not to mention matchups at No. 2 Oregon and a home date against No. 10 Oregon State later this season.
The Fighting Irish improved to 5-0 for the first time since 2002 with a 41-3 romp over Miami on Saturday. Notre Dame's 587 yards of offense was a season high, and its 376 yards rushing was its most since Nov. 11, 2000.
Asked if Nunes' turnaround performance against the Wildcats will do enough to quiet critics before Notre Dame, Shaw shook his head and smiled.
"Probably not," he said. "And once again, I don't care. He doesn't care. We're a team. We're tight in our locker room. We support him through everything, and he understands that. We hold him accountability for what his job is. But at the same time, we know he's more than capable. And I think he showed that."
Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP