Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 10, 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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28 SEPT 10, 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED STARTING HOT Head coach Brian Kelly couldn't have scripted a better beginning for Notre Dame against rival Michigan. The Wolverines won the toss and deferred to the second half, giving the Irish the chance to set the tone in the contest. That they did. Offensive coordinator Chip Long's game plan was executed to perfec- tion with the Irish going 75 yards on seven plays to take a quick 7-0 advan- tage in less than 90 seconds thanks to a 13-yard run by Jafar Armstrong. After getting pinned at their own 4-yard line, Notre Dame struck once again. It only took 3:07 of game ac- tion for the Irish to take a 14-0 advan- tage when senior wide receiver Chris Finke made a play on a 50/50 deep ball, hauling in the 43-yard score. "I think we had a good idea of where we wanted to attack," Wim- bush stated following the game. "They would go man sometimes, and the middle of the field was real va- cant, so we attacked there a little bit. "Then the guys on the outside did a great job of getting open and mak- ing plays." For the third straight season, the Irish scored on their opening posses- sion of the year with the Armstrong touchdown. Against Temple to begin the 2017 season, running back Josh Adams scored from 37 yards out, while wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown caught a 13-yard touch- down pass from DeShone Kizer to start the 2016 campaign on the road against Texas. IRISH DEFENSE FLEXES ITS MUSCLE While most of the pregame conver- sation centered on the talent of Mich- igan's defensive group, it was the Notre Dame unit that helped guide the team to victory. The Irish defense surrendered just 10 points all night, with the lone touchdown coming with 2:18 left in the contest when Wolverines run- ning back Karan Higdon found his way into the end zone from three yards out. Heading into halftime, with Notre Dame leading 21-10, Michigan had mustered just 90 total yards of of- fense, including 28 yards on the ground (1.9 per rush). On the other side, the Irish accrued 233 total yards on 5.8 yards per play. "I thought we played really well," head coach Brian Kelly said follow- ing the win. "As [U-M quarterback Shea] Patterson started to scramble, we lost our eye discipline on where we were supposed to be in coverage, and we lost contain one time. "Devoid of that, I thought we played really well most of the eve- ning." The Irish allowed 307 yards of total offense, with 249 coming through the air. Almost half (144) of Michigan's total yardage came in the fourth quarter, with 80 on the Wolverines' lone touchdown drive against the stingy Irish defense. Michigan went for it on fourth down three times during the game and came up short each time, includ- ing a fourth-and-10 from the Notre Dame 16-yard line. Both teams finished with seven tackles for loss, while the Irish fin- ished with a 3-2 edge in sacks. BRANDON WIMBUSH ANSWERS THE CALL Notre Dame's quarterback situation was the featured topic entering the 2018 campaign. An up-and-down campaign during Brandon Wimbush's first as a starter in 2017 raised questions about his ability to lead the Irish offensive ef- fectively enough to ultimately take the group to the next level. Wimbush displayed his potential as the signal-caller with both his arm and legs, giving the Irish enough on offense to get the job done against a vaunted Michigan group. This was MICHIGAN GAME NOTES BY COREY BODDEN Senior wide receiver Chris Finke's 43-yard touchdown catch on a 50/50 ball in the end zone helped stake the Fighting Irish to a quick 14-0 lead. PHOTO BY ANGELA DRISKELL

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