Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 24, 2018

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

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Page 19 of 55

20 SEPT. 24, 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI T he "formula" to Notre Dame's 3‑0 start has been virtually a cut‑and‑paste operation all three weeks, most recently in the 22‑17 victory versus Vanderbilt. Step one: Score on the opening pos‑ session and build a relatively cushy first‑quarter and halftime lead. The Fighting Irish have outscored three foes 14‑0, 7‑3 and 10‑0 in the opening 15 minutes, and the defense has yet to yield a touchdown in the first half. Step two: Don't fall behind, which has yet to occur. Step three: Hold on for dear life at the end. In 24‑17 and 24‑16 victories the first two weeks versus Michigan and Ball State, respectively, Notre Dame needed to recover onside kicks in the closing minutes and also force a turn‑ over on the Wolverines' final drive. In the most recent script, Vander‑ bilt drove to Notre Dame's 31‑yard line before a fourth‑and‑four pass by senior quarterback Kyle Shurmur to a leaping junior wide receiver Kalija Lipscomb fell out of his hands near the Fighting Irish 10‑yard line with 1:07 remaining. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly was in no mood afterwards to downgrade another hard‑fought vic‑ tory that featured no turnovers on of‑ fense, a resilient defense in the clutch and some help from special teams. "If you're a finished product af‑ ter game three, you're destined for greatness — and we're not there yet," Kelly summarized. "… They played Notre Dame football, but we're still evolving. I'd like to say we're a fin‑ ished product, we're just not. "We're trying to find our identity on offense. I think we're a good de‑ fense — but we're not a great defense yet. We've got some things to clean up — but I really, really like our foot‑ ball team and the way they competed today." The Irish ground attack was much improved after a 117‑yard effort against Ball State, finishing with 245 yards, paced by junior Tony Jones Jr.'s career‑high 118 on 17 carries. He also caught two passes for 56 yards. Senior quarterback Brandon Wim‑ bush added 84 yards on 19 carries and a score to go with 13‑of‑23 pass‑ ing for 122 yards. Backup junior quarterback Ian Book finished 3‑of‑3 passing for 13 yards with a touch‑ down while working in a short‑yard‑ age role. The kicking game also was crucial with senior Justin Yoon converting 3 of 4 field goal attempts and fifth‑ year senior Tyler Newsome averag‑ ing 59.6 yards on his five punts. FIRST QUARTER NOTRE DAME 10, VANDERBILT 0 Top Moment: With 58 seconds left and Notre Dame facing third‑and‑10 at Vanderbilt's 12‑yard line, Wimbush scrambled for the touchdown to end a 94‑yard march that took 15 plays and 5:21. The score gave the Irish a 10‑0 advantage and marked Wimbush's first rushing tally of the year. Standout Performer: Jones had six carries for 57 yards this quarter and added a 24‑yard catch during the touchdown drive. Stats: Notre Dame outgained Vanderbilt 161‑43 in total yards, while controlling the clock 9:14 and converting 4 of 5 third‑down situa‑ tions. The 96 rushing yards weren't far from the 117 total the entire game the previous week versus Ball State. The Commodores had only 11 yards on the ground. Items: Notre Dame marched 81 yards to a first down at the 2‑yard line on the game's opening drive, but was limited to a 26‑yard field goal by Yoon with 11:02 left. SECOND QUARTER NOTRE DAME 16, VANDERBILT 3 Top Moment: Trailing 13‑0, Shur‑ mur completed a 20‑yard pass to junior wide receiver Donaven Ten‑ nyson at the Notre Dame 1‑yard line — but junior safety Alohi Gilman ripped the ball from his arms. A mad scramble for the fumble ensued be‑ fore junior cornerback Julian Love fell on it near the end line with 5:10 left. The Irish then responded with a 51‑yard drive in 10 plays, capped by Yoon's 46‑yard field goal with 1:15 left to provide a 16‑0 cushion. Standout Performer: Shurmur and his receiving corps found a rhythm in the final two drives that saw them take the ball down to the Notre Dame 1‑ and 3‑yard lines — but they re‑ sulted in only three points on the half's last play, a 21‑yard field goal. During the second quarter, Shur‑ mur completed 8 of 15 passes for 121 yards, but the last one was dropped by Tennyson on a well‑designed play that should have been a touchdown. Instead, the drive culminated with a field goal. Stats: Notre Dame had 247 first‑ half yards (163 rushing and 84 pass‑ ing) to Vanderbilt's 180 (153 passing and 27 rushing), but the Commo‑ dores outgained the Irish in the sec‑ ond quarter 137‑86. Items: At the 7:33 mark, Yoon's 33‑yard field goal provided a 13‑0 advantage and concluded a 49‑yard drive … Senior defensive tackle Jerry Tillery recorded a sack to end the first Vanderbilt drive in the quarter. THIRD QUARTER NOTRE DAME 16, VANDERBILT 10 Top Moment: With 11 seconds left, Vanderbilt redshirt junior running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn went in un‑ touched for a three‑yard touchdown for the lone score in the quarter. It capped a five‑play, 47‑yard drive af‑ ter a 20‑yard punt return. Standout Performer: Vanderbilt's defense limited Notre Dame to 26 yards of total offense on 11 plays. Stats: The Commodores outgained the Irish 123‑26 in the quarter. Items: Vanderbilt opened the sec‑ FAMILIAR SCRIPT The 22-17 win over Vanderbilt by 3-0 Notre Dame followed an almost identical formula from the first two games Junior wideout Kalija Lipscomb appeared poised to haul in a fourth-and-four pass that would have put Vanderbilt within about 10 yards of a go- ahead score with just more than a minute to go, but junior safety Jalen Elliott was able to jar the ball loose to secure Notre Dame's victory. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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