Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 24, 2018

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

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24 SEPT. 24, 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED TURNING POINT With Notre Dame leading 13‑0 late in the first half, Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmur found Donaven Tennyson for a first down at the 1‑yard line — but while ju‑ nior Troy Pride Jr. was tackling Ten‑ nyson, junior safety Alohi Gilman stripped him of the football. In a mad scramble in the end zone, junior cornerback Julian Love came up with the ball with 5:10 left. On the Commodores' next series, a 26‑yard completion gave them a first down at the Notre Dame 3‑yard line with eight seconds left. A crossing route to Tennyson for a touchdown was then dropped, forcing a field goal on the final play of the half for a 16‑3 Vanderbilt deficit. Those 11 potential points Vander‑ bilt left on the field when it was finding its rhythm on offense proved crucial in the final outcome. STATS OF THE GAME In the 180 minutes of football played this season by Notre Dame, it has yet to trail in a game, which is somewhat unusual considering none of the wins were by more than eight points and generally came down to the final series. In fact, out of those 180 minutes, the Irish have been tied at 0‑0 for merely 7:17, or just four percent of the season. Yet to appreciate this data, con‑ sider this: of the 55 seasons played since Ara Parseghian took over as head coach in 1964, the only other years where the Fighting Irish did not trail one second after the first three games were 1970, 1972, 1982, 1989 and 2012. The 1970, 1989 and 2012 teams either finished No. 2 or played for the national title. Conversely, the 1972 edition fin‑ ished No. 14 (the worst in Parseghi‑ an's 11‑year reign) and the 1982 crew under Gerry Faust was 6‑4‑1. HURRY UP AND WAIT In each of the first three games, Notre Dame received the opening kickoff, and the offense promptly put points on the board. It has out‑ scored the opposition 31‑3 in the first quarter. Those 15 minutes have accounted for 44.3 percent of Notre Dame's total points and 37.8 percent of its total offense. Versus Vanderbilt, 161 of Notre Dame's 380 yards of total offense came during the first quarter (42.4 percent). After the initial possessions, ei‑ ther the opposition has Notre Dame figured out well, or the execution and play calling just doesn't mesh. The Irish are averaging just 7.7 and 2.0 points per game in the second half and fourth quarter, respectively. It's been their version of "hurry up and wait." For now, that has made Notre Dame more pretender than contender, at least on offense. THREE OBSERVATIONS BY LOU SOMOGYI OFFENSE: RB TONY JONES JR. It was a career day for the junior running back, who led the Irish with a personal‑best 118 yards on 17 carries. He also added a pair of receptions that went for 56 yards, including a 32‑yard wheel route in the fourth quarter that set up Notre Dame's final touchdown. Jones grinded out tough yards and showed he is capable of gash‑ ing defenses on the ground and through the air. It started early with him going for 19 yards and eight yards on the first two carries of the game, and then running for 14 yards three plays later. The St. Petersburg, Fla., native set up the first touchdown of the game by hauling in a 24‑yard deep sideline route. DEFENSE: LB DRUE TRANQUILL AND CB JULIAN LOVE Notre Dame bent quite a bit on defense against Vanderbilt, but in the end the Irish made enough plays to get the win. Tranquill, a fifth‑year senior linebacker, led the Irish defense by registering a career‑high nine solo tackles. He was not credited with a quarterback hurry in the game, but his aggressiveness getting into the backfield and knocking back would‑be blockers kept Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmur from making good throws. Love, a junior cornerback, broke up four passes and recovered a pair of fumbles, and Vanderbilt was often hesitant to go after him when they threw the ball. SPECIAL TEAMS: P TYLER NEWSOME The fifth‑year senior punter and team captain wasn't perfect, but he averaged 59.6 yards on his five punts and made some clutch boots. Newsome pinned the Commodores inside their 15‑yard line twice, including on his last punt of the game. With less than a min‑ ute to go, he drilled a 63‑yarder that pinned the Vanderbilt offense at its 10‑yard line, essentially ending the game. TOP PLAYERS OF THE GAME BY BRYAN DRISKELL Fifth-year senior Tyler Newsome averaged a single-game school- record 59.6 yards per punt and capped his performance with a 63-yard boot that pinned Vanderbilt on its 10-yard line with five seconds to go in the game. PHOTO BY ANGELA DRISKELL

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