Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 24, 2018

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

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Page 34 of 55 SEPT. 24, 2018 35 BY BRYAN DRISKELL WAKE FOREST RUNNING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME RUN DEFENSE Wake Forest ranked a respectable 34th nation‑ ally in rushing yards per game (247.0) after its 2‑0 start, while averaging 5.1 yards per attempt. That number, however, is a bit skewed by a 340‑yard performance against Football Championship Sub‑ division opponent Towson. The Deacons rushed for just 154 yards (3.6 yards per carry) in the season opener against Tulane, a 23‑17 overtime victory. Wake Forest returns a pair of experienced run‑ ners in senior Matt Colburn (904 yards in 2017) and Cade Carney (1,005 career yards), but the early season performance of freshman quarter‑ back Sam Hartman has aided the cause. Hartman rushed for 64 yards in each of his first two career starts and had a 14‑yard score in the win over Towson. Notre Dame has been stout against the run through the season's first two games. The Irish dominated the Michigan ground game, holding the Wolverines to just 58 yards and 1.8 yards per carry. Ball State racked up 169 yards against the Irish, but the Cardinals averaged just 3.6 yards per rush despite having a pair of 1,000‑yard running backs in their rotation. Notre Dame has been led by a disruptive defen‑ sive line that has registered 4.5 tackles for loss and has paved the way for the Irish linebackers to add another 7.5 stops behind the line. The Fighting Irish defense is currently on pace for 91 tackles for loss, which would best the previous season best of 84 (2015) during head coach Brian Kelly's tenure. Advantage: Notre Dame WAKE FOREST PASSING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME PASS DEFENSE This matchup could have the biggest impact in this game. Wake Forest passed for 348 yards in a 48‑37 loss to Notre Dame last November, and it did that without star receiver Greg Dortch. The Deacons no longer have veteran quarterback John Wolford — but the rookie Hartman passed for 620 yards in his first two starts, notably 378 in the opener against Tulane. Dortch, a redshirt sophomore, is back in the lineup, and his production picked up where he left off after suffering a season‑ending injury late last October. The 5‑9,170‑pounder caught 19 passes for 243 yards and one touchdown in the first two games of 2018, after racking up 53 receptions for 722 yards and nine scores in just eight games a season ago. If Wake Forest can get redshirt junior Scotty Washington (shoulder) — who hauled in a then‑ career‑high eight catches for 84 yards versus Notre Dame last year — back as expected, the receiving corps could be especially dangerous. The Deacons gave up only one sack in the first two games and ranked 32nd in the country in sacks allowed last season. All five offensive line starters returned, but standout fifth‑year senior left tackle Justin Herron (zero sacks allowed in 2017) was lost for the season after suffering a knee injury in the opening game. Notre Dame ranked 17th and 18th nationally through two games in yards allowed per attempt (5.0) and yards per completion (9.1). Opponents have had a hard time getting much done down the field, with the team's first two opposing quar‑ terbacks completing just 7 of 23 throws beyond 10 yards. Notre Dame's pass rush has been a driving force, with the Irish registering four sacks, 10 quarterback hits and 23 hurries through its first two games. Advantage: Even On PaPer Redshirt junior Scotty Washington has been sidelined by a shoulder injury early in 2018. He hauled in eight receptions for 84 yards against Notre Dame last year and is part of a dangerous Demon Deacons receiving corps. PHOTO COURTESY WAKE FOREST GAME PREVIEW: WAKE FOREST

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