Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 1, 2018

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

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Page 22 of 55 OCT. 1, 2018 23 WAKE FOREST RUNNING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME RUN DEFENSE Entering the game, Notre Dame ranked 26th nationally against the run (107.0 yards allowed per game) and was one of 10 teams in the Football Bowl Subdi- vision not to allow a rush of at least 20 yards, while Wake Forest was 15th in rushing offense (264.0 yards per contest). The Demon Deacons racked up 259 yards, three runs of at least 20 yards (though none over 23), and running back Cade Carney had 12 carries for 79 yards in the first half — but only one for no gain in the second when he ap- peared to be injured. Statistically and with a few Irish containment breakdowns, the edge goes to Wake Forest. As a caveat, there were also a lot of window dressing yards at the end when Notre Dame had the game in hand. ADVANTAGE: Wake Forest WAKE FOREST PASSING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME PASS DEFENSE You have to often give up something to gain something on defense, and the Irish were willing to bend a little in the scheme against the run in an effort not to get burned by game-breaking receiver Greg Dortch. His six catches netted only 56 yards, while the Irish emphasized taking him away, and the pass pres- sure all game was exceptional with five hurries and three sacks. The 31 pass attempts by quarterbacks Sam Hartman and Jamie Newman totaled only 139 yards for a meager 4.8 average. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame NOTRE DAME RUNNING GAME VS. WAKE FOREST RUN DEFENSE With junior quarterback Ian Book at the throttle, the objective was to set up the run with the pass, and it eventually worked to textbook form after the Irish failed to score on the first three drives. Sophomore Jafar Armstrong (career-high 98 yards on eight carries) shows a natural forward lean on his power runs to gain extra yardage, and Book (43 yards and three touchdowns) is vastly underrated with his mobility and elusive- ness, including three scores off the zone read. Junior Tony Jones Jr. (39 yards on seven carries) remains a consistent cog, and encouraging was the stronger performance of sophomore Avery Davis (nine carries for 43 yards). The 241 rushing yards averaged 6.0 per attempt, with senior right guard Trevor Ruhland also acquitting himself well in his first career start. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame NOTRE DAME PASSING GAME VS. WAKE PASS DEFENSE After getting repeatedly torched deep while giving up five touchdown passes to Boston College Sept. 13, Wake Forest played mainly deep coverage against the Irish. Book did not get greedy, and quickly and accurately went primarily with short and intermediate routes. In the first half alone, he completed passes to nine different receivers, and 10 overall snared receptions. This is the offense that coordinator Chip Long has aspired to run with its fluidity, tempo and quick reads that have the ball coming out of Book's hands rapidly, including six check downs to the backs for 62 yards. The pass protection also was exceptional, allowing Book to complete 73.5 percent of his tosses while amassing 325 yards and 9.6 yards per attempt. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame SPECIAL TEAMS Other than an Irish penalty on a missed Wake Forest field goal (which still resulted in a second miss), Notre Dame was nearly flawless, highlighted by a career-high 52-yard punt return by senior Chris Finke to set up a score. The Irish also had excellent coverage on the dangerous Dortch, allowing him only 47 yards on his three kick returns and nothing on punts. Two missed field goals in the first half likewise had a deflating effect on Wake Forest. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame THIRD-DOWN CONVERSIONS For this game, Wake Forest's edge was inconsequential. The Demon Deacons finished 11 of 21 (52.4 percent) and Notre Dame 4 of 9 (44.4 percent). However, the Irish broke the Demon Deacons' back with a third-and-six conversion on the first touchdown drive, a 66-yard screen to sophomore wide receiver Michael Young on third-and-three, and two third-and-short conver- sions on the first drive of the second half to make it 35-13. Sophomore tight end Brock Wright also scored on fourth-and-one while aligned as a fullback. ADVANTAGE: Even TURNOVERS Both teams had one, a fumble by Notre Dame's Young on a jet sweep, and an interception by Irish junior cornerback Troy Pride Jr., off a toss by backup quarterback Jamie Newman. The Irish had the scoring advantage (7-3) off the miscues. ADVANTAGE: Even ANALYSIS Easily the best team effort — offense, defense and special teams — this season by the Irish. Book provided the oomph the passing game so desperately needed to de- velop a rhythm and tempo on that side of the ball, and take some of the onus off the defense, which played far better than the 27 points scored by Wake For- est would indicate. Special teams coverage was a highlight, and so was Finke's career-high 52-yard punt return. This type of effort and results on all fronts is why Notre Dame was classified a legitimate College Football Playoff contender in the preseason, and it should continue on that path. ON PAPER REVISITED BY LOU SOMOGYI Junior cornerback Troy Pride Jr., who intercepted a pass in the second half, was part of a stellar effort by the Irish secondary that limited the Demon Deacons to 139 passing yards and 4.8 yards per attempt. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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