Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 1, 2018

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

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Page 32 of 55 OCT. 1, 2018 33 Aztecs that Rocky Long threw into the box," pub- lisher Jacob Rayburn said. "USC fol- lowed that up with a variety of looks that Stanford had never seen before. "Love broke a couple explosive runs in that game to make his stat line look better than the game truly played out." Teams keying on Love will likely remain the case throughout the sea- son for the Cardinal. "Stanford's first two opponents went to extremes to stop Love," Ray- burn explained. "He has yet to be able to show the same explosiveness as he did last year before his injury because he's dodging defenders in the backfield on most of his carries. "SDSU brought more blitzes than David Shaw has ever seen since he took over at Stanford. USC used a lot of shifting and had defenders moving around in such a way that it was con- fusing to Stanford's line and coaches." Though the run attack was spin- ning its wheels to a degree, Shaw countered by letting junior quarter- back K.J. Costello air it out a little more. He completed 54 of 88 at- tempts (61.4 percent) for 729 yards with seven touchdowns and three interceptions in his first three games. "Costello is still searching for some consistency," Rayburn noted. "He's a strong deep ball thrower, and he still is the same confident guy. Where he's taken his game to the next level is his understanding of the offense. "… He's more confident calling the shots at the line of scrimmage." Costello has spread the wealth to his two starting wide receivers and tight end. Senior JJ Arcega-White- side was the big-play threat, nabbing 13 receptions for 324 yards and five touchdowns. Fellow senior Trenton Irwin also hauled in 13 passes, but for just 90 yards. Junior tight end Kaden Smith was second on the team with 163 yards on 12 catches, while sophomore tight end Colby Parkinson had two touch- downs in the first three weeks. "Teams are still focusing more at- tention on the run game than any one receiver, and Stanford has enough tal- ented receiver options to spread out defenses," Rayburn said. "Arcega-Wh- iteside still brings the same physicality to the position that he did last year, but he's a more complete route runner and Stanford has targeted him more. "It was supposed to be five guys, but wide receiver Connor Wedington has missed most of the season due to injury. Smith and Parkinson are matchup nightmares and Smith may be the best, most complete tight end Stanford has had since Zach Ertz." The offensive line was expected to be a strength for the Cardinal, with five returning regulars. Against Or- egon Sept. 22, Shaw started sopho- more Walker Little at left tackle, ju- nior Devery Hamilton at left guard, senior Jesse Burkett at center, junior Nate Herbig at right guard and se- nior A.T. Hall at right tackle. However, the first quarter of the season was not kind to the group in various areas. "Injuries have been a problem and poor play in the run game has been troubling," Rayburn said. "Burkett missed most of the offseason and the first two games, but he came back to start the game against UC Davis. "Stanford's left guard competi- tion extended into the season, but sophomore Foster Sarell was injured against USC and is out for several more weeks. He was trending up in that contest. Then Hamilton and Hall got banged up in the UC Davis game. "Nate Herbig has been Stanford's best offensive lineman and is play- ing at an All-America level at right guard. Walker Little has been solid at left tackle, but he hasn't hit his stride yet this season. When healthy, Hall has consistently graded out as a good pass blocker and solid run blocker." The Cardinal defense remains a problem for opposing offenses, even with the losses of defensive lineman Harrison Phillips, safety Justin Reid and three other starters. Through three games, Stanford ranked first nationally in scoring de- fense (7.7 points allowed per game) and 22nd in total defense (301.0 yards surrendered per contest). "The positive surprise this season has been the play of the defense," Ray- burn stated. "Stanford has allowed only 23 total points through three games, and it wasn't until the final second of the game against UC Davis that Stanford allowed a touchdown on a fluky heave into the end zone. "The entire unit is playing well to- gether, but the strength of the group is probably the pass coverage." Along the defensive line, senior Dylan Jackson and junior Jovan Swann man the two end positions while junior Michael Williams is up the middle. The trio totaled 32 stops and 2.5 sacks in the first three weeks. "Before the season, there was a lot of concern about the defensive line," Rayburn said. "There's not a single dominant player in that group, but the starting three are improved from last year and are playing disciplined, tough football. "Williams and Jackson in particular are the strongest run defenders, and they get good marks from position coach Diron Reynolds. Swann still has trouble beating physical offensive line- men who can negate his quickness. "… Redshirt freshman Dalyn Wade-Perry is one to watch. He has much to learn but is a behemoth with a lot of physical skill." Stanford's linebacker group took a little bit of a hit when senior Casey Toohill, who had 15 tackles in the first three weeks, went down with an arm injury that will sideline him for a few weeks. But the unit still has senior Sean GAME PREVIEW: STANFORD Facts & Figures NOTRE DAME VS. STANFORD Game Info Date: Sept. 29, 2018. Site: Notre Dame Stadium (77,622). Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET. Television: NBC. Radio: This broadcast can be heard live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio (channel 129) and on Notre Dame's IMG affiliates. Series Facts: This will be the 33rd meeting between the two programs, with Notre Dame leading the series 19-13. Stanford has won seven of the last nine, and three in a row. Head Coaches: Stanford — David Shaw (77-22, eighth season); Notre Dame — Brian Kelly (73-34, ninth season). Noting Stanford: Shaw's 77 career wins are the most in school history … Stanford is 27-7 (.794) under Shaw when ranked in the top 10 … The Cardinal won nine games in 2017, which was just the second time in seven seasons the program didn't reach double-digit victories under Shaw … Stanford is 25-14 (.641) against ranked opponents since 2011, the fifth-best clip nationally … Those 25 wins against ranked opponents is the third-best total nationally during that same stretch, trailing only Alabama (39) and LSU (26) … Stanford's 89 wins this de- cade rank fourth nationally and are the most of any private school, ahead of TCU (77), USC (75) and Notre Dame (73).

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