Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 1, 2018

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

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34 OCT. 1, 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED Barton, the team's leading tackler with 21 through three games, and senior Bobby Okereke, who made 15 tackles and a sack during that stretch, to clog up gaps. "Okereke rarely leaves the field, and his ability to cover ground side- line to sideline and his pass rush are his biggest strengths," Rayburn be- gan. "Sean Barton is coming along, but is not his pre-injury self after a horrible knee injury last year. He is a plus athlete, though, and is a smarter player than a year ago. "Senior Joey Alfieri is back playing outside linebacker after a yearlong ex- periment at inside 'backer. He's mak- ing plays and setting the edge back at the position where he was one of the best in the conference two years ago. "Before Casey Toohill got hurt he was having a good season at the other outside linebacker spot. He'll be out for the Notre Dame game and it will be on junior Jordan Fox to step up." The Stanford secondary features a name familiar to Irish fans — long- time Notre Dame cornerback com- mit Paulson Adebo. The sophomore starts alongside fifth-year senior Ali- jah Holder and has been impressive in 2018 with 16 tackles and seven passes defended through the first three weeks. Seniors Frank Buncom and Ben Ed- wards return to man the safety spots for the Cardinal. "Adebo has elite skills and has had multiple pass breakups in each of the first three games," Rayburn explained. "Holder doesn't show any obvious rust after missing almost a year with a knee injury, and senior Alameen Mur- phy would be a clear starter on most teams in the country. Together they're a group who can develop into a shut- down unit this season. "Edwards and Frank Buncom have made significant strides. Both are more comfortable back there, es- pecially Buncom after transitioning from corner last year. … It's a duo that doesn't have the playmaking ability Reid offered, but they're on the right track in the development." A strong secondary along with its playmakers on offense are two areas Rayburn feels could serve the Cardi- nal well against the Irish. "Stanford can take advantage of any defense with its offensive weapons," Rayburn stated. "Love is one of the best players in the country and is nearly im- possible to stop in the open field. "… On defense, Stanford can shut down opposing passing games with the back four and allow the front seven to go to work. This is impor- tant because Stanford doesn't have a dominant pass rusher who can take over a game on his own." In the trenches, though, the Cardi- nal could be exposed. "The offensive line has yet to estab- lish control over an entire game like Stanford fans have come to expect in past years," Rayburn said. "Stan- ford's defensive line is playing well, but it is still relatively inexperienced. There have been times in the first three games that wide running lanes were available to opposing backs. "Elite opponents will look to estab- lish the run against them." Five of the last six meetings between the two programs have come down to one possession. More of the same is expected Sept. 29 in South Bend. ✦ GAME PREVIEW: STANFORD Fifth-year senior cornerback Alijah Holder is part of a Stanford secondary that ranked eighth nationally in pass efficiency defense (93.25 rating) and 23rd in yards allowed per attempt (5.5) through three weeks. PHOTO COURTESY STANFORDPHOTO.COM 2018 NOTRE DAME SCHEDULE Date Opponent (TV) Result/Time (ET) Sept. 1 Michigan W, 24-17 Sept. 8 Ball State W, 24-16 Sept. 15 Vanderbilt W, 22-17 Sept. 22 at Wake Forest W, 56-27 Sept. 29 Stanford (NBC) 7:30 p.m. Oct. 6 at Virginia Tech TBA Oct. 13 Pittsburgh (NBC) 2:30 p.m. Oct. 27 vs. Navy* (CBS) 8 p.m. Nov. 3 at Northwestern TBA Nov. 10 Florida State (NBC) 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17 vs. Syracuse^ (NBC) 2:30 p.m. Nov. 24 at USC TBA * at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego; ^ at Yankee Stadium in Bronx, N.Y. 2018 STANFORD SCHEDULE Date Opponent (TV) Result/Time (ET) Aug. 31 San Diego State W, 31-10 Sept. 8 USC W, 17-3 Sept. 15 UC Davis W, 30-10 Sept. 22 at Oregon W, 38-31 (OT) Sept. 29 at Notre Dame (NBC) 7:30 p.m. Oct. 6 Utah TBA Oct. 18 at Arizona State (ESPN) 9 p.m. Oct. 27 Washington State TBA Nov. 3 at Washington TBA Nov. 10 Oregon State TBA Nov. 17 at California TBA Nov. 24 at UCLA TBA

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