Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 1, 2018

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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 36 of 55 OCT. 1, 2018 37 NOTRE DAME PASSING GAME VS. STANFORD PASS DEFENSE Despite losing standout safety Justin Reid and experienced cornerback Quenton Meeks from its secondary, plus star nose tackle Harrison Phillips from its pass rush, the Cardinal's pass defense has started the season off playing at a high level. Stanford ranked eighth nationally in pass ef- ficiency defense (93.25 rating) and 23rd in yards allowed per attempt (5.5) through three weeks. Opponents completed only one touchdown pass in the first three games, while Stanford picked off four passes. Sophomore cornerback Paulson Adebo was a longtime Notre Dame commit before flipping late to the Cardinal, and he has thrived in his first sea- son as a starter. Adebo was fourth on the team in tackles (16) and had seven passes broken up after three contests. Essential to Stanford's early season pass defense has been its ability to get after the quarterback. The Cardinal racked up nine sacks and 12 quarter- back hurries during its 3-0 start. It failed to register a sack against UC Davis, but the pass pressure forced the Aggies to stick to the quick game, which is why Stanford limited the offense to merely 4.6 yards per pass attempt. Alfieri led the way early with 2.5 sacks and three hurries, and Swann added two more sacks. The pressure and Stanford's aggressive coverages have resulted in the defense racking up 28 passes defended, which tied for the national lead after three games. Notre Dame's pass attack has been inconsistent. In the Irish's first three games, senior quarterback Brandon Wimbush completed 55.3 percent of his throws (42 of 76) for 589 yards while tossing four interceptions compared to just one touchdown pass. Senior wideout Chris Finke led the team with 10 catches for 101 yards and a touchdown through three outings, while senior wide receiver Miles Boykin (eight grabs for 161 yards) and junior wideout Chase Claypool (seven receptions for 100 yards) have also had their moments. Advantage: Stanford SPECIAL TEAMS Since head coach David Shaw was hired in 2011, the Stanford Cardinal have finished the season ranked in the top 20 in special teams efficiency five times, and in the top 30 six times. Over the last three seasons, Stanford has fin- ished 12th, third and ninth according to the Fre- meau Efficiency Index. During the same period, Notre Dame has finished in the top 30 just once (2015). In the two seasons since its lone respect- able special teams finish, the Irish have ranked 81st and 61st. Stanford has a pair of All-Pac-12 specialists in senior punter Jake Bailey and junior kicker Jet Toner. Only two of Bailey's 17 punts have been returned this season, and opponents have returned just one of his 16 kickoffs. Notre Dame has been wildly inconsistent on special teams through its first three games of the 2018 season, which has been a common theme through the tenure of head coach Brian Kelly. Advantage: Stanford COACHING It was current Michigan head coach Jim Har- baugh that started Stanford's emergence, leading the Cardinal to a 20-6 record in his final two sea- sons in Palo Alto. A key figure in that build was offensive coordinator David Shaw, who replaced Harbaugh when he left for the NFL following the 2010 season. Since taking over, Shaw has built Stanford into the premier program in the Pac-12, winning three conference titles and finishing in the top 10 of the polls four times. During that stretch, the Cardinal have gone 5-2 against Notre Dame with wins in the last three matchups. Kelly has done a lot of good things as the man in charge in South Bend, but has yet to build a consistent winner the way Shaw has. Beating the Cardinal would be a positive step, but until Kelly can get Notre Dame consistently at Stanford's level or better, it remains on the outside looking in at the nation's top programs. Advantage: Stanford INTANGIBLES Shaw has done an outstanding job getting his teams prepared to play well on the road. Since he was named head coach in 2011, his teams have gone 26-12 on the road (including a 2-2 mark in South Bend). The last time the Cardinal were in Notre Dame Stadium they overcame a 10-0 halftime deficit to stun the home team. Stanford was 2-3 on the road in 2017, the first time Shaw's team had a losing record away from home. This game will be a sign of whether that was a blip on the radar or an emerging trend. When the Cardinal step on the field at Notre Dame, the players and coaches will know what it means to beat the Irish, and they will know what it takes to come out on top. When Notre Dame takes the field it will have one player (Drue Tranquill) and just two coaches (Kelly and defensive line coach Mike Elston) that have experienced beating Stanford, unless you want to go back to the playing careers of Todd Lyght (1987-90) or Autry Denson (1995-98). Advantage: Stanford GAME PREVIEW: STANFORD Offense Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. WR 19 JJ Arcega-Whiteside 6-3 225 Sr. 8 Donald Stewart 6-4 200 Jr. TE 82 Kaden Smith 6-5 252 Jr. 84 Colby Parkinson 6-7 240 So. LT 72 Walker Little 6-7 313 So. 74 Devery Hamilton 6-7 287 Jr. LG 74 Devery Hamilton 6-7 287 Jr. or 71 Brandon Fanaika 6-3 315 5th-Sr. C 73 Jesse Burkett 6-4 300 5th-Sr. 51 Drew Dalman 6-3 279 So. RG 63 Nate Herbig 6-4 334 Jr. 54 Nick Wilson 6-3 273 Sr. RT 75 A.T. Hall 6-5 299 5th-Sr. 74 Devery Hamilton 6-7 287 Jr. WR 2 Trenton Irwin 6-2 204 Sr. 9 Osiris St. Brown 6-2 186 So. QB 3 K.J. Costello 6-5 215 Jr. 15 Davis Mills 6-4 220 So. RB 20 Bryce Love 5-10 202 Sr. 22 Cameron Scarlett 6-1 216 Sr. FB 6 Reagan Williams 6-3 220 Sr. 34 Houston Heimuli 5-11 244 So. Defense Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. DE 97 Dylan Jackson 6-6 264 Sr. 23 Ryan Johnson 6-4 262 So. DT 57 Michael Williams 6-2 293 Jr. 24 Dalyn Wade-Perry 6-4 316 So. DE 51 Jovan Swann 6-2 271 Jr. 34 Thomas Booker 6-4 279 Fr. OLB 32 Joey Alfieri 6-3 239 5th-Sr. 90 Gabe Reid 6-2 231 So. ILB 20 Bobby Okereke 6-3 234 5th-Sr. 31 Mustafa Branch 5-11 212 Sr. ILB 27 Sean Barton 6-3 224 Sr. 25 Andrew Pryts 6-1 222 Jr. OLB 52 Casey Toohill 6-4 248 Sr. 10 Jordan Fox 6-3 227 Jr. CB 13 Alijah Holder 6-2 188 5th-Sr. 22 Obi Eboh 6-2 194 Jr. S 5 Frank Buncom 6-2 206 Sr. 18 Stuart Head 6-4 201 So. S 9 Ben Edwards 6-0 199 Sr. 19 Noah Williams 6-0 191 So. CB 11 Paulson Adebo 6-1 189 So. 4 Alameen Murphy 5-11 198 5th-Sr. STANFORD DEPTH CHART Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PK 26 Jet Toner 6-4 201 Jr. 37 Collin Riccitelli 6-0 196 Jr. P 14 Jake Bailey 6-2 202 Sr. 27 Charlie Beall 6-2 206 Sr. H 14 Jake Bailey 6-2 202 Sr. Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. LS 69 Richard McNitzky 6-1 209 Jr. 49 Kyle Petrucci 6-6 230 Fr. KR 22 Cameron Scarlett 6-1 216 Sr. PR 2 Trenton Irwin 6-2 204 Sr. 4 Michael Wilson 6-2 200 Fr. Special Teams

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - Oct. 1, 2018