Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 8, 2018*

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

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Page 22 of 55 OCT. 8, 2018 23 STANFORD RUNNING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME RUN DEFENSE After the first quarter, Stanford had totaled 56 rushing yards. After four quarters, the final tally was 55 yards, meaning the taillights in the attack were on the final three quarters. The 39-yard first quarter touchdown jaunt by 2017 Heisman runner-up Bryce Love was the lone breakdown by the stout Irish defense. The Cardinal attempted to commit to the run, but were unable to generate anything while Notre Dame consistently won the battle up front, penetrated and quickly closed all creases. Love's 16 other carries netted 34 yards. Eleven of his carries totaled three yards or less: one for three yards, three for two yards, one for one yard, three for no gain and three for lost yardage. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame STANFORD PASSING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME PASS DEFENSE Similar to Love's one big run, the Cardinal had its moments with 45-, 31- and 29-yard first-half completions, but quarterback K.J. Costello's other 12 com- pleted passes in the game totaled 69 yards, or only 5.8 yards per catch. Junior cornerback Julian Love did laudable work against wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside (five catches for 30 yards and a touchdown), and the out- standing tight end corps was limited to two catches for 35 yards. The real story was the relentless pass pressure that featured four sacks by senior defensive tackle Jerry Tillery, a lot of inside funneling by edge rusher and junior Julian Okwara, four pressures (two by Tillery) and numerous other rushed or off-balance throws that helped result in eight passes broken up. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame NOTRE DAME RUNNING GAME VS. STANFORD RUN DEFENSE This might be one of those years where the stars continually align just right. After a knee infection sidelined top rusher Jafar Armstrong earlier in the week, the timing for senior Dexter Williams' to return from his four-game suspension was serendipitous. Williams (21 carries for 161 yards and a touchdown) ran with a force, physi- cality and consistency over four quarters not seen his first three seasons. By halftime he had more carries (nine for 99 yards) than any game in his career. A strong push by the line from start to finish made Williams' comeback seamless. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame NOTRE DAME PASSING GAME VS. STANFORD PASS DEFENSE Junior quarterback Ian Book (24-of-33 passing for 278 yards with four touch- downs to four different receivers and no interceptions) had numbers similar to his initial start this year at Wake Forest, and again showcased two of his strengths. One was pass distribution to 10 different targets a second straight week — although senior Miles Boykin was easily the alpha figure with 11 catches for 144 yards. Two was not getting greedy or forcing passes. Stanford was dropping eight men into coverage early, but Book was willing to run (47 rushing yards) instead of forcing passes into tight windows. His accuracy and quick delivery on the intermediate and out routes have been exceptional. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame SPECIAL TEAMS Stanford's Jake Bailey (eight punts for a 45.6 average) and Notre Dame's Tyler Newsome (51.2 yards on four punts, all at least 50 yards) put on a clinic in the battle for field position. Five of Notre Dame sophomore Jonathan Doerer's seven kickoffs were touchbacks. Both kickers traded field goals in the third quarter, but Irish senior Justin Yoon barely missed one from 50 yards in the fourth. An overlooked snafu is with the score tied at 14 and two minutes left until halftime, Stanford's punt coverage unit missed a golden opportunity to down the ball at the Irish 1-yard line. Instead, the ball rolled into the end zone, and the Irish promptly drove 80 yards to take a 21-14 halftime lead. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame THIRD-DOWN CONVERSIONS Notre Dame's defensive domination was well reflected by limiting Stanford to 3 of 13 (23.1 percent), while the Irish countered with 9 of 17 (52.9 percent). The Cardinal highlight was scoring on a four-yard, third-and-goal jump ball to Arcega-Whiteside despite tight coverage by Love. For the Irish, an overshadowed play was a superb 14-yard catch by sopho- more tight end Cole Kmet on fourth-and-two from the Stanford 33 that kept alive the second touchdown drive. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame TURNOVERS There was only one, but it had a game-sealing ramification. The Irish had just moved ahead 31-17 with 8:16 left in the fourth quarter when Notre Dame senior linebacker Te'von Coney picked off Costello's pass on the next series that set up the 35-yard touchdown flip to senior tight end Alizé Mack on the ensuing play. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame ANALYSIS After allowing a school-record 97 plays to Ball State three short weeks ago, Notre Dame limited Stanford to a meager 51 that netted 229 yards. What's still relatively amazing is while running more plays (88-51) and more than doubling the total yards (550-229), the Irish were precariously hanging on to a 24-17 lead at the start of the fourth quarter and with nine minutes still remaining. In recent years, they might have found a way to lose, but the resolve, execu- tion and growing symbiosis among the offense, defense and special teams continues to blossom. ON PAPER REVISITED BY LOU SOMOGYI After serving a team suspension the first four games, senior running back Dexter Williams exploded back on to the scene with career highs in carries (21) and rushing yards (161). PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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