Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 8, 2018*

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

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Page 29 of 55

30 OCT. 8, 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED What Worked Defensive Adjustments Fuel Sec- ond-Half Surge: Stanford was able to have some success in the first half against Notre Dame, racking up 198 yards in the initial 30 minutes. Ju- nior quarterback K.J. Costello found a good rhythm, completing 10 of 16 passes for 130 yards. Notre Dame defensive coordinator Clark Lea had to know that the best way to get Stanford out of sync was to make sure that Costello couldn't drop, set his feet and throw on time. Early in the second half it was obvi- ous that Lea intended to create pres- sure on the Stanford quarterback. The Irish played tighter in coverage in the second half, and Lea mixed up his coverage looks and calls, which forced Costello to hold on to the foot- ball longer. That provided an extra second or two for the pass rush to get to the Cardinal quarterback, who was hit early and often in the second half. With the pressure getting into his body, Costello threw a number of balls up into traffic. Notre Dame picked him off once, another inter- ception was negated by a penalty and fifth-year senior Drue Tranquill dropped what should have been an interception in the third quarter. Lea also did a good job using line movements in the second half to get his defensive line going, and they dominated the Cardinal in the final 30 minutes. Stanford had just 31 yards in the second half, with mi- nus-13 in the fourth quarter. Play Calling On Offense Fuels Rout: Players have to execute, but good coaching is all about putting players in position to excel. Offensive coordinator Chip Long did that in the victory over Stanford. After throwing early and often against Wake Forest, Long came out running against Stanford, calling runs on nine of Notre Dame's first 12 plays, capped off by a 45-yard touchdown from senior running back Dexter Wil- liams to give the Irish an early 7-0 lead. Establishing the ground game early put Stanford in a bind by forc- ing the defense to spend more time in the box, which then opened up the pass game, taking pressure off junior quarterback Ian Book. Long was at his best on the final drive of the second quarter with the game tied 14-14. Book hit senior wideout Miles Boykin on quick out throws on the first and third plays of the drive. The Stanford cornerback played the second out throw well and jumped the attempt, but Book got it out quickly and was able to complete the pass. On the ensuing play, Long again sent a receiver on a quick out route to influence the cornerback, while hav- ing Boykin run a deep corner route behind the cornerback. Book read it perfectly, and the play opened up for a 33-yard gain to set up an Irish touchdown two plays later. Stanford adjusted at halftime and sent inside pressure at Book early in the third quarter. Notre Dame had a pair of three-and-outs sandwiched around a field goal drive. Once again Long countered it by mixing up off-tackle runs and perim- eter throws that got outside of the pressures, and took advantage of the downfield one-on-ones with Boykin that came about from Stanford send- ing more defenders to the line. Field Position Success: Notre Dame's special teams aided the win by pinning Stanford deep, series after series. Only twice did the Cardinal get the ball beyond its own 25-yard line, and one of those series came after the Irish offense failed to convert a fourth down. What Didn't Work Matchup Losses On Defense: Stanford was able to find success at times with big plays against the Irish defense. The Cardinal had gains of 45 yards, 31 yards and 29 yards in the pass game, and senior running back Bryce Love ripped off a 39-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Stanford head coach David Shaw serves as the offensive play caller, and he is one of the best in the game at cre- ating mismatches. He was able to get sophomore receiver Osiris St. Brown (45-yard gain) and sophomore tight end Colby Parkinson (31-yard gain) matched up against Notre Dame junior safety Jalen Elliott on two deep passes that went for big gains in the first half. The lone scoring drive of the second half for the visitors came after Stan- ford was able to convert a third down early. Shaw got his best route runner — senior receiver Trenton Irwin — matched up in the slot against Notre Dame freshman Houston Griffith. Ir- win beat Griffith with a stutter move to the inside to rip off a 29-yard gain that set up the Cardinal field goal. ✦ Stanford Game: What Worked And What Didn't CLOSER LOOK BRYAN DRISKELL Bryan Driskell has been a football analyst for Blue & Gold Illustrated since April 2015. He can be reached at The Notre Dame defense dominated Stanford in the second half, limiting the Cardinal to 31 yards in the final 30 minutes and minus-13 in the fourth quarter. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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