Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 19, 2018

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

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24 NOV. 19, 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED TURNING POINT It would be simple to state how two first-quarter Florida State turn- overs helped Notre Dame build a 17-0 cushion in the first 9:07. The miscues had to be demoralizing to the Seminoles, and the game was basically won there. Yet FSU still had some fight left in it. The Seminoles grinded out a 75-yard drive that took 7:36 off the clock and resulted in a touchdown to make the score 17-6 — and then followed by putting the Fighting Irish into a third-and-10 situation back at their 25-yard line. Senior quarterback Brandon Wim- bush dropped back to pass, and when he couldn't find anyone open he took off on a crucial 17-yard gain. On the next play, senior running back Dexter Williams romped for a 58-yard touchdown that put the Irish ahead 25-6. The third-and-10 situation pro- vided FSU a brief opening, but the ensuing two runs by Wimbush and Williams slammed the door on them. STAT OF THE GAME The 2018 Notre Dame football program entered rarified air by be- coming only the ninth Fighting Irish unit to reach the 10-0 distinction. The others were 1924 (10-0, na- tional title), 1930 (10-0, national ti- tle), 1949 (10-0, national title), 1973 (11-0, national title), 1988 (12-0, na- tional title), 1989 (12-1, No. 2), 1993 (11-1, No. 2) and 2012 (12-1, No. 4). It should be noted the 1924 and 1947 national champions played only nine games to capture consen- sus national titles, but even then head coach Frank Leahy's dominant teams such as 1941, 1946, 1948 and 1953 had a tie, while the 1943 na- tional champs lost in game 10. Former head coach Ara Par- seghian also had two other occa- sions where he took Notre Dame to 9-0, but had heart-wrenching losses at USC in the 10th game. Getting to 10-0 is an enormously impressive feat for any Football Bowl Subdivision team, as history has proven. QUARTERBACK QUANDARY Head coach Brian Kelly joked with media members following the 42-13 victory over Florida State that it was time to reignite a quarterback controversy publicly between senior Brandon Wimbush and junior Ian Book. There actually is no such need, because it has become clear that whereas Wimbush was the clear man in charge in 2017, this is Book's team in 2018. It is similar to the 12-0 regular season in 2012 when Ever- ett Golson had supplanted previ- ous starter Tommy Rees, yet Rees remained highly valued and crucial in the team's success while coming out of the bullpen. Whoever will be taking the snaps for the Fighting Irish against an 8-2 Syracuse team that averages a whopping 44.4 points needs to be at optimum efficiency, whether it is with the run or pass (preferably both), or in physical health and mental toughness. Thirty points might not be enough. THREE OBSERVATIONS BY LOU SOMOGYI OFFENSE: RB DEXTER WILLIAMS It was a bit of a slow start for the senior running back, who had just 11 yards on his first three carries. On carry four, though, he ripped off a 58-yard touchdown, which began a night of dominance for the Florida native. He also capped off the game's scoring with a 32-yard scoring scamper in the fourth quarter. Williams finished with 202 yards on just 20 carries (10.1 yards per rush), becoming the first back since to surpass 200 yards against Florida State since 1982. He was decisive as a runner, playing with toughness and maximizing his yards in the game. DEFENSE: DE DAELIN HAYES Junior safety Alohi Gilman was a close runner up after finishing with a team-high 10 tackles, but the junior drop end gets the game ball for the defense. Hayes finished with just two tackles, but he made impact plays in the win. Midway through the first quarter, he recovered a Florida State fumble deep in Seminole territory to set up an Irish touchdown. Later in the first half, a strong Hayes pass rush resulted in a crushing hit on FSU quarterback Deondre Francois, causing the ball to float and land nowhere near one of his pass catchers. He also combined with fifth-year senior linebacker Drue Tranquill for a sack that all but ended another FSU drive. SPECIAL TEAMS: PR CHRIS FINKE The senior punt returner had only one return, but he made the most of that opportunity. Finke ripped off a 28-yard runback in the third quarter, putting forth an impressive effort in the process. He made a defender miss right after the catch before racing out- side and running over several Florida State players. TOP PLAYERS OF THE GAME BY BRYAN DRISKELL Junior drop end Daelin Hayes was credited with only two tack- les, but he consistently disrupted the Florida State offense with impact plays. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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