Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 19, 2018

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

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34 NOV. 19, 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED of games under their belt and that is why they are having a great season." On the other side of the ball, the Syracuse defense has benefitted from an improved pass rush that is led by junior defensive ends Alton Rob- inson and Kendall Coleman, who each had seven sacks in the first nine games. Redshirt sophomore nose tackle Josh Black notched five of his own from the interior. Syracuse had just 16 sacks in 2017, but recorded 27 in the first nine games of 2018. However, it is another Orange de- fender that sees much of the atten- tion from opposing offensive lines. "That trio has brought a lot of sta- bility to the Orange defense," Mur- ray said of Robinson, Coleman and Black. "With an improved pass rush, it has helped the defense as a whole. "[Fifth-year senior defensive tackle] Chris Slayton though is the player the defense goes around. Slay- ton is doubled on nearly every snap, allowing those other three players to have the seasons they are having." The Orange ranked 97th nationally in total defense (432.2 yards allowed per game) through 10 weeks, giving up 267.0 yards through the air (112th) and 165.2 rushing (71st). Even with the uptick in getting to opposing quarterbacks, the second and third levels have had their issues. Senior linebackers Kielan Whitner and Ryan Guthrie have combined for 144 total stops, 11.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks in the opening nine games, but have been inconsistent. The Orange secondary has grabbed nine interceptions this season to go with 21 passes defended overall, but it has allowed teams to rack up too many yards through the air. "Syracuse has seen their line- backers struggle all year," Murray explained. "They are an undersized group that can get taken advantage of in the run game. Ryan Guthrie and Kielan Whitner are always around the ball and as long as they don't get overpowered they can make plays. "The cornerbacks have struggled at times this season, but for the most part they have been able to keep most plays in front of them and not allow big plays. This group is led by [junior] Scoop Bradshaw and [red- shirt junior] Christopher Fredrick. [Freshman] Trill Williams and [red- shirt freshman] Iffy Melifonwu have had breakout seasons. "The safety group is up and down as far as overall play. The group has been good at getting turnovers." Syracuse and Dungey will test the Irish defense inside of Yankee Sta- dium with its tempo and ability to move the ball through the air and on the ground effectively. But the same can be said for Notre Dame's offense against the Orange. With a light schedule across the country, many eyes will converge to NBC to check out the top-25 football matchup inside the baseball stadium featuring one of the iconic brands in all of sports. ✦ GAME PREVIEW: SYRACUSE Junior defensive end Alton Robinson leads an improved Syracuse pass rush, recording seven sacks dur- ing the team's 7-2 start. PHOTO COURTESY SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS 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 W, 38-17 Oct. 6 at Virginia Tech W, 45-23 Oct. 13 Pittsburgh W, 19-14 Oct. 27 vs. Navy* W, 44-22 Nov. 3 at Northwestern W, 31-21 Nov. 10 Florida State W, 42-13 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 SYRACUSE SCHEDULE Date Opponent (TV) Result/Time (ET) Sept. 1 at Western Michigan W, 55-42 Sept. 8 Wagner W, 62-10 Sept. 15 Florida State W, 30-7 Sept. 22 Connecticut W, 51-21 Sept. 29 at Clemson L, 27-23 Oct. 6 at Pittsburgh L, 44-37 (OT) Oct. 20 North Carolina W, 40-37 (2OT) Oct. 27 NC State W, 51-41 Nov. 3 at Wake Forest W, 41-24 Nov. 9 Louisville W, 54-23 Nov. 17 vs. Notre Dame* (NBC) 2:30 p.m. Nov. 24 at Boston College TBA * at Yankee Stadium in Bronx, N.Y.

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