Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 26, 2018

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

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26 NOV. 26, 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED THE IRISH DEFENSE SHUTS DOWN SYRACUSE'S POTENT ATTACK Syracuse entered its matchup with Notre Dame with one of the nation's best offenses, averaging 44.4 points (seventh in the nation) and 482.2 total yards per game (14th). The Orange achieved excellent balance in its first 10 outings, compiling 266.1 passing yards (37th in the country) and 216.1 rushing yards per game (28th). Each statistic will take a big hit fol- lowing the performance of the Fight- ing Irish defense inside of Yankee Stadium. Notre Dame held Syracuse to a season-low three points, which was the first time the unit scored less than 23 this year, and a season-worst 115 passing yards. Syracuse's 119 rushing yards were the third-lowest output of the season, behind Clemson (61) and North Carolina State (81). The Orange gained 95 yards on the ground in the opening half, but mustered only 24 over the final 30 minutes of play. "We executed it flawlessly," head coach Brian Kelly said of the defen- sive game plan. "Our staff did a re- ally good job of putting our kids in position to succeed — and then we have to execute. We played so well on the back end." Syracuse was averaging 5.87 yards per play entering the game, but the Irish allowed just 3.2 in the win. The Orange also had scored in 15 straight quarters before being shutout in the opening 15 minutes against the Irish. It had just two scoreless quarters all year before running into the Irish. Notre Dame wreaked havoc on the Syracuse quarterbacks and offensive line, with six sacks and 11 tackles for loss to go with the three intercep- tions. The six sacks were the most for the Irish in a single contest since the 2013 Shamrock Series game against Arizona State in Dallas, when they also registered six. The Orange's three points came with just 10 seconds to go against members of the second and third units. Syracuse became the fourth oppo- nent the Irish held to less than 250 total yards, joining Northwestern (249), Pittsburgh (242) and Stanford (229). It is the first time the Irish ac- complished that feat since 2006. SAFETIES CONTINUE TO ASCEND Notre Dame's safety play, or lack thereof, was a main topic of discus- sion throughout the 2017 season and entering 2018. With a ton of proven talent returning on each level of the defense, the safety group was viewed as the pivotal component to the unit's overall success this season. Safeties coach Terry Joseph was hired to help the facilitate the prog- ress during the offseason, and the ar- rival of Navy transfer Alohi Gilman was expected to bring some stability as well. Mission accomplished so far. In 13 games a year ago, the Irish safeties had zero interceptions. Gil- man and fellow junior starter Jalen Elliott accounted for three in the win over Syracuse alone. Elliott got the ball rolling when he stepped in front of an Eric Dungey pass, setting up an Irish field goal for a 10-0 lead. Gilman showcased his talent, and what made head coach Brian Kelly and his staff so high on him while he sat out, with his two interceptions. On his first pick, Gilman read red- shirt freshman quarterback Tommy SYRACUSE GAME NOTES BY COREY BODDEN Junior safety Jalen Elliott notched his fourth interception of the season and also made five tackles against the Orange. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA MISCELLANEOUS NOTES • Notre Dame has outscored opponents by a 112-23 margin in the opening 15 minutes through 11 games this season. • Syracuse's 42.9 completion percentage (15 of 35) was the lowest for a Notre Dame opponent with at least 35 attempts since UCLA in 2007 (42.1 percent). • The Orange's 115 passing yards were the fewest with at least 35 attempts against the Irish since at least 1996. • Sophomore nose tackle Kurt Hinish re- corded the first sack of his Irish career in the second quarter of the win. Hinish and senior linebacker Te'von Coney also combined for a sack in the fourth quarter.

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