Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 26, 2018

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

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Page 36 of 55 NOV. 26, 2018 37 four games the offense was held to fewer than 135 rushing yards. Notre Dame averaged 209.8 yards per contest in the first six games after the return of senior running back Dexter Williams. The Irish offense averaged 4.9 yards per carry in games with Williams after go- ing for just 4.2 yards a rush without him. Williams racked up 770 yards, 6.9 yards per carry and 10 touchdowns in his first six games. That average put him on pace for more than 1,000 yards in the regu- lar season if he keeps it up in the final two contests. Notre Dame inserted sophomore guard Aaron Banks into the lineup for its matchup against Navy Oct. 27. In the first three games with Banks playing beside junior Liam Eichenberg on the left side the Irish averaged 246.7 rushing yards per game and did not give up a sack. Advantage: Notre Dame NOTRE DAME PASSING GAME VS. USC PASS DEFENSE Inconsistency has plagued USC throughout the 2018 season. In just about every area the Trojans have had some excellent moments mixed in with poor play and upsetting losses. Its pass defense has been no different. USC ranked 52nd nationally in pass defense (216.1 yards allowed per game) through the season's first 10 contests. It also was 21st in yards per attempt (6.2), 53rd in pass ef- ficiency defense (126.12 rating) and 67th in yards allowed per completion (10.6). USC recorded 25 sacks in its first 10 contests, which ranked 35th in the land. However, USC ranked 71st in touchdown passes allowed (17) while picking off just two passes during that same time period. The Trojans held UNLV and California to fewer than 100 yards, and Stanford, Colorado and Ari- zona State to less than 190 yards. On the flip side, Washington State went for 344 yards, Utah threw for 341 yards despite ranking 13th in the Pac-12 in pass offense, and Oregon State passed for 301 yards against the Trojans. Notre Dame ranked just 46th nationally in pass- ing offense through 10 games, but the offense was far more effective throwing the football when junior quarterback Ian Book was in the starting lineup. In Book's first four starts, the Irish aver- aged 301.8 passing yards per game. For context purposes, if that was Notre Dame's season-long average it would rank 18th in the country and 12th among Power Five teams. The 8.9 yards per attempt clip with Book at quar- terback would rank the offense 11th in the country. Heading into Notre Dame's matchup against Syracuse the junior quarterback from California led the na- tion with a 74.5 percent completion rate and ranked fourth in the country in pass efficiency (169.95). Advantage: Notre Dame SPECIAL TEAMS Neither team enters this matchup well thought of when it comes to special teams. The Trojans ranked 69th in special teams efficiency according to the ESPN Football Power Index after 10 con- tests, while the Irish ranked 70th. USC's top specialists are Vaughns at punt re- turner and kick returner Velus Jones. Both players ranked 29th in the country in return average enter- ing the weekend of Nov. 17. Notre Dame senior punt returner Chris Finke ranked 25th with a 10.4 average through 10 games and fifth-year senior punter Tyler Newsome ranked 14th in the land with a 44.9-yard average. Advantage: Even COACHING Head coach Clay Helton led the Trojans to a 21-6 record in his first two full seasons in charge. He steered USC to a Rose Bowl victory after the 2016 season, and it won the Pac-12 championship in his second full season. Despite that success, the third- year coach finds himself on the hot seat after the Trojans got off to a 5-5 start in 2018. Head coach Brian Kelly is in the midst of his best stretch at Notre Dame. Heading into their matchup against Syracuse Nov. 17, the Irish were 20-3 since the beginning of the 2017 season. It was the pro- gram's best since it went 24-3 during a period that began October 1992 and went through the first week of October 1994. Advantage: Notre Dame INTANGIBLES There isn't much working in USC's favor in this particular matchup. USC has scuffled for much of the season while rival Notre Dame has emerged as one of the nation's premier programs. Helton is under fire at the same time Kelly is leading a resurgence in South Bend. That might make some longtime Irish fans a bit nervous. The best way to make supporters of USC happy is to beat Notre Dame, and the Trojans will be looking to salvage their season when the Irish travel to the Coliseum. Notre Dame enters this matchup having lost its final regular-season game in California in five straight seasons. In fact, the last time Notre Dame won a game on the road against USC was 2012, when the victory clinched a berth to the BCS Na- tional Championship Game. Advantage: Notre Dame GAME PREVIEW: USC Offense Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. WR 21 Tyler Vaughns 6-2 185 R-So. 8 Amon-Ra St. Brown 6-1 195 Fr. WR 1 Velus Jones Jr. 6-0 190 R-So. 8 Amon-Ra St. Brown 6-1 195 Fr. LT 73 Austin Jackson 6-6 305 So. 76 Clayton Bradley 6-5 295 R-Jr. LG 77 Chris Brown 6-5 310 5th-Sr. 56 Jordan Austin 6-5 290 5th-Sr. C 50 Toa Lobendahn 6-3 295 5th-Sr. 62 Brett Neilon 6-2 295 R-Fr. RG 72 Andrew Vorhees 6-6 315 So. 75 Alijah Vera-Tucker 6-4 310 R-Fr. RT 70 Chuma Edoga 6-4 295 Sr. 54 Jalen McKenzie 6-5 305 R-Fr. TE 82 Tyler Petite 6-4 250 Sr. 84 Erik Krommenhoek 6-5 255 So. WR 6 Michael Pittman Jr. 6-4 215 Jr. 2 Devon Williams 6-4 205 Fr. QB 18 JT Daniels 6-3 210 Fr. 10 Jack Sears 6-3 205 R-Fr. TB 28 Aca'Cedric Ware 6-0 205 Sr. or 29 Vavae Malepeai 6-0 215 R-So. Defense Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. OLB 89 Christian Rector 6-4 275 R-Jr. 31 Hunter Echols 6-5 240 R-Fr. DT 44 Malik Dorton 6-2 280 5th-Sr. 78 Jay Tufele 6-3 310 R-Fr. NT 51 Marlon Tuipulotu 6-3 305 R-Fr. 91 Brandon Pili 6-4 325 So. DE 78 Jay Tufele 6-3 310 R-Fr. 90 Connor Murphy 6-7 260 Jr. OLB 56 Jordan Iosefa 6-2 230 Jr. 26 Kana'i Mauga 6-2 240 Fr. ILB 35 Cameron Smith 6-2 250 Sr. 1 Palaie Gaoteote IV 6-2 250 Fr. ILB 10 John Houston Jr. 6-3 220 R-Jr. 18 Raymond Scott 6-2 230 Fr. CB 8 Iman Marshall 6-1 205 Sr. 9 Greg Johnson 5-11 190 R-Fr. NK 23 Jonathan Lockett 5-11 180 5th-Sr. 27 Ajene Harris 5-10 185 5th-Sr. SS 27 Ajene Harris 5-10 185 5th-Sr. 30 Jordan McMillan 5-11 200 Fr. FS 7 Marvell Tell III 6-2 195 Sr. 28 C.J. Pollard 6-1 190 R-So. CB 24 Isaiah Langley 6-0 175 Sr. 4 Olaijah Griffin 6-0 180 Fr. USC DEPTH CHART Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. P 46 Reid Budrovich 5-11 185 5th-Sr. 36 Chris Tilbey 6-5 210 5th-Sr. PK 49 Michael Brown 6-1 195 R-So. 38 Alex Stadthaus 6-2 195 Fr. KO 38 Alex Stadthaus 6-2 195 Fr. 49 Michael Brown 6-1 195 R-So. LS 59 Damon Johnson 6-0 205 R-So. 81 Wyatt Schmidt 6-3 205 5th-Sr. Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. H 81 Wyatt Schmidt 6-3 205 5th-Sr. 10 Jack Sears 6-3 205 R-Fr. KR 1 Velus Jones Jr. 6-0 190 R-So. 16 Dominic Davis 5-9 190 R-Jr. PR 21 Tyler Vaughns 6-2 185 R-So. 8 Amon-Ra St. Brown 6-1 195 Fr. Special Teams

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