Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 12, 2019

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

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Page 23 of 55

24 OCT. 12, 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED TURNING POINT This was not going to be a game with dramatic momentum shifts, but everything turned quickly in the first quarter when Notre Dame scored three touchdowns in a span of 4:48 to build a 21‑0 cushion. Following the inauspicious start where Notre Dame took the opening kickoff and promptly went three and out, it took command with all three units. It began with a 17‑yard slant for a score to sophomore tight end Tommy Tremble at 9:32, a 21‑yard tally to an open junior tight end Cole Kmet in the seam with 6:51 left, and then a 34‑yard post route to senior wide receiver Chase Claypool with 4:44 remaining. Helping make that quick‑strike attack possi‑ ble was the Fighting Irish defense forced three straight three‑and‑outs by the Falcons prior to those three scoring marches. Special teams like‑ wise contributed with 25‑ and 15‑yard punt re‑ turns by fifth‑year senior Chris Finke to set up shorter fields. STAT OF THE GAME Senior quarterback Ian Book's five touchdown passes in the first half to four different targets (with senior wideout Chase Claypool catching two of the scores) were the most ever in a single half by a Notre Dame quarterback, and matched his overall career high set versus New Mexico earlier this season. Part two of that data is that Notre Dame col‑ lectively threw as many touchdown passes (six) in the game as incomplete ones (21 of 27). The single‑game school record for scoring passes is six by Brady Quinn in a 49‑23 victory versus BYU in 2005, but this is the first time in a season that the Fighting Irish as a team threw six touchdown passes in two different games. In the third quarter, Book had senior wide re‑ ceiver Javon McKinley open on a crossing route on third‑and‑four at the Bowling Green 9‑yard line for what might have been his sixth scoring pass, but it was mishandled, resulting in a Jona‑ than Doerer field goal on the next play instead. THE ONE-TWO PUNCH Any season that has Notre Dame defeating both USC and Michigan is special. In 33 previous attempts, that has been achieved only seven times, and in six of those the Irish remained in the national title hunt right until its final game or in the College Football Playoff (see pages 52‑53). With the Trojans and Wolverines in the next two games (with a bye interspersed in between), Notre Dame will be facing two distinctly different strengths. USC thrives on an explosive passing at‑ tack and game‑breaking skill players, while Michi‑ gan is more methodical and relies more on its defense to carry the day, as evidenced by its 10‑3 victory at home versus Iowa this past weekend. The Fighting Irish have an opportunity to show their well rounded play on both sides of the ball — plus special teams — in these encounters while proving they continue to be the more com‑ plete program. A sweep in those two contests would legitimately make Notre Dame a CFP con‑ tender again in November. THREE OBSERVATIONS BY LOU SOMOGYI OFFENSE: QB IAN BOOK The senior quarterback bounced back after a rough game against Virginia. In just more than two quarters of work, Book completed 16 of 20 throws for 261 yards with five touchdowns and zero turnovers. After the win, head coach Brian Kelly gave him the game ball. While Book still had moments where he was flushed out of the pocket too quickly or missed an open man, he made up for it with big plays. In total, Book completed nine passes of at least 17 yards and two that went for 34 yards or more. DEFENSE: CB TARIQ BRACY This was a tough decision, but the sophomore corner- back gets the nod due to how much he stayed on the field, playing almost as many snaps as other standouts Julian Okwara and Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa did combined. Starting for the injured Shaun Crawford, Bracy played 95.6 percent of the defensive snaps according to Pro Foot- ball Focus' initial grades, and had four tackles, two passes broken up and a forced fumble. Bracy was a very sure tackler, which is an important de- velopment for the wiry corner. He gave up a few big pass- ing plays, but he made up for it by also preventing several. SPECIAL TEAMS: K JONATHAN DOERER In a game that Notre Dame found the end zone seven times, the junior kicker didn't get many opportunities to showcase his leg. But he was consistent and still had a productive day. He made all five extra points and also had a 27-yard field goal in the third quarter, which he made easily. Doerer also kicked off nine times, and none of them resulted in Bowling Green starting with the ball past the 25-yard line. Seven kickoffs were for touchbacks and the other two were returned for 13 yards or fewer. TOP PLAYERS OF THE GAME BY ANDREW MENTOCK Sophomore cornerback TaRiq Bracy (No. 28) filled in admirably for injured starter Shaun Crawford, recording four tackles, two passes broken up and a forced fumble. PHOTO BY ANDRIS VISOCKIS

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