Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 12, 2019

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

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26 OCT. 12, 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED FIGHTING IRISH RACK UP "CHUNK" PLAYS Anytime an offense can rip off a big play, it's a huge momentum builder regardless of the score of the game or who the opponent is. In the contest against Bowling Green, Notre Dame accumulated 19 such "chunk" plays. Eleven came from the passing game and eight from the run game. After the game, head coach Brian Kelly said that he was impressed with the way senior quarterback Ian Book moved the ball down field. "I thought he did a really nice job of seeing the field, putting the ball in a position where we could make some contested catches," Kelly noted. "So, I liked the things he did today. Who wouldn't?" Book took advantage of a subpar Bowling Green secondary for a total of 261 passing yards, 195 of which came on chunk plays down the field. Even when Book struggled to make a read and find an initial open receiver, he stayed in the pocket and eventu- ally found a way to make a big play. For example, on his 25-yard touch- down pass to senior wide receiver Javon McKinley, fifth-year senior wideout Chris Finke was running wide open on an in cut. Finke should have been the easy read for Book, but he never saw him in the middle of the field. However, he was still able to find McKinley open in the front right corner of the end zone. It looks good on the stat sheet and goes down as a "chunk" play as well as a touchdown, but there is work yet to be done for the senior signal-caller. One of the best parts about the "chunk" plays is that almost half came on the ground. Notre Dame averaged 6.9 yards per carry on 34 attempts. Senior running back Tony Jones Jr. accounted for four of the eight "chunk" plays with runs of 13, 18, 36 and 26 yards. To top it off, 62 of those yards came in the third quarter for Jones who was on his way to 102 on the day. JAVON MCKINLEY IS ASCENDING Senior wide receiver Javon McKin- ley notched his first career 100-yard receiving effort when he hauled in a total of five balls for 104 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons. Not only has he been ascending as a pass catcher, his blocking on the outside has truly advanced as well throughout the season. His ef- fort against Bowling Green followed his first start of his career, against Virginia Sept. 28. Head coach Brian Kelly has taken notice of the senior and believes the late bloomer can de- velop into a consistent contributor. "You're seeing a guy who this is his first year of playing," Kelly said after the game. "I know he's been in the program for a long time, but it's been one of those slow starts for a guy, and I really think that he is going to continue to ascend in the program." McKinley has seen the field as both senior wideout Chase Claypool's backup on the boundary side and op- posite of him on two-tight-end sets. When McKinley, Claypool, sophomore tight end Tommy Tremble and junior tight end Cole Kmet are all on the field simultaneously, they average about 6-4 and 235 pounds. That presents a matchup problem for most defenses. Crucial to his rise has been gain- ing the trust of the coaching staff and Book, and through the first five games McKinley has been able to do that. The chemistry with senior quar- terback Ian Book goes back a long way, according to Kelly. "Ian Book really trusts him," he said. "They kind of grew up together on the scout team and have a great relationship." If he can continue on this trajectory, McKinley will finally live up to the high four-star ranking he had coming out of high school, which made him one of the biggest gets for Kelly in the 2016 recruiting class. POSITION CHANGES During warm-ups, two players were with new position groups. BOWLING GREEN GAME NOTES BY ANDREW MENTOCK AND VINCE DEDARIO Senior running back Tony Jones Jr. accounted for four of Notre Dame's 19 "chunk" plays with runs of 13, 18, 36 and 26 yards. He finished the game with 102 yards on just seven carries (14.6 yards per rush). PHOTO BY ANDRIS VISOCKIS

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