Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 26, 2019*

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

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26 OCT. 26, 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED TONY JONES JR. HAS CAREER NIGHT AGAINST TROJANS Much of the talk coming into the USC contest centered on the return of presumptive starting junior run- ning back Jafar Armstrong. Some- one forgot to tell that to senior Tony Jones Jr., who was responsible for 37 percent of the offensive production. When asked after the game if Notre Dame has a No. 1 back his response was, "You can tell me." Jones was able to rattle off his third straight 100-yard game this season against rival USC, and already did so with time left in the first half. "I have always been like this," Jones said when asked if he prepared differently. "Coach let me out of the cage a little bit." Jones was an afterthought in the preseason and was supposed to be the change-up back behind Arm- strong or a goal-line option. His workload has increased as the sea- son has gone on due to Armstrong's injury, and reached career highs in both carries (25) and rushing yards (176) against the Trojans. While one never wants any part of the offense to go down with an injury, it does allow for others to step for- ward into the limelight and take con- trol of a position. This is what Jones has done and it only broadens what offensive coordinator Chip Long can do each week in the backfield. The bye week will allow the coaching staff to work on creating a one-two punch with Jones and Armstrong go- ing into the Michigan game Oct. 26. Still, getting Armstrong back won't change head coach Brian Kelly's mindset when it comes to Jones. "He blocks, he's tough, he's physi- cal, he's going to get you the extra yard," Kelly said of Jones. "Who wouldn't want a back like that?" JONATHAN DOERER ANSWERS THE CALL Prior to the season, one of the main concerns for Notre Dame was its kick- ing game. The Irish had an inexperi- enced true freshman punter and re- turning junior kicker Jonathan Doerer, whom many thought had a strong leg but was so unreliable that he might cost Notre Dame a close game. "Poor analogy, but he could drive the golf ball 350 yards, but he'd be in the trees half the time," head coach Brian Kelly said. "So it was about how do we get this young man to re- ally hone in on this exceptional skill that he has." As it turns out, Doerer came through in the clutch against USC. In a 30-27 game, he drilled all three of his field goal attempts, from 45, 52 and 43 yards. "He went out there and just knew he needed to put up points for us," senior quarterback Ian Book said of Doerer 's performance. "When we weren't able to score a touchdown, we relied on him. He's another guy that I see working hard every single day. He's come a long way. It's been awesome. "I talked to him after the game, I just said, 'Really proud of you, man. Good job. You helped us win this game.' I've seen a lot of growth in him." The last time an Irish kicker went 3 of 3 on field goals in a game wasn't that long ago. Kicker Justin Yoon ac- complished this feat against Syracuse on Nov. 17, 2018, but that was a 36-3 Notre Dame blowout and his longest field goal of the game came from 29 yards out. That is why Kelly saw it was fitting to give Doerer the game ball after the win over USC. He also credited special teams co- ordinator Brian Polian with the over- all development in that area. "He's really done a nice job of de- veloping that unit to where those guys want to run down on a kickoff team," Kelly said of Polian. "They want to make tackles because they have an immense amount of pride for that unit, and he's built that and in- stilled it. A lot of credit goes to him." USC GAME NOTES BY ANDREW MENTOCK AND VINCE DEDARIO Jones compiled a career-best 176 yards on 25 carries (7.0 yards per attempt) to fuel a Notre Dame attack that amassed a season-high 308 yards on the ground. PHOTO BY ANDRIS VISOCKIS MISCELLANEOUS NOTES • Notre Dame posted 196 rushing yards in the first half alone, the most since racking up 258 against Wake Forest on Nov. 4, 2017. • Sophomore wide receiver Braden Lenzy notched his first career rushing touchdown, a 51-yard score in the second quarter. This was Notre Dame's longest rushing play and touch- down of the season. • Junior rover Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah notched his first career sack on USC's open- ing drive, setting up an eventual punt for the Trojans. • With his second catch against the Trojans, junior tight end Cole Kmet doubled his career total coming into this year (17) in just four games. He also now has more career recep- tions (38) than earned runs allowed (32) as a pitcher on the Notre Dame baseball team.

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