Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 2, 2019

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

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30 NOV. 2, 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED H ere are several observa- tions from Notre Dame's 45-14 loss to Michigan. DEFENSE: OVERWHELMED IN THE BOX One of the most disap- pointing parts of watching this game was watching the defense struggle to stop the run against a Michigan team that had not exactly been ex- plosive in that category this season. It started out so well with Notre Dame pinning Michi- gan deep in its own territory and forcing a three-and-out. Then the blocked punt by sophomore linebacker Bo Bauer led to a turnover and put the defense right back on the field. It was all downhill from there. Overall, the de- fense was pushed around all night by an offensive line that simply outplayed them from start to finish. The defensive front for the Irish really struggled with containing not only Michigan quarterback Shea Pat- terson, but also the running backs for the Wolverines. They constantly allowed cutback lanes and were not sound in their gap integrity rules. Too many times the inside line- backer duo of Drew White and Asmar Bilal would come down so hard and over-pursue that it made it easy for the Michigan line to block them using their own momentum against them. At one point, on one of the long runs by Michigan in the first half, both White and Bilal came crashing down into the same gap and allowed a single lineman to block both of them. The corners did not have a terri- ble night and, in fact, senior Donte Vaughn played fairly well. One in- stance was getting his hand into the receiver and knocking a ball away that was originally called a catch. If it wasn't for Vaughn it would have been a completed pass. He did miss a pretty crucial tackle that led to the first score of the second half for Michigan, but the touchdown that was caught over him was a really good throw. OFFENSE: GROUNDED AND POUNDED Senior quarterback Ian Book strug- gled mightily. He was back to the bad habit where he was bailing out of the pocket early all night, rarely coming off his first read, and just not playing with the poise that we saw from him in the final drive of the USC game two weeks ago. He had an absolute unwilling- ness to throw the ball down the field unless the receiver was wide open, which was rarely the case in this game. He had a few nice back-shoul- der throws, and senior wide receiver Chase Claypool made two superb grabs on those throws, but it was by far too few and far between. The running backs were pretty quiet on the night, accounting for only 35 yards on the ground. Senior Tony Jones Jr. had 14 yards on eight carries before he left the game with an undisclosed injury. There were just no open lanes for him to run in. They even tried to run outside the tackles, and the Michigan defense was just too fast for the Irish offense all night. Junior Jafar Armstrong came back from injury and had four touches for a total of seven yards, which in- cluded one reception for four yards. He was the primary man on kickoff returns as well and just looked slow, lacking any kind of burst all night. He is clearly not fully back from his injury at this point. The offensive line was the most disappointing position group on the field to me in this contest. The previous few games they played with a fire and de- termination that we had not seen from them all season. After the Irish racked up more than 300 yards on the ground against USC, I was at least hopeful that they would be productive against Michigan. They did not get any push whatso- ever in the run game, and in the pass game Michigan was able to rush only four and get pressure on an al- ready rattled Book. The line was not picking up simple twists and stunts that Michigan has shown in previous games. That al- lowed them to drop seven into cov- erage and overwhelm the offense all night. Even when the line was able to give Book time to throw, he was so skittish that he would bail out and negative results ensued. SPECIAL TEAMS: BRAMBLETT HOLDS HIS OWN If you are looking for a positive coming out of this game, look no fur- ther than freshman punter Jay Bram- blett. Unfortunately, he had a lot of opportunities (10) punting the foot- ball against Michigan. Outside of a lone shank in the first half, he was still able to average 43 yards per punt with a long of 61 yards. He was also able to draw a roughing the kicker penalty early in the game. On a night when the weather con- ditions were clearly less than ideal, there were no issues with the snaps and holds all night. ✦ Breaking Down The Washout At Michigan THOUGHTS FROM THE PRESS BOX VINCE DEDARIO Vince DeDario has been a writer for Blue & Gold Illustrated since August 2019. He can be reached at The Fighting Irish offensive line struggled against the Wolverines, falling to get any push in the run game while allowing Michigan to pressure senior quarterback Ian Book with just a four-man pass rush. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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