Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 9, 2019

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

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24 NOV. 9, 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED CORNERS ALL OVER THE FIELD The Notre Dame defensive game plan versus Virginia Tech was to load the box and shut down the run, which left senior starting cornerbacks Troy Pride Jr. and Donte Vaughn alone in single coverage most of the game. "We were in man-to-man," Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said after the game. "Our corners — look, they gave up some plays, but they were on an island all day. And Pride and Vaughn battled, they hung in there, and at the end of the day they did what we asked them to do in this game plan and they held up for us." The corners were in good position most of the game and had great hand placement, breaking up a total of five passes. On one occasion Pride was in man-to-man and had to follow his receiver all the way across the field and was still able to get his hands on the ball. Pride knew they were going to be in for a long night but they were ready for the challenge. "When you go out there and play corner, it's the second hardest posi- tion in football," he said. "You're go- ing to face some good talent. You're going to face some good receivers." Another bright spot for the defense was the full return of fifth-year se- nior Shaun Crawford to the defen- sive backfield. He saw some limited playing time last week against Michi- gan, but he was back to playing the nickel position full time versus Vir- ginia Tech. He even came up and made a nice tackle leading with his repaired el- bow. Having his experience on the field will pay dividends for this de- fense moving forward. IAN BOOK STAYS CONFIDENT Coming into the game, senior quarterback Ian Book had two inter- ceptions in the first seven games of the season. However, he threw two picks in the first three quarters of this game — in a span where the offense only scored two touchdowns against the Hokies, which ranked 91st in team efficiency defense heading into the game. When Notre Dame got the ball back and the game was on the line with 3:22 left in the game, Book was 23-of-39 passing for 278 yards, yet he remained self-assured. "I'm an extremely confident per- son, but I also truly believe in ev- eryone on the offense, on my whole entire team," he said. "I knew we could do it. Last week was last week. We forgot about that. We moved on. I'm confident in all the guys. "We work so hard every day, and we're playing for each other and that's when you can make some pretty awesome things happen." On that final possession that put the Irish up for good, 21-20, Book was responsible for 84 of the 87 yards on the touchdown drive. The bulk (63) of those yards came through the air, where he completed 6 of 14 passes. Two of the completions al- lowed the Irish to convert on fourth down. Another 21 yards came on three seven-yard runs, including the touchdown on third and goal. "It was a designed quarterback run on that play," Book said. "It worked out perfectly." IRISH LOSE ANOTHER OFFENSIVE LINEMAN Notre Dame lost another member of its offensive line during the 21-20 win against Virginia Tech. Head coach Brian Kelly said after the game that starting right guard and team captain Robert Hainsey likely suffered a fractured left ankle in the first quarter of the victory. At this time, Notre Dame has not said how much time Hainsey will miss this year, but if it is a fractured ankle, he is almost guaranteed to miss the rest of the regular season and perhaps the bowl game. Junior Josh Lugg came off the bench to play in his stead. Hainsey is the second member of the right side of the offensive line to go down in as many weeks. Against Michigan, starting right guard Tommy Kraemer suffered a sprained MCL and is out four to six weeks. Fifth-year senior Trevor Ruhland filled in for Kraemer and performed admirably. Ruhland has his own medical history and Kelly admitted after the game that he wasn't sure the now starting right guard would even be able to play this season. "He loves his teammates," Kelly said. "He loves playing for Notre Dame and what he did is — we thought he was going to be a medical redshirt, quite frankly. We thought that there was no way. If you asked our training staff, and I don't think VIRGINIA TECH GAME NOTES BY ANDREW MENTOCK AND VINCE DEDARIO Senior cornerback Troy Pride Jr. finished the game with five tackles, including three solo stops, and one pass broken up against the Hokies. PHOTO BY ANDRIS VISOCKIS

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