Blue and Gold Illustrated

December 2019

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

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24 DECEMBER 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED TURNING POINT Leading 17-7, Stanford came up inches short on third-and-three from its 22-yard line when senior cornerback Troy Pride Jr. closed strong on scrambling quarterback Davis Mills, thus forcing a punt. Notre Dame freshmen defensive end Isaiah Foskey then broke through to block the kick that was recovered at the 1-yard line by sophomore defensive end Justin Ademilola. That resulted in a six-yard touchdown pass (after an Irish false start) on third-and-goal from senior quarterback Ian Book to sophomore tight end Tommy Tremble with 3:01 left until halftime. This game-altering sequence ignited a 31-0 run by Notre Dame. After the Irish defense quickly forced another punt, Book completed three straight passes, the last a 41-yard deep ball to a leaping Claypool in the end zone with 1:20 left. In a span of 1:41, the Fighting Irish went from a 17-7 deficit to a 21-17 advantage. STAT(S) OF THE GAME Two data points particularly stand out. While building its 17-7 advantage, Stanford quarterback Davis Mills completed 12 of 17 passes for 144 yards with two touchdowns, find- ing multiple different targets while deftly picking apart Notre Dame's coverages. Thereafter, which encompassed the final 39 min- utes and 31 seconds of the game, Mills was only 16 of 29 for 132 yards, or a mere 8.3 yards per comple- tion and a measly 4.6 yards per attempt. It resulted in Stanford punting the ball on seven consecutive possessions, four of them three-and-outs, before scoring a touchdown in the final two minutes. Second, Stanford nearly doubled Notre Dame's time of possession in the first half: 19:40 to 10:20, while staying competitive. Then in the second half, the Irish were only three seconds short of replicating that same time of possession advantage — 19:37 to 10:23 — while outscoring the Cardinal 28-7. BOWLED OVER Twenty-five years ago, an unranked and 6-4-1 Notre Dame team was invited to play No. 4-ranked and 10-1 Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl. As anticipated, the Irish were dispatched of fairly easily, 41-24 (41-10 at one point) in the mismatch. A quarter-century later, a strong 10-2 Notre Dame team likely will be on the outside looking in at the major bowl scene, with a date versus a third-place Big 12 team in the Camping World Bowl Dec. 28 in Orlando, Fla., the most likely destination. That's just one aspect of so many areas that have changed in the college football landscape for the Fighting Irish. Despite a 5-0 November in which Notre Dame won each game by at least 21 points, a quality regular season was overshadowed by two fac- tors: no attention-grabbing win over a top foe (pretty much not since Florida State in 1993) and the 45-14 no-show fiasco at Ann Arbor Oct. 26. THREE OBSERVATIONS BY LOU SOMOGYI OFFENSE: WR BRADEN LENZY This award could go to senior quarterback Ian Book after most wins — but this week we decided to look at the speedy sophomore wide receiver, who had a huge impact on the game. Lenzy reportedly ran a 4.4-second 40-yard dash at a combine Notre Dame hosted in the spring, but he was banged up early in the year and people were unable to see that production on the field. That changed in the second half of the season, and Lenzy put together one of his best games at Stanford. He finished the contest with a total of six offensive touches for 96 yards, split evenly between yards on the ground and through the air. Lenzy's 43-yard reception on first-and-17 in the third quarter helped to break open the game. DEFENSE: ROVER JEREMIAH OWUSU-KORAMOAH The junior rover has established himself as one of the most athletic defensive players Notre Dame has had in years, and he showed why against Stanford. In the third quarter, Owusu-Koramoah had a superb pass broken up on Stanford quarterback Davis Mills, when he blitzed into the backfield and almost picked off a ball being thrown to the flat. He also led Notre Dame in tackles with nine and solo stops with six. SPECIAL TEAMS: DE ISAIAH FOSKEY Coming into the matchup against Stanford, the true fresh- man defensive end had already appeared in three contests and had one game left to play without burning his redshirt. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly decided to use his last game against Stanford — and it paid off immensely. In the second quarter with Notre Dame down 17-7, Foskey blocked a punt that was recovered by the Irish and returned to the Stanford 1-yard line. This completely changed the momen- tum of the game. By the end of the first half, the Irish were up 21-17 and never looked back. TOP PLAYERS OF THE GAME BY ANDREW MENTOCK Sophomore wide receiver Braden Lenzy had perhaps his most complete game, gaining 96 yards on six offensive touches balanced evenly with 48 receiving (two catches) and 48 rushing (four carries). PHOTO BY SPENCER ALLEN

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