Blue and Gold Illustrated

December 2019

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

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Page 29 of 47

30 DECEMBER 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED H ere are several observations from Notre Dame's 45-24 win over Stanford. DEFENSE: STRONG SECOND-HALF SHOWING The defense struggled to match the intensity of the Stanford offense early, allowing the Cardinal to score on a seven-play, 75-yard drive to open the game. The Irish ended up allowing 17 points and 278 total yards in the first half, with the majority coming through the air. Right about the midway portion of the second quarter, the defense found its sea legs and really tightened down against the Stanford attack. The Fighting Irish allowed only 116 total yards in the second half, with a mere 22 yards coming in the third quarter when the Irish put the game away. The most disappointing aspect early in the game was the absence of any kind of pass rush from the Notre Dame front seven. This allowed Stanford quarterback Davis Mills to sit back and pick the defense apart to the tune of 196 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Ade Ogundeji ended up starting at three technique in place of Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, who was out with an injury. Consequently there was a lot of speed on the field for the Irish, but they were just un- able to get to Mills. Ogundeji was able to make an ex- cellent play to close out the game with a speed rush and strip of Mills in the end zone, which was recovered by senior defensive end Khalid Ka- reem for the final touchdown. OFFENSE: BOOK TO CLAYPOOL, A WINNING COMBINATION The offense ended the contest with a pretty nice stat line of 445 total yards (255 through the air and 190 on the ground). It finished up as a relatively balanced night, but that is not how it started. Notre Dame had no intention of running the ball early in the game and put the game in the hands of senior quarterback Ian Book. Most of the rushing yards came late in the game, but for the first time in four games Book wasn't the leading rusher. Book had one of his typical days under center for Notre Dame. At times he looked flustered and itchy in the pocket, and at times he looked poised and effective in both the pass and run game. The opening drive was fantastic for the Irish and Book. He went 4-of-5 passing for all 70 yards of the drive, and the one incompletion coming on a drop by sophomore wide receiver Braden Lenzy. Book was decisive, patient and in complete control. In the third quarter, he had an excellent play for 43 yards to Lenzy where he was able to buy time with his legs and get outside the pocket. It was essential to do this be- cause he had to wait for Lenzy to come all the way across the field and get open. He then threw a perfect strike that led Lenzy and allowed him to get up the field after the catch. On the same drive, Book showed why he is so dangerous with his legs. He converted a fourth-down play by scrambling to his right and picking up 26 yards. Senior wideout Chase Claypool was once again outstanding. Stanford did its best to take him out of the game early by bracketing him in coverage, but that only worked for so long. In the second quarter, Book went to Claypool on back-to-back plays for a total of 55 yards and a score. The latter was a beautiful throw by Book to the back shoulder of Clay- pool, which is where he absolutely thrives. He went up and high pointed the ball before the defender even turned around. In a nutshell, that is why Claypool is such a matchup nightmare for Irish opponents and will continue to be at the next level. SPECIAL TEAMS: WINNING THE DAY FOR THE IRISH Trailing 17-7 late in the second quarter, Notre Dame seized momen- tum when true freshman defensive end Isaiah Foskey blocked a Stanford punt and sophomore defensive end Justin Ademilola returned it to the 1-yard line. Three plays later, Book found sophomore tight end Tommy Tremble for a touchdown. Senior long snapper John Shannon also got into the action by recovering a muffed punt return by the Cardi- nal that led to a field goal by junior kicker Jonathan Doerer early in the fourth quarter. Shannon also made a great play diving into the end zone to save a punt that was downed on the 4-yard line, which directly led to the strip and touchdown by Ogundeji and Kareem on the very next play. Not a bad game by the senior from Lake Forest, Ill. ✦ Irish Win All Three Phases Against The Cardinal 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 Sophomore defensive end Justin Ademilola's blocked punt recovery and return to the Stanford 1-yard line capped a game-changing play for the Fighting Irish late in the second quarter. PHOTO BY SPENCER ALLEN

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