Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2020

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

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Page 16 of 47 FEBRUARY 2020 17 IOWA STATE RUNNING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME RUN DEFENSE Standout freshman running back Breece Hall burst through for a 23-yard gain on Iowa State's first play — and thereafter totaled 32 yards on 16 carries. The Cyclones finished with 45 rushing yards, 95 under their season average entering the contest. Notre Dame played about as clean a game as possible at filling gaps after the first play, with senior safety Alohi Gilman often stationed in the box, allowing fifth-year senior cornerback Shaun Crawford to play nickel in coverage and freshman safety Kyle Hamilton to patrol center field. The Irish controlled the line of scrimmage, especially with All-Big 12 left tackle Julian Good-Jones ruled out with an injury, which forced some switches up front. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame IOWA STATE PASSING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME PASS DEFENSE There was not a better player on the field — versus the run or pass — than ju- nior rover Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, who recorded four stops for loss (three sacks) and also forced a fumble that set up Notre Dame's initial touchdown. Rushing only four remained effective and allowed the Irish to drop more into coverage and limit Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy to 17-of-30 passing (56.7 percent) for 222 yards — 10 percentage points under his season-long pass completion mark and 91 yards below his yardage output per game that ranked fifth nationally. Particularly notable was ISU tight ends entered the contest averaging six catches for 79 yards per contest. They finished with three for 22 yards, all by Associated Press second-team All-American Charlie Kolar, while Irish defensive coordinator Clark Lea aligned his troops to take away the crossing routes in particular. Hamilton was highly valuable in that realm. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame NOTRE DAME RUNNING GAME VS. IOWA STATE RUN DEFENSE Conspicuous from the outset is newly assigned play caller and quarterbacks coach Tom Rees appeared mandated and committed to stay with the ground attack. Tony Jones Jr.'s 84-yard run on Notre Dame's first play of the second half significantly boosted the yards per carry from 3.4 yards to 5.6. Other than that one play, the run game remained okay at best, final stats (208 yards on 37 carries) notwithstanding. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame NOTRE DAME PASSING GAME VS. IOWA STATE PASS DEFENSE Utilizing multiple tight ends much of the game in an effort to remain com- mitted to the run, senior quarterback Ian Book smartly emphasized classmate Chase Claypool (seven catches for 146 yards and one touchdown), who accounted for 59 percent of the receiving yards, highlighted by his typically acrobatic 24-yard touchdown catch. Book (20-of-28 passing for 247 yards with one touchdown and no intercep- tions) remained poised in the pocket, yet also elusive on several occasions. Pass protection remains the forte of the Irish line. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame SPECIAL TEAMS Because Notre Dame won handily, maybe the most overshadowed play of the contest was after the Irish went three-and-out on the game's opening series, Gilman stripped punt return man Tarique Milton from the football that Clay- pool recovered. Instead of Iowa State starting its first possession near midfield, the turnover set up Notre Dame's first score. Junior kicker Jonathan Doerer was outstanding, converting all four of his field goal tries, including a 51-yard knuckleball that still had at least 10 yards to spare. Coverage units for the Irish remained stellar. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame THIRD-DOWN CONVERSIONS Neither team excelled, with Notre Dame finishing 3 of 13 (23.1 percent) and Iowa State 5 of 15 (33.3 percent), but the Irish converted both of their fourth- down attempts while the Cyclones failed on both of theirs. Two of the top game-changing plays favored Notre Dame in this area: Clay- pool's leaping 24-yard scoring grab on third-and-12 to make it 10-0, and then the Irish stuffing ISU on fourth-and-one from the Cyclones' 45-yard line that set up a Notre Dame touchdown three plays later and made it 20-3. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame TURNOVERS Iowa State lost fumbles on its first two series, the first on a punt return and the second on a quarterback scramble, that helped spot Notre Dame a quick 10-0 advantage. Those were the game's lone two turnovers, but they instantly turned the tide in Notre Dame's favor. A case can be made that stopping Iowa State on fourth-and-inches at its own 45-yard line with the Irish ahead 13-3 was akin to a turnover. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame ANALYSIS Much was made about Iowa State being a much better team than the 7-5 record indicated, but Notre Dame also might have been underrated at 10-2 while winning each of its last four regular-season games by an average of 29 points (never less than 21). The Irish asserted dominance from the outset, with the defense specifically setting the tone while not permitting a touchdown against a high-powered Big 12 offense. Particularly noteworthy is after Iowa State fumbled away the first series on an Irish punt, nine of its 11 series began at or inside its 25-yard line, and a 10th at its 33. That made the Cyclones' uphill climb even more taxing. ON PAPER REVISITED BY LOU SOMOGYI Senior quarterback Ian Book had an efficient day, connecting on 20 of 28 throws for 247 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. PHOTO BY JAMES GILBERT

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