Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2020

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

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Page 18 of 47 FEBRUARY 2020 19 OFFENSE: WR CHASE CLAYPOOL Notre Dame's regular-season MVP put an exclamation point on an excellent 2019. In the 33-9 blowout win over the Cyclones, the senior wideout had seven receptions for 146 yards and one touchdown. He accounted for 59 percent of the team's yards through the air, and his leaping scoring grab from 24 yards out on a third-and-12 play staked the Fight- ing Irish to a 10-0 lead. Claypool averaged 20.9 yards per recep- tion, with his longest catch of the day going for 43 yards. He finished the season with 1,037 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns. DEFENSE: LB JEREMIAH OWUSU-KORAMOAH The junior rover started off the day by stripping the ball from Iowa State sophomore quarterback Brock Purdy and recovering it. By the end of the day, he finished with a game-high nine stops, four tackles for a loss, three sacks and a quarterback hurry. On several occasions, Owusu-Koramo- ah's elite closing speed also prevented Iowa State's skill players from getting outside of the Notre Dame defense. SPECIAL TEAMS: K JONATHAN DOERER The junior kicker went 4 of 4 on field goals against Iowa State and made all three of his extra points. He made two field goals from 39 yards out, a chip shot from 19 yards and a knuckleball from 51 yards — the fourth- longest field goal in Notre Dame history. Doerer finished the season 17 of 20 (85.0 percent) on field goal attempts and converted all 57 of his point after tries. Junior kicker Jonathan Doerer split the uprights on all four of his field goal attempts, including a 51-yarder that is the fourth longest in school history. PHOTO BY JAMES GILBERT TURNING POINT Trailing 13-3 with about four minutes remaining in the first half, Iowa State opted to roll the dice and go for it on fourth-and-inches at its 45-yard line instead of punting and maybe pinning the Fighting Irish back inside their 20-yard line. Junior defensive tackle Myron Tagovailoa- Amosa knifed through to nail running back Breece Hall for no gain to provide the Irish with excellent field position. On the next play, a 43-yard pass from senior quarterback Ian Book to classmate Chase Clay- pool took the ball down to the 1-yard line, lead- ing to a touchdown sweep by junior running back Jafar Armstrong to build the cushion to 20-3 with 2:25 left until halftime. The Cyclones were still within striking distance at 13-3, but decided to gamble in their own terri- tory. It backfired, and they never seriously threat- ened Notre Dame thereafter. STAT(S) OF THE GAME Take your pick from a number of different areas on defense: • Iowa State entered the game averaging 458.7 yards per game and finished with just 272. • Sophomore quarterback Brock Purdy was fifth nationally in passing yards per game with 313.3. He was limited to 222 while completing only 17 of 30 throws for 56.7 percent, well be- hind his 66.3 figure entering the contest. • Iowa State was averaging 34.1 points per game, but failed to score a single touchdown. • The Cyclones specialized in exploding in the second half and especially fourth quarter. This year they were the first team since Tennessee in 2016 to score 20 or more points at least four times in the fourth quarter (139 in all). Yet after totaling 204 total yards in the first half, Iowa State managed a paltry 68 yards and three points in the second. IS BEST STILL TO COME? Over the past three years, Notre Dame is 33-6 — the fifth-best record among the 65 Power Five teams — while establishing itself as a top-10 program. This is the first time the Irish have won 33 games over a three-year span since the 33-4 run from 1988-90. The significant difference is those Irish teams defeated 10 teams that finished in the Asso- ciated Press top 10, whereas the current three-year run has no such victories. That is why the Irish are considered just a strong tier-two, top-10 operation. Still, the progress has been laudable, and some- time this new year news should be forthcoming about head coach Brian Kelly's contract getting ex- tended another two or three years from the present one that has him signed through the 2021 campaign. On Nov. 7, 2020, Notre Dame hosts Clemson, and in 2022-23 it has home-and-home series with Ohio State and Clemson. Those games will answer whether the Irish can crash the tier-one party. THREE OBSERVATIONS BY LOU SOMOGYI TOP PLAYERS OF THE GAME BY ANDREW MENTOCK

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