Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2020

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

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24 FEBRUARY 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED H ere are several observa- tions from Notre Dame's 33-9 romp over Iowa State in the Camping World Bowl. DEFENSE: DOMINANT PERFORMANCE Coordinator Clark Lea's de- fense once again led the way for the Fighting Irish in the program's 11th victory of the season. Keeping Iowa State out of the end zone all day was extremely impressive. This is the same team that scored 41 points against Okla- homa, which earned a spot in the College Football Play- off. The Cyclones boasted the 25th-ranked scoring offense (34.1 points per game) in the country coming into this matchup and were held to just three field goals. There are two sets of numbers to keep in mind from this game that tell why Notre Dame was successful. Sophomore quarterback Brock Purdy was held 91 yards below his aver- age through the air (313.3 yards per game) even though he threw the ball 30 times, and Iowa State averaged 1.7 yards per carry even with the 23-yard run by freshman Breece Hall on the first play from scrimmage. That is what a dominant defensive perfor- mance looks like. Junior rover Jeremiah Owusu- Koramoah was in rare form and his stat line was extremely impressive. He led the team in tackles (nine), tackles for loss (four) and sacks (three), and added one quarterback hurry, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. There was certainly a case to be made for him to be the MVP of the Camping World Bowl. He was all over the field and just continues to impress. His coverage skills have gotten so much better throughout the course of the season and he just has a nose for the football, which is something you cannot teach. OFFENSE: BALANCED ATTACK Notre Dame was able to rack up 455 total yards with 208 on the ground and 247 through the air. There was a concerted effort to run the football the entire game even when it seemed like they were get- ting nowhere with it. Finishing the game with a 5.6-yard rushing aver- age is a testament to the offensive line as well as the commitment to the ground attack. Credit quarterbacks coach and play caller Tom Rees for keeping that commitment and calling a very good game throughout. When you have a weapon like senior wide receiver Chase Claypool and you are a rookie play caller, you get him involved — and that's exactly what he did. Ku- dos to Rees for understanding that and not outsmarting himself. Claypool walked away with Camping World Bowl MVP honors and rightfully so. He dominated not only with his route running and catch ability, but his body control was very effective. Elite players can at times take plays off when the ball is not coming their way, but Claypool would work to get open regardless of how the play started. That is how he was able to get free on his 43-yard reception that set up Notre Dame's second touch- down of the game. He was bracketed at the beginning of the play with a corner and a safety over the top, and the action was to the opposite side of the field. However, he continued to work his way across the field and eventually found himself wide open, and senior quarterback Ian Book made a nice throw to find him for the big pick up. Book played a solid game all day. He escaped pres- sure when he needed to and kept his eyes down the field, looking to make plays with his arm. He did not leave the pocket too early and did not have the happy feet he has been prone to in the past. The signal-caller used his athleticism to keep plays alive and made decisive throws. The pass he made for the touchdown was perfectly placed to Claypool, where only his receiver could catch it. That has evolved from experience. The stretch and athleticism from Clay- pool was unbelievable, and Book knew it. Overall, it was another qual- ity performance from Book. SPECIAL TEAMS: ANOTHER CONSISTENT EFFORT Once again, the most vital element from special teams was their consis- tency throughout the game. Junior Jonathan Doerer was per- fect on the day, hitting all four of his field goal attempts with the longest coming from 51 yards out. That one was not the prettiest of kicks, but it demonstrated how strong his leg is because even on a mishit it had the power to go 51 yards with room to spare. That was one of the most im- pressive mishits you will ever see. Doerer just continues to impress. He finished the season 17 of 20 (85.0 percent) on three-pointers and be- came one of the team's most im- proved figures. He has gone from a concern last spring due to past in- consistency to one of the strengths returning in 2020. ✦ Irish Dominate Cyclones In All Three Phases 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 Chase Claypool was named the Camping World Bowl MVP after another great all-around performance by the hard-working senior wideout. PHOTO BY JAMES GILBERT

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