Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 17, 2020

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

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Page 22 of 55 OCT. 17, 2020 23 FLORIDA STATE RUNNING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME RUN DEFENSE First-time starter Jordan Travis at quarterback put forth a remarkable effort with his elusiveness (19 carries for 96 yards and one touchdown) and ability to shake would- be tacklers. Notre Dame then became so locked in on Travis with his zone reads that it enabled running back La'Damian Webb (13 carries for 59 yards and one score) to be effective in spurts on sprint or other conventional handoffs, especially on the FSU drive that cut the deficit to 28-20. Florida State's 153 rushing yards, 3.8 yards per carry and two rushing scores weren't crushing, but the ground attack did help keep them in the game for the most part. ADVANTAGE: Even FLORIDA STATE PASSING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME PASS DEFENSE Travis jolted the Fighting Irish in the first quarter by completing 5 of 7 passes for 107 yards, including a perfect 48-yard dime to Tamorrion Terry for a score. Thereafter he was a modest 8 of 17 for 97 yards while the Seminoles tallied only nine points the final 45 minutes. Notre Dame had four sacks and missed at least four more opportunities, whether it was from timing, to Travis' elusiveness, to not wrapping up or not having the right tackling angle. With much of the top cornerbacks return- ing from quarantine and on short notice, sixth-year senior Shaun Crawford's move there from safety provided a quality alternative. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame NOTRE DAME RUNNING GAME VS. FLORIDA STATE RUN DEFENSE This was the story of the game, specifically the Notre Dame offensive line controlling the action by displaying both straight-on physicality as well as athletic mobility. The Seminoles regularly blitzing led to them getting gashed frequently, and fifth-year senior quarterback Ian Book's mobility (nine carries for 58 yards) augmented the 288 yards combined by sophomore Kyren Williams and freshman Chris Tyree at running back. They had plenty of room to run on many occasions, but also showcased their toughness by forging forward after initial contact. The counter/misdirection plays have become a wonderful complement to the outside zone emphasis, and the left side was especially effective. Despite its frequent blitzing, Florida State recorded only one tackle for loss, a testament to both the blocking all around and the running backs' forward surge. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame NOTRE DAME PASSING GAME VS. FLORIDA STATE PASS DEFENSE Buoyed by strong protection, Book displayed calm in the pocket, patiently went through his progressions and even took his share of shots down the field, with classmate Javon McKinley (five catches for 107 yards) emerging as a potential late bloomer the way Miles Boykin did in 2018. If Book (16 of 25 for 201 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions) can build on this type of performance, the Irish will vie for the College Football Playoff right into the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 19. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame SPECIAL TEAMS It was not one of the better days for the Irish. Junior slot receiver Lawrence Keys' fumbled punt deep in his territory in the first quarter with the Irish up 14-3 was a momentum changer that enabled the Seminoles to take a brief 17- 14 lead. Senior kicker Jonathan Doerer missed his lone field goal attempt (45 yards), and a Notre Dame personal foul by special teams stalwart and junior linebacker Bo Bauer forced the Irish to start from their 14 after FSU had pulled within 28-20. Kickoff coverage was good, though, and senior running back Jafar Arm- strong's 36-yard kickoff return to his 43-yard line with 1:09 left before halftime helped set up a much-needed touchdown right before the intermission. ADVANTAGE: Florida State THIRD-DOWN CONVERSIONS Neither team shined in this area, with FSU finishing 2 of 14 and Notre Dame 2 of 8, although the Seminoles did connect on a 48-yard touchdown to wideout Tamorrian Terry on third-and-four to take a 17-14 lead. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame TURNOVERS Two first-quarter Notre Dame turnovers set up 10 points for the Seminoles. The Irish protected the ball thereafter. The lone turnover recorded by Notre Dame came on Crawford's interception near the Irish goal line on third-and-goal from the 5-yard line. A score there by FSU could have potentially made it a one-score game (with a successful two- point conversion) with about eight minutes left in the contest. ADVANTAGE: Florida State ANALYSIS Florida State flashed the stellar individual talent on its roster on several occa- sions versus the Irish, but the difference is in the infrastructure. Whereas Notre Dame has become a stable operation flirting with top-tier status, the Seminoles are not a collective, cohesive group yet and remain highly undisciplined, evidence by the egregious personal foul that helped set up an Irish touchdown right before halftime. The physical identity this year of Notre Dame on both sides of the ball is clear, and that tough mental makeup, led by the offensive line, could take it a long way this year. ON PAPER REVISITED BY LOU SOMOGYI Notre Dame recorded four sacks, but had several other missed opportunities due in part to Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis' elusiveness. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS

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