Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 14, 2020

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

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28 NOV. 14, 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED DEFENSE CONTAINS TRAVIS ETIENNE On the Monday of game week, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly, without a hint of hyperbole, proclaimed that Clemson senior Travis Etienne was the best running back in college football. To be fair, such an assertion has merit. In 2019, Etienne averaged 7.8 yards per rushing attempt, which was first among all Power Five run- ning backs with at least 50 carries. Behind a far less experienced offen- sive line in 2020, he was still averag- ing 101 rushing yards per game with 5.9 yards per attempt. Without many go-to wide receivers, he was just as deadly in the passing game. He was the team's second-leading receiver, averaging 72.3 yards per game and 15.1 yards per reception. So coming into the game against Clemson, Notre Dame knew it was vi- tal that the defense contained Etienne. "Obviously, we put a lot of empha- sis on him not wrecking the game," Kelly said. The result? Etienne finished with 18 rushing attempts for 28 yards, good for a mere 1.6 yards per at- tempt. The last time he had so few rushing yards was when he ran for 22 yards on four carries (4.5 yards per carry) as a freshman in the Col- lege Football Playoff against even- tual national champion Alabama. His 1.6 yards per attempt against Notre Dame represents the lowest single- game average of his collegiate career. Etienne was, however, solid as a pass catcher, snagging eight recep- tions for 57 yards, but his 7.1 yards per grab was much lower than his season average. "We just tried to contain him," said senior rover Jeremiah Owusu-Kora- moah, who had a game-high nine tackles. "He was everywhere on the field, as you already know. We tried to fill gaps or we tried to at least blitz the gaps when we had to face him. It was just a point of reference where we always listened to [defensive co- ordinator Clark] Lea. He told us all week to just continue to hit your gaps for speed. "It was just a matter where we had to go full speed every single time and be able to meet him in the backfield, and not let him get going." NOTRE DAME GASHES CLEMSON WITH BIG PLAYS On the second play of the game, sophomore running back Kyren Williams set an important tone. On a run to the left, the offensive line created a sizable hole for Williams, who darted to the second level of the defense. There he met safety Nolan Turner and, after a quick step toward the middle of the field, Williams cut back outside, freezing Turner and breaking away from the rest of the Tigers defense for a 65- yard touchdown. It was the longest play of the eve- ning for either team. "It was a point of emphasis this week," Williams said. "We preached it a lot, 'It's going to be a dogfight, so we've got to punch them in the mouth first before they punch us.'" After that, Williams had two more runs of 15 yards, but the rest of the big plays from fifth-year senior quar- terback Ian Book using his arm or his feet. Book had three runs of 10 yards or more, including a 25-yard scamper in the second half. But the biggest plays the fifth- year senior quarterback made came through the air. He threw five passes of 15 yards or more, including two for more than 45 yards. The first came on a ball thrown deep down the middle of the field that forced fifth-year senior wide receiver Javon McKinley to dive to make the over-the-shoulder catch for a 45-yard gain. Of course, the biggest play of the game came in the final two minutes with, when Book hit senior slot re- ceiver Avery Davis in stride on a post CLEMSON GAME NOTES BY ANDREW MENTOCK AND PATRICK ENGEL Notre Dame limited Clemson's All-American running back Travis Etienne to just 28 yards on 18 rushing attempts (1.6 yards per carry). PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS INSTANT TAKEAWAYS FROM FORMER NOTRE DAME LINEBACKER MIKE GOOLSBY • "Say what you want about Ian Book, but he is a winner. It's not pretty sometimes, but he has got stones. He really does." • "I thought maybe at times we were throw- ing the ball a bit too much, and I didn't want them to forget about the run game. For Ian Book to play Clemson the way he did, so what they had some injuries. "To not take a sack, to just be a custodian of the game, a custodian of the ball, it was tremendous." Join us after every game for the Live Show on YouTube!'s Mike Singer and former Fighting Irish captain and linebacker Mike Goolsby will recap the game and give their instant analysis.

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