Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 6, 2021

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

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6 NOV. 6, 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY PATRICK ENGEL M aybe it's because one has a spe- cial mix of burst, strength and speed. Maybe it's because the other is an imposing 6-4¾, 207-pound physi- cal presence and the biggest receiver on Notre Dame's roster. Or, through a more practical lens, maybe it's because attrition and injury over the last several months thinned Notre Dame's receiving corps to six scholarship players by early October. Whatever the reason, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly knows freshmen wide receivers Lorenzo Styles Jr. and Deion Colzie need to see the field. Not just in garbage time or exclusively on special teams. Not just for a token appearance in the first half. Not just for one snap. No, they need to play and play a lot. Even in high-leverage moments. As No. 11 Notre Dame (6-1) enters its stretch run, those two are entrenched in the receiver rotation after a month op- erating on the periphery. Colzie rotates with starting boundary receiver Kevin Austin Jr. as opposed to replacing him for a momentary break. The same ap- plies to Styles and starter Braden Lenzy at field receiver. Styles also plays in the slot. "We're past, 'Hey, you're the backup guy,'" Kelly said. "They're in the mix now." For the first time this year, both played double-digit snaps in the same game. Styles was on the field for 15 of- fensive plays in Notre Dame's 31-16 win over USC, while Colzie played 17 snaps. Both set season highs in snaps played. Their involvement has grown during October. Styles played 26 total offen- sive snaps against Cincinnati, Virginia Tech and USC. He was the primary kick returner versus the Trojans with Chris Tyree out with a turf toe injury. Colzie, meanwhile, played 37 snaps in Notre Dame's last three games after seeing the field for just 12 plays in the first four. Against USC, playing time finally led to production. Colzie and Styles came into the game with three catches for 23 yards. They combined for 70 yards on four catches (six targets) versus the Tro- jans alone, clearly as part of the game plan instead of happenstantial contrib- utors. They were involved from the first drive. Notre Dame's seventh play from scrimmage on its opening drive was a play-action shot to Styles, who had a one-on-one matchup with USC cor- nerback Chris Steele. He got two hands UNDER THE DOME FRESH FACES Freshmen Lorenzo Styles Jr. and Deion Colzie are firmly in Notre Dame's wide receiver rotation Styles played a season-high 15 snaps against USC and caught three passes for 57 yards. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER

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