Blue and Gold Illustrated

December 2021

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

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Page 22 of 47 DECEMBER 2021 23 NOTRE DAME PASSING OFFENSE: A Three-hundred forty-five (345) yards and two touchdowns — what more could you ask for from graduate student quarterback Jack Coan if you're of- fensive coordinator Tommy Rees? OK, Notre Dame could have done without the Coan interception that led directly to Stanford's first touchdown of the game. Outside of that, though? It was a nearly flaw- less effort from Coan and the Irish receiving corps. Coan completed 74.3 percent of his passes. He distributed the ball to three different tight ends, including senior George Takacs for his first touch- down of the season. Seniors Kevin Austin Jr. and Braden Lenzy and freshman Lorenzo Styles com- bined for 14 catches. Coan connected on all kinds of route concepts. It was a solid game for the Notre Dame passing offense. NOTRE DAME RUSHING OFFENSE: B The final line was decent enough: 35 attempts for 169 yards. The first half, though, wasn't too great; 15 attempts for 36 yards. Notre Dame's of- fensive game plan was to come out passing against a Stanford defense daring the Irish to throw the ball, but the passing game wasn't complemented by a stout rushing game. That wasn't the case until sophomore running back Chris Tyree and true freshman quarterback Tyler Buchner got going in the second half. That duo combined for 100 of the Irish's 169 rushing yards. Junior running back Kyren Williams had a less efficient outing than usual in running 19 times for 74 yards (3.9 yards per carry), but he scored two touchdowns on the ground. Tyree and Buchner combined for eight carries, and those eight carries were the only things keep- ing Notre Dame from an even worse grade in this category. NOTRE DAME PASSING DEFENSE: A- It was trending to be one of Notre Dame's best performances against the pass this season until the fourth quarter. One-hundred thirty (130) of Stanford quarterback Tanner McKee's 172 passing yards came in the fourth quarter. He completed 8 of 9 passes in the frame when the game was already in hand for the Irish. In the first three quarters, McKee was 12-of-16 passing for 42 yards with zero touchdowns. Stan- ford could not push the ball down the field at all in three quarters of the game. A 49-yard touchdown on a defensive breakdown by Notre Dame and two other passing plays that gained at least 19 yards changed that in the fourth. Still, it was a really impressive performance for the Notre Dame secondary for most of the night. NOTRE DAME RUSHING DEFENSE: A Stanford didn't exactly make a consistent effort to run the ball, but that was probably because head coach David Shaw knew it wasn't going to be easy to do so against a strong Notre Dame defensive front. The Irish held Stanford to 55 yards on 22 carries. The Cardinal scored one time on the ground. Sophomore running back E.J. Smith, son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith, had five carries for 25 yards. Junior Austin Jones ran nine times for 35 yards. He scored the touchdown, too. McKee was sacked twice and ran two other times for a net loss of 18 yards. As Shaw likely suspected, his team's rushing of- fense which has struggled to gain any traction this season struggled mightily again against one of the premier defensive fronts in the country. NOTRE DAME SPECIAL TEAMS: B+ Special teams once again didn't play much of a factor. Stanford punted eight times, but Williams did not return any of them for positive yardage. It was a fair catch fest once again. Notre Dame punter Jay Bramblett booted the ball five times for an average of 42.4 yards. A short Bramblett kick almost led directly to a Stanford field goal at the end of the half, but the Cardinal kicker missed a 58-yarder wide left. It had plenty of leg. Notre Dame graduate student kicker Jonathan Do- erer made his only field goal attempt, a 36-yarder. Stanford had a few kick returns that looked promising at the start but never ended up being all that threatening. The Cardinal returned three kicks for an average of 24.0 yards. NOTRE DAME COACHING: A Another road game against a rival, another Notre Dame victory. Say what you want about the Irish's schedule not being menacing or anything else along those lines. Head coach Brian Kelly and his assistants still have to get the team prepared to play, and they've done a superb job of that in the second half of the season. Notre Dame was the better team on paper, and the Irish proved to be the better team from the opening kickoff, too. A 24-0 lead at halftime is never a bad thing. The Irish even expanded on that lead in finishing with a winning margin of 31. Notre Dame won four games in November by an average margin of 34.8 points per game. It doesn't matter who the opponents are. That would be an impressive mark for Georgia or Alabama or any other top-tier team. That's because Notre Dame is a top-tier team itself. REPORT CARD BY TYLER HORKA Senior wide receiver Braden Lenzy had four receptions for 49 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown reception that put the Fighting Irish up 7-0. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL

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