Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 17, 2022

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

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28 SEPT. 17, 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED surrendering red zone touchdowns at a strong 50 percent clip. You can find other healthy defen- sive numbers from Notre Dame's first two games or from the 26-21 loss to Marshall itself. Freeman, though, doesn't want to hear them. Not with his team 0-2 in part because of defen- sive problems in moments where the Irish could least afford them. For the second time in as many games this season, Notre Dame allowed a fourth- quarter touchdown drive of at least 94 yards. Ohio State's 14-play, 95-yard, barely impeded march in the opener chewed up nearly half the quar- ter and sealed the Buckeyes 21- 10 defeat of the Irish. One week later, Marshall sliced them up over 11 plays and 94 yards. That drive began with Notre Dame leading 15-12. It ended with them behind 19-15 — and behind for good. No matter how many posi- tives Freeman finds from the defense's overall play, a late drive where that unit wilted will stick in his craw. Again. "When it matters the most, we have to execute," Freeman said. "That's at the end of the game, in the fourth quarter, when the game is on the line. We have to find a way to get a stop." Everything about the setup of that drive favored the defense. Marshall started it at the 6-yard line after a 61-yard punt pinned it there. Two plays later, the Thundering Herd were staring at third-and-9. They hadn't tested Notre Dame downfield all game. Their play call didn't dial up a shot here. Instead, it was a tight end screen pass off a play fake, hardly an aggressive call. It worked, though, because two Notre Dame defenders bit on the fake and gave tight end Devin Miller room to reach the first-down marker with ease. That was the first of several missteps that helped Marshall to sustain a drive. A 16-yard catch-and-run aided by a missed tackle and bad angle put the Thundering Herd at midfield. Running back Khalan Laborn rumbled 42 yards with the help of four whiffed tackles to set up first- and-goal. Marshall scored three plays later. It left Freeman shaking his head on the field and at later a dais in the Notre Dame Stadium media room. "The biggest thing was a lack of tack- ing," Freeman said. "Run or pass, we didn't get the ball carrier down. You can't let an offense run 95 yards at any point, especially not in the fourth quarter when the game is on the line, you're up and you're trying to put the game away." Also absent from not only those two drives, but all season? Turnover genera- tion. Notre Dame has zero takeaways in 140 defensive snaps this year. Really, the Irish haven't been close. They have not forced a fumble yet. They have broken up two passes. "Above everything else, honestly, we're more upset about that," senior de- NOTRE DAME VS. MARSHALL QUARTER-BY-QUARTER COMPARISON Notre Dame 1st Qtr. 2nd Qtr. 3rd Qtr. 4th Qtr. 1st Half 2nd Half Total Time of Possession 8:46 6:17 7:31 6:44 15:03 14:15 29:18 3rd-Down Conversions 2-5 0-1 1-2 2-5 2-6 3-7 5-13 4th-Down Conversions 0-1 0-0 0-1 2-2 0-1 2-3 2-4 Average Field Position ND-38 ND-28 ND-18 ND-40 ND-32 ND-33 ND-32 Marshall 1st Qtr. 2nd Qtr. 3rd Qtr. 4th Qtr. 1st Half 2nd Half Final Time of Possession 6:14 8:43 7:29 8:16 14:57 15:45 30:42 3rd-Down Conversions 0-2 1-4 1-3 2-4 1-6 3-7 4-13 4th-Down Conversions 0-1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-1 0-0 0-1 Average Field Position MAR-20 MAR-27 MAR-38 MAR-26 MAR-24 MAR-30 MAR-27 PLAY CHART (NO. OF PLAYS) Yards ND MAR Nega ve 3 10 0-5 49 33 6-9 10 14 10-19 8 11 20-29 3 0 30-39 1 1 40-49 0 1 50 or more 0 0 RED ZONE EFFICIENCY (INSIDE 20-YARD LINE) No Poss. TD FG Score Notre Dame 3 3 0 0 Marshall 4 2 2 0 BIG PLAYS (25 YARDS OR MORE) Notre Dame • 1-10 UND36 Buchner pass complete to Mayer for 30 yards to MAR34 Marshall • 1-10 ND31 Colombi pass complete to Gammage for 31 yards and a touchdown (negated by illegal mo on penalty) • 2-5 UND48 Laborn 42-yard run to ND6 The Fighting Irish defense was unable to stop Marshall when it counted the most in the fourth quarter, with quarterback Henry Colombi guiding the Herd 94 yards in 11 plays in 5:16 for the go-ahead score. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER MISCELLANEOUS NOTES • Sophomore quarterback Tyler Buchner achieved new career highs for completions (18), passing attempts (32) passing yards (201) and rushing touchdowns (2) against Marshall. • Howard Cross III far surpassed his previous career high in tackles (5) with a team-leading 11 vs. the Thundering Herd. It marks the first time an Irish defensive lineman had put up 10 or more tackles since Kurt Hinish against Navy last season (Nov. 6, 2020). • Senior defensive end Isaiah Foskey's sack in the third quarter moved his career total to 16.5 and he is up to 11th all time on the career sack chart behind Anthony Weaver (17, 1998-2001). • Junior tight end Michael Mayer collected his 120th career reception, making him one of 11 Notre Dame players to reach that mark this century. The only other player to reach it in the last five years was wide receiver Chase Claypool. • Mayer 's touchdown reception in the fourth quarter was the 10th of his career, mak- ing him just the third Irish tight end to reach double-digit touchdown receptions in a career. He trails only Ken MacAfee (15) and Tyler Eif- ert (11) on the career list for Notre Dame tight end scoring receptions.

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