Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct 08, 2022

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

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14 OCT. 8, 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED UNDER THE DOME KK Baffour — Soccer The freshman midfielder from Kumasi, Ghana, scored the game-winning goal with less than 10 seconds left in Notre Dame's 2-1 win at Vir- ginia Sept. 16. Set up by a perfect pass from sophomore forward Matthew Roou, Baffour came open deep in Virginia ter- ritory and finished the sequence with a right- footed boot into the bottom left corner of the net for the first goal of his Notre Dame career. Kari Bellville — Golf The South Bend-area native, 2018 Notre Dame graduate and a three-year player for the Irish was named an assistant golf coach at her alma mater Aug. 22. A four-year letter winner and a team captain at nearby Penn High School, Bellville returns to her hometown after spend- ing the 2021-22 season as the head coach at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She serves as an assis- tant for both the men's and the women's teams. Tommy Janton — Swimming While his Notre Dame career has yet to for- mally begin, the Irish freshman is already making waves. The Kennett Square, Pa., native was named to the USA Swimming National Team as a 100-meter backstroke competitor in September. In addition to his latest honor, Janton had already qualified for the 2021 Olympic Trials in both the 100 and 200 backstroke, and he was a 2022 YMCA national champion in both events prior to his campus arrival. Olivia Markezich — Cross Country The junior from Woodinville, Wash., helped lead the Irish to victory in the National Catholic Invite Sept. 16. She finished the 5K race in second place with a time of 17:13.0, leading the way for a dominating contingent of Irish runners that crossed the fin- ish line in the second through sixth place. A returning distance ace, Markezich earned All- America honors last season after finishing 11th at the 2021 NCAA Cross Country Championships. TOP TOP OF THE CLASS OF THE CLASS Irish student-athletes excelling on the field and in the classroom ✦ GIMME FIVE It took Notre Dame three full seasons from 2018-20 to amass five games with 5 or more sacks. It took less than a season and a half to reach that mark since the arrival of Marcus Freeman in 2021. Freeman was Notre Dame's defensive coordinator last season. The Irish had four games with 5 or more sacks and finished with 41 for the year, which tied the program record for the most in a single season. Notre Dame did not register four games with 5 or more sacks during the entire Brian Kelly era until Freeman arrived. Freeman isn't the Irish defensive coordinator any- more. That's Al Golden. But elements of Freeman's de- fense are still all over, and that has shown up early in 2022. Notre Dame had 10 sacks through three games after a 6-sack performance in the Week 3 win over Cal. The math is easy: The Irish were on a 40-sack regular season pace through the first quarter of the year. Notre Dame averaged 25.6 sacks per season in the 11 seasons Kelly was the head coach without Freeman. The Irish should steamroll that figure in each of the two seasons for which Freeman has been in South Bend. Sacks don't always equate to stout de- fenses. There were still issues with Notre Dame's defense in the first three games, like allowing two 90-plus yard drives in the fourth quarter in the two losses. But it is not a coincidence that the only game Notre Dame won in the first three was the one in which the Irish sacked the opposing quarterback 6 times. Big sacks are drive killers. — Tyler Horka CHARTING THE IRISH NOTRE DAME FACES A YEAR-OVER-YEAR SCORING DEFICIT Notre Dame found itself immersed in a statistical category it would have wanted to avoid through three weeks of the 2022 season. Last year, the Fighting Irish averaged 33.3 points per game in their first three games. This year, the Irish averaged 18.3 points per game through their first three games. The drop-off of exactly 15 points per game was the seventh-worst FBS year-over-year decrease in a team's first three games from 2021 to 2022. Several factors played into the slow start offensively. The offensive line wasn't what it was hyped to be in the preseason, so the overall rushing attacked has suffered. Also, starting quarterback Tyler Buchner was lost for the season to a shoulder injury after just two games. In its season-opening 21-10 loss at Ohio State, Notre Dame devised a milk-the-clock, limit pos- sessions strategy. The Buckeyes averaged a nation-leading 565.3 yards per game in their first three games, but gained "only" 395 against the Irish, largely due to the stout play of the defense but also due in part to the offensive game plan. Make no mistake, though, the offense wasn't particularly good against Ohio State. The Irish ran just 48 plays rushed for only 76 yards and. In the stunning 26-21 loss to Mar- shall in Week 2, Irish quarterbacks threw 3 interceptions. In the 24-17 win over Cal in Week 3, Notre Dame enacted a simplistic, conservative of- fense that led to backup quarterback turned starter Drew Pyne only throw- ing 3 of his 23 pass attempts more than 10 yards downfield. His average depth of target was 2.8 yards. — Tyler Horka BIGGEST DROP-OFFS IN WEEKS 1-3 SCORING AVERAGE FROM 2021 TO 2022 Per @statsowar Rk. School 2021 2022 PPG Diff. 1. Utah State 41.0 12.7 -28.3 2. Virginia 41.3 17.7 -23.6 3. Auburn 47.3 26.0 -21.3 4. Boston College 41.3 23.0 -18.3 5. Iowa 30.3 13.7 -16.6 6. Fresno State 44.0 28.0 -16.0 7. Notre Dame 33.3 18.3 -15.0 8. Wyoming 38.0 24.0 -14.0 9. UTEP 27.0 14.0 -13.0 10. Louisville 32.0 19.3 -12.7 GAMES WITH 5 OR MORE SACKS SINCE MARCUS FREEMAN ARRIVED AT NOTRE DAME Date Opponent Sacks Result Sept. 5, 2021 at Florida State 5 W, 41-38 Sept. 11, 2021 Toledo 5 W, 32-29 Nov. 13, 2021 at Virginia 7 W, 28-3 Nov. 20, 2021 Georgia Tech 6 W, 55-0 Sept. 17, 2022 California 6 W, 24-17 The Notre Dame defense racked up 6 sacks in the win over Cal Sept. 17, giving the Irish 5 or more sacks in five games since Marcus Freeman arrived. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER

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