Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 12, 2022

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

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26 NOV. 12, 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED Notre Dame still ambushed them anyway. "When you find ways to execute and you find ways to play with relentless effort, it doesn't matter if a team knows you're coming after a punt or not," head coach Marcus Freeman said. This latest block — the Irish's sixth of the season, a modern-era program record — didn't just come on Clemson's first punt. It spotted Notre Dame a 7-0 lead with 9:08 left in the first quarter in a 35-14 win over the No. 4 Tigers. Junior linebacker Jordan Botelho de- flected it. Sophomore linebacker Prince Kollie grabbed the floundering kick out of the air and ran 17 yards into the end zone, untouched. The party in the end zone kicked off an all-night bash. Notre Dame signaled its intentions when it fielded a punt return unit of mostly defensive backs, edge rushers and Kollie, and stuck everyone but re- turner Brandon Joseph on the line of scrimmage against Clemson's spread- out punt formation. The Irish were coming with pressure. Clemson had three protectors on each side of long snapper Holden Caspersen. Three more were upbacks and formed a shield around punter Aidan Swanson. Six Notre Dame rushers were to the snapper's left, and four to his right. Caspersen ran downfield after the snap, leaving 10 rushers with nine pro- tectors. But inside, Clemson had six blockers for six rushers. The Tigers had the numbers. This wasn't an intricate pressure package from Notre Dame special teams coordinator Brian Mason that was de- signed to get a free run or take a block- er's eyes elsewhere. Clemson's protec- tion failed because middle upback Ruke Orhorhoro simply whiffed trying to block Botelho at the last second, even though Botelho was in his view from the snap. Orhorhoro was late in picking him up. By the time Orhorhoro committed to taking Botelho, all he could do was give Botelho a hit on the side with his shoulder. Too little, too late. The punt hit Botelho's outstretched right hand, deflected upward and fluttered into Kollie's waiting arms. It's hard to tab any of the five other blocks as more important to a game than this one. The play ended in a touch- NOTRE DAME VS. CLEMSON QUARTER-BY-QUARTER COMPARISON Notre Dame 1st Qtr. 2nd Qtr. 3rd Qtr. 4th Qtr. 1st Half 2nd Half Total Time of Possession 6:39 10:08 8:17 7:56 16:47 16:13 33:00 Third-Down Conversions 0-2 3-5 1-3 2-2 3-7 3-5 6-12 Fourth-Down Conversions 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 Average Field Position ND-28 ND-35 ND-39 ND-39 ND-30 ND-39 ND-35 Clemson 1st Qtr. 2nd Qtr. 3rd Qtr. 4th Qtr. 1st Half 2nd Half Final Time of Possession 8:21 4:52 6:43 7:04 13:13 13:47 27:00 3rd-Down Conversions 0-3 0-2 1-3 3-3 0-5 4-6 4-11 Fourth-Down Conversions 0-1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-1 0-0 0-1 Average Field Position CLEM-21 CLEM-20 CLEM-11 CLEM-25 CLEM-21 CLEM-18 CLEM-19 PLAY CHART (NO. OF PLAYS) Yards ND CLEM Nega ve 5 8 0-5 34 32 6-9 7 11 10-19 16 10 20-29 1 2 30-39 0 0 40-49 0 0 50 or more 0 0 RED ZONE EFFICIENCY (INSIDE 20-YARD LINE) No Poss. TD FG Score Notre Dame 3 3 0 0 Clemson 3 3 0 0 BIG PLAYS (25 YARDS OR MORE) Notre Dame • None Clemson • None Junior linebacker Jordan Botelho's blocked punt in the first quarter vs. the Tigers was Notre Dame's sixth of the season — the most in the FBS and a modern-era single-season program record. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER MISCELLANEOUS NOTES • Head coach Marcus Freeman earned his third victory over a ranked team this season and second in a row. It is the first time Notre Dame posted back-to-back wins over ranked teams since 2018 (No. 7 Stanford and No. 24 Virginia Tech). • The 35-14 victory vs. No. 4 Clemson is the first for the Fighting Irish over a top-five team since they knocked off No. 1 Clemson on Nov. 7, 2020. • Logan Diggs (114) and Audric Estime (104) both rushed for more than 100 yards against the Tigers, the first time this season that two Irish rushers have reached that mark in the same game, and the first time for the program since Kyren Williams and junior Chris Tyree did it against Syracuse in a 45-21 triumph on Dec. 5, 2020. • Freshman cornerback Benjamin Morrison intercepted his first career pass late in the third quarter. Morrison then followed up with his first career interception return for a touchdown later in the game. He also recorded a career-high 7 tackles.

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