Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2015

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

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Page 43 of 105

LSU RUNNING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME RUN DEFENSE This was considered the contest's prime mismatch. LSU's physical ground attack (219.5 yards per game) was projected to run roughshod against the young Irish defense that had allowed 244.0 rushing yards per contest over its final five games. Indeed, the Tigers' 285 rushing yards broke Syra- cuse's 1999 Music City Bowl record (276), and the 7.5 yards per carry was highlighted by freshman Leonard Fournette's 89-yard touchdown sprint for a 28-21 third-quarter lead. Yet the Irish held up well enough in the fourth quarter to not allow a score. ADVANTAGE: LSU LSU PASSING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME PASS DEFENSE Even though LSU ran the ball well as expected, it was not able to succeed as much as it wanted to with play-action passing. Half of its 151 passing yards came on the opening play of the second half when quarterback Anthony Jennings, who completed 7 of 14 throws in the game, faked an option down the line and lofted a 75-yard scoring strike over the top to wide receiver John Diarse. What's underrated is when LSU had first-and-goal at the 5-yard line in the final minute of the first half, it failed twice with the pass and was unable to score. LSU's lack of confidence with the pass helped keep it scoreless in the decisive fourth quarter. ADVANTAGE: Even NOTRE DAME RUNNING GAME VS. LSU RUN DEFENSE The story of the game was the Fighting Irish of- fensive line playing its most physical game of the season, an effort that matched any in the Brian Kelly era versus a quality foe. The often-employed double- tight end look enhanced the power attack much like it did in the final four games of 2010 and most of the 2012 regular season. It had been often lamented with Tommy Rees and even Everett Golson at the throttle that Kelly's scheme desperately needed a bona fide read-option threat at quarterback to establish a running rhythm. Sophomore Malik Zaire provided that dimension with a team-high 96 yards on 22 carries, and that helped open up power runs between the tackles with sophomore running back Tarean Folston and the jet sweep with Folston and junior slot receiver C.J. Prosise. Folston pounded his way to 73 yards on 21 carries, while Prosise's 75 yards on the ground were highlighted by his game-breaking 50-yard touchdown run to knot the game at 28. The jet sweep was executed well all game and was another headache for LSU to contend with because while It had to honor Zaire's running skills, the sweep also had to occupy the defense's eyes. Two misdi- rection plays were not well executed, but they too could provide a future lethal dimension in a Zaire-led attack that totaled 263 yards and 5.2 yards per pop versus the Tigers. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame NOTRE DAME PASSING GAME VS. LSU PASS DEFENSE Understandably, Kelly kept the passing game rela- tively conservative for Zaire, who did fire some fine darts on slants and screens en route to finishing 12- of-15 passing for 96 yards. Equally impressive was during the game-winning drive, senior Everett Golson (6-of-11 passing for 90 yards) patiently went through his progressions and connected on a couple of check-downs, highlighted by a 12-yard completion to senior tight end Ben Koyack on third-and-10. It was uplifting to see Notre Dame able to run ef- fectively to set up the pass. It wasn't a lethal pass attack, but it served as the complement to the run. ADVANTAGE: Even SPECIAL TEAMS Scoring on a 100-yard kickoff like LSU did with Fournette virtually guarantees an advantage in this area. However, this a wash because LSU's two field goal attempts resulted in a fake that failed to score ON PAPER REVISITED BY LOU SOMOGYI

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