Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 2, 2015 Issue

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

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Page 39 of 111

USC RUNNING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME RUN DEFENSE The run was an auxiliary element just to keep Notre Dame wary enough to burn it with the pass. Highlighted by freshman running back Ronald Jones' 65-yard run on the opening possession of the second half that set up a 31-24 USC advantage, the Trojans finished with 150 yards and 5.0 yards per carry. Two long runs did most of the damage, but the bottom line is when a defense allows 590 yards of total offense the way Notre Dame's did, the run played enough of a factor. ADVANTAGE: USC USC PASSING GAME VS. NOTRE DAME PASS DEFENSE The Trojans connected on 75- and 83-yard scoring passes within 2:24 in the second quarter to knot the score at 24, and their first touchdown was set up with a 37-yard completion on a third-and-eight play. USC had 310 passing yards in the first half alone. When the Trojans tried to put the game away more with the run in the second 30 minutes, they not only failed to do so, but the approach helped limit USC to 130 yards through the air, while the Irish came up with two crucial interceptions in the fourth quarter. USC finished with 440 passing yards, but that was like Notre Dame's Joe Theismann racking up 526 yards passing 45 years ago in what turned out to be a 10-point loss at USC (38-28). ADVANTAGE: USC NOTRE DAME RUNNING GAME VS. USC RUN DEFENSE Senior running back C.J. Prosise (19 carries for 143 yards and two touchdowns) played his best game of the season as an all-around back (including five catches for 32 yards), while again seldom going down on initial contact. The line provided a needed surge, and sophomore quarterback DeShone Kizer added a complement with the zone read, finishing with 47 rushing yards. Above all, Prosise's effectiveness forced USC to move its safeties closer to the line, thereby leaving junior wideout Will Fuller in single coverage. He re- sponded with a 75-yard touchdown on the first Irish play from scrimmage, three catches for 131 yards and two drawn pass interference calls. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame NOTRE DAME PASSING GAME VS. USC PASS DEFENSE After completing his first eight passes for 140 yards, Kizer and the Irish aerial attack was connected on only 7 of 16 throws for 87 yards — although two pass interference calls on USC while trying to cover Fuller deep provided 30 yards on Notre Dame's 90- yard scoring drive that tied the game at 31 with 14:20 left in the contest. Then to help make it 38-31, junior Torii Hunter Jr. completed a 35-yard pass to freshman tight end Alizé Jones on a trick play. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame SPECIAL TEAMS The Irish scored their third special teams touch- down this season with their first blocked punt for a score (to make it 21-10) since the 28-3 victory versus Utah in 2010. Freshman CJ Sanders 25-yard punt return to the USC 42 in the second quarter then set up a 32-yard field goal by classmate Jus- tin Yoon for a 24-10 lead. USC's missed 36-yard field goal right before halftime kept the score tied 24-24. Kizer's pooch punting twice pinned USC inside its 20, plus Yoon made his second field goal attempt in as many tries, from 32 yards, to provide the two-score cushion at 41-31 with 5:39 left. Then the Irish downed a 41-yard punt by sophomore Tyler Newsome at the 1-yard line with 3:35 remaining. Kick coverage has continued to be a problem the past three games for Notre Dame, with USC's pos- sessions starting from the 29, 46 and 34, plus an out-of-bounds kick to begin at the 35. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame ON PAPER REVISITED BY LOU SOMOGYI

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