Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 9, 2015 Issue

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

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Page 62 of 118

IN THE TRENCHES ANDREW OWENS drive that kept the Irish from suffering that devastating second loss. "He's a resilient kid, and he doesn't carry any of it with him," head coach Brian Kelly said. "He's always on the sideline. There were a couple times early in the game where he wasn't staying disciplined in some of the things we've been good at. He was putting the ball into some positions that normally he would not put it in. "We had a long talk on the sideline about going back to the basics and doing the things that got you here, and he did some good things for us in terms of running the football as well." Kizer again showed poise in tight spots. He has noted on several occa- sions that it is easier to remain poised when the huddle around you includes Notre Dame's plethora of playmakers. Even when a defense shuts down senior running back C.J. Prosise — he was limited to 25 rushing yards on 14 carries — there's still junior wide receiver Will Fuller. And senior wide receiver Chris Brown. And junior wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr. Freshman tight end Alizé Jones even produced on the game-winning drive. Notre Dame has nine plays of 50 yards or more this season, already the most of any of the six seasons in the Kelly era. "There's no question there are in- dividual playmakers on this team," Kelly said. "Collectively, though, there's a demeanor on this football team of they're not going to give in. They just keep playing. They play hard for four quarters. "The Temple team has that, too. A 'no quit' attitude where they just keep playing. This group is very similar. That collectively is what you have, as well as those individual playmakers." The four-point win over Temple was certainly a gritty one, but the Irish missed an opportunity to pull away in the first half due to the two Kizer inter- ceptions. Even with the Owls' success this season, a four-point win over head coach Matt Rhule's group will do little to impress a College Football Playoff committee that was set to unveil its first rankings of the fall the Tuesday (Nov. 3) after the Irish win. Just as being a game manager no longer satisfied Kizer, close wins down the stretch will do little for Notre Dame if it finishes 11-1 and eyes a berth in the four-team field. In the absence of 2015 signature victories — the Nov. 28 finale at Stanford could be one if the Cardinal keeps winning — some style points must be added in other ways. "We're going to be in those situa- tions," Kizer said. "We learned quite a bit from our experiences in the Vir- ginia and Clemson games to have the confidence to come out and know we're going to score points. "That being said, we don't want to be there. If I don't throw those two picks in the first half, I wouldn't have to engineer anything. The situation came up, and we came out victori- ous." ✦ Andrew Owens has been a writer for Blue & Gold Illustrated since August 2013. He can be reached at

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