Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 16, 2015 Issue

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

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injured senior running back C.J. Prosise in the second quarter. Prosise's game-breaking speed to the edge has been invaluable all season, but Adams' downhill style and ability to make quick decisions on cuts provided another dimension. The zone read with sophomore quarterback De- Shone Kizer, who finished with minus-10 rushing yards one week after romping for 143, was stopped, but this time the choose-your-poison offense fea- tured a more downhill approach. The 175 rushing yards doesn't tell the whole story because basic shovel handoffs, such as Prosise's 19- yard gain on the game's first play or Adams' five-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, are counted as "pass plays." ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame NOTRE DAME PASSING GAME VS. PITT PASS DEFENSE The short passing game, especially screens, and sound running attack opened up the less frequent play-action passes downfield, highlighted by 47- and 46-yard first-half scoring tosses to Fuller. Pitt gambled by playing man coverage on Fuller and was repeatedly burned. Last week, senior wideout Chris Brown (six catches for 72 yards) was the ideal No. 2 target, and this week the slot duo of junior Torii Hunter Jr. and fifth- year senior Amir Carlisle combined for seven catches for 67 yards and a score. It resulted in a highly effi- cient 19-of-26 passing performance by Kizer for 262 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame SPECIAL TEAMS Although he had a kickoff go out of bounds a sec- ond straight week to start the opponent at its 35, sophomore Tyler Newsome had an exceptional game as a punter, highlighted by first-half punts that trav- eled 55, 57 and 55 yards to help win the field posi- tion battle. The Irish also recovered both of Pitt's onside kick attempts, most notably the surprise one it ran after cutting the deficit to 28-17 in the third quarter. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame THIRD-DOWN CONVERSIONS Notre Dame was 8 of 14 (57.1 percent), while Pitt was 6 of 14 (42.9 percent). Both had their share of conversions on TD drives, but the Irish had a little more. Notre Dame moved the chains on third-and-five and third-and-one on its second scoring march, and on a third-and-nine Kizer completed a 14-yard fade for a touchdown to Fuller to up the lead to 28-10. On the ensuing Irish tally, Kizer passed to Carlisle for 13 on third-and-seven and Hunter for six on third-and-four. On two separate touchdown drives, Pitt completed 21- and 24-yard passes on third-and-13 and third- and-six, respectively. ADVANTAGE: Notre Dame TURNOVERS Both teams had one. Fifth-year senior safety Mat- thias Farley's diving interception at the Notre Dame 1-yard line kept the Irish ahead 14-3. Pitt defensive end Ejuan Price returned a fumble by freshman reserve quarterback Brandon Wimbush for a 32-yard score with only 1:44 left in the contest. ADVANTAGE: Even ANALYSIS It figures that on the week when the public and media were bemoaning Notre Dame's red zone de- ficiencies (mainly two turnovers there last week at Temple), the Irish tallied touchdowns on all four of their chances at Pitt. The offense was consistent and productive in both halves with 21 points apiece, while keeping Pitt off balance with the run and pass. Especially crucial was it answered Pitt's touchdowns that cut its deficit to 21-10 and 28-17 with their own touchdowns. Recovering the onside kick at 28-17 helped make the game less dicey. Similar to Georgia Tech, Pitt had two late touchdowns to make the score closer than what the game was. ✦ ON PAPER REVISITED BY LOU SOMOGYI

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