Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 23, 2015 Issue

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

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Page 28 of 113

BY ANDREW OWENS A t "Tight End U," Notre Dame has become so accustomed to utilizing a game-changing tight end each year that it seems odd to see it using four players to accom- plish the duties in 2015. Once junior starter Durham Smythe fell victim to a season-ending injury in the second week of the season, head coach Brian Kelly turned to a rotation at the position. With standout fresh- man Alizé Jones and sophomore Nic Weishar serving as the pass-catching options, and sophomore Tyler Luatua and fifth-year senior Chase Hounshell the blockers, the Irish have mixed and matched through nine games. While the latter three possess more experience and time in Notre Dame's system, none can match the athleti- cism or potential of Jones. Trailing 20-17 late in the fourth quarter with College Football Playoff hopes on the brink of elimination at Temple, Notre Dame turned to Jones, who delivered with a 45-yard catch and scamper to move the chains and set up the even- tual game-winning score. Sophomore quarterback DeShone Kizer worked through his progres- sions before finally finding the wide- open Jones, his third option on the play. "They were playing some zone cov- erage. The corner bit down on the No. 1 receiver and opened up a little hole," Kizer said. "I threw it in there, and Alizé's one of the fastest, most athletic tight ends in the country. If you put the ball in his hands, he's go- ing to make a play." Two plays later, Kizer connected for the go-ahead touchdown with junior wide receiver Will Fuller, who praised Jones' catching ability after the game. "He has the best hands on the team, so you're not going to see him drop- ping any balls," Fuller said. "A fresh- man coming in and making big plays and keeping our drive alive, it's big Collaboration With no clear No. 1 tight end, Notre Dame is using four different players to get the job done

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