Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 12, 2016

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

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Page 26 of 55 SEPT. 12, 2016 27 TAKING A CLOSER LOOK What Worked • Run Game Continues To Roll. Notre Dame's 2015 offense averaged 207.6 rushing yards per game, its best mark since the 2000 season. The 2016 offense continued that trend, rushing for 206 yards against the Texas defense. Senior running back Tarean Folston ripped off a career-long 54-yard run to set up Notre Dame's opening-drive touchdown. Notre Dame ran an inside zone play, and the right side of the Irish line drove the Texas linemen off the ball, opening up the hole. Folston ran hard between the tackles and grinded out tough yards, leading the Irish offense with 88 yards on 18 carries (4.9 yards per attempt). Junior quarterback DeShone Kizer was also a force, rushing for 77 yards on 13 attempts (5.9 yards per carry). In the third quarter, Kizer raced around the right side for a 29-yard touchdown. • Cover Units Shine. When they were given the opportunity to tackle a Texas return man, the Notre Dame coverage units performed quite well. Sopho- more placekicker Justin Yoon had touchbacks on four of his six kickoffs. On the other two kicks, the Irish coverage players pinned Texas at its own 19- and 20-yard line. The punt coverage team also stopped Texas at the 13- and 12-yard lines. Texas committed a pair of blocks in the back against the coverage teams, which was a result of the Irish players beating the Longhorn blockers down the field. What Didn't Work • Three-Man Front. Notre Dame made the deci- sion to spend most of the game defending Texas with a three-man defensive line, choosing to go with a 3-3-5 alignment that put five defensive backs on the field with three linebackers. Against a Texas offense that was determined to run the football, this proved to be a fateful strategy. Texas finished the game with 237 rushing yards on 59 attempts. The Longhorns had 203 yards on the ground off of 44 attempts at the end of regulation. Texas did not have many long runs — with a game long of just 19 yards — but it pounded the Irish defense into submission. With the ND defensive ends lined up over the tackles, Texas was able to constantly seal them inside, opening up off-tackle runs and cutback lanes. With the front unable to hold up, Notre Dame was then forced to bring its safeties tighter and tighter into the box, which opened up big-play opportunities. • Coverage Problems. Big plays were kryptonite to the Irish defense in 2015, and that continued in the opener against Texas. Late in the second quarter, a blown Notre Dame coverage resulted in Texas junior wide receiver Jer- rod Heard getting free for a 68-yard reception that set up a Tyrone Swoopes touchdown run. In the third quarter, sophomore wide receiver John Burt torched Notre Dame sophomore corner- back Nick Coleman for a 72-yard touchdown to put Texas up 28-14 in the third quarter. — Bryan Driskell Texas head coach Charlie Strong, Notre Dame's defensive line coach from 1995-98, led his unranked Longhorns to the upset of the No. 10 Irish, Brian Kelly's first loss while in the top 10 to an unranked opponent. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA 4 Consecutive years that Notre Dame did not commit a turnover in its opening game — and it had only one in 2012. However, this is the first time a Brian Kelly team at Notre Dame lost a game despite no turnovers. He had been 19-0 his first six seasons in such contests. 5 Years between opening-game losses for Notre Dame. It lost 23-20 at home to South Florida in 2011 with Skip Holtz, the son of 1986- 96 Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz, as the Bulls' head coach. In this loss to Texas, the Long- horns holder on extra points and field goals was Trey Holtz — son of Skip and grandson of Lou. 5-10 Record for Notre Dame in games decided in overtime since the extra sessions were added to college football in 1996, which includes 1-4 in more than one overtime. The Irish are 2-3 under head coach Brian Kelly. Both OT victories occurred in 2012 (Stanford and Pitt), and the other losses were against Michigan State (2010) and Northwestern (2014). 20-1 BRIAN KELLY'S record against unranked teams when Notre Dame is ranked in the Associated Press top 10 — with Texas this year contributing the sole blemish. 24 Straight losses by Notre Dame once it fell behind by at least 17 points in a game, like it did at Texas (31-14) early in the third quarter. It has not won such a contest since 2006, when it trailed 24-7 at Michigan State before rallying to a 40-37 conquest. 47 Points by Notre Dame were the most ever by a Fighting Irish football team in defeat. The previous high occurred in a 46-44 three-over- time loss to Navy on Nov. 3, 2007. 1944 The last year Texas started a fresh- man quarterback — Bobby Layne — in the opener until Shane Buechele against the Irish. Buechele also became the first true freshman QB to defeat Notre Dame since Tate Forcier helped direct Michigan to a late 38-34 win in 2009. Forcier totaled 310 yards total offense, threw for two scores and ran for one, while Buech- ele totaled 313 yards total offense, passed for two touchdowns and ran for a third. 102,315 In attendance, a new re- cord at Texas' Darrell K. Royal Stadium. The Fighting Irish also set a sta- dium record on their last visit to Austin in 1996 (83,312), prior to expansion. BY THE NUMBERS BY LOU SOMOGYI

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