Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 12, 2016

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

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Page 38 of 55 SEPT. 12, 2016 39 A pair of dynamic sophomores add to the back- field's potential. Josh Adams set a Notre Dame freshman record by rushing for 835 yards (7.1 per carry) last fall. Adams averaged 114.6 rushing yards per game during the team's final five games of the season. Fellow sophomore Dexter Williams is unlikely to supplant Folston or Adams as the lead backs, but the Notre Dame staff will find a way to get his dynamic athleticism on the field and the football in his hands. Notre Dame's quarterbacks combined for 719 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, numbers that could increase if senior quarterback Malik Zaire ends up as the full-time starter. Advantage: Notre Dame NOTRE DAME PASSING GAME VS. NEVADA PASS DEFENSE Nevada was not much better defending the pass, ranking 52nd nationally in passing yards allowed per game (214.0) and 70th in pass ef- ficiency defense (128.94 rating). Those numbers are even more damaging for the Wolf Pack when its porous rush defense is taken into consideration. Opponents completed an impressive 63.5 percent of their passes last season. To make matters worse, Nevada had a hard time getting after the quarterback in 2015, tied with Notre Dame for 75th in the country in sacks with just 25. All but three of those sacks came from players who have since exhausted their eligibility. Nevada returns a productive and experienced secondary that is led by sophomore safeties Dameon Barber (six interceptions in 2015) and Asauni Rufus (105 tackles). If the front can get any pressure on the quarterback, the secondary should be able to hold its own against most teams. Limiting the Notre Dame pass catchers could prove too daunting of a task, though, especially if Nevada cannot get after the quarterback. Despite an overall lack of experience and past production at the position — Notre Dame entered the season with just 37 career catches at receiver — the Irish receiving corps has plenty of speed. Nevada's linebackers could have a hard time with sophomore slot receiver C.J. Sanders, who becomes a full-time offensive player after finish- ing fourth on the team last season in all-purpose yards thanks to his exploits on special teams. Advantage: Notre Dame SPECIAL TEAMS Nevada ranked 58th nationally in special teams last season according to the Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI). Senior placekicker Brent Zuzo was a standout for the Wolf Pack, making 17 of 19 field goal attempts. Also back is senior returner Elijah Mitchell, who ranked 21st in the land last season with 26.4 yards per kick return. His 96-yard kick return for a score in the Arizona Bowl helped lead Nevada to a 28-23 victory over Colorado State. The rest of the Nevada special teams was not as effective. Nevada ranked 70th nationally in punt coverage efficiency, 93rd in kick coverage efficiency, 116th in punt return efficiency and an abysmal 119th in the country in net field position according to the FEI. Notre Dame ranked 19th nationally by the same service due to its No. 10 ranking in field goal effi- ciency, No. 18 rating in punt coverage ranking and No. 25 showing in punt return efficiency average. Despite Polian's background on special teams (he served as Notre Dame's special teams coordi- nator from 2005-09), the Irish should control this matchup. Advantage: Notre Dame COACHING Replacing a Hall of Fame coach is never easy, and going 18-20 in your first three years will not keep a coach's seat cool. Nevada has gone 7-6 each of the last two years, earning a bowl berth in both seasons. Polian hired Cramsey to get the offense back on track. Nevada will look to improve its ground at- tack and create a more explosive pass game. With a defense that suffered heavy personnel losses, the Wolf Pack offense will need to carry the day. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly has more career wins (226) than any active coach in college football. When Kelly first became a head coach at Grand Valley State back in 1991, Polian was a junior in high school, so the Irish head coach cer- tainly has an experience advantage. Kelly and the Irish staff also have a continuity advantage over the Wolf Pack. Notre Dame returns all nine assistant coaches from its 2015 team, while Nevada goes into the season with a brand new of- fensive coordinator and offensive line coach. Advantage: Notre Dame INTANGIBLES Notre Dame seems to have everything working in its favor heading into this matchup. The Irish have the more explosive offense and a more ex- perienced defense. Outside of its ground attack, Nevada is significantly outmatched by the Irish — at least on paper. This matchup will also be Notre Dame's first home game of the season, so the home crowd should be rowdy. Notre Dame has won its last three home openers by a combined score of 114-26. Advantage: Notre Dame GAME PREVIEW: NEVADA Offense Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. WR 16 Torii Hunter Jr. 6-0 195 Sr. 29 Kevin Stepherson 6-0 181 Fr. Slot 3 C.J. Sanders 5-8 185 So. 15 Corey Holmes 6-0½ 190 Jr. LT 68 Mike McGlinchey 6-7½ 310 Sr. 70 Hunter Bivin 6-5½ 308 Sr. LG 56 Quenton Nelson 6-5 325 Jr. 57 Trevor Ruhland 6-3¼ 300 So. C 53 Sam Mustipher 6-2½ 310 Jr. 75 Mark Harrell 6-4 306 5th-Sr. RG 62 Colin McGovern 6-4½ 310 Sr. 66 Tristen Hoge 6-4¼ 310 So. RT 71 Alex Bars 6-6 320 Jr. 78 Tommy Kraemer 6-4½ 315 Fr. TE 80 Durham Smythe 6-4½ 245 Sr. 82 Nic Weishar 6-4 240 Jr. WR 6 E. St. Brown 6-4 205 So. 81 Miles Boykin 6-3½ 222 So. QB 14 DeShone Kizer 6-4¼ 230 Jr. or 9 Malik Zaire 6-0 222 Sr. RB 25 Tarean Folston 5-9½ 214 Sr. or 33 Josh Adams 6-1½ 220 So. Defense Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Cl. DE 90 Isaac Rochell 6-3½ 290 Sr. 55 Jonathan Bonner 6-3 286 Jr. DT 99 Jerry Tillery 6-6½ 310 So. 58 Elijah Taylor 6-3 285 So. NG 94 Jarron Jones 6-5½ 315 5th-Sr. or 75 Daniel Cage 6-1 315 Jr. DE 98 Andrew Trumbetti 6-3½ 255 Jr. or 93 Jay Hayes 6-3 285 Jr. MLB 5 Nyles Morgan 6-1 245 Jr. 4 Te'von Coney 6-1 235 So. WLB 48 Greer Martini 6-2½ 240 Jr. 22 Asmar Bilal 6-2 230 So. SLB 17 James Onwualu 6-1 232 Sr. 44 Jamir Jones 6-2½ 225 Fr. CB 36 Cole Luke 5-11 195 Sr. 27 Julian Love 5-10½ 190 Fr. FS 8 Avery Sebastian 5-10 200 6th-Sr. 14 Devin Studstill 6-0 198 Fr. SS 23 Drue Tranquill 6-1½ 225 Jr. 21 Jalen Elliott 6-0 195 Fr. CB 20 Shaun Crawford 5-8½ 185 So. 24 Nick Coleman 5-11½ 195 So. NOTRE DAME DEPTH CHART Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PK 19 Justin Yoon 5-9½ 190 So. 43 John Chereson 5-9 178 Sr. P 85 Tyler Newsome 6-2½ 210 Jr. 42 Jeff Riney 5-10 165 So. KO 85 Tyler Newsome 6-2½ 210 Jr. 19 Justin Yoon 5-10 190 So. H 4 M. VanGorder 6-4½ 230 Jr. 14 DeShone Kizer 6-4¼ 230 Jr. Pos. No. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. LS 61 Scott Daly 6-1½ 250 5th-Sr. 54 John Shannon 6-2 220 Fr. PR 3 C.J. Sanders 5-8 185 So. 27 Chris Finke 5-9½ 180 So. KR 3 C.J. Sanders 5-8 185 So. 2 Dexter Williams 6-0 210 So. Special Teams

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