Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 19, 2016

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

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22 SEPT. 19, 2016 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY MATT JONES F or a majority of the second half, Notre Dame junior quarterback DeShone Kizer stood on the sideline without his helmet and wearing a red visor. No, the Toledo, Ohio, native did not struggle and get the hook from head coach Brian Kelly. The Irish avoided a week two quar- terback controversy, starting Kizer and letting him lead Notre Dame to a huge first half lead en route to a 39-10 victory over Nevada in front of 80,795 specta- tors at Notre Dame Stadium. Kizer connected on 15 of 18 throws for 156 yards with two touchdowns and added a rushing score before mak- ing way for senior Malik Zaire at the 3:45 mark of the third quarter. It was Notre Dame's defense, though, that looked significantly im- proved against the Wolf Pack. The Irish held Nevada to 300 yards and 16 first downs. A week after allowing 517 yards in a 50-47 double-overtime loss to Texas, coordinator Brian Van- Gorder's defense held up in front of the 250th consecutive sellout crowd for the Irish. Nevada, a Mountain West Confer- ence team that finished 7-6 in 2015, challenged the Irish early. Notre Dame's defense was up to the task, stopping the Wolf Pack on a fourth- and-one inside the red zone. "They were going to get some yard- age, and they're very creative on the offensive side of the ball. It was going to require a lot of discipline," Kelly said of Nevada. "We needed some confi- dence, too, and that fourth down stop was definitely a confidence builder for our defense. "That really gave us some momen- tum going into the next couple of drives." Sophomore running back Josh Ad- ams ran 10 times for 106 yards, while senior running back Tarean Folston — who received his second straight start — carried 10 times for 27 yards and a touchdown. "He's good. You can call him what- ever you want," Kelly said of Adams. "No. 1, No. 101. It's one of those things where Folston had 10 carries, Adams had 10 carries, [Dexter] Williams had eight carries. You can make the argu- ment Adams should get 20." Overall, the Irish eclipsed 200 rush- ing yards for the second straight game, tallying 239. "We have more to come and we can improve from there," Adams said. "That's really special for the running backs and the offensive lineman be- cause that means we can dominate, and we know we're only going to get better going forward. "That's definitely a big confidence boost, and it's going to help us in the next week of practice and the upcom- ing game." The Irish did lose a key figure on defense. Sophomore cornerback Shaun Crawford — who had an interception and returned a blocked kick for a two- point conversion against Texas — tore his left Achilles in the first quarter against the Wolf Pack and is expected to miss the rest of the season. It's the second straight season that Crawford, a highly touted defensive back for the Irish, has suffered a major injury. He had a torn ACL in preseason practice last year and missed the entire season. "It's super sad. I really can't put it into words because he's been through so much," senior cornerback Cole Luke said of Crawford. "It's just sad that it has to happen to him." Notre Dame led 25-0 at halftime and made a stop defensively to start the sec- ond half. Kizer then drove the Irish 85 Sophomore linebacker Te'von Coney and the Irish limited the Wolf Pack to 300 total yards, includ- ing only 99 on the ground, and kept them out of the end zone until late in the fourth quarter. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA CONFIDENCE BUILDER A strong performance by the defense helps the Irish cruise past Nevada 39-10

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