Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 19, 2016

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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 28 of 55 SEPT. 19, 2016 29 the same big-play, downfield pass- ing team they were a season ago when Will Fuller was blowing past defenses. They have gone into the last two games looking to establish their ground attack, and the staff wants to combine that with a more efficient passing attack. Notre Dame racked up 239 yards on the ground against the Wolf Pack, and junior quarter- back DeShone Kizer connected on a career-high 83.3 percent of his throws (15 of 18). "We felt like from an offensive standpoint it was important to con- tinue to run the football," Kelly noted. "Back-to-back weeks rushing over 200 yards, that's important to us. We'll continue to emphasize that with a high-percentage completion, again, from DeShone. "That's who we'll be most of the year: high-percentage completions, move the ball around to a number of receivers. … You're going to see a lot of guys touch the football." A TRUE DUAL-THREAT During his freshman season in 2015, wide receiver C.J. Sanders proved he was a dynamic return man. He became the first Notre Dame player since Vontez Duff in 2002 to return both a kick and a punt for a touchdown in the same season. This fall, Sanders has added dy- namic receiver to his résumé. Sand- ers has made eight catches for 101 yards in the first two games. Of those eight catches, seven have gone for either a first down or a touchdown. Against Nevada, Sanders hauled in a career-high five receptions for 46 yards. Among them was his second career touchdown grab, a seven-yard scoring catch that put the Irish up 9-0 in the second quarter. His fifth and final grab was a seven-yard reception that converted a fourth-and-two. Sanders added a 24-yard kick re- turn and a 37-yard punt return to his totals, giving him 107 all-purpose yards, and a post-game honor from his head coach. "Game ball went to C.J. Sanders," Kelly said after the game. "He con- tinues to be very impressive in our special teams game, as well as some key catches for us." The 5-8 sophomore plays with ex- treme confidence, and he knows if his teammates give him room he can make a play. "I always tell the guys to put a body on a body and I'll make some- thing happen," Sanders stated em- phatically. "I feel like [getting the ball in space] is one of my strong suits. "When the ball is in my hands, I feel like I'm able to make plays and make something happen. Putting me in space is what I like to do." Sanders has made a smooth transi- tion into the rotation after spending his freshman season primarily as a return man. Being able to get more playing time on offense has made him even better as returner. He is averaging 23.8 yards on eight returns through two games, ripping off gains of 40 yards, 37 yards and 24 yards in the return game already. "I'm getting my rhythm in," Sand- ers said of the extra reps. "Playing more allows me to be calm and make plays and be a baller." GETTING THE YOUNG GUYS GOING With senior captain Torii Hunter Jr. out with a concussion, Notre Dame entered the Nevada matchup with a receiving corps that started the 2016 season with a combined two career catches for eight yards. Kelly and the staff on offense wanted to get its talented — but inexperienced — pass catchers into an early rhythm. Sophomore wide receiver C.J. Sanders was a part of that game plan, but so was getting sophomore wideout Equanimeous St. Brown and freshman wide receiver Kevin Step- herson into the mix. NOTRE DAME VS. NEVADA QUARTER-BY-QUARTER COMPARISON Notre Dame 1st Qtr. 2nd Qtr. 3rd Qtr. 4th Qtr. 1st Half 2nd Half Total Time of Possession 8:17 8:38 7:43 8:53 16:55 16:36 33:31 Third-Down Conversions 2-4 4-5 0-2 1-4 6-9 1-6 7-15 Fourth-Down Conversions 0-0 0-0 2-2 0-0 0-0 2-2 2-2 Average Field Position ND-21 NEV-45 ND-29 ND-22 ND-40 ND-24 ND-33 Nevada 1st Qtr. 2nd Qtr. 3rd Qtr. 4th Qtr. 1st Half 2nd Half Final Time of Possession 6:43 6:22 7:17 6:07 13:05 13:24 26:29 Third-Down Conversions 1-3 0-2 2-4 0-3 1-5 2-7 3-12 Fourth-Down Conversions 0-1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-1 0-0 0-1 Average Field Position NEV-22 NEV-18 NEV-21 NEV-20 NEV-20 NEV-21 NEV-20 PLAY CHART (NO. OF PLAYS) Yards ND NEV (- ) Yards 6 5 0-5 Yards 39 34 6-9 Yards 18 7 10-19 Yards 5 7 20-29 Yards 3 1 30-39 Yards 0 0 40-49 Yards 2 1 50 or more Yards 0 1 RED ZONE EFFICIENCY (INSIDE 20-YARD LINE) No Poss. TD FG Score Notre Dame 6 5 1 0 Nevada 3 1 1 1 BIG PLAYS (25 YARDS OR MORE) Notre Dame • 2-17 ND46 Kizer pass complete to St. Brown for 49 yards to the NEV5 • 3-3 NEV33 Kizer pass complete to Sanders for 25 yards to the NEV8 • 2-5 ND36 Adams rush for 43 yards to the NEV21 Nevada • 3-13 NEV43 Stewart pass complete to Demps for 44 yards to the ND13 • 1-20 NEV21 Gangi pass complete to Celis for 68 yards to the ND11 Sophomore wide receiver C.J. Sanders received the game ball after leading the Irish with 107 all-purpose yards. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - Sept. 19, 2016