Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 19, 2016

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

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10 SEPT. 19, 2016 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED UNDER THE DOME In the 2014 overtime loss at home to Northwestern (43‑40) and the 2015 de‑ feat at Clemson (24‑22), Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly was castigated for different reasons about going for two points instead of kicking the extra point. Against Northwestern, he mis‑ takenly opted to go for two at 40‑29, when kicking the extra point would have made it 41‑29. The miss opened the door for the Wildcats to tie the game with a touchdown, a two‑point conversion and a field goal to send the contest into overtime. At Clemson, he found himself chas‑ ing points by not kicking the extra point when trailing 21‑9. The missed two‑point conversion put Notre Dame "behind schedule," leading to another missed two in the closing sec‑ onds that could have sent the game into overtime. In the opener at Texas this year, there was another chance to mull going for two, but this time it was a winner‑take‑all situation. When junior quarterback DeShone Kizer connected with sophomore slot receiver C.J. Sanders on a 25‑yard catch‑and‑run for a score on Notre Dame's initial play in overtime to cut Texas' lead to 44‑43, going for two might have seemed feasible. The of‑ fense is Notre Dame's strength, while the defense was struggling, especially in the red zone (Texas scored touch‑ downs on six of its seven red‑zone possessions). Scoring from about two and a half yards seemed higher percentage than making another stop on defense. "No," said Kelly on whether he thought about going for two. "We battled so hard to get back into the game and take the lead, it just didn't feel like the right time to go for two. "With the rules being as they are, you're going to go for two in the third overtime anyway. It's not going to be a prolonged situation. You're going to get it decided if it goes to a third overtime." Also, with about 5:30 left in the fourth quarter and the Irish leading 35‑31, they faced fourth‑and‑one at their 44, Kelly decided not to go for it and instead tried to pin Texas deep in its territory, which it had done throughout the second half. The punt traveled only 24 yards, but Kelly be‑ lieves it was the right decision. "The circumstances of the game, the way the guys battled, resiliency — I've never coached a game where the team's down 17 points in the second half and they expend that kind of en‑ ergy to get back into the game to roll the dice like that," Kelly said. It was a departure from the river‑ boat gambler reputation Kelly had when he arrived, which was dis‑ played his first year in the 28‑27 loss to Tulsa. Instead of setting up for the game‑winning field goal with the re‑ liable David Ruffer, Kelly went for broke from the Tulsa 19 that led to an end zone interception by the Golden Hurricane with 42 seconds left. Kelly defended the call by saying he was going to have an aggressive mentality and "get used to it." How things can change, especially as the Notre Dame coach. Head Coach Brian Kelly Proceeding With More Caution TORII HUNTER JR. IN RECOVERY STAGE After senior wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr. took a huge hit to the head in the end zone during the third quarter at Texas, he laid on the turf relatively motionless for several minutes, while also bleeding, before he was led off the field. He was expected to miss the Nevada game while going through concussion recovery and treatment, and his status thereafter is expected to be day to day. What Kelly is certain of is Texas safety DeShon Elliott should have been dis- missed from the game for the hit instead of playing the rest of the way. "We sent the clip to the supervisor of officials in the ACC," Kelly said. "We got confirmation back that that would have most likely been a targeting call. We just don't understand why that was not reviewed by the Big 12 [replay booth]. I guess they're going to be reaching out to them to find out why it wasn't reviewed. "Clearly, win or lose, player safety should be at the front of this game and we don't believe that was the case in this instance." Even though the ACC officiating crew did not call the targeting penalty on the field, a rule change this season allows for targeting to be called by replay, but the Big 12 crew in the replay booth did not deem it necessary — and was later backed by Big 12 supervisor of officials Walt Anderson. In a statement to USA Today, Anderson said the replay officials did not believe the hit rose to the level of applying a call from the booth. "The play was reviewed and replay did not feel the action warranted an egre- gious foul, which is the standard to be applied for replay involvement in targeting fouls that are not called on the field," he stated. The ACC supervisor of officials confirmed to head coach Brian Kelly after the game that the unflagged hit Texas safety DeShon Elliott had on Hunter Jr. (pictured) should have been targeting, which would have dis- qualified the defender from the contest. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA Kelly showed in the season-opening loss to Texas that he is not taking some of the gambles that he did earlier in his tenure at Notre Dame. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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