Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 26, 2016

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

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22 SEPT. 26, 2016 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY MATT JONES T here was plenty of blame to go around following Notre Dame's 36-28 loss to Michigan State, which dropped the Irish to 1-2 through three weeks. It starts with Brian Kelly, and the seventh-year Notre Dame head coach didn't shy away from shouldering most of the team's troubles against the Spartans. The Irish coaching staff also has a large hand in the struggles, Kelly said. It's also on the Notre Dame offense, which stalled for most of the game and finished with just 57 rushing yards. It can also be pinned on the missed tackles and devastating penalties that continually held back the Irish. "This is everywhere, and this is on me," Kelly said. "We have to clean up everything. We are a sloppy football team." The 18th-ranked Irish allowed 36 straight points in the second and third quarters and had their fourth-quar- ter rally come up short, falling to the 12th-ranked Spartans in front of 80,795 spectators — the 251st straight official sellout at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame cut a 29-point second- half deficit down to eight and had the ball with a chance to tie the game. But the Irish offense stalled, and fac- ing a fourth-and-seven from his own 32 with 3:37 left, Kelly elected to punt it back to the Spartans. Although the defense had tight- ened for much of the fourth quarter, Notre Dame would not get the ball back. Michigan State fifth-year senior quarterback Tyler O'Connor found freshman wide receiver Donnie Cor- ley for a 28-yard gain on third-and- seven with 2:39 remaining to essen- tially end the game. Afterward, Kelly defended his de- cision to punt. "We still had two timeouts. We had gotten a couple of stops defensively and felt like they certainly were going to run the football," Kelly said. "We got them into a good third-down situ- ation, and we don't do a very good job and give them an easy completion. "We put ourselves back in a position even after that situation with another timeout. We make a stop there, and it looks like a pretty good decision." Similar to the issue that plagued Irish defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder 's unit in the season opener at Texas, the Irish could once again not slow down the opponent's rushing attack. Michigan State ran for 260 yards on 52 carries and found the end zone three times on the ground. Notre Dame tallied just 57 yards on 25 carries, the team's lowest rushing output since a 41-yard effort against Arizona State in a 55-31 loss in 2014. Overall, Michigan State outgained Notre Dame 501-401 yards. "We had a lot of missed fits — safety fits were poor, we missed some fits with our fronts," Kelly said. "Again, we have to coach bet- ter. This means communicating what we want to our players and then our players have to execute it." After the Irish took a 7-0 lead with 3:07 left in the first quarter on a 14- yard run by junior quarterback De- Shone Kizer, the Spartans took control. Following a Notre Dame defensive stand, a punt by Michigan State's Jake Hartbarger skipped off the ground and hit Irish sophomore wideout Miles Boykin, who was blocking on the return. Michigan State recovered the ball, and on the ensuing play O'Connor found Corley for a 38-yard touchdown. Notre Dame senior cor- The Spartans dominated the battle in the trenches — outgaining the Irish on the ground 260-57 — while racing out to a 29-point lead. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA Too Little, Too Late Notre Dame's rally falls short in a discouraging 36-28 loss to Michigan State

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