Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 26, 2016

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

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28 SEPT. 26, 2016 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED IRISH PLAY SLOPPY FOOTBALL Every facet of the Notre Dame football team made plays that cost the Irish during their 36-28 home loss to Michigan State. Notre Dame turned the ball over three times, the defense got gashed and the offense was wildly erratic. Notre Dame made too many mis- takes and missed too many oppor- tunities to beat the Spartans, who entered the game ranked as the na- tion's No. 12 team by the Associated Press. Head coach Brian Kelly put the blame squarely on himself and his coaching staff. "We've got to do a better job coach- ing," Kelly said emphatically. "That's on me, starts with me, and obviously offense, defense and special teams have got to be better to win games against good competition." Notre Dame has now lost four of its last five games. Turnovers on of- fense, dropped passes, assignment errors on both sides of the ball, spe- cial teams miscues, poor tackling and a failure to execute on defense con- tinue to plagued the Irish. Kelly believes the blame ultimately lies on the coaching staff, which must do a better job getting the current group of players ready to play at a higher level. "Those are the guys we have. We can't trade them; they're not getting cut," Kelly exclaimed. "Those are our guys, and we've got to get them bet- ter. We've got to put them in position to make plays. Those are our guys." Much of the pregame focus was on the youth in the Notre Dame second- ary, but it was a pair of veterans that made the most mistakes. Junior safety Drue Tranquill was often out of position and missed a number of key tackles. Senior corner- back Cole Luke, especially, had an off night. He was outplayed on a jump ball by Michigan State freshman re- ceiver Donnie Corley, he was flagged for a 15-yard pass interference pen- alty and he was beaten several times on deep balls. He failed to cover Cor- ley on the final drive of the game, a mistake that Kelly believes is just as much on the coaches as it is on Luke. "That's poor coaching. We're not coaching it well enough," Kelly said of the Luke miscue. "Obviously, if our players can't execute a simple two vertical corner sitting over the top and the safety coming under- neath, that's on me. "That falls on my shoulders, and we're not getting that done," Kelly continued. "We're either not capable of running that coverage or we're not coaching it well enough, one or the other. I have to do a better job. "We have to clean up everything. We are a sloppy football team." DEFENSIVE WOES CONTINUE Michigan State shredded the Irish defense for 501 yards of total of- fense (6.4 per play), beating them on the ground and through the air. Fifth-year senior quarterback Tyler O'Connor completed 73.1 percent of his passes and set a career high with 241 passing yards. Michigan State averaged 9.3 yards per pass attempt. The Spartans ripped Notre Dame on the ground, racking up 260 yards at a clip of 5.0 yards per carry. It was the 12th time in Brian VanGorder 's 29 games as defensive coordinator that his defense allowed the opposi- tion to run for at least 200 yards. Notre Dame continued to struggle making tackles, something that has MICHIGAN STATE GAME NOTES BY BRYAN DRISKELL Like many of his teammates, senior cornerback Cole Luke had a tough night against the Spartans. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA MISCELLANEOUS NOTES • Notre Dame's first scoring drive covered 91 yards on 10 plays, its longest drive of the sea- son. It marked the sixth time in three games that the Irish offense has put together a scor- ing drive of 75 yards or longer. • The Notre Dame defense allowed Michigan State to score touchdowns on three drives of at least 75 yards. Opponents have now scored on touchdown drives of 75 yards or more eight times in three games against the Irish defense. • Sophomore running back Josh Adams eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for his career during the first quarter. Adams reached that mark in 16 career games, the second fastest in school history, trailing only Darius Walker (2004-06), who reached 1,000 yards after just 14 games. • Adams was chosen to wear the No. 1 jersey before the game. The honor will be awarded weekly to the player who best rep- resents the ideals of the program on and off of the field. • Freshman safety Devin Studstill made his first career interception during the second quarter of the game. • Junior quarterback DeShone Kizer has scored a rushing touchdown in each of his last five games, and in eight of his last nine games overall dating back to a win over Temple in 2015.

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