Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 26, 2016

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

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Page 28 of 55 SEPT. 26, 2016 29 plagued the Irish for the last three seasons. "We had a lot of missed fits, safety fits were poor," head coach Brian Kelly said after the game. "We missed some fits with our fronts." Notre Dame senior Sam linebacker James Onwualu believes the Fighting Irish defense lacks confidence and consistency. "It's just confidence, continuing to practice it, continuing to play fast and having the confidence to make plays," Onwualu said after the game. "We have to play tough consistently — that's really the biggest thing. There's a drive that a couple guys slip up or one guy misses a tackle and it's a big play." For all of its struggles, Notre Dame still had an opportunity late in the fourth quarter. With Notre Dame trailing 36-28, the defense was put in position to come up with a stop, which would have given the offense one final shot to tie the game. The Irish came up with two straight stops, putting Michigan State into a third-and-seven situation. Holding there would have given Notre Dame the ball back with just less than two minutes left in the game. Instead, se- nior cornerback Cole Luke blew a coverage, which allowed MSU fresh- man wideout Donnie Corley to haul in a 28-yard pass to move the chains. "We have to make that play, ob- viously," Kelly said. "We missed tackles, and those are our guys that are going to be out there next week against Duke, and they're going to have to make some tackles the fol- lowing week against the next oppo- sition. "So we can cry all we want about what we didn't do, but we have to start doing it. IRISH STRUGGLE TO RUN THE BALL Expectations for the Notre Dame offensive line were sky high, with Pro Football Focus ranking the unit as the nation's top set of blockers entering the season. During the first two games, the line flashed some very good moments that were mixed in with inconsistent play. Against Michigan State, the line had without question its toughest game of the season thus far. Notre Dame was held to just 57 rushing yards on 25 carries, and junior quar- terback DeShone Kizer was sacked twice in the game. It was Notre Dame's lowest rushing total since it was limited to just 41 yards on 38 carries in a 55-31 loss to Arizona State on Nov. 8, 2014. "We had some struggles through- out the game that shouldn't have happened," senior left tackle Mike McGlinchey said after the game. "We have to understand what we are doing and execute our plays. There were some things we didn't do well enough today. "We understand that, and its just time to get back to work and go to the drawing board." Michigan State's defense took full advantage of the extra week to pre- pare, throwing some new looks at the Irish front. In the end, it was more about how Notre Dame played than it was about anything Michigan State did to stop them. "They brought a lot of guys in the box, they were doing a couple different things up front and they played physical," McGlinchey noted. "They've got some good football players, and they're well coached. We didn't do what we needed to do consistently enough. "We had a good game plan going NOTRE DAME VS. MICHIGAN STATE QUARTER-BY-QUARTER COMPARISON Notre Dame 1st Qtr. 2nd Qtr. 3rd Qtr. 4th Qtr. 1st Half 2nd Half Total Time of Possession 6:14 5:45 5:08 4:56 11:59 10:04 22:03 Third-Down Conversions 1-2 0-2 2-4 1-3 1-4 3-7 4-11 Fourth-Down Conversions 0-0 0-0 0-0 1-1 0-0 1-1 1-1 Average Field Position ND-9 ND-19 ND-27 ND-26 ND-16 ND-27 ND-22 Michigan State 1st Qtr. 2nd Qtr. 3rd Qtr. 4th Qtr. 1st Half 2nd Half Final Time of Possession 8:46 9:15 9:52 10:04 18:01 19:56 37:57 Third-Down Conversions 2-4 2-5 2-3 3-6 4-9 5-9 9-18 Fourth-Down Conversions 1-1 0-0 0-0 0-0 1-1 0-0 1-1 Average Field Position MSU-24 MSU-34 MSU-31 MSU-21 MSU-31 MSU-27 MSU-29 PLAY CHART (NO. OF PLAYS) Yards ND MSU (- ) Yards 6 6 0-5 Yards 37 46 6-9 Yards 5 12 10-19 Yards 9 7 20-29 Yards 1 4 30-39 Yards 2 2 40-49 Yards 2 0 50 or more Yards 0 1 RED ZONE EFFICIENCY (INSIDE 20-YARD LINE) No Poss. TD FG Score ND 4 4 0 0 MSU 3 3 0 0 BIG PLAYS (25 YARDS OR MORE) Notre Dame • 2-6 ND24 Kizer pass complete to St. Brown for 48 yards to the MSU28 • 1-10 ND35 Kizer pass complete to Hunter for 47 yards to the MSU18 • 1-10 ND20 Kizer pass complete to Claypool for 33 yards to the MSU47 • 2-10 MSU47 Kizer pass complete to Sanders for 34 yards to the MSU13 Michigan State • 2-8 MSU45 O'Connor pass complete to Madaris for 33 yards to the ND22 • 1-10 ND38 O'Connor pass complete to Corley for 38 yards and a touchdown • 2-5 MSU27 Holmes rush for 73 yards and a touchdown • 3-7 MSU17 O'Connor pass complete to Corley for 28 yards to the MSU45 Senior running back Tarean Folston didn't have much room to run versus Michigan State, and the Irish finished with just 57 yards on 25 rush- ing attempts. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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